Real estate is always directly in the path of whatever economic derailment crashes through the country; the industry props up so much and so many.
One could look at this fact as a good thing, as it suggests just how vital the buying and selling of homes is to our nation’s well-being.
However, because of that, even if a recession isn’t tied directly to the industry, it still suffers. Homes can lose value, banks lose business and agents lose incomes. A petition has been recently created to support real estate agents’ inclusion in a national stimulus package to help the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, as agents lose incomes, so do the countless businesses that rely on them, such as inspectors, marketing administrators, photographers and the wide array of technology companies that help today’s brokerages better serve their customers.
In response to the sudden industry upheaval caused by coronavirus, proptechs are implementing plans to support themselves and the country’s real estate agents, ranging from discounted pricing to enhanced services, such as more email sends per account and additional training and strategic support.
It starts at the top
Last week, Keller Williams CEO Gary Keller penned a general letter of support to his company’s nationwide network of housing professionals. In it, he said to “double down on leads.”
Inman reached out to some of the industry’s leading proptechs to see how they are responding to the prospect of an industry downturn. And because Keller fancies himself a tech company CEO, it’s important to know what kind of example he’s setting for the rest of the industry.
Compass CEO Robert Reffkin is also echoing Keller’s sentiment. In a letter to his company, he encouraged agents to focus on earning future business during this uncertain time. Specifically, he stated that only 20 percent of Compass agents are active in their CRMs and that now would be a good time to see that percentage increase.
LionDesk CEO David Anderson paid heed to that leads recommendation and encouraged his customer base to focus on their existing contacts and spheres of influence.
In an email to Inman, Anderson said that even though agents, in most cases, can’t be face-to-face with clients at the moment, they can still see them.
“Our message to them was to leverage video email and video texting,” Anderson said.
“We’re seeing a lot of messages going out from LionDesk users to their clients’ providing value, asking to help, and letting their clients know that they are there if they need anything,” he said. “It’s quite amazing to see people giving and expecting nothing in return. Relationships are being solidified.”
LionDesk is increasing the volume of emails, texts and video texts customers are allowed, according to Anderson.
The company is also offering new subscribers 50 percent off for the next three months.
Technology platform provider Inside Real Estate has launched a formal initiative to support agents, teams and brokers during the COVID-19 slowdown. They call it their Customer Empowerment Program.
Similar to Keller, IRE CEO Ned Stringham crafted a sincere promise that his company’s technology and staff are here for the industry and its 200,000-plus users.
The letter stated in part, “To further demonstrate our commitment to our customers and the industry as a whole, we are launching a Customer Empowerment Program aimed at providing financial relief, virtual training and enhanced productivity for brokerages, teams and agents across the US and Canada.”
The effort will defer payments for eligible accounts and provides a new, weekly webinar series on how best to leverage Inside Real Estate’s multitude of sales and marketing features for brokers as well as agents and teams.
The webinars will cover digital marketing of listings, engaging leads and customers online, empowering video marketing, landing page tactics and the all-important and topical “hosting and promoting a virtual open house.”
In addition to directly serving their leads, both Anderson and Stringham are making sure their own teams are safe and doing what’s right for the good of their respective communities.
“As of today, we are 100 percent remote with over 50 team members in four States in the U.S., Canada and Mexico,” Anderson said. “The team has embraced remote work, we have always had a morning huddle, but now it’s just all virtual using Microsoft Teams.”
Anderson also sends daily video updates to the entire company, and company managers are doing the same for their departments.
Chime, which offers a CRM, web marketing tools and other related technologies, launched an educational webinar series related to conducting business in this unprecedented market. The first was called “Navigating the Housing Market Post Covid-19.”
In an email to Inman, McGowan said the company is continuing to push forward with internal business and product innovations, albeit under all recommendations set forth by state and federal authorities.
“We continue to engage in discussions about partnering. Our developers are still working, our sales team is engaging, our Customer Success team is busy 24/7 and we continue to innovate — just last week we released our newest CMS version of our websites,” he said.
A number of other recognized industry technology names are doing their part, too. Realtor.com is reducing its monthly subscription costs and Zillow is covering 50 percent of its Premier Agents’ bill for one month.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman. He lives near Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.