My front row seat to the future of real estate

How I’m working with Keller Williams to shape technology and transform the customer experience

As agents, we have a problem.

Over the last decade, we willingly invited “disruptive” software and solution providers into our businesses – and our data. Many of us (yes, I am included) have multiple CRM platforms, different lead gen and lead management systems, transaction management systems, our websites, and post-close client management workflows managed by yet another system or service. Yet, many of us also still rely on Excel spreadsheets because none of these disparate systems are tied together.

The data to create on-demand, personalized market and client insights is being generated; however, it’s sitting untapped in silos that we don’t own.

So, how are we going to solve the problem of having lots of technology that doesn’t help grow our businesses and costs us money?

Paving the way for the tech-enabled agent

Let me be frank. I don’t have the resources to build new technology that harnesses the power of big data myself and neither do you. However, my company does. In fact, Keller Williams has built the proprietary technology tools that allow me to harness data and insights from 186,000 fellow agents – and that is data we own.

This distinction is really important. Before I became an agent, I spent 12 years working for a Fortune 50 technology company. That experience taught me that it matters who owns the technology and the data because that ownership leads to relationships. And relationships will always be the lifeblood of our business.

But think about how powerful those relationships can be when we have the right technology to amplify them.

To help ensure we’re creating technology that will truly enable agents, I make several trips a year to KWRI headquarters in Austin to participate first-hand in what we call KW Labs. In these interactive, hands-on Labs, I mastermind on solutions, give design feedback, and build out agent and user workflows with other agents and the tech team. I am using the technology, and I am constantly providing feedback to make it better.

At the same time, Keller Williams hosts consumer labs that place buyers and sellers in the driver’s seat of their technology. This technologist/consumer collaboration is fast-tracking our success and moving us closer to an end-to-end consumer experience. It is amazing to see what can be accomplished when we work together.

Over the last three years, we’ve developed real estate’s first industry-specific cloud platform and artificial intelligence that provides agents with instantaneous insights for our clients. And this is just the beginning. I’m currently working on new products and services to help manage business areas such as lead management, marketing, and referrals.

These tools are available at no additional cost to the agent, so we can reduce operating costs and invest that money in lead generation and other ways to grow our business.

Last year, our Portland-based team sold $78 million in real estate, helping more than 144 clients with their home purchase or sale. With the full suite of KW technology, we expect to save nearly $50,000 per year. That’s money that goes straight to the bottom line. We can recognize it as profit, reinvest it in growth or offer unique services our competition can’t afford.

And that doesn’t even count the money and time saved not having to manage the spreadsheets that bridged all our past tech silos.

Focus on the client experience

You might get the impression that our technology investments are solely for agents, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We recognize our ultimate responsibility is to our clients.
I’ve personally sat across the table from hundreds of clients through some of the most emotional, most stressful times of their lives, and I can confidently say they want a human being and not a chatbot, guiding them through the purchase or sale of their home. They will always want an advocate who can help them with aspects like home financing or negotiations with sellers, to name a few examples.

While we can’t predict the future, we can see the changes happening now and prepare ourselves — which is exactly what we’re doing here at Keller Williams. It’s why I, my fellow agents, and our leadership are betting big on the technology that will not only help us strengthen the agent-client relationship, but also keep us competitive in the years ahead.

Sarita Dua runs a Mega Agent team in Portland, Oregon, and has been at Keller Williams since 2010. An Electrical Engineer with an MBA, she spent the first 12 years of her career in high tech sales and marketing. Sarita enjoys training, coaching, and is an industry speaker at KW and industry events alike. She loves the intersection of technology and real estate and has enjoyed immersing herself fully in KW Labs this year. In addition, Sarita is pursuing an Executive MBA at MIT (class of 2020). And when she isn’t selling houses, teaching, speaking or studying, Sarita is an avid traveler, having crossed the seventh continent off her bucket list earlier this year.