By Tiana Baur
The next time you purchase a car, it very well might be a self-driving one. It’s a headline our eyes now only glance at because we’ve seen it so many times and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to fruition. We’re not only okay with that technology, we’re jazzed about it. We’ll all be able to work, read, and relax during our commutes and trust that we’ll get to our destination timely and in one piece. There’s foreshadowing of another technology too. One that would not only upset our industry, but would tear it to pieces, and that’s the tease of robots as real estate agents. It’s a viable conjecture, especially given how technology is now paving the way for the future of our industry. The problem is, the home buying journey has a very different barrier to trust and breaking down that wall will be close to impossible.
People got their heads out of the sand (some didn’t) and we’ve seen rapid change in the past couple of years. VR (virtual reality) tours are a “thing” homebuyers now expect when they’re house hunting. You can even pay your rent with bitcoin (crazy, right?). The one constant that our industry has always had, though, is that homebuyers choose an agent. That agent happens to be in the form of a human. And that will never change. The CEO of Compass even agrees with that.
Sure, some will be interested in a robot agent. We imagine Elon Musk himself would be eager to try out a robot instead of a human agent for his next transaction. The problem is, most of us are not Elon Musk. We have a comfort zone and although we step out of it more often than before, we stick to it when it comes to the biggest financial transaction we do in our entire lifetime. Robots may charge two percent commission instead of the typical five or six, but guess what? Consumers don’t care. Or, they don’t care enough to risk it. If they cared enough about that five or six percent, they’d be listing their homes by themselves or using Instant Offers (which, I’ve never heard of an actual situation where someone did).
Here’s why people choose people:
Extremely. Real estate agents serve as a sounding board and a therapist just as much as they do a trusted advisor. People want someone who will answer phone calls at midnight when the home seller is crying and stressed because something unforeseen went wrong last minute during the transaction. They want someone to send a bottle of champagne to congratulate them on their great home sale with a heartfelt note because they got through it together as a team. Robots don’t promise to hold their hand from the very beginning, all the way until they’ve moved and settled into their new home.
Buyers and sellers want to sit across from someone in a coffee shop and talk face-to-face. They want something tangible. They want to shake someone’s hand and know that person actually cares about them and their family and that they have feelings and blood running in their veins like they do theirs. Because that is how emotional a home transaction is.
First time buyers all the way through home buying veterans use agents. Why? Because there is always a new situation, a new question, a new issue that pops up that they haven’t seen or dealt with before. Maybe it’s an issue with the mortgage company or maybe there was an issue with escrow. Maybe you just want some advice on what color to paint your living room before the house is listed. Whatever it is, the agent is prepared to handle it.
Let’s back up. AI probably has a place in real estate when it comes to scheduling, answering simple questions, etc. But it will never, ever replace the human connection that is found between a trusted advisor and their beloved clients.
By Tiana Baur, Marketing Manager
eXp Realty is an agent-owned cloud brokerage. It is quoted as one of the “most innovative real estate companies in the world” by Inman News. At eXp, there are no desk fees, no royalty fees, and agents get to keep somewhere around 80-100% of their commissions. What’s more is they offer every single agent the opportunity to buy into the business and become a shareholder. A “we’re in it together” mentality, surely leaning towards trying to make traditional brokerages look bad. Never heard of them? They’re kind of a big deal. They’re listing agents for properties like these, so you can bet their agents know what they’re doing.
And they’re probably plucking some of your agents (or trying to).
eXp Realty is growing – and fast. Currently in 46 states across the country, they are further proof that clouds are winning. The company increased the number of agents and brokers on the eXp Realty platform by 171 percent to 6,511 agents in 2017, compared to their 2,401 agents in 2016. A 171 percent increase year over year is impressive and it’s alarming. How are traditional brokerages meant to combat this?
Time to get a cloud.
A cloud, or an “open platform” is what it takes to get on the same level as eXp and other cloud brokerages alike. An open platform uses the cloud to connect all of your brokerage systems. This means saying goodbye to tool fatigue and no freedom to change. With an open platform, you get to choose whichever tools you want and they work together – seamlessly, with one sign-in. What’s more is you can change the tools whenever you please, no pain involved. Think of it like a power strip where you can plug-and-play the tools and services you want, and unplug tools and services you aren’t happy with anymore. It’s simple, it’s the future, it’s what you need for your brokerage technology so you don’t end up with a bunch of tangled cords.
“Stop talking to me about clouds.”
