The real estate technology landscape once mirrored the view east from central Colorado.
Brokers had a clear, flat view of their options. Its definitive horizon made navigation simple, and the opportunities were easy to see.
One day, the industry awoke with their view cast west. What was comfortable and familiar had suddenly become uncertain and hard to navigate. Overnight, the technology landscape underwent widespread upheaval, and brokers were left without a map.
Today, agents are pulled toward countless one-off, non-scalable software products. There’s less, if any, control over lead generation. Fast-moving, well-funded disruption-focused entities have emerged to campaign against the core value proposition of the industry: localized, one-on-one service.
With the landscape more crowded and confusing than ever, we reflected on the lessons we all learned last year, uncovering three ideas that we believe can lead us back to a path toward service, collaboration, and smart growth. And, it favors the agent-based model that’s worked for more than a century.
A core platform is essential
Technology products shouldn’t outpace the people they’re designed to serve, nor leave them confused about how to make them work together.
Instead of constantly assessing new, stand-alone apps and services, or worrying if one lead source makes another irrelevant, brokers can benefit from a common technology foundation that supports all levels of agents and teams, reduces overlapping tech costs, eliminates wasted resources, and drives a more sustainable business.
A platform solution gives purpose and a common “home” for multi-disciplined systems. It lets social media publishing tools function alongside website builders, and lead providers alongside CRMs. Agents can learn and adopt new tech in less time, speeding time to profit.
That inter-connectedness empowers performance, drives higher efficiencies, creates happier and more successful agents, and offers tremendous scalability as agent desks fill up (either physically or virtually).
The core platform is here to stay.
Lead independence matters
Some lead sources, primarily large portals, have become gate-keepers instead of service providers, hindering agent and brokerage revenue under stringent contracts, rising costs, and more importantly, poor results.
It’s not healthy for brokers to depend on a single provider, which can capture budgets and financially lock-down agents.
It’s our stance that brokers can be empowered to better serve agents when given the keys to the lead generation engine, as it helps clearly track costs, better control messaging, and intricately measure ROI. We’ve learned that diversifying your lead sources and putting budget towards in-house lead generation improves the overall cost-effectiveness and quality, resulting in higher agent productivity. It also offers recruiting benefits, encourages office-loyalty, and provides more agents with more opportunities for new business.
Brokers should seek tech partners who offer omnichannel lead generation and automated client follow-up, ongoing marketing support, and a service-based business model. Both brokers and agents should be able to convert leads more efficiently, and for less money.
Leads are ultimately people, and they can grow into brand advocates, not merely buyers and sellers. The technology has evolved, real estate professionals can do powerful things from a laptop or mobile device. New business processes should reflect that flexibility and freedom.
User success should be hard-coded
Technology providers, like us, should take even more accountability for user engagement, customers’ long-term success, and our role in how a brokerage differentiates itself.
Thus, we need to help you be better at your job. How can we close the gap between inquiry and response? Can we anticipate a client’s need? How quickly can we adapt to the changing needs of the real estate consumer?
The last few years have shown us that the industry needs more guides, technology companies that go the extra thousand miles in ensuring every user has the support, service, tools, and training they need to succeed. Top-down, business-wide. Not just at launch, but years into the relationship.
In order to keep the industry moving to the summit, we need to look at user support as a product feature, not a value-add. Ensuring user success should be hard-coded.
Naturally, this will require increased levels of attention, dedicated service teams, and success-oriented sales. When proptech providers focus as much on developing innovative solutions as serving them, the entire industry benefits.
At Inside Real Estate, our 2020 will be centered on clients, implementing what we learned in 2019, and finding ways to lead our industry through this ever-changing new world.