The chief executive made the ambitious pledge during the RE/MAX Broker Owner Conference in Chicago while unveiling the company’s new end-to-end technology platform, booj, which he positioned as as an effort to “move toward change and not fear it,” he said.
“I want to be the global real estate technology leader. Period, ” Contos said to applause. “With our scale and global footprint, this gives us an advantage nobody has.”
With the new platform, agents affiliated with RE/MAX will be able to automatically generate a branded app to send to each consumer they meet. It’s how RE/MAX plans to compete with search giants such as Zillow and realtor.com as well as the revamped consumer-facing experiences coming from Keller Williams and Compass.
With 127,020 agents, each with their own sphere, Contos envisions getting the RE/MAX app onto 2.5 million phones in the first year and 5 million phones in the future.
Contos also addressed worries that such technology threatens to disintermediate agents, adding that buying a home is expensive, risky and unique.
“Buying a house is not buying a book, watching a movie or getting a ride,” Contos added. “Disruption starts with unhappy customers, not changes in technology.”
The idea that technology could one day eliminate the agent isn’t new. RE/MAX Chairman David Liniger said it’s something he’s heard for years, but recently, that’s beginning to change. Liniger cited Zillow’s recent “flip-flop,” as he called it, when Zillow CEO Rich Barton said agents will always be the center of the transaction.
Technology companies, Liniger added, are beginning to realize they’re not going to take over the real estate market. Instead, they’re pivoting to technology sales in an effort to take a slice of commissions from agents and brokerages.
RE/MAX has always been at the forefront of technological change in the industry, Liniger added. He recalls unveiling the RE/MAX satellite network – the education platform that eventually transformed into RE/MAX University – in 1994 during a National Association of Realtors trade show and watching other companies set up whiteboards in a bid to copy the platform. “We really shot the first technology bullet out into the industry,” Liniger said.
Liniger also addressed the launch of the booj platform in an industry where others are racing to build technology platforms.
“I’ll put this product up against the technology of any of our competitors and they’re not even in our shadow,” Liniger said.
Contos also revealed that RE/MAX launched a partnership with Photofy, a content creation and photo editing app that will allow brokers to create custom-branded marketing materials for listings and recruiting efforts at no cost.
RE/MAX is also launching emoji stickers to the iOS, Contos announced at the conference.