Success Guide: Broker Technology 2021


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Welcome to the Spring Edition of the RE Technology Success Guide

In this edition of the RE Technology Success Guide, we will be sharing insights on broker technology products. Broker technology products are developed to strengthen the service offering to consumers by enabling real estate agents to perform more effectively.

Brokerages who are making strides in market penetration and agent growth all have one thing in common today – great technology. It is interesting to note that many of the largest brokerages in the nation have not been able to master their grand vision of technology. A new strategy has emerged that allows brokers to choose the best of breed products. It is almost like buying the best car on the market, driving it for a few years, and perhaps switching to a new model.

Agile brokers are not pinning their hopes to the grand vision of owning technology any more than they would need to own the company that makes computers. Buy software that fits your business and partner with a vendor that delivers great service. If the technology does not fit or you need to pivot – you can always switch vendors or integrate some new features to keep your technology plan in first place.

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For the last decade, real estate brokerages and vendors have been focused on developing the “end-to-end solution.” Like all trends, this one is on the way out. The reason why end-to-end solutions were so popular was that agents did not want to log into 27 different end point applications to do their business. Putting everything under one software roof made a lot of sense. It provided agents a single place to go to accomplish everything they need. Great idea, but it failed.

There are two reasons why the end-to-end solution failed. First, agents may love or hate the platform. So as not to condemn a current vendor, I would like to use Agent Achieve as an example. Agent Achieve was developed for Intero by a great group of software developers but it was also sold to other brokerages. Under one platform, the agent had access to their website, lead management, CRM, CMA, transaction management, drip marketing, and so on. Agent Achieve was awesome, and it allowed Intero to recruit amazing agents in the heart of California’s tech savvy Silicon Valley. The problem, however, was that Agent Achieve was too complicated for some agents. Another problem was that Intero agents would frequently compete for the same customers using the same templated website, the same listing presentation, the same drip marketing, etc.

This brings us to the second reason why Agent Achieve failed. It did everything, but was a master of nothing. It was not the best product as a website, CRM, CMA, Transaction Tanager, or anything else. It did all of those things, but was not the best in any category.

The two biggest trends that have allowed brokerage technology to evolve beyond the end-to-end software products are Single Sign-On (SSO) and Application Programming interfaces (API’s). These two features combine to allow the brokerage to integrate a group of different applications from different vendors all under one roof. In effect, the brokerage can build their own end-to-end platform using integration tools. Think of it as a Lego Set for building a firm’s custom technology ecosphere where you can choose the best products and integrate them into your personal mix of the right tools for your agents.

The best news of all is that just about every technology company in the real estate industry today supports SSO and APIs. Moreover, they are rolling out app stores that feature their integration partners. As you rethink your technology roadmap this year, focus on partners who have robust integration tools and existing partnerships.

As we move forward in this new environment of technology product integration, brokers will have more flexibility than ever before. When you think about technology products, think about choice. You do not need to have one CMA product for all of your agents. Let your agents choose from a selection. Obviously, a selection of two or three is probably more than enough for most agents and teams. The SSO links and API integrations make this possible today. The tricky part is in negotiating the contract with the vendor. We suggest licensing technology on a per seat basis. Agents can only make a vendor switch once a month. At the end of each month, the vendor looks at the user logs and bills you for the number of agents who were active on the platform. If agents did not use a product, you don’t pay for it. This will allow you to give agents the best products for the most reasonable price. If product usage for a particular product dwindles down – remove the option and replace it with something better.




Have you seen the headlines? Every brokerage and franchise brands are talking about how they are leveraging technology in real estate to better serve the agent and the consumer. When you ask an agent about the technology they use, they rave about it. Then when you ask the agent to log in to show you how they use the product and how it grows their business, they forget their password and can’t log in (tongue in cheek).

Without a doubt, from Wall Street to your local main street, everyone is talking about how technology is the key to agent recruiting and retention. Without a doubt, this is true. Providing excellent technology that solves problems agents face in their business does increase sales volume. And agents will not leave the firm if it means giving up technology that works.

As a brokerage, you need to develop certain superpowers when it comes to technology. You need to be known for something. For example, @Properties in Chicago has an internal communications app called @agent. It generates pre-market exposure for sellers’ homes and alerts brokers to listings that match buyers’ preferences. Similarly, Pacific Union in California built a digital listing presentation for the iPad. For the most part, there was nothing super special about either of these applications. Any broker could have done the same thing. The success really came from their enthusiasm and their ability to communicate how technology gives their agents a competitive advantage in the market.

Whatever technology products you roll out this year, (and you need to roll out at least one new thing each year) roll them out with excitement and bake that excitement into your recruiting and retention strategy! To grow your brokerage today, you must be able to claim a superpower with something.

To find your thing each year, be sure to watch your competition and invest your time in getting technology demonstrations. You need to create a buzz. Be sure to involve your top producing agents and teams in the evaluation. Let them be the first to get the product and provide feedback. Spend time with that “techie” agent in the office and understand why other agents in the office defer to that person when it comes to technology leadership. Your job with real estate technology is to win the hearts and minds of your agents by delivering tools that they will use and rave about. And most importantly – be sure that agents outside your firm want the product enough to consider joining you.

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If you are like most brokers in America, you probably did not get a degree in systems engineering. That’s ok. Most business leaders outside of the technology industry do not. That is why Software as a Service has become so popular. Here are a few suggestions that you may want to consider when you interview a technology company about a product you like.

  1. When was the product built and how long has it been in production? New products tend to have more software bugs than older products, but being new may be the reason you are attracted to them. Be sure to get references from a number of customers that are on the platform and ask about the quality of the product.
  2. If the company has an integration with your MLS, ask if they are members of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) and if they are certified. RESO is the non-profit community that manages data standards which allows software to be quickly integrated with MLS data without a lot of custom programming.
  3. What is the company’s capital structure? Are they a venture-funded startup? Maybe you want to invest, or maybe you are concerned that you may not like who they sell the company to. Be sure that you have the ability to cancel the contract in the event of a change in control.
  4. All of the technologies in your company need to work on mobile. Be sure that your test agents spend some time using the product on a mobile device. Agents don’t spend hours in front of a computer screen, they use iOS or Android most of the time.
  5. Do they support Single Sign-On (SSO)? This will allow your agents to access the software without remembering 10,000 usernames and passwords.
  6. Does it work on both Mac and PC?
  7. What are the terms of use? Are they getting access to the ability to repurpose or reuse the data that is contributed into the application or do you own your data?
  8. Privacy is becoming a major issue with the passing of more restrictive regulations on how companies can use consumer data. How does the company handle privacy?
  9. Indemnity is also a key consideration. Make sure that you are indemnified from any litigation involving their product or your use of the product.
  10. Customer Support is clearly half of the equation in Software as a Service. If they do not have a good service department, you will need to make sure that you have the staff resources to provide that. Even better, request a few dedicated service staff. It’s always better when you or your agents are talking to the same representative when they have a problem. It makes support familiar and can go a long way toward driving agent satisfaction..


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Charleston, SC





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Carlsbad, CA

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Happy Grasshopper

Tampa, FL

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Homesnap Pro

Bethesda, MD

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