You’re tired of hearing the term “cloud” and “brokerage platform,” we get it. While you’re annoyed with the technology industry and having to change and “disrupt” your brokerage, the rest of the world is wondering why the real estate industry is so incredibly far behind. Technology adoption in the industry has historically been depressingly slow, and there is no “tortoise and the hare” analogy that works here because the slow-to-adopt brokerages certainly have not won the race. In fact, many of them have shriveled up and died or are currently clinging on for dear life, losing their agents to cloud brokerages like Compass, eXp, and Keller Williams with the Keller Cloud.
“My brokerage is fine. It’s been fine the last 30 years and it will be fine the next 30.” Answer: We’ll look you up someday in the archaeology archives.
By Tiana Baur
To recap quite possibly the most significant announcement of 2017 for our industry, Softbank invested a whopping $450 million into the new, shiny tech brokerage: Compass. Emphasis on the brokerage, emphasis on that dollar amount since it’s the largest investment into real estate technology ever, from the world’s largest technology investment fund. They basically did a mic drop to cap off an already crazy real estate tech announcement year. Needless to say, our CEO had some words.
So, Compass is now valued at $2.2 billion. Casual pocket change, am I right? On a serious note though, they aren’t just planning and raising money, they are doing and achieving. That alone makes this all the scarier.
A few months ago, CEO Robert Reffkin announced a 2020 by 2020 plan. Which meant they are going to expand into 10 new markets in the U.S. by 2020, and grab 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities. The cities they’re expanding to being Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Only a couple exasperated brokerage breaths later, they announced they had ALREADY expanded to Chicago, rapidly growing from a team of 20 top tier agents they plucked from the competition. If that doesn’t make you want to vomit in your own shoes then I don’t know what will. This is real, and it’s terrifying for most brokerages out there.
How on earth do you compete with that?!
Chances are, you’re not going to get Softbank to invest millions upon millions into your brokerage. But that’s okay, because there is another way to survive and even become a stronger, more productive brokerage than you ever thought was possible.
The not-so-secret ingredient: an open platform. In fact, it’s not just an ingredient, it’s THE ingredient for brokerage success. Ever tried baking a cake without some type of flour? Pretty. Freaking. Awful. Think of an open platform as your brokerage’s flour. It provides the structure and strength, holding everything together, in one tasty package. You can add in nuts, chocolate chips, even peanut butter. The options are endless and it’s up to you to decide what is going to taste the best.
Take the Moxi Cloud open platform for example. We have over 40 tools and services – DocuSign, Imprev, Intuit, Buyside, Offrs, Flipt – to name a few. Our brokerage clients get to pick any and all they wish to, and all their data and tools and services are put together, working seamlessly with their roster, brokerage assets, CRM contacts, MLS data, and more.
Compass might be trying to make all their own software, but you don’t have to in order to provide your agents with the tools and services they’re craving. An open platform delivers higher flexibility, efficiency, and profitability to your brokerage and agents.
An open platform is the only way to future-proof your brokerage against the rapidly-evolving technology space. It’s the Compass killer. What are you waiting for? A Compass announcement in your neck of the woods?
By York Baur, CEO of Moxi Works
If you’re reading this, you have no doubt seen the news about Softbank (the world’s largest tech investment fund) investing $450 Million into the tech brokerage Compass – emphasis on the brokerage. This morning I sent out a note to all of our employees here at Moxi Works, and have decided to share them here. As a true “techie,” I’m sure it surprises no one to learn that I have some opinions about this.
For starters, Compass is a brokerage, not a tech company. However, like Redfin (who has continually overpromised and undelivered), they’re being valued as a technology company, not a brokerage, which means it’s valued at several times the valuation of brokerages.
This fundamental disconnect will work for a while, but gravity is pervasive, and the valuation will fall back to earth soon enough, particularly when there is a real estate market correction.
In short – this is the Greater Fool Theory at work.
What does this all mean?
To quote Inman, “Compass touts itself as “the first modern real estate platform, which reduces the friction and frustration associated with selling, buying, or renting a property by providing real estate agents with a set of powerful tools to increase efficiency and sales volume.”
They have to pay off agents with large sums of money to consider leaving their current brokerage for Compass and their platform. Hence, they are a brokerage, not a technology company.
Here’s a fact: You don’t have to with a true open platform and the technology that embodies it.
There’s nothing Compass has that we don’t already have or that isn’t available today from our more than 35 partners. Our success, the success of the Moxi Cloud open platform isn’t a theory – we can prove that our stuff makes agents more productive and brokerages more profitable. To that end, their CEO Robert Reffkin said today that agents that come to Compass do 24.9% better the year after. We know that agents that adopt Moxi Engage do 39% better, and are happy to walk you through that data.
