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The real estate industry was the proverbial defibrillator for the pandemic economy, according to Century 21 CEO Mike Miedler.
On the main stage at Inman Connect Las Vegas, while sharing his thoughts on the role of technology in real estate, Miedler took a moment to congratulate the audience on the work the industry did to catalyze a historic real estate market.
However, Miedler wasn’t as quick to credit the technological tools agents used to get us here.
“We went out there and were able to deliver,” he said. “We showed up, did innovative things, and puts boots on the ground. But this might be an unpopular opinion; I don’t believe that technology is absolutely a differentiator in our business.”
The executive noted how remote online notarization (RON) and virtual tours entered the mainstream, but the overall fragmentation, the number of vendors and disparate business centers available hold back technology from being critical to industry growth.
New Jersey, for example, doesn’t use RON. When Miedler had to move during the pandemic, he was signing a stack of paperwork in his backyard in the cold. His point is that until all states accept it or it becomes a national standard, adoption will suffer.
“From MLSs to contracts to all the different forms to mortgage and ancillary services and title, the value is from the agents pulling that all together,” he said.
Miedler doesn’t totally brush off the role of technology in real estate. Far from it. He believes the consumer end is where it’s more needed, as opposed to agents requiring it for business.
“The way technology can be a differentiator is in the consumer experience,” he said.
Century 21’s technology development has centered on sales, finding ways to stimulate production.
While so many in the industry are working toward the one-click-to close model, Miedler doesn’t see it as achievable.
“I say that from experience,” he said, again noting fragmentation.
“If you really look at it from lead generation to lead routing to CRM to CMA to presentation to all the widgets you need to plug in for research and marketing, there’s all these different vendors out there that have some component of that ecosystem they are offering to our agents.”
He told the audience that his brokerages are using anywhere from six to a dozen different technologies to run their business. “Then you layer agents on top of that, they’re all using something different.”
It’s going to states and NAR coming together to create an holistic experience. The transaction process has to get smoothed out.
“We have to do a better job as an industry truly articulating the value that we have in the representation life cycle,” he said.