Innovation in real estate tech happens at a rapid pace. It seems like every week there’s a new company or tool poised to disrupt the real estate space with groundbreaking technology.
As The Close’s resident real estate Technology Analyst, it’s my job to stay on top of real estate tech trends and keep our readers in the loop on the technology that could potentially disrupt the way they (and their buyers and sellers) do business.
I recently spent a week at the Inman Connect conference in Las Vegas talking with those on the leading edge of real estate tech disruption. Here are my five major takeaways.
1. Real Estate Marketing Companies > Lead Generation Companies
The moment we set foot into the Aria Conference and Events Center for Inman Connect, it was clear there was a focus shift happening in the way real estate tech players were thinking about the next set of real estate tools.
Noticeably absent from the expo hall were pure-play lead generation players like BoldLeads and Market Leader. Noticeably present were companies shifting the conversation away from paid lead generation and toward building a holistic marketing and branding strategy.
Standouts in this space were Real Grader, a company focused on helping real estate professionals understand, improve, and maintain their digital reputation on platforms like Google, Facebook, Zillow, Instagram, and more.
Also worth mentioning—this was the first time the Vegas conference had an Innovation Sponsor, Elm Street Technology. Elm Street, the owner of notable brands like Elevate CRM, gave us some of the inside scoop on their plans to expand their efforts into the marketing space, a trend they are poised to lead in 2022 and beyond.
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2. Real Estate Tech Tools Now Have Expiration Dates
Guy Gal is the founder of Side, a real estate brokerage platform that is disrupting the classic brokerage model. He made some pretty eye-opening pronouncements from the main stage during an interview with Greg Robertson, General Manager of MLS at Lone Wolf Technology.
Robertson asked Gal about his expectations for new technology tools for real estate professionals, and Gal didn’t hold back. “It’s going to change, it always will change, and it should change. Anyone who wants you to use the same CRM, the same way, for years and years doesn’t have your best interest in mind—they have theirs,” said Gal. “Think about it, how many of you in the audience are using the same smartphone you were four years ago?”
Frankly, it’s hard to argue with this logic. Real estate professionals should expect their tools to level up. If your website, customer relationship manager (CRM), and lead generation strategies haven’t changed since before the pandemic, you’re not just standing still, you’re getting left behind.
Now, that’s not to say that you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. It’s true, I’ve been through multiple smartphones since 2018, but they’ve all been iPhones. Finding tools you can grow with and that can grow with your changing needs seems like the smart move here.
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3. Algorithmic Marketing Is on the Rise (And It Makes Your Follower Count Matter Less)
Wait, did Chris just make up a new catchphrase? Maybe. Well, what the heck is “algorithmic marketing”?
It’s the term I use to describe content and marketing experiences on platforms like TikTok. What makes these experiences different? The content you see is driven primarily by your interests (at least, the interests that TikTok thinks you have) instead of who you’re friends with or who you’ve chosen to follow.
This represents a world-changing shift in the way real estate professionals think about their content on social media platforms. It means that if you produce good content and the platform’s algorithm determines that your content will resonate with readers, you can get in front of a lot of people without having a huge following.
Need proof? Ask Inman Innovator Award winners Matt Lionetti and Close contributor Eric Simon (The Broke Agent). With less than 15,000 followers between them, their videos have racked up hundreds of thousands of views—and they are just getting started. Why? Because their content is good.
And, Instagram and Facebook are already moving to copy this model. Great content was always important, but now it’s required if you want to compete.
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4. Brokerages Are Expected to Provide More & Better Tech to Their Agents
I know, this doesn’t sound much like a disruption, but hear me out. In a raucous discussion between fremenies Nick Bailey, CEO of RE/MAX and Marc King, President of Keller Williams, they managed to agree on the following key point:
A well-appointed CRM, IDX website, and basic marketing tools are considered table stakes. If you aren’t coming to agents with, at a minimum, these tools, consider your time limited.
This is a fairly significant departure for leaders at this level. Typically, they deliver messages about providing the “lowest-cost options” and “letting the agent make their own choices when it comes to the services they want.” It’s clear that following the pandemic and in this new world of real estate we find ourselves in, brokers are realizing a couple of important things:
- Agents want autonomy, but they still want offerings.
- Left to their own devices, most agents will underutilize technology, often leading to underperformance.
Is there a company with a perfect solution to this problem? Not quite yet.
But, when a brokerage allows agents to customize their split / cap / desk fees agreement with a la carte options for tech tools like a CRM, website, lead gen, and more—and they offer agents a chance to renegotiate as their business grows—a lot of agents (including myself) will be paying close attention.
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5. The Most Boring Parts of Your Business Are Becoming More Automated
Make a mental list of all the things you do during the day in order to operate your real estate business. Now, I want you to sort that list into two columns: the tasks that bring value to your clients, and the tasks that don’t.
Chances are, there’s a lot on your plate that needs to get done but isn’t a direct contributor to value for your clients. The drive to automate more of the real estate process has always been strong, but we’ve seen it specifically strong this year.
Main stage speakers like Jared Kessler of EasyKnock specifically called out the number of agent-centric required tasks that happen between an accepted offer and the closing table that bring no value to your clients (other than they just need them done) that could easily be automated.
Companies like ATTOM are working to bring together more, better data about your clients, your communities, and your leads without all the hard work on your end. Or, Addressable, a company that uses robots to write handwritten notes, lets you focus on client follow-up and not the cramps in your hands. We saw them in action at the expo—pretty awesome.
Finally, in a pleasant surprise, real estate website provider Luxury Presence got to show off some of their new tools designed to make the marketing process easier and more automatic.
Luxury Presence has a fantastic reputation as the leader in providing high-end real estate websites for top performers. But my peek behind the curtain at some of their marketing tools, the infrastructure they have in place in terms of customer success managers, training, and more made it clear they are committed to giving Realtors back more of their time so they can focus on what actually matters.
Any particular real estate tech trends you’re observing in your market? Or did you hear something from the Inman stage that you think is worth calling out? Tell us in the comments below—let’s keep the conversation going.