Keller Williams has acquired SmarterAgent, a mobile-first platform that connects to more than 650 multiple listing services and allows brokers and agents to create branded real estate search apps, Inman has learned.
The move to acquire the technology platform, which currently serves more than 300 brokerages, will allow the real estate franchisor to compete directly with search giants like Zillow and Redfin, Keller Williams Chief Innovation Officer Josh Team told Inman.
“As we’re breaking out more and more of our technology platform, consumers are a big part of that,” Team said. “We’re going to be launching our new consumer strategy in the first quarter of next year and mobile will obviously be a big piece of that.”
Keller Williams is currently SmarterAgent’s largest client. The technology platform boasts more than 400,000 active agents and 20 percent of the brokerages listed on Real Trends 500 use SmarterAgent, according to Team.
“We are building the end-to-end platform for real estate,” Team said. “SmarterAgent, our agent’s branded mobile app, will be connected in real-time with their database, marketing plans and Kelle, our AI, as part of an all-in-one system, allowing Keller Williams agents to simplify their life and focus on providing the best consumer experience.”
Keller William’s decision to acquire SmarterAgent was a defensive move against tech distributors in the industry, Team said. Founded a decade ago by brothers Brad and Eric Blumberg in Philadelphia, SmarterAgent hands Keller Williams a team of 31 mobile developers and MLS knowledge as it pushes to develop a state-of-the-art consumer-facing app. There are no plans for layoffs and Keller Williams will retain the company’s senior management team.
“You’ve heard Gary [Keller] talk about the agent-enabled tech versus the tech-enabled agent, and so the idea of a Zillow or Redfin coming in and buying SmarterAgent then having access to all 400,000 agents’ mobile apps out there being used by millions of people was something that was concerning to us,” Team said.
Team said the acquisition is a signal to Keller Williams agents that the company is serious about its investment in technology and revealed that the company has quietly acquired a number of other tech platforms in the past four months.
Team declined to provide the names of the companies acquired by Keller Williams but said that among them is one of the largest property management software platforms, a home inspection product and a company focused on real estate data, AI, predictive intelligence and contract parsing. The acquisitions come as Keller Williams seeks to launch virtual brokerages for its expansion franchises.
“Now is the time that the brokerage community joins as brother in arms,” Team said. “The more that we can help every agent’s mobile application get better, the more that we can help every brand defend their share of market right now – as we move into a slower market and some of these companies are operating on razor thin margins and not making profit at all – they’re going to be challenged.”
SmarterAgent checks off an important box as part of Keller Williams’ multi-pronged roadmap to enhancing its technology.
“The foundation is a connected real estate platform and on top of that you have three core focuses: your brokerage operating platform, agent-operating platform and consumer operating platform,” Team said. “The SmarterAgent acquisition allows us to speed up the deployment of the consumer arm of that. They already have the foundation, we just have to enhance it, improve it, and build a better consumer experience.”
Keller Williams declined to provide terms of the acquisition, but Team said the funding of the SmarterAgent acquisition and other recent acquisitions stem from the company’s $1 billion tech fund, which was announced at Inman Connect San Francisco in 2017.