Brokerage-Built Technology is Top Competitive Advantage for 2018
The big industry headline today was that yet again, NYC based independent brokerage Compass has raised another $450 million for technology investment in the fast growing, hot, edgy brand. With a recent move into Chicago, 2018 will see more metro markets with Compass celebrating their big arrival. But what caught my eye, was their big claim to being the "first modern real estate platform" that provides agents and offices powerful tools to increase sales and efficiency".
The thing is, they're not the first, and they won't be the last broker to handcraft their own technology platform. It's already happening. From small boutiques, to sleek luxury brands, to brands with a long heritage in real estate - they are investing to scale in the technology that differentiates THEM from others and customizing their own platform. In recent weeks I've interviewed dozens of brokers that are doing just that - and realize that technology should speak their language to build a culture of confidence building for agents today. Brokers who get behind and lead their tech innovation smartly and learn to scale, can call the technology their own.
It's a big statement, and an important one for brokers planning their futures. In an Inman News quote, “Real estate is a huge asset class, but the sector has been relatively untouched by technology and remains inefficient and fragmented,” said Justin Wilson, a senior investment professional at the SoftBank Vision Fund, in a prepared statement released Thursday. “Compass is building a differentiated, end-to-end platform that aggregates across diverse data streams to support agents and homebuyers through the entire process, well beyond the initial home search. With disruptive technology and unique data advantages, Compass is well-positioned for future growth in a sector that represents trillions in transaction volume.”
So what happens when brokers skip the technology vendors, and go into the technology space themselves to create their own?
It's my thought, that brokers who make a point of investing in technology that they can handcraft for their agents and consumers, not only removes the fragmentation that holds them back -- but they can create a culture of confidence for agents who in the past have felt the need to buy off the shelf products they don't use, have blown through their budgets, and have caused chaos in their own business management. It's what makes Compass so attractive to agents. They are bold, confident, sexy and not just technology DRIVEN, but own their own language for what technology means to their culture and brand.
This however, is not the same as "big brand" technology investments of random, acquired tools that take years to customize and are obsolete before agents can adopt. A well designed, thought out platform should:
- Be designed and hand crafted by the broker, with the help of broker tech developers - and not be a shopping cart full of ala carte tools from Expo floors
- Should be RESULTS driven, open to fast integrations, and disposable enough to be nimble, and not become obsolete.
- Should be simple enough for agents, marketing teams, and any in house department to use, and not take YEARS to implement and train.
- Should be better than what any agent could possibly put together with their own budget - but build with their needs and wants in mind. Think results, not products.
- Should not be a templated, antiquated, front facing design that replicates every other broker site on the market. Brokers who think differently will create a new energy of change.
Brokerages that seek to redefine and own their role in technology, will innovate the future of this industry. The question is... how much are they willing to learn from one another? It takes a new kind of conversation that doesn't take place in headlines.
That's why I'm excited about Sequel. Brokerage-built technology - that's turn key enough to get up quickly - but open to the creative minds ready to make their own rules. Brokers make this industry stronger. They build our strongest asset force - agents.
Designing and owning their own technology platform will be the competitive advantage. And they CAN do it for less than $450 million :)