News like today’s strikes fear in the heart of brokerages, as it probably should. Like every problem, there is a solution. That solution is the Moxi Cloud, which takes Compass head on and gives agents exactly what they need to be more successful than their competition.
I encourage you to contact us – we’d be happy to answer any questions you have, whether it’s about Moxi Works are not. We’re here to help the brokerage.
By Tiana Baur
Redfin’s stock dropped 5.45 percent last week when Compass announced their plan of world domination. Although, it was primarily due to their poor Q3 earnings release, falling short of analyst estimates, and we’ll go ahead and mention the fact they currently only serve 0.71 percent of the U.S. housing market… BUT they’re still Redfin. They’re still a shark in a sea of minnows, constantly posing a threat.
In real estate, agent teams are becoming kind of a big deal. In fact, there are now 35,000 to 50,000 agent teams across the U.S., with the majority of them having two to nine team members belonging to them. These numbers are only growing, with 37 percent of teams formed one to three years ago and 26 percent of teams formed one year ago.
Working in teams is way more productive and provides additional benefits, such as:
- Extra lead generation
- Process and vision to building a bigger brand and operations that can scale
- Mentoring new agents in the market
- Collaboration and communication through the different roles
- Combining different talents and skills
- A more diversified client demography and audience
What does this have to do with Redfin? Well, they’re basically a GIANT agent team. Instead of having a bunch of independent contractors on their hands, they have agents on staff and have a website that generates lots of leads for their agents. They built a website with tons of cool, shiny technology and features to attract lots of eyeballs and leads. Sometimes, they even give leads to agents at other brokerages, like a team that generates leads and distributes them to their team members.
To quote a popular interview done with an industry influencer this past summer, “Redfin is not a brokerage; it is an agent team. Let that sink in for a moment. Redfin is not in the recruiting and retention business like 99.99% of brokerages are today. They could care less about recruiting the superstar elite agents. Redfin is in the business of helping people buy and sell homes — just like an agent team. They have employee agents who must use Redfin’s systems, must follow Redfin’s procedures, and the people they work with are not their clients, but Redfin’s clients — just like an agent team. And just like an agent team must have a superstar lead-generation lead agent, Redfin has one… in its website and mobile app.”
If you didn’t think of Redfin this way before, now might be a good time to do so. Although they had less than fruitful earnings this quarter, according to GeekWire, they have pushed out a few new products and have a new speedy offer-writing software they’re going to start rolling out in select cities called Redfin Fast Offers. So, who knows what will happen. But a powerful giant like Redfin isn’t going to give up without a fight and your market share is hardly safe in an environment where Compass, Redfin, and others are constantly brewing up their next attack.
By Tiana Baur
Chatbots and new tech are barreling towards the industry. Everything is moving to a cloud environment. And now, Compass is coming for your market share.
The CEO of Compass, Robert Reffkin, recently announced a 2020 by 2020 plan to the company. What does that mean, you ask? A plan to expand into 10 new markets in the U.S. by 2020, and to grab 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities. Casual, right? The cities they’re expanding to are: Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Compass has now raised a whopping $325 million in capital and their success feels imminent, especially since they’re already the #4 largest brokerage in NYC, #3 in DC, and #2 in Cambridge. Not only that, but their agent count is up 500% over the past two years, now at 2,000 agents and gaining more traction every day. They have the capital to buy agents with massive signing bonuses and the funds to invest in an entirely new CRM and targeted marketing tools designed just for their agents. By the end of this year, they are projected to do 16,000 transactions, $14 billion in sales volume and $350 million in revenue, annually.
An obvious question is: Will they have a durable and lasting impact? What happens to aggressive brokerages, such as Compass, when the value proposition of a big signing bonus isn’t attractive enough for agents to make the move? Meaning, what if their culture doesn’t align with what an agent wants out of their brokerage? Pockets are deep, but might never be deep enough for the many that love the brokerage they currently call home.
In the shadow of Compass’s other recent announcement that they’re also considering an IPO, lies a sad-looking Redfin, whose stock dropped over 5% that day. The waters are rough out there right now and it’s obvious many brokerages won’t make it out of the impending storm. The reality is, few are safe. Fewer are “too big to fail.” When tech and industry are changing at such a rapid rate, it’s impossible to predict the future of winners and losers. Whether Compass is successful or becomes another Redfin, remains to be seen.
Looking to future-proof your brokerage for these massive industry changes? This is a good starting point. An open platform allows your brokerage to combat the massive technology budget Compass has with your very own unique suite of tools, in an affordable way. 2018 is right around the corner – start it off on the right foot.