You’ve all seen it: the real estate tech vendor pitching their technology as a “one-stop-shop” for agents with the goal of simplifying and streamlining their workflow in all that they do.
It makes sense, of course: Why would anyone want to have to log in to several different systems to get their work done? And why would anyone want to pay for several different systems if it can all be done with one product?
When you look at the reality, though, the most successful companies in real estate (tech or otherwise) are decidedly not one-stop-shops. Dotloop, for instance, solves the pain of documents in real estate.
Contactually solves the pain of managing customers. Evernote helps you organize notes.
Compare those to their competitors that do everything and the kitchen sink and you can see why these single-solution companies have broken through to the mainstream while others languish with Swiss-army-knife systems that try to solve every aspect of an agent’s life (and try to solve them with the decisions they’ve made about what these solutions should look like).
And therein lies the problem: it’s hard enough to understand any one aspect of being a real estate agent well enough to be able to build a good solution for it.
But to gain this understanding across multiple problems and multiple touch points, and then have enough conviction to build multiple solutions that all magically address each problem is nearly impossible.
When problems such as document signing are hairy enough to warrant their own solution, it’s far more likely that a company focused on simply solving that one thing, day in and day out, is going to deliver a better researched, better-built and better-marketed solution than the company that includes document signing as just one feature.
Not even Apple has the hubris to try to solve every problem in a consumer’s life, instead preferring to leave these opportunities to its ecosystem of app developers.
Understandably, it’s tempting to try to build a holistic solution anyway.
Do any customer research in the real estate space, and you’ll hear agents say they want a one-stop-shop — a lot. But, as I’ve said before in this column, listening to your customers is not the same thing as building the solutions they say they want.
What they’re saying when they say “I want a one-stop-shop” is that they don’t perceive there to be enough value relative to the cost of adding and using another solution.
One way to deal with that is to reduce the number of solutions they have to add by building an all-in-one solution. A better way is to make the value of an additional solution greater than the cost of adding another product to the mix.
If a product is sufficiently valuable or if it’s perceived as being so easy to use that the value outweighs the cost, then it doesn’t much matter if it’s yet another product to use.
Finally, agents are unique. There is no typical agent, there is no typical day, and there is no typical set of tasks an agent has to accomplish.
No other profession demands such a breadth of experience and capabilities; one moment you’re printing CMAs, the next moment you’re playing psychologist for a first-time homebuyer and the next moment you’re taking a call about pricing strategy while driving to meet someone for a house tour.
So to expect a piece of software to solve all these things (and the thousand others that I didn’t list here) is to expect a hard-to-use, “Frankensoftware” solution that addresses none of these tasks adequately, as compared to standalone alternatives.
It’s a good thing to have multiple tools to solve multiple problems, and the industry should demand that these systems be interoperable instead of hoping for more one-stop-shops to come to market.
Jonathan Aizen is the founder and CEO of Amitree Inc.