2018 Inman Innovator Awards

They are the visionaries, the forward-thinking, the stubborn, the tinkerers, the obsessed, the tech-savvy and the creative minds always testing boundaries. They are entrepreneurs pushing the old ways aside, data scientists discovering new ways to examine behavior, marketers inventing new ways to showcase properties, agents developing new ways to reach clients, companies building new technologies and brokerages creating new ways of doing business. They are the 2018 Inman Innovators, and they’re leading us into the future of real estate.
Innovators of the Year
Thad Wong
Co-founder, @properties

Thaddeus Wong is the co-founder of @properties, the largest independently owned residential real estate brokerage firm in Illinois and one of the 12 largest brokerage firms in the U.S. by sales volume.

Amy Bohutinsky
COO, Zillow Group

Amy Bohutinsky is chief operating officer of Zillow Group, a portfolio of the largest and most vibrant real estate and home-related brands on Web and mobile, including consumer brands Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy, HotPads and Naked Apartments.

Real Estate Technology
Kelle App

Kelle is a personal assistant, but “she” operates beyond the scope of a Siri or an Alexa to help agents manage their deals. The app helps Keller Williams agents answer questions, manage referrals, check their progress against career goals and much more.

WFG’s MyHome is an online portal that connects agents and homebuyers with the search and escrow process, outlining every step of the journey and documenting when it was completed. It’s available in all markets where WFG (Williston Financial Group) has title offices.

Second Runner Up: HouseCanary

HouseCanary builds predictive analytics products for home valuation and uses them to help streamline the transaction process. The company’s Agile Appraisal product uses big data to give an appraiser a solid foundation for appraisal, highlighting any property anomalies that require human attention, bifurcating the process so humans can use data to make better decisions.

Agentology screens buyer and seller leads, qualifying them to save agents time, then keeps track of the qualified leads to ensure that no buyer or seller slips through the cracks. It offers an agent referral network and American concierges to cultivate leads.

ArriveHome is an app that expands on-demand showings to an entire MLS region. It combines MLS-powered home search with the ability to “hail” an available agent in real time to see a home immediately and provides convenience for consumers while offering agents a new avenue for finding clients.

BoxBrownie.com is a photo enhancement service that perfects the lighting and look of your property visuals using bracketing, item removal and exterior view enhancement to easily capture immersive interior photos that “wow” buyers — and sellers.

Brivity keeps buyers or sellers and their agents on the same page throughout the entire transaction. This software tool makes it possible for agents to capture and nurture leads, close deals and repeat the whole cycle.  And once a client is hooked, they can see the step-by-step progress of their home transaction journey.

BuyerDocs is wire fraud prevention software developed by a wife-and-husband team; it protects buyers from fraud using the same encryption parameters that are standard at the National Security Agency.

Curate is a virtual staging app produced by Sotheby’s International Realty; it features a selection of augmented-reality interior designs, ranging from modern living rooms to traditional dining rooms, and it enables consumers to virtually swap styles and test them out.

Down Payment Resource provides partner agents with a program that generates leads and helps agents demonstrate value by giving buyers deep information about the down payment loan and grant programs they qualify for in their state — and how to secure that money.

HelloAlex is a lead cultivation app for agents that uses artificial intelligence and automation to nurture leads and maintain interaction from contact to contract. It uses Facebook Messenger, email, text, postcards and ringless voicemails to reach out to leads and engage them in a conversation.

Homesnap offers apps for both consumers and real estate agents; consumers can browse listings, keep tabs on their favorites and send notes to agents, and agents can use Homesnap Pro to create CMAs and pull MLS history information for their clients.

Interact CE (interactce.com), a Seattle-area startup, has developed an entertaining online simulation for real estate agents to meet their continuing education requirements. The software employs a concept called “gamification” to convert dry and often boring subject matter into a 21st Century learning experience.

Jigglar (founded in Australia) is a marketing design tool that helps agents create beautiful, engaging social media posts, marketing collateral and more. It has more editing flexibility than other web-based design competitors and is specifically geared toward a real estate agent’s needs and audience

MoxiWorks is an open platform system for large real estate brokerages with plug-and-play tools and services that keeps all your data in one place. Offerings include a CRM, intranet, agent websites, lead generation, print marketing, transaction management, reviews, newsletters, client gifting, agent advertising and more.

