Marketing expert Molly McKinley shares her thoughts on technology, the current state of the industry and why we still have a long way to go. Is Brad Inman’s vision of a latte experience still too far out of reach?

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As many of us are still processing the chaos surrounding the real estate industry, the significance of professional events to foster unity and connection is increasingly important. One thing that has helped to unify the industry in the last decade is the use of tech to build a better experience for consumers and a streamlined experience for agents.

Recently, I had the privilege of witnessing an exclusive interview with Sherry Chris, who reflected on her retirement as CEO of Anywhere Expansion Brands Portfolio, including BHGRE and ERA. During the conversation, Andrew Flachner and Chris recalled a memorable moment from a previous Inman Connect stage, where Brad Inman challenged industry problem-solvers with the “latte vision” – simplifying real estate transactions until they’re as effortless as buying a cup of coffee.

Despite nearly a decade passing since that challenge, the industry remains distant from that vision. Chris’s remark, “Well, it certainly hasn’t gone as quickly as we thought it was going to,” resonates with many of us, prompting a contemplation of why creating a unified solution for streamlining real estate transactions remains a daunting task.

Coffee order: Can tech serve us what we need?

Having had the privilege of witnessing the real estate industry from various perspectives as a marketer, I feel like I can shed light on this challenge. One of the primary complexities of real estate arises from the diverse ways of working in real estate, including franchise brokerages, independent brokerages, teams, and individual agents – each with distinct differences.

For technology builders, understanding and catering to these diverse user paths can be exceedingly difficult, as they create unique challenges that don’t neatly fit into individual or enterprise solutions.

Additionally, even when brokerages provide technology to their agents, it does not guarantee adoption. Agents often independently seek out and invest in technology solutions that align with their specific business models and preferences.

Funnel me this

Some tech-savvy agents focus on digital lead funnels, requiring tech that efficiently attracts, captures, nurtures and qualifies leads. On the other hand, agents thriving on referrals, events and relationships may require minimal tech support.

Most agents fall somewhere in between, exploring different tools, leading to fragmented technology solutions that may not connect with each other effectively. Moreover, defining the goal of technology implementation further complicates the scenario, with some aiming to increase transaction volume while others focus on raising price point averages or reducing client churn with seamless consumer experiences.

Furthermore, the challenge of delivering a unified solution is amplified by brokerages acquiring best-in-class tools, limiting their accessibility to agents outside those companies.

Though merging and acquiring beloved agent tools could lead to a unified solution, the fear of replacing functional technology creates reluctance among brokerages to take such steps. I still see agents and brokers clench their fists to heart when the Compass-Contactually acquisition is referenced.

What we really, really want

To achieve a truly unified technology solution for real estate transactions, we need a deep understanding of the industry and a commitment to building tech that complements agents’ workflows.

Capital investment, likely through mergers and acquisitions, will be essential in weaving together the best aspects of each company’s product. A clear vision and strategic roadmap, coupled with collaboration among bright minds both within and outside the industry, will drive implementation by leveraging cutting-edge technology innovations.

These innovations are no simple task and require an incredible amount of time to build and bring to market.

As we look ahead, the promise of unity, streamlining and ease in the real estate industry are essential. Technologies like AI, blockchain, bots and even more big data are on the horizon. Without a unified solution, the industry risks lagging even further behind.

The time has come to transcend the makeshift assemblage of systems and embrace a seamless platform that empowers agents to handle all their needs in one place. While the pursuit of this vision may not be a mere pipe dream, it will necessitate dedication and a collaborative effort from all stakeholders.

I am confident that some as-yet-unnamed company possesses the potential to be the pioneer in delivering a unified solution. Who are you rooting for to pull this off?

Molly McKinley, co-founder of Redtail Creative, Intentionaliteas and author of The Intentional Business: A Path to Purpose & Prosperity, is an expert at connecting the dots. She is a serial entrepreneur, public relations and integrated marketing strategist with over 25 years of experience launching new products and brands.

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