Every year, Inman celebrates the most innovative companies that are shaping the future of real estate and establishing themselves on the industry’s cutting edge.

This year’s finalists for the Inman Innovators Most Innovative Real Estate Company category are committed to forging new frontiers in real estate, carving paths and building tools that will help the entire industry find its way forward.

Many of them will be taking the stage at Inman Connect San Francisco, July 17 through 20 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, and celebrating their achievements at the Inman Innovator Bash, July 19 at Verso. Here are some highlights from the 2018 class of nominees for the Most Innovative Real Estate Company.

1000watt: 1000watt is a real estate marketing agency that specializes in branding, strategy 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. Headed and staffed by real estate industry experts who understand how to articulate a company’s value in a way that resonates with consumers, 1000watt has been responsible for some of the most compelling and successful brand refreshes and marketing campaigns in real estate.

Compass: Compass has taken the real estate industry by storm since it launched in New York and then expanded aggressively to new markets all over the country, landing itself a billion-dollar valuation and attracting attention everywhere it goes. And the high-tech upstart recently announced 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.

Knock: Knock is an iBuyer that facilitates fast and easy transactions for sellers and buyers. It’s a licensed brokerage in 10 states that employs real estate agents as “local licensed experts” who are paid salaries and earn commissions. Knock recently launched a trade-in model that assists seller clients in fixing up and listing their current home in addition to buying a new home for all-cash and moving in, giving them a streamlined option for moving out and moving on.

LoanDepot: 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 securing a mortgage in a generation that’s comfortable with digital sales but needs support understanding the financial world. The mello platform offers expert loan officers to answer consumer questions — and provides top-notch, qualified leads to partner real estate agents in the process.

New Story: New Story is a nonprofit organization that uses 3D technology to build (or, if you prefer, print) affordable homes. By leveraging 3D printers and its unique blueprints for building that work in locations all over the planet, New Story is able to achieve home-building economies of scale. Its homes cost less than $6,500 apiece, and it’s funded more than 1,300 homes for families all over the world.

Purplebricks: 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, offering both buyers and sellers pricing transparency and control over their budgets with its fee scale and agreement. It secured a $177 million investment before expanding its stateside launch to New York, where it’s establishing a U.S.-based foothold; if buyers and sellers on this side of the pond like it as much as their overseas counterparts, then we’ll be seeing more Purplebricks everywhere.

RealKey: 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. By saving significant time surrounding the loan, RealKey could be a real key to shorter transactions in the not-too-distant future.


The Group Inc: 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. As the leadership torch passed from productivity expert Larry Kendall (who also founded Ninja Selling) to tech executive Brandon Wells, The Group’s focus on both processes and technology make it a major player in the fast-growing Northern Colorado market.

Zillow: Zillow shook up the real estate industry by making real estate data and information accessible to everyone; over the years, it’s established 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 addition to a cutting-edge agent app that helps agents manage their Zillow listings and advertising. And in 2018, Zillow shook up the industry again when it launched its own iBuyer program in two markets.

See the rest of the Most Innovative Real Estate Company finalists.

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