MyPlanit is an app for tracking appointments, people and listings using time- and place-based enhanced data aggregation and geolocation. It’s a tool that blends your calendar (when and where you’re going) with your contact list (the people you’re meeting) and your note-taking app (why you’re meeting them and what you need to remember).

Offrs is a tool that streamlines the marketing process for agents by identifying the leads who are most likely to sell in the near future, targeting them with campaigns and then funnelling the most interested listing leads to agents.


Quo is an app that allows agents to collaborate with high-demand buyers and gather insights into a buyer’s preferences during home searches and transactions. Buyers and agents can share MLS listings, comment on them, and arrange showings, among other activities.

Remine predicts potential property transactions using big data on unlisted properties as well as those that already appear on the MLS. Homes get a “likely to sell” score to help agents determine the best strategy for listing client outreach.

SmartZip Outreach is a lead qualification service that uses predictive analytics to help agents distinguish listing clients who are unlikely to sell anytime soon from sellers who are ready to go.

Total Brokerage is a CRM that supports transaction management, digital signatures and other forms of real estate business management through a user experience that’s clean and simple, saving agents and brokers time on all fronts.

View in My Room 3D is Houzz’s augmented-reality app that allows users to preview more than 500,000 images of furniture and decor products from the Houzz Shop in their rooms, then move them around and position them to see how they look before buying.

Ylopo is a digital marketing platform that offers advanced Facebook ad management, combining Facebook’s Dynamic Ads for Real Estate (DARE) with lead ads and catalog formatting. It’s coordinated with an IDX website and landing pages that give agents much more control over their Facebook ads, and it has an an auto-pilot function that’s like having a social media assistant.

Zillow 3D Home is a free app that allows agents, brokers and real estate photographers to capture immersive 3D home tours directly on their iPhones using the panoramic camera feature, then upload them to Zillow listings.


Redfin was the first real estate brokerage to offer an iBuyer pilot. It’s testing a program that allows homeowners to instantly sell a property to Redfin, controlling the transaction process, for as little as a 7 percent commission.

Compass has a plan to capture 20 percent market share in the 20 top real estate markets by 2020; it plans to do this by supporting top-producing agents with new tech tools, including a CRM, targeted digital marketing, solar-powered signage and other cutting-edge resources.

Purplebricks made its U.S. debut in California after establishing itself as a leading flat-fee real estate startup in the United Kingdom and Australia. It secured a $177 million investment before expanding its stateside launch to New York.

1000watt is a creative agency focused on real estate, that specializes in branding and marketing and is consistently sought-after for thoughtful, to-the-point brand refreshes. It works with independent brokers, franchisors, tech vendors and mortgage and title companies to distill their individual value propositions and bring them into the spotlight.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate recently reintroduced its Beta Brokerage program, which connects pioneering brokerages to help them “gather and employ best practices.” The relaunch includes a new website and a platform that facilitates broker-to-broker engagement.

Home61 is building on its history of helping renters find the perfect place quickly by leveraging data. Now, Home61 offers a flat listing fee for sellers that encompasses the listing, marketing, showing and closing process.

Howard Hanna Real Estate has mortgage, title, escrow and insurance businesses that are growing alongside its core real estate company. Howard Hanna has made several investments (including in MoxiWorks) to provide its agents with the tools and services that will help them thrive.

Keller Williams drove extraordinary relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey and contributed to disaster services in Texas, California and Florida. The company also announced its intention to focus on technology to help usher in the future of real estate.

Knock is an iBuyer that facilitates fast and easy transactions for sellers and buyers and offers a trade-in program for consumers. It’s a licensed brokerage in 10 states that employs real estate agents as “local licensed experts” who are paid salaries and earn commissions.

LeadingRE is an invitation-only independent brokerage network with training so top-notch that Training magazine named it the no. 1 program in its list of the 125 best learning and development strategies across all industries. LeadingRE provides training resources for 565 firms and 130,000 sales associates around the world who produce close to $370 billion annually.

LoanDepot has become the second-largest nonbank consumer lender in the country with an emphasis on digital lending. It launched digital lending brand mello in 2018, giving buyers another option for a generation that’s comfortable with digital sales but needs support understanding the financial world.

New Story is a nonprofit organization that uses 3D technology to build (or, if you prefer, print) affordable homes. Its homes cost less than $6,500 apiece, and it’s funded more than 1,300 homes for families all over the world.

