Industry-wide, it was a wild year, thanks in no small part to the acceptance of iBuyer platforms and the viral growth of Compass.

Another year in real estate technology—or “proptech”—has come and gone.

Industry-wide, it was a wild one, thanks in no small part to the acceptance of iBuyer platforms; the viral growth of Compass; and a weird stage interview by Gary Keller, whose company led the industry in well-reviewed, direct big-brand innovation but remains, despite his take, a real estate company.

Here are some highs and lows of the year in proptech through the lens of Inman technology reviews, starting with the awarding of its first five-star review in almost five years of reviews.

The app MyPlanit earned its place because of a unique take on the traditional CRM that contextualizes every place and person an agent goes and meets with, down to the minute. There is very sharp location-tracking technology pushing the user experience, too.

No proptech company executives stacked up as many airline miles as the team at BoxBrownie.

The Australian image enhancement company became as ubiquitous at U.S. industry events as an Instagram selfie, boomeranging around the globe in an effort to—rightly so—market an ever-growing library of ways to make real estate imagery look better for less money.

Mr. Keller might still be in charge of a real estate company, but his voice-activated software concierge, Kelle, can provide a few reasons why Keller Williams might soon be the type of company he claims it to be. The app shouldn’t be shrugged off, and 2019 should bring the launch of its consumer version.

The past year saw the rise of “AI” as a term used to position products.

There are many arguments disputing the existence of actual artificial intelligence in many of these products, but dicey marketing jargon aside, saving an agent time is always valued by the industry.

We had a look at the new and fast-growing lead nurturing HelloAlex; discussed the out-of-nowhere acquisition of Wolfnet by AI transaction assistance software maker OJO Labs; and glanced at updates to Facebook chatbot tool, HomeHawk.

In a somewhat contrarian approach, Enthusem seized an opportunity to maintain tradition when it automated hyper-personalized direct mail marketing by connecting with an array of popular CRMs. Mailchimp, a company based entirely on e-mail, announced its postcard mailing solution while ProspectsPlus and ZipYourFlyer continued to innovate direct mail. What’s this tell you?

You want some low points in proptech? We got ’em.

The biggest review flub of the year is without doubt SetSchedule, a lead-providing service and app that got three stars.

Minutes after publishing, a torrent of emails came from Inman readers shouting down the company’s lead quality.

We published two follow-up articles, one pointing out the orchestration of a Wall Street Ponzi scheme by its founder, and one about, well, its “latest and greatest” app in the hope of finding redemption.

Negative emails and pleas from readers to not stop hounding the company about lead quality continue, some coming from people claiming to be former employees.

Sequel had such promise. Given four stars in late December 2017, the custom website developer for brokers based in Vancouver sprouted from its real estate company parent, Rennie. But like many sequels, it just couldn’t win over an audience.

Blockchain continues to be discussed around the industry, but its actual benefits to residential real estate remain as vague as the concept itself.

A few companies pitched their platforms to Inman tech reporters, but ended up scrambling to verify a true blockchain environment when asked a couple of simple questions. As of today, blockchain’s application to residential real estate remains hype.

This column also had a look at Upstream in 2018, the much-discussed technology effort that at one time had locked up the industry’s attention. Today it appears caught in an eddy of uncertainty.

The demo led to more confusion about its purpose. Another demonstration is being discussed, and hopefully we find reason to share our insight with readers.

Rest assured that overall, the state of residential proptech is good. Very good, actually.

Companies like Kingston Lane, Ylopo, and Buyside are doing very cool things with marketing and led gen while Emphasys, Sisu, and TotalBrokerage are innovating back office operations.

As far as 2019 goes? Well, maybe the connected home will prove to have a purpose for agents, perhaps Compass will crack the curtain a little, and hopefully Gary Keller continues to champion big change.

Or at least becomes more willing to sit down.

Email Craig Rowe

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