A handful of companies loom large over online property search, not least among them Zillow.
That’s why real estate holding company Realogy, which controls brands including Century 21 and Coldwell Banker — is investing in technology that looks far beyond online listing search platforms, said Glenn Fitzgerald, vice president of Realogy’s tech division on Monday. He spoke on an Inman Connect Las Vegas panel entitled “Winning Technology Strategies for Established Companies in the Era of Consolidation.”
“How can we provide tools and systems that help the agent and help the broker … be at the center [of the transaction] in a more intelligent and efficient fashion?” he asked.
One area of focus is chatbots, which are designed to answer real-estate related questions. The goal is to deploy the technology to incubate prospective homebuyers and sellers until they’re ready to talk to actual agents, he said.
In one bid to leverage AI, Realogy has repeatedly poured funds into OJO Labs, including in the startup’s most recent $45 million Series C funding round. Realogy has armed some of its brokerages and agents with OJO’s virtual assistant. The assistant “has helped produce higher conversion rates and closed transactions across our brands, ” Ryan Schneider, Realogy president and CEO, recently told Inman.
Realogy has also developed a machine learning algorithm to identify and recruit up-and-coming agents. It crunches transaction data that Realogy agents generate.
Some of Realogy’s AI projects are part of a broader focus on driving more business to its agents. To that end, the firm is investing in next-generation property search tools, as well as inking partnerships with companies like Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram.
Another part of Realogy’s tech game plan is to integrate its in-house tools with a range of others provided by third-party vendors. The idea is to support flexibility and choice to its army of 250,000 agents.
“We’re able to try and find those products that fit those areas where maybe we don’t have a solution for it yet,” Fitzgerald said.
Realogy makes a point of retaining data that is generated by its agents’ use of third-party products if they’re plugged into parts of Realogy’s in-house tech platform, Fitzgerald said.
“We never give that up. Because of our size and scale, that really is our special sauce, so to speak,” Fitzgerald said. “The more you know, the better all your products can be in the future, whereas if you give that up you’re always dependent on someone else to provide.”