NextHome is a real estate franchisor that offers consumer-focused branding, technology and marketing, plus mobile tools and training for agents. Its tech-supported and streamlined processes allow NextHome to offer brokerages and agents a high value, affordable model that provides a superior consumer experience without compromise.

Opendoor lets prospective homesellers offload their properties quickly and entirely online for a guaranteed price derived by an algorithm. It is leading the way with technology innovations that allow homesellers and buyers speed up their home transacton, making it easier and safer.

Propy wants to streamline real estate transfers using technology. It successfully launched a blockchain pilot in Vermont to establish a secure digital process for delivering electronic deeds.

Qualia is the real estate industry’s leading title, closing, and escrow platform. Qualia connects everyone in a real estate transaction, including title agents, real estate agents, and lenders on one cloud-based platform, to galvanize more streamlined and secure closings.

RealKey builds mortgage and real estate automation software that’s designed to accelerate loan processing and truncate property transaction closing times, claiming to snip the mortgage application process from 30 days to 10.

The Group is a brokerage that is aiming to smooth consumers’ homebuying journey by compressing the length of the transaction and making the entire process simpler and friendlier.

Zillow shook up the real estate industry by establishing a consumer-centric portal where buyers and sellers can view and post real estate listings, and homeowners can claim their own home’s profile. In 2018, it shook up the industry again when it launched its own iBuyer program in two markets.

eXp Realty

EXp Realty is a virtual cloud-based real estate brokerage that may be one of the fastest-growing companies in the country by agent count. With virtual offices in lieu of brick-and-mortar locations and offering a unique equity-sharing arrangement, the firm uses technology to connect to its agents and to help close transactions.

Realty Austin

As co-founder, co-owner and chief technology officer of Realty Austin, Jonathan Boatwright has built a custom system on top of the popular Salesforce platform, creating one of the most sophisticated CRM and lead-to-sales machines in real estate.

F.L.I. Properties

Kendall Butler develops F.L.I. Properties’ tech in-house and uses her analytic and market expertise to solve problems and bring value to the community. She’s established herself as the market expert in the area and has grown her company by focusing on customers, data and results.

Lamacchia Realty

Anthony Lamacchia’s agent training is so sought-after that agents from other brokerages have asked to use the engaging videos and online platform to build their own businesses. His step-by-step methods work for any agent willing to put in the effort.

Boulevard Realty

In addition to running a successful independent real estate brokerage and serving as a full-time volunteer for the City of Houston as a voice for Houston’s neighborhoods, Bill Baldwin is also the organizer of Houston Relief Hub, a volunteer-led relief effort that was created after Hurricane Harvey and ended up as the City of Houston’s delegation for relief efforts in response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the California wildfires.

BBS Brokers

BBS Brokers Realty: These sisters are true advocates for first-time homebuyers and have built a successful Palm Springs brokerage as first-generation immigrants. They take a hospitable approach toward their clients and do whatever they can to protect client interests.

Northrop Realty

Creig Northrop built the nation’s no. 1 real estate team by sales volume as a team leader in the Baltimore area, and he’s since expanded his team’s reach by entering a new league as a full-fledged real estate brokerage.

Dolly Lenz Real Estate

Dolly Lenz is one of the best-known names in New York luxury real estate, with more than 25 years of sales, marketing and branding experience. She uses technology to create a worldwide sales network that delivers for her clients, selling an unprecedented $11 billion-plus in properties during her career.

Stribling & Associates

After taking over the operation of her brokerage from her mother, who founded it, Stribling-Kivlan’s focus on culture and inclusion has made Stribling & Associates a place where agents want to come and work.


Harout Keuroghlian implemented an agent liaison program to hire staff members who take the minutiae of transactions out of agents’ hands, leading to higher agent productivity and brokerage growth.

My Home Group

Every week, My Home Group turns office spaces into classrooms and infuses My Home Group, Jereme Kleven’s brokerage, with a collegiate vibe. Top-producing agents, entrepreneurs, marketing gurus and technophiles access the “university” training from multiple locations at this 100 percent commission brokerage.

Launch Real Estate

John Vatistas focuses on a “Four Seasons experience” for clients. To better position his agents, he purchased a building in Old Town Scottsdale, gutted it and built a coffee lounge that seats more than 100 people and entices passersby to come and sit. Toward the back of the building is the entrance to Launch Real Estate, with more than 30 individual offices for agents and clients to use when they aren’t inside the coffee lounge.

