Anthony Mann is the CEO of AM Open House.
Describe what you do in one sentence: I took a simple process, an open house, and streamlined it to connect with other systems so that agents can actually have a piece of technology that complements their business and allows them to have more time to spend on what matters most.
Degree, school: SUNY Binghamton University, economics
Location: Long Island, New York
What’s your favorite activity outside of work and why?
I’m an avid golfer of about 20 years. Golf is an interesting, and frustrating, sport because it requires an insane amount of concentration and the smallest mistake can have a huge impact on your game. The simple fact that a 300-yard drive has the same impact as a 3-foot putt makes it a very intense few hours when you are trying to be at your best.
What’s your favorite classic piece of literature and why?
While I am not a huge classic literature fan, “The Great Gatsby” would have to be my favorite. A rags-to-riches story of a guy who tries to impress his first love is always inspiring. While it ends in turmoil, I can relate to the Gold Coast as Long Island is where I call home.
Are you the first entrepreneur in your family?
I am not. My family is filled with entrepreneurs who have been a part of multiple business ventures.
Why’d you decide to join or start your company?
I decided to start my company based on a simple need in the industry. I have been in real estate for nearly 10 years and have seen useless technology come and go, as well as some companies develop technology that has made a huge impact on the industry.
A big piece of the puzzle in developing AM Open House was that it connected with other systems. I realized I did not want to reinvent or try to be a separate app people had to learn how to use on its own. I wanted AM Open House to be something that agents could easily add to their business that made sense for them to use.
Describe a time when you felt particularly insecure about the future of your company. How did you bounce back?
When we first launched, we came out with a pricing structure that hindered our growth for about 30 days. We quickly realized that getting agents to see the value first, before worrying about making money, was beyond important. At this point, we are still a bootstrapped company that is 100 percent free to agents and brokers, including white-labeled apps.
What would you describe as your company’s biggest victory since you joined it?
Landing our first brokerage with nearly 1,000 agents has to date been the highlight of the business. We met the person who wound up making the deal happen at an unrelated real estate event, and he has come to love our product.
The relationships we have been able to build through the company thus far have been amazing.
What’s been the biggest obstacle your business has encountered, and how have you dealt with it?
Our biggest obstacle is that I am not a programmer. I am very involved with the day-to-day operations and business development and expect things to happen quickly as my vision continues to improve about the product we offer. Since I do not spend time coding, I am sometimes impatient about getting small tasks completed and launched to our users. I deal with it by taking deep breaths constantly! I realize that we cannot run at full speed at all times.
What puzzles you most about the industry?
I think that the inability for tech developers to access relevant data is amazing. I understand the hesitation that people have with giving away data regarding properties, listings and the like — however, technology will greatly help agents do better business. When the industry as a whole recognizes that technology can greatly alleviate busywork and wasted time, it will be a great day in real estate.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about building a business?
Someone I met at my first Inman conference has a saying that he uses extensively: “Build ‘ships.” Anyone who knows him understands what he means and how important relationships are in this business. Having one person on your side or willing to help you in your business is invaluable. It is much easier to send an email or pick up the phone to get something done when you have spent time to get to know someone to an extent, versus just cold calling and asking for them to help you.
Since building a business is full of ups and downs, building relationships with others in the industry can sometimes give you a different perspective as to what you may be doing right — or wrong. This is a simple lesson that I cannot stress enough.
What’s the most overrated real estate technology?
Drones. I get it: They are cool, they fly around, they take pictures from great heights, and the videos are fun to watch. But at the end of the day, drone photography/videography will never be anything more than people wanting to see super-luxury homes in a way they have not seen them in photos. Drones themselves are fun to play with, but I do not see them ever being an integral part of the real estate process in any way. I think there has been too much hype about them in general for real estate.
How will the role of the real estate agent change over the next five years?
The next five years will be a very interesting transition. The portals, both current and in development, have created a huge dominance over buyers in which they control nearly all of the real estate traffic on the Web. Those agents who refuse to adapt to this new way of homebuying will quickly be left in the dust. I foresee a very different industry in five years, with the younger generation making a large play for dominance.
These younger-generation agents will be able to accomplish what two or three people are currently doing in less time, and more effectively, than the average agent today. They will use technology in a way that will allow them more free time and result in more deal closings. The trade-off here will be that real estate will be much less personal.
Buyer’s agency will become what listing agency is today. The fight will be for buyer contracts, not listing contracts. As real estate technology continues to improve and evolve, sellers will be less likely to hire a real estate agent to list their home and market it. They will be hired only to price and negotiate a deal, for far less than they are paid now. I unfortunately see this as the coming trend with listing agents becoming less and less necessary in the process.
What motivates you more: power or money?
Money. Funny though, since my product is 100 percent free! Money is the means to have the freedom you want, in order to change the world in any way you can. Whether it means donating to charity to find a cure for the most common form of cancer or helping someone when they need it most, you cannot help people with power alone.
What is your biggest professional fear?
Failure. Mark Cuban once said, “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.” When I first read this quote, it made me realize how at any moment, things can drastically change in this industry. Talent and ideas are incredible at this point in our lives, and within days, weeks or months the landscape of an entire industry can change. Don’t believe me? Uber has single-handedly changed the taxi industry and doesn’t own a single car.
What is your biggest personal fear?
Failure. When I decide to do something, I put my mind and body entirely behind it. Failing would mean that I have put too much energy into something that essentially could have been put somewhere else to make a difference. No one wants to fail for any reason, but I refuse to let it be an option.
Whom do you respect most in the industry?
My father. He has been in the business for over 35 years and has been one of the top listing agents in my local market for a long time. His drive, dedication and organization in closing deals is truly unbelievable. I’ve never seen someone able to negotiate multiple deals so easily and make a transaction run so smoothly in one fell swoop. It has been amazing having him as someone to look up to my entire life.
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