SAN FRANCISCO — It may appear counterproductive for a large real estate franchise to promote the business models of competing brokerages on its blog site, offering them up as examples of industry innovators.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC has launched a Beta Brokerage section at its Clean Slate blog, accessible at NextGenBrokerage.com, that features videos and company descriptions — and company President and CEO Sherry Chris said the participants were willing to contribute to the project.
The project continues a "Brokerage Reboot" discussion of real estate industry execs at the New York City Real Estate Connect conference in January and furthers Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s earlier work in envisioning the future of the industry.
Brokerage Reboot brought together four execs from a variety of companies to envision a brand-new brokerage company.
Chris, a participant in Brokerage Reboot, took the stage at the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco last week and detailed her company’s efforts to profile new companies that are making waves in the industry with a range of unconventional technologies and approaches.
Featured companies include: @Homes Realty, Arbour Realty, BlueRoof Real Estate, Condo Domain, Element-360, Estately, Findwell, GoodLife Team, Hawaii Life Real Estate Services, Live Urban Denver, M Realty, Maxsell, Movoto, Pedal to Properties, Professional One, RealtyV2, RedBrick Properties, Redfin, Rehava, San Diego Castles, Sawbuck, Surterre Properties, Thompson’s Realty and Urban Digs.
Chris, who on Thursday was honored with an Inman News Innovator of the Year Award, states in a message at that site, "We will continue to grow the list of companies (that) are offering something new from the ground up, as well as including those brokerages (that) have been influenced by the times and are remodeling themselves to meet the future head on."
One commonality among these innovative companies, Chris said during her presentation at the latest Real Estate Connect conference: "For all of them, social media was at the core."
She added, "These companies are … not just creating Twitter pages and using Facebook — it’s the foundation of the whole marketing program."
The companies also recognized that consumers are "now in control of the transaction — it’s not an agent’s world anymore," she said, and have created some technologies and are using sophisticated systems to manage agent and consumer relationships.
Off-the-shelf technology solutions typically don’t keep up with the needs of these pioneering new brokers, she said.
The study group of companies also tend to use virtual workplace models, with websites serving as a storefront.
The use of "beta" in describing the innovative brokerages is not intended to slight the business models for their newness, she explained, but rather to call them out as examples for other brokerages.
"They’ve built strong operational foundations for themselves in listing and selling real estate and communicating with customers," she said. "The big companies of today that want to reinvent themselves — they need to learn from these new beta brokers."
Even so, there may be opportunities for some of the companies to add revenue streams and to grow in size and scope, she said.
Many of the new companies profiled lack ancillary services that buyers and sellers may also be interested in, she said, and it could be a positive next step for the companies to add relocation, mortgage or title services, as examples.
"I think that some of them will grow big and some of them will decide to stay the size they are," she said.
In an interview with Inman News, Chris said the companies profiled at NextGenBrokerage.com were very open to sharing information about their business models.
"There was absolutely no pushback," she said.
That collaborative environment will hopefully benefit the entire industry and allow brokers to better serve consumers.
It is definitely a tall order for companies with more traditional business models to reinvent and retrofit themselves to accommodate new technologies and business strategies, as it requires "courage to take the leap … and it’s scary," she said. "It’s very difficult to start from scratch when you have an existing company."
Focusing on consumers and shedding some brick and mortar are two notable ways that companies can help to modernize their operations, she said.