According to NAR, 48 percent of all real estate firms cited keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges facing their firm in the next two years.  With this widespread concern, how can firms stay competitive when up against heavy hitters such a Compass and Coldwell Banker, who utilize technology to recruit, facilitate and grow their client base?  In a space where technology is still uncharted territory, but also celebrated, where can startups make the most impact and how will agencies benefit?  NAR’s member statistics show that the three most valuable technology tools used in their businesses, excluding email and cell phones, were local MLS websites/apps (64%), lockbox/smart key devices (39%), and social media platforms (28%).  With these stats, I think it’s safe to say technology is recognized yet underutilized. Why? Because there is so much valuable data that can be put to use in this vast landscape.  For this, I look to innovators such as Nine Four’s portfolio company First.  With their relationship based, predicative analytics platform, First has taken the guessing game out of a buyers/sellers next move and applied technology to give users an advantage. As Kurt Ramirez points out in a previous blog post, “Predictive analytics is a sliver of a broker or agent’s technology stack, but it’s a very meaningful one. Winning business is the first step to success, followed by delighting a client to the point where they’ll refer you and drive more business.”

So what makes a good agency and how can predictive analytics provide an edge?  Things like company culture, mentorship programs, marketing tools and a great CRM are all important factors in the power of great agency. Considering that keeping up with technology was among the biggest challenges cited for firms in the next two years, a brokerage that doesn’t have a national presence, large corporate office or technology backbone needs to be willing to take the necessary steps to provide its agents the proper tools to reach their full potential.  For an agent, choosing the right brokerage can make or break their business.  Providing value-add data capabilities, such as First, can be extremely compelling.  Imagine two competing agencies but one offers you the ability to predict when a client in your sphere is going to buy or sell ‘first’.  This technology adds an edge and appeal that competes for the agent looking to take their business to the next level.  My opinion, take the edge and don’t look back.

While traditional outreach feels familiar, these leads no longer prove to be as effective. Turning to your own network and understanding their patterns, with the use of data, has never felt more appealing.  First highlights how the CEO of West and Main in Denver home amplifies just that: “We’re constantly seeking new ways to help agents nurture their personal networks, more than simply just another big data tool, First provides context to existing relationships in a way that puts our agents in front of sellers long before they even think about talking to someone else.”  Impressive stats provided by @Properties, Thad Wong also support this concept; ‘Our recent rollout with First yielded significant results,” said Thad Wong, co-founder and chief executive officer at @properties. “The First data accurately predicted over 1,800 homes that listed during the pilot period, added more than 3,000 properties associated with each of our pilot brokers’ contacts, and facilitated over 500 conversations that would not have happened without them. This is great business.”

Simply put, the type information that First delivers provides agents with new tools to stay ahead, giving them back valuable time, providing predictive knowledge and encouraging them to continue fostering relationships within their sphere.  As we continue to see this space evolve, brokerages need to utilize technology such as First to recruit incredible talent who see the value in the empowerment of data.

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