DIGGS Real Estate

An activist at heart, Young has 30 years invested in the industry, but her brokerage is anything but stale, incorporating high-end staging, professional videographers and interactive 3D listings to create striking marketing campaigns. Her company blog and social media pages are constantly updated with local events and homebuyer FAQs, branding them by using the hashtag #dailyDIGGS.

Key Impressions

Kimberly Gettle has built her brokerage on both old-school values and new technology. Her high level of customer service and attention to ethics wins over clients, and her ability to deliver high-quality listing marketing keeps them coming back and referring friends to her.


M Squared

Mark Mlakar and Dominic Morrocco built a real estate brokerage in the D.C. area that’s become a force to be reckoned with due to their cloud, website, agent websites and open house tools that have been built in-house.

Woodlands Eco Realty

Priyanka Johri’s clients think so highly of her that they not only drive clients her way, they stop in and bring her food when they see her in the office. Her company motto is “generosity breeds loyalty,” and she works to practice it every day.

Avenue Properties

Tere Foster and the five other Seattle agents who launched Avenue Properties have had to add 74 more agents in 18 months to accommodate their growing business. Foster thinks outside the box when it comes to diversity, location and marketing and has built a rich mentorship program to train new agents.

Bespoke Real Estate

Bespoke Real Estate was founded by Zach and Cody Vichinsky, two brothers who wanted to focus on their luxury clients while expanding their business; it employs more support staff than agents to tackle the administration and marketing tasks involved in luxury listings, allowing the agents to spend more time with the people buying and selling.

Client Giant

Jay O’Brien’s theory is that money spent on marketing could be better spent on client experience, and he puts that money where his mouth is by investing in tools and services that make his clients love him for life.

Savvy House Hunting

As both a real estate agent and a Navy wife, Lauren Taylor intimately understands the real estate challenges that face military families. So she founded Savvy Homes Portal to help buyers look at properties from a distance using virtual reality technology.

Pacific Union

Since the Santa Rosa wildfires tore through communities in 2017, Pacific Union agent Jeff Schween has been collaborating with local builders to help rebuild some of the custom homes that made Santa Rosa so beloved — but at scale and simultaneously to help homeowners better manage the rebuild cost.

HOT PROPERTY The Chaz Walters Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

​Andrea Geller has been active at all levels of the Realtor associations. But Geller is more than just active, she is an activist​,​ openly critical of decisions, lack of transparency and financial shenanigans​ at Realtor groups​. She was even sued for defamation by the Chicago Association of Realtors for challenging the trade groups finances. The lawsuit was settled after three years.
First Team Real Estate Agents

First Team Real Estate Agents: Beau Beardslee has doubled his real estate business every year since beginning in the business using tactics that he learned in the military, especially an emphasis on tried-and-true strategies that most agents don’t employ, including boots-on-the-ground activities like door-knocking.

Ben Caballero is the first agent in U.S. history to exceed the $1 billion mark for residential sales transaction volume in a single year, a feat he has achieved in each of the past three years. Caballero also developed HomesUSA.com, a listing interface designed to make marketing easier for builders.

Broker and Owner of BH&G Real Estate® Success: Blair Myers’ central Georgia real estate business is one of the best-known and most-utilized because Myers offers creative marketing, high-level service and new technologies that have yet to be discovered and leveraged by the competition.

Royal LePage Wolstencroft

David Smith’s emphasis on face-to-face service, executing on what he’s promised to do, and truly listening and responding to client questions and concerns has helped him build appreciation and trust with clients — and earned him lots of business in the competitive Vancouver real estate market.


One Sotheby’s Miami

Elliot Machado’s Brickell Scoop social club brings together millennials with buying power in Miami by enticing them to karaoke, cocktails, comedy events and more. It’s established him as a social organizer and brought him real estate business, too.


Emily Sachs Wong is one of the top real estate agents in the Chicago area, specializing in luxury homes for the thriving independent brokerage @properties. Her high level of professionalism and attention to detail give Chicago’s elite ample reason to trust her with their property transactions.

Halstead Property

Jeff Goodman has created private walking tours alongside an expert tour guide in New York City to help both natives and transplants rediscover the city they love — and to help build his brand as a Halstead Property agent.

