As the battle for the best real estate agent tech platform heats up, the giant franchisor Re/Max is getting serious.
In Re/Max’s second quarter earnings call this morning, CEO Adam Contos formally announced that his company is developing “an online platform that will deliver substantial value to consumers and allow Re/Max agents to connect with homebuyers and sellers in a more meaningful way.”
The new Re/Max agent tech platform will be built by booj — which stands for “be original or be jealous” — a fellow Denver-based startup that Re/Max acquired in February 2018.
“Leveraging booj’s existing technology stack, we’re building an integrated platform with products that interact and evolve with one another,” Contos said in the call.
“Included will be a CRM [customer relationship management software], integrated with agent office and team websites, lead cultivation tools, marketing resources, social integration and more – all built with today’s increasingly mobile agent in mind.”
Booj already offers a technology platform that includes websites, mobile apps, predictive analytics and lead generation systems for the real estate industry — including many customers outside of Re/Max.
Acquiring booj signaled a shift in focus at Re/Max, away from using outside vendors and third-party technology to building its own in-house, proprietary solutions — similar to the paths being pursued now by rival national brokerages Keller Williams and Compass.
“We purchased booj in order to help develop, a best-in-class technology platform that creates an online advantage for Re/Max agents and teams and their clients,” Contos said.
Contos confirmed that Re/Max’s ambitious new tech platform is being built right now with input from its affiliates and agents, who are constantly providing feedback for ongoing refinement.
“Development work – fueled by input from Re/Max affiliates – is already underway on what will become a full ecosystem of products on a single platform,” said Contos. “Everything is being designed to help Re/Max brokerages, agents and teams grow their businesses, connect with clients and operate more efficiently and strategically.”
Re/Max – with its 85,861 agents in the U.S. and Canada – could not be entering this battleground soon enough, with established and upstart rivals already well on their way with their own agent-focused, in-house tech platforms.
Compass, for example, has a collection of slick software used by its growing numbers of agents that it feels confident enough to license out to other real estate brokerages — though it recently stumbled straight out of the gate on this plan, abruptly announcing then dropping its first customer, Massachusetts-based independent brokerage Leading Edge (itself a former Re/Max franchise), reportedly because Compass agents balked at market rivals getting to use their fancy tools.
Still, Compass says it has 30-plus other brokerages around the country interested in its technology platform, which, similar to what Re/Max is touting, creates one central location for agents to manage their day-to-day tasks.
From the Compass platform, Compass’ agents can access its search tool and listings database to develop real-time reports for clients. The platform contains a marketing center and digital design studio to create custom marketing campaigns, an insights tool bursting with data and traffic and a collections tool where agents can centralize client discussions and market observations.
Keller Williams, Re/Max’s chief rival for sales volume (in terms of dollars), also shifted its focus to building in-house technology. In a speech earlier this year, Keller Williams co-founder Gary Keller debuted an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant and referrals platform.
In the same presentation, Keller declared, “We are a technology company. No. 1 that means we build the technology. No. 2 that means we hire the technologists …. We are not a real estate company anymore.”
Keller Williams’ “Kelle” app, is a voice-assisted digital personal assistant that helps the company’s agents – there were 159,792 in the United States alone, the company last reported in May – look up leads, track goals and connect with others in the Keller Williams network.
Can booj can help build Re/Max its own high-tech product suite that is as good or better than these big competitors? And can it do so quickly enough to make sure that Re/Max agents and franchises aren’t tempted by the shiny, fancy tools of rivals? We’re about to find out.