Real estate is often perceived as a people business, and it is — but the tech systems that support agents behind the scenes can make a huge difference in how effectively an agent can operate day to day, agents and other real estate professionals agreed during a rousing conversation on Inman Coast to Coast over the weekend that drew more than 200 responses.
On Sunday, Inman Publisher and founder Brad Inman asked the Inman Coast to Coast Facebook community which brokerage provides their network with the best, most useful, most functional technology, and not surprisingly, responses varied widely across the board.
A few Inman Coast-to-Coasters singled out certain brokerages as being behind-the-times tech-wise, like Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Keller Williams, for having clunkier systems that were temperamental or slow. However, others also praised these same brokerages for having a superior platform and marketing capabilities.
“My team has been running entirely on Command [Keller Williams’ CRM platform] for 18+ months and have found massive success,” said David Voorhees, an agent labs manager for the brokerage in Austin.
Among those brands praised multiple times, companies like eXp, Redfin and NextHome made appearances in the post’s comments.
“I have worked with three of these brokerages,” said Jarrod Davis, an agent with eXp Realty in Ontario. “[RE/MAX] tools are as useless as a white crayon on a white piece of paper. KW was the best at ‘giving it [a] shot’ but always seems to over-promise and under-deliver. I am now with eXp and I think they have the best tool[s] for agents out there today that agents can also grow with if they choose.”
“eXp hands down,” echoed Christina Kraft Swyers, an eXp agent based out of St. Louis. “They have leveraged the cloud office technology to streamline the agent to spending less money to make money. It’s been so efficient that now major corporations, universities and even our own govt/military is using the technology … In the midst of a pandemic our brokerage came out of Q2 not only profitable, but significantly profitable.”
However, a common thread among all involved in the conversation was that technology is largely meaningless without good people supporting it, as well as strong agent adoption of the technology.
“Many offer outstanding and functional tech suites, but really lack a training suite to go along with it,” Ryan Bokros, an agent at JP and Associates in Houston, wrote. “Agents get sold a bill of goods then don’t know how to use it, and the adoption ends up being where we are as an industry (less than 10%). Who cares if the tech is badass if the training and development of agents lacks — both in product knowledge and applicational knowledge.”
“I was at a Realogy company and went to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices about six months ago,” Andrea Geller, broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago, chimed in. “BHHS offers the most of the same and some different to accomplish the same things. Speaking as an agent who uses the tools the big difference is the human support behind the offerings. Even in a pandemic, there was a consistency of support. Speaking from my experience at a regional level, my previous broker had the tools but missed the human part, which is the key to making them valuable to the agent.”
Some seemed to think the brokerage-agent tech divide is so great that it puts two entities that should be working together seamlessly on two very different playing fields.
“Brad Inman, as someone who loves talking to as many people as possible, I have to say every brokerage has some interesting offerings, but what’s more intriguing is how few agents use any of it,” Tim Macy, agent at eXp Realty in San Antonio, wrote. “It’s like brokerages are running a technology race that their agents aren’t running.”
The discussion as a whole seemed to unearth a larger conversation that needs to take place between brokerages and individual agents about how technology should be used by the agent, by the brokerage, and by the two together. That discussion, the agents said, also needs to be fleshed out to include how much support and education is needed or wanted on the agent side in order for technology to truly be fruitful both for agents and the company at large.