Carroll Realty Inc.

It’s commonly stated that real estate agents should strive to be the mayors of their communities, but few of them go as far as to actually run for office. Jimmy Carroll of Carroll Realty (and mayor of Isle of Palms in South Carolina) is just that committed to the health and longevity of his community.

Coldwell Banker SF

Joel Goodrich’s extroverted personality and good sense of humor have served him well in real estate. His website claims that Goodrich “has listed some of the most expensive homes in America, including the historic 35,000 square foot Tobin Clark Estate in Hillsborough, and worked on the sale of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most exceptional properties.”

Rodeo Realty

With more than a decade in the real estate business, Josh Flagg has taken his local industry by storm. Flagg has sold more than $2 billion in property and is a top Realtor at one of the most prestigious real estate firms in the country.

Coldwell Banker

Joyce Rey’s longevity in the real estate industry proves that she’s one of the best in the world at the business — and that she can adapt to changes with aplomb. She’s a household name among luxury buyers and sellers in Los Angeles, where A-list stars seek her help with their home transactions.

One Sotheby’s International Realty

Nathaniel Crawford is one of the creators of the Live Exclusively Miami app, which provides buyers and agents with information about a curated collection of new and pre-construction apartment buildings in Miami, all in the $1 million-plus range.

Hilton & Hyland

Rayni Romito Williams has been involved in more than $4 billion in transactions throughout her career and has established a remarkable real estate record. Her knowledge of local market trends and luxury property inventory, paired with an energetic and confident disposition, has allowed her to quickly become one of the top-ranking agents in the country.

Coldwell Banker

Sabrina Cohen’s foundation to provide better access to beaches and homes to people with mobility issues indirectly led to her career in real estate. She’s known for helping others with limited mobility find homes that perfectly meet their needs.

Executive Director, Compass

Sally Forster Jones’ name is known in luxury L.A. real estate after she established herself as a top producer and personality in Beverly Hills and beyond. She recently joined Compass, bringing her business to the tech-driven startup.

Pacific Union

Tracy McLaughlin has a talent for convincing sellers to renovate their home before listing, proposing improvements that encompass design, construction and staging, and turning unsellable homes into chic money machines. 

MLS, Association or Industry Organization

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) has committed to help elevate women in the industry through its WomanUP! initiative. It’s hosted WomanUP! events and promoted the initiative cleverly with social media. CAR also works to educate the real estate industry about the future of home sales with live-streamed panels featuring renowned experts who share their insights.

Seven MLSs have joined forces in the MLS Roundtable, a think tank whose members include Bright MLS, CRMLS, MRED, RealTracs, Northwest MLS, MLS PIN and CarolinaMLS. Together they examine the challenges associated with implementing meaningful change and seek solutions to those challenges for the benefit of MLSs everywhere.

When members speak, the Houston Association of Realtors listens: It voted unanimously to oppose a NAR dues increase of $30 after surveying members and finding that 97 percent did not support the rate hike.

Bay East Association of Realtors offers an educational program for agents that helps them grow their businesses in addition to offering the slick, modern Cloud MLX interface for agents — for free.

California Regional MLS demonstrates that it has brokers’ best interests in mind through actions like cutting listing syndication checks from the money the MLS earns from licensing data to real estate portals, or like implementing a “front end of choice.” And it’s also expanding aggressively to bring those benefits to agents throughout California.

The Council of MLSs is working to secure the future of the MLS by creating a guide for MLS mergers that makes the process as smooth as possible while addressing the challenges and providing a path through the brambles.

St. Louis Area: MARIS serves multiple Realtor associations and boards throughout the greater St. Louis area and the state of Missouri, offering free training and new tech tools at some of the best member rates in the country.

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg has made big strides in his first year of leadership, embracing disruptors, eliminating the forced MLS membership rule, cracking down on MLSs that don’t abide by data standards and teasing “active discussions” with tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

These two Realtor associations joined forces after the Southern California Thomas fire to help displaced renters and homeowners to find new places to stay while their communities rebuild.

North Group

Amy Youngren’s marketing and video strategies have helped her team capture market share in multiple cities in Canada. She’s built her team into a top Keller Williams entity and one of the fastest-growing in the country.

