Relola Cofounder and CEO Heather Sittig Jackson joined the CEOs of First, Pathway RE and HomeSpotter for a roundtable discussion of the top technology in real estate, hosted by Onboard Informatics. Considering all four CEOS are at the helm of real estate tech companies, the insider knowledge and tech-focused vision for the future was on display.
Overall, the CEOs agreed that technology helps the industry more than hurts it.
For Aaron Kardell of HomeSpotter, “technology helps make agents more productive, spending more time on the value adding activities.”
But Jack Berube of Pathway RE was cautious. "There is an issue of noise,” he said. “Focus on processes you want to improve, and don’t adopt a technology that you don’t have a need for.”
When asked about which technology had the biggest impact in real estate, Heather spoke from her own experience in the industry.
“The lock box,” she shared, as her pick for most impactful. “People use to have to pickup keys at all the offices, and return the keys after. The lockbox was the first step in creating efficiency in real estate.”
But online search also changed the industry for home shoppers and agents alike, she pointed out. “The portals gave a new job to agents. Rather than being the source of listing information, they became the source of insider information about the community, properties, transaction navigation and more. Agents weren’t just house hunters anymore. They became project managers when the portals came online.”
Jack noted that consumers have built an air of boldness, thinking, “they can do it themselves, not relying on the skills of a Realtor. As we move forward, agents need to differentiate themselves and highlight their expertise.”
Mike Schneider from First observed that search hasn’t changed how many people are moving, but it has totally changed the role of the Realtor. The Realtor no longer needs to be the purveyor of data, but need to be local experts, as the Relola app emphasizes.
Artificial intelligence is one example of a hot new technology. Onboard Informatics wondered if some new tech is just too new for agents to pay mind to, or should they keep a close on all of it?
Heather shared a story about the accuracy of agents versus big data. “We ask agents what they think a property will sell for. We’ve compared their estimates to larger entities that analyze the data. Real estate pros are 177% more accurate than any AI and their estimates. What that means is that AI will be enhanced when we add that human factor.”
Mike agreed, reminding the audience that when ATMs first came out, everyone thought bank tellers would go away. “But in fact they became more valuable because of the human interaction,” he noted. That made AI is a less valuable version of the agent.
“There are also companies slapping the AI label on products that don’t actually have machine learning,” he warned. “Focus on the goal you have from the product you bought, less so finding products with AI. Don’t worry about the buzzwords, but focus on the value being brought to the market.
The CEOs were then asked how Realtors can double their business in 2018. Naturally, all gravitated to their own product’s core value.
“Download the free Relola app and start sharing insights about your community,” said Heather. “Embed the activity map on your Facebook business page and your web site, so people can see that you’re the local expert. Then broadcast those insights through your social channels, for referrals, shares and more web traffic.”
Aaron noted that the HomeSpotter app makes agents more productive in the field. “Agents can’t undervalue their time. We help them save time with the app and the marketing platform.”
Jack agreed that his platform can help, but so can “kicking yourself in the pants and working a little more.”