RE/MAX has begun previewing its forthcoming end-to-end real estate platform for agents and consumers this week at its R4 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Denver-headquartered national real estate franchise is hoping its platform will be the best in the industry as competitors field their own competing agent tech suites. RE/MAX also hopes that one day, its consumer app and website could change behavior and ween consumers off of real estate tech giant Zillow, which is the audience leader online in the U.S. with 157 million average monthly unique users across its various apps and websites (Zillow also owns Trulia and StreetEasy, among others).
Inman got an exclusive preview this week of RE/MAX’s new tech platform, which will begin to roll out to agents in the summer of 2019. Like Keller Williams announced last week, the first piece of that technology will be the company’s proprietary customer relationship management tool (CRM).
Following the release of the CRM to agents, RE/MAX’s consumer-facing website and mobile app will debut some time in the fall.
“One of the things I’ve seen big brands do all too often is they release to their agents when they release to the public,” Ido Zucker, RE/MAX’s senior vice president of development and former owner of booj told Inman. “The last thing we want is the public starts educating agents on tools they didn’t know they had.”
The development of the platform began last year, with the acquisition of booj, a Colorado-based real estate software and tech startup. Since acquiring booj, RE/MAX has increased the size of its internal technology development team to roughly 100 employees.
The staff is split into a research and development team that will launch the products, and a team that will follow up with agents and tweak systems post-launch.
Last week, Keller Williams co-founder and CEO Gary Keller declared victory in the real estate agent technology race alongside the formal debut of Keller Williams’ new CRM, Command, saying all competitors were now playing for second place. RE/MAX, not surprisingly, disagrees.
“The race has just begun,” Zucker said. “We need to look at the next decade to see who the true winners are.”
Adam Contos, on RE/MAX’s fourth-quarter earnings call last week, told investors, “The key for us is to be the best to market – not the first to market.”
What will RE/MAX’s CRM look like?
RE/MAX’s CRM will be the first piece of technology that agents will get their hands on when it launches some time in in the summer of 2019.
“We’ve built a system here that is very flexible and efficient,” Zucker told Inman.
One of the key components of the CRM is the contacts list, which Zucker emphasized is incredibly customizable to each individual agents’ needs. Agents can pull different columns into their view and sort them any which way they want. Column organization can also be saved, day-to-day and contacts can appear on a map, as opposed to a list.
From that contact list, there’s a number of actionable items like loading a call, adding notes or tasks or even adding an event like an open house.
“We’re trying to have a few clicks as possible and help you organize it as efficiently as possible so you get the most out of your day,” Zucker said. “We want agents to have as much time as they need to be able to work with their clients as opposed to waste it on technology. If the technology is built intuitive and the technology is built smartly, then it does a lot of the work for you.”
A key component of that contact list will be RE/MAX’s proprietary lead and sphere scoring system.
Lead score is how close the agent is to a transaction. It speaks to the rest of the tech ecosystem and increases the score when consumers complete actions like opening the website, viewing alerts, viewing properties, saving searches and favoriting properties. If the consumer stops interacting, the score goes down.
The score also fluctuates even after the transaction. Once the transaction is closed, the score will drop significantly, but, if a few years down the line, that customer starts searching for homes again, the agent will get notified that it’s time to start paying attention to that contact again.
The sphere score is most focused on an agent’s productivity and effectiveness. It uses the same technology to score how well an agent is staying on top of a contact and how effective their marketing has been in getting the consumer to answer texts, open emails and interact with alerts. RE/MAX will develop training around the sphere score.
“We’re looking to make it as efficient and effective as possible with as much of the lessons we’ve learned over the last decade and over the last year interviewing RE/MAX agents directly,” Zucker said.
The CRM also includes a deal pipeline, where agents can sort transactions and contacts into different stages and see the total potential gross commissionable income at each stage.
Can RE/MAX’s home search overtake Zillow and Redfin?
There’s already a market leader in the home search sector and Zucker knows that. Building a high-quality consumer-facing website and app is more about getting agents an the public an easy, efficient experience in both, rather than overtaking Zillow. But that doesn’t mean Zucker and his team are shooting low.
“It’s going to be on-par or better than Zillow or any of the competitors out there,” Zucker told Inman, citing consumer concerns over Zillow’s Zestimate and the accuracy and currentness of its home sale data.
“They do have a stranglehold on this industry,” Zucker added. “The way to [displace them] – if the agents believe in the technology that we give them, they’re the army of marketers.”
Zucker said, the way to shift the trend of consumer behavior is to give agents a good, stable offering and have those agents – RE/MAX has 84,449 agents in the U.S. and Canada and 124,280 agents worldwide – expose that offering to as many clients as possible.
Highlights of the consumer offering including savable searches that transfer between the app and website. When a consumer goes out on the road with an agent to look at homes, the saved search will be right there and the homes – and others they haven’t looked at or saved – will pop up on the app as they pass.
Why build end-to-end vs. open architecture?
There are two distinct trends in the industry: build an end-to-end, in-house platform like RE/MAX, Compass and Keller Williams, or build the backbone in-house and combine it with proprietary offerings and technology from outside vendors.
Zucker believes end-to-end is the way to go for a number of reasons: it makes training and learning the systems a more seamless process, it increases agent retention and it allows the technology to all work together in one ecosystem.
“The minute you have workable systems – ones that you can replicate and everyone can benefit from, you’re in a really strong advantage over a company that’s got a general ethos that people try to follow,” Zucker said.
Having one system allows the technologies to speak to each other – for example, the lead and sphere scores that are influenced by the marketing and home search technologies. Zucker said if you’re putting all these different pieces of technology on different islands, you’re playing with half a chess board.
Also, having all the technology developed under the same team allows for further innovation off that existing platform, Zucker explained.
“We’re looking to build a foundation that allows us innovating into the future on this and we want to make sure we’re doing it correctly,” Zucker said. “An ecosystem allows you to take advantage of things that are down the road.”