In the first day that Keller Williams’ new consumer-facing app was live, it increased engagement in the company’s tech ecosystem by 600 percent compared to the previous app, according to KW executives. Home searches were up 2,500 percent, according to those executives.
And at one point after the app went live Wednesday, 36,000 people were simultaneously signing up and creating accounts, according to Keller Williams President Josh Team. The response was so overwhelming that it slowed the system down for about 45 minutes.
“It’s a winner’s problem for sure,” Team told Inman in a phone conversation. “We weren’t anticipating quite that much engagement this fast. It’s an exciting surprise for us.”
The app has been in development since 2018 and is designed to create a streamlined, portal-inspired experience for consumers. Team said that Keller Williams did extensive research while building the app, and ultimately found that “at the end of the day, the consumer wants the app to be about them and the experience” — not about agent branding or other features that might traditionally show up on a real estate company’s website.
The result of Keller Williams’ work is consequently a simple interface that foregrounds a map-based search tool.
The app first became available early Wednesday morning. Over the ensuing hours, it climbed from 110th place on the lifestyle list in Apple’s app store and into the top 40, according to Team.
Team also said that there are now about 46 million active users of Keller Williams’ ecosystem — so everything from its app to its websites and other tech products. That number is up about 1 million since the app launched, Team added, indicating that the app has fueled a significant uptick in overall engagement.
Team also said that Keller Williams is already seeing “tens of thousands of agents” activating the app.
And those agents are a lynchpin of the company’s tech strategy.
Though Keller Williams modeled the app’s interface on popular portals, Team said the company’s strategy is for consumers to get it after being prompted to do so by their agents. Keller Williams consequently doesn’t see itself competing directly with companies like Zillow or realtor.com, which have come to dominate generalist real estate searches.
In other words, agents themselves are the distribution network for the app.
“We’re not at all going head to head with the portals,” Team said. “Our goals aren’t necessarily to have, you know, 100 million users. Our goal is to have every agent have 1,000 clients using the app everyday.”
Team said that agents can introduce consumers to the app during pitch meetings, for example, where it should boost their value proposition and make them more competitive. Keller Williams also has a number of digital and print marketing campaigns agents can create. For instance, agents can now use Keller Williams technology to quickly create customized market videos, which they then share online. The videos conclude by inviting consumers to get the app.
Any Keller Williams agent can use the company’s technology to build the videos in about three minutes, Team said.
The ultimate point of all of this is to get consumers to use the app not just as a fun search option, but as a communication and tracking tool as they work with agents. Team specifically described the app as “the Domino’s pizza tracker for buying and selling a home” — a reference to the popular pizza chain’s online order tracking system.
To that end, the app integrates with Keller Williams’ agent platform, dubbed Command.
So, an agent might invite a client to get the app, then send that client a link. When the client clicks the link, his or her account in the app will become connected to the agent’s profile in Command. From that point forward, the agent will then get updates on searches and other activities the client is doing in the app — and will be able to respond with guidance and help.
The app is designed to maintain that agent-client relationship throughout the entire consumer journey, with Team adding that to his knowledge the app gives Keller Williams the truest end-to-end platform in the entire industry.
Team also said that new features are in the works. Among those features will be a tool that allows clients to “collaborate with the agent on offers.” Team compared the feature to the ride-hailing app Uber, saying it will be like having the ability to tell a driver which streets to take.
That particular collaboration feature should debut later this year.
In the meantime, however, the initial launch of the app is a promising sign for the company. And Team said that with the difficult work of building the technology finished, he is looking forward to adding value at different points in the real estate experience.
“What we want to do is provide our agents with national search” he said, “and provide the experience that our consumers want.”