With technology evolving at an ever-quickening pace, it’s not easy for brokerages to stay on the cutting edge. How do the ones that succeed make it work?

Thought leaders at four brokerages will share their tech challenges and triumphs during a panel discussion, "Getting It Done: How 4 Brokerage Technologists Buy, Build or License their Way to Digital Innovation" at Real Estate Connect New York City, which runs Jan. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt New York.

The panel will be comprised of Kevin Kaplan, vice president of marketing and technology at Long Realty Company, which is located in southern Arizona with 1,300 agents and 37 offices; Tom Flanagan, technology director at Residential Properties Ltd., a five-office, 160-agent brokerage in Rhode Island; Glenn Sanford, founder and CEO of eXp Realty LLC, the first cloud-based national real estate brokerage; and David Gumpper, the director of information systems at Michael Saunders & Company, a Southwest Florida firm with 24 offices and 550 agents.

Brian Boero

Brian Boero, a founding partner of real estate design and marketing consulting firm 1000watt, will moderate the panel.

"Just as important as the actual technology is how you support it," Kaplan said in a pre-Connect interview with Inman News. The firm has been careful not to add new technology — no matter how useful or powerful — until it can properly support it through education and technical support, he said.

Kevin Kaplan

Return on investment, Kaplan said, is a huge motivator when the brokerage is evaluating new technologies and deciding whether to buy, build or license them. The brokerage has a very clear view of what it needs to get from technology, and applies that rigorous perspective when making its technology decisions, he said.

Flanagan said the foundation of Residential Properties’ business is the firm’s communication platform, which is anchored by Google Apps.

Flanagan, who’s also a tech columnist for Inman News, said supporting 160 agents has allowed the brokerage to experiment with all three kinds of technology implementation — creating it in-house, licensing it and buying it outright. 

Tom Flanagan

However, he tries to keep it simple.

"We do not overwhelm our Realtors with gratuitous technology, and I try to implement technology that I personally love and want to use on a daily basis," Flanagan said.

Sanford, leader of a brokerage with no brick-and-mortar offices, says his current technology challenge involves figuring out how to bring consumers into the online, 3-D, virtual workspace that his agents at eXp Realty use every day. There, they can learn about the homebuying process, get qualified for a loan and engage with an agent, he said.

Glenn Sanford

Right now, Sanford said, eXp Realty licenses or buys all of its technology, because the brokerage is still small enough that it’s better off leveraging the technology expertise and services of other companies. When eXp Realty grows to a thousand or so agents, he said, then the economy of scale might justify eXp Realty developing its own technology, he said.

Gumpper was not immediately available for an interview.

Audiences at Real Estate Connect New York will get Gumpper’s take and much more Jan. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt New York.

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