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Technology has always been a topic at Inman Connect events, and executives from three major industry players — Zillow, Keller Williams and Realtor.com — shared their respective takes at Inman Connect New York this week on the trends expected to take hold in 2023.
Zillow has hundreds of engineers spending this year working on very cool things which most of us probably won’t understand, according to Curt Beardsley, the company’s vice president of Industry Development, who retired briefly in 2021.
Those things include natural language search and using machine learning and artificial intelligence to extract information from photos, a tactic developed to help homeshoppers better understand a home’s quality, finishes and amenities, as well as make marketing easier for agents.
“But that’s not what I want to focus on,” Beardsley said. “Here are three things you can do with technology to be better in 2023. Write ‘em down.”
Beardsley then told the crowd to lean heavily into creating engaging online experiences, namely as it relates to helping homebuyers understand if the house is right for them.
“We think consumers are going to spend more time online, so all that technology starts to matter,” he said.
Second on Zillow’s roadmap is continuing to work on how floor plans interact with listing photos. This helps buyers be more immersed and improves how online home-showing calendars interact with all parties’ actual availability.
Finally, Beardsley asked the audience to “Invest time and energy with companies that are going to be here next year.” His point is to avoid working with venture-backed technology companies that struggle to deliver on their promises. “You need a company that can actually stretch it all together.”
Keller Williams’ Chief Technology Officer Chris Cox, burdened with the pressure of helping a real estate company stay centrally focused on software development, said the franchise giant is directing investments to ensure its efforts revolve around the agent.
“One of our priorities is in the agent-enabling CRM space, how do we take that to the next level in regard to intelligence in search and robust lead generation?” Cox said. “Secondly, we’re focused on the support of context, if the agent’s database is their lifeblood, how do we leverage that?”
Cox went on to explain that flattening the real estate transaction — removing barriers to expediency — remains key as does creating a “digital market center experience.“ Keller Williams calls its offices, “market centers.”
“We want less brick and mortar dependence,” Cox said.
Ben Litvinas is the senior vice president of Data and Analytics at Realtor.com. He took the stage at Inman Connect likely knowing what many in the audience did not, that his company is in talks to be acquired by search rival CoStar, news that broke early Wednesday morning, the second day of Inman Connect New York, and surged into the blank spaces of ballroom stage discussions.
Nevertheless, Litvinas carried the company water, sharing how Realtor.com wants to understand agents and consumers as deeply as possible.
“We’ve built out a team of over 100 data scientists that are dedicated 100 percent of the time to learning just that,” he said. Data scientists use information from the past to predict the future, according to Litvinas.
“What we want to do is look at all that data we have on our site from both consumers and successful transactions and understand what makes a successful transaction,” he said.
Realtor.com wants to help consumers understand their options in the wake of new models. Naturally, they also want to help agents.
“How can we make everyone more successful?”
One way is listing insights, a tool that gives agents information on why a sale went well or if it may go well.
“We predict how a listing is performing, how it will perform and give guided coaching on how to make that listing do better,” Litvinas said.
Looks like the audience may have to wait to see how that pans out.