Xperience Real Estate

Chris Suarez built his business on his deep experience in real estate law and real estate sales, and he’s crafted his team strategy around one-on-one agent training that helps elevate agents’ strengths and minimize weaknesses. His team is now selling real estate in more than 30 cities.


The Heyl Group’s growth has landed it on the Inc. list of fastest-growing companies, and Tim Heyl’s status as a mega agent and his work at building a real estate training empire, in addition to his lead generation platform Phone Animal, has cemented the Heyl Group’s dominance.

Adam Hergenrother Companies operates teams in several states and even more cities through Hergenrother Realty Group, in addition to running construction and training/coaching companies for real estate to round out his portfolio.

The Ben Kinney Team uses proprietary technology tools that Kinney has acquired throughout years of real estate experience and sales. His systems and marketing tactics have created a team to be reckoned with in the industry.

REBD Group

Carissa Acker’s Real Estate By Design (REBD) Group team leverages Acker’s experience in asset management and REO/foreclosure properties; she’s built up a business working with institutional investors and relocation clients, all while implementing spectacular sphere marketing campaigns.

EXIT Realty

Chad Schwendeman Real Estate Group, EXIT Realty: Chad Schwendeman’s emphasis on real estate marketing (he spends tens of thousands of dollars every month to market his business) combined with services that make clients’ experiences smoother (like property management and title companies) have elevated his team to one of the best in the area.

Curtis Johnson Team, eXp Realty

Having a real estate expert with Curtin Johnson’s marketing chops and ability to connect with people can only benefit any brokerage; Johnson has acted as a key player in bringing other teams to join eXp Realty, where he operates his top-ranked group.

Erin Boisson Aries sells both new developments and historic brownstones in the high-competition New York market, and her data-driven approach and home matchmaking skills have set her apart from her peers.

The Agency

Co-founders of off-market listings database ThePLS.com: What if there was a private source for pocket listings that was only accessible to real estate agents? The Agency’s James Harris and David Parnes built that reality with their agent-only website, thePLS.com.

Miller Team Realtors, Re/Max

Homesale Services in Michigan: Jason Miller founded Miller Team Realtor to service all of metro Detroit by providing comprehensive listing support, marketing, transaction management and more, but it’s the agent training that really sets the team apart: Miller Team Realtors uses systems and dialogue to train agents, encouraging them to strike out on their own when the time is right.

The Sibbach Team, Realty One Group

The Sibbach Team is one of the top-ranked and most-lauded teams in Arizona due to its focus on operational excellence and use of technology to sell more houses, faster and with greater efficiency than other teams in the area.

Team Lindahl, Re/Max Results

Team Lindahl takes a community-focused approach to the real estate journey in the greater Minnesota area, guiding buyers and sellers through the top tips and best marketing tactics for finding a home or selling a home in that specific region.

Kristan Cole Team

Kristan Cole’s team in Alaska sells in multiple cities, and she’s also established strategic office locations worldwide to help support clients and extend her empire. Her excellent customer service, targeted telemarketers and efficient, organized systems have helped her create a global real estate network.

Kunal Patel Group, Coldwell Banker

Kunal Patel has built a real estate team that sees itself as a technology company that sells real estate instead of a real estate team that leverages technology. The Kunal Patel Group is consistently on the cutting edge of tech adoption in its market.

Lucas Sanchez Real Estate Team

The Lucas Sanchez Real Estate Team offers in-depth community guides for Rio Grande Valley school districts and allows buyers to search by school district and many other factors on the team website.

Matt Fetick Group

Matt Fetick’s team specializes in the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania, creating guides and resources for consumers interested in specific areas and for buyers, sellers and more specific consumer segments. The Matt Fetick Group blends Keller Williams’ technology with a focus on clients.

Baird & Warner

Scott Curcio established himself as one of the top real estate agents in Chicago before scaling his business to a team. His success comes from his expertise in pricing and strategic marketing, his willingness to tweak and reinvent his team model and the thriving referral business he’s built.


It’s rare that a rebrand is so widely hailed as the best possible reiteration of a company, but Century 21’s clean and sweeping rebrand was so sophisticated and modern that it was immediately accepted and celebrated throughout the real estate industry.

This Instagram account dedicated to a suburb of Vancouver aims to highlight its beauty and hidden gems by posting a different photo of North Langley every day.

To make her name synonymous with “luxury Boulder real estate,” Jennifer Preddy Egbert has built an Instagram feed that showcases the details in the uber-modern six-figure properties that have become her speciality in the People’s Republic.

Boulder-based brokerage 8z uses its partner technology company, Zavvie, to produce neighborhood-specific data, information and content for agents who want to establish themselves as local experts, and Zavvie is helping 8z’s agents in expanding markets across Colorado.

Brix Real Estate showcases neighborhoods by creating engaging short films that explore the perks of living in the Twin Cities or one of the surrounding suburbs. The community and building guides help round out consumer education.


As a social media marketer who isn’t a millennial, Peitz has had to learn her way around digital tools — and has adapted them in her own life like a proverbial ship to water. Her Snapchat strategies in particular have helped real estate agents figure out the platform, and she wrote the book Talking in Pictures: How Snapchat Changed Cameras, Communication, and Communities.

What can a basketball hoop do for a kid’s sense of community? Coldwell Banker explored that idea in its “Hoops” ad campaign, which aired during March Madness, and also used real estate data from Coldwell Banker’s proprietary home pricing platform to choose five different “Hooptown” brackets and pick winners for each game.

A sense of home means something different to everybody — a gathering place, a launching pad, a sanctuary and more. Corcoran’s “Be Home” campaign explores what it means to, well, be home.

To help MLSs articulate their value proposition to agents and brokers, the Council of MLSs created “The Value of MLS,” which includes templated high-quality ads that show members viscerally how the MLS helps them in unseen ways every day.

The Loken Group, TV Radio Marketing

Listings on television and the radio? It’s working for Lance Loken at The Loken Group in Houston, Texas. Loken started in real estate in 2011 and shortly after that was using radio and television to capture clients; by 2014, radio ads were responsible for 40 percent of his production.

There was nothing outdated or problematic with Red Oak Realty’s branding, but the company decided it was time to refresh and brought on 1000watt to help it make the change. The modern font-focused design and new tagline (“good move”) are already enhancing Red Oak’s business in the competitive San Francisco East Bay Area.

One of the most-mourned pop stars of 2016 (and there were several) was most definitely Prince, and Sotheby’s has commemorated the icon by documenting his Minneapolis home, Paisley Park, in a video tribute.

Broker-owner Stacie Staub launched her indie brokerage using intensely community-focused marketing tactics, from listing parties to a harvest festival with kids’ activities and a chili cook-off. Between the clean, fresh social media approach and the seasonal guides, West + Main is showing the Denver Front Range what it means to be home.

Nate Ellis Award

In memory of our good friend Nate Ellis.

Jay Thompson

Jay Thompson is the former Director of Industry Outreach for Zillow, which operates the leading real estate and home-related marketplaces on mobile and the Web. Prior to joining Zillow in March of 2012, Jay was the Co-owner and Designated Broker of Thompson’s Realty in Phoenix, Arizona. Jay is a frequent speaker at local, state and national real estate conferences on topics ranging from brokerage management to social media marketing in real estate. He built his real estate blog, PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com into one of the most widely-read real estate blogs in the country, and has contributed to numerous other real estate industry publications and websites.

Leslie Appleton Young

Leslie Appleton‐Young is Vice President and Chief Economist for the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). Appleton‐Young directs the activities of the Association’s Member Information Team. She oversees analysis of housing market and brokerage industry trends, broker relations, and membership development activities. She is also closely involved in the Association’s strategic planning efforts and is a well‐known speaker in California’s real estate community.

Sara Sutachan

Sara oversees industry relations, membership development and strategic initiatives for the Association. In this role she helps the Association establish vision, identify new and emerging opportunities and relationships and is responsible for implementing key strategic initiatives. Sara is closely involved in the Association’s strategic planning efforts and is a well-known speaker in California’s real estate community. Sara has a Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Real Estate and a Master’s degree in Economics from California State University, Los Angeles.

The Inman Innovator Award Selection Process

Who qualifies? In some cases, a specific app, technology or business process qualifies someone for consideration. In other cases, a company as a whole or a person consistently tries new things, adopts new technology, creates a new culture or approach to real estate or has figured out how to achieve an unmatched level of success.

How does the selection process work? The process for selection begins with identifying companies and individuals who meet these standards. A list of prospects, finalists and winners is culled and resolved based on input from the Inman editorial team who cover innovation on a daily basis, which includes tech reporters, business journalists and real estate industry generalists.

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