The real estate industry is flooded with tech solutions marketed as “must-haves” for agents. But few of these solutions actually meet agents’ needs.
To dig into what those needs are, and why so many traditional brokerages offer solutions that fall short, we caught up with two industry leaders and Side partners.
George Penner is co-founder and CEO of DPP, one of the largest indies in Southern California. He understands the struggle of coordinating tech strategy and adoption for hundreds of agents. Bob Christian is founder and team leader at Houston firm UpSide Real Estate and is a former IT service provider who knows firsthand what successful tech implementation looks like. Here’s what we learned.
Agents need technology that:
1. Centers the agent, not the brokerage
Many traditional brokerages tout long lists of tech offerings that, at the end of the day, generate far more revenue for the brokerage than they do value for the agent.
“So many of the tools out there are intentional distractions,” said Bob. “Big-box brokerages are seeking a monthly revenue stream, and in order to attract agents, they have to say they have all these tools — even though many of them are big wastes of time. And they know once their agents realize the tools aren’t great, they will purchase their own.”
When you get right down to it, what agents actually need is a curated list of simple, easy-to-implement tools that make their lives easier.
As an example, Side recently launched Instant Pay, a one-of-a-kind payment solution that transfers commission funds to Side partners’ bank accounts immediately upon close of escrow. Instant Pay generates no revenue for Side, but it’s easy to use and makes a measurable impact on agents’ lives.
When it comes to tech, ease-of-use is critical: Agents do not want to waste time learning how to use tech meant to save them time.
“Without question, time is the biggest obstacle facing agents who want to effectively grow their business,” said George. “When technology is implemented intelligently and meaningfully, it can be incredibly beneficial at giving agents more time in their days to do what they do best.”
“Real estate is hard enough if you’re doing it right,” said Bob. “If the effort it takes to learn and use the technology doesn’t produce something of greater value than what you could have done on your own, it’s a waste of time and money.”
Brokerages need to prioritize simple, value-add, time-saving solutions — not building up the longest possible list of service offerings. And brokerages need to ensure their tech benefits agents even when there might not be a tangible benefit to the broker.
2. Plays nice with the rest of the tech stack
A stellar tech solution that doesn’t easily integrate with the rest of your offering isn’t a solution at all: It’s a distraction.
“Having tech that doesn’t integrate with the rest of your systems is like having a broken part in your car,” Bob said. “For the whole thing to work, you have to pull that part out and start over.”
The more time agents spend bouncing back and forth between different platforms, the less time they have to spend with clients. “It’s really critical that everything resides in one place so agents aren’t fumbling around with 20 different websites and passwords to access the information they need,” said George.
A brokerage’s approach to technology cannot be piecemeal — how each component interacts with the system as a whole has to be carefully considered.
3. Has been selected and vetted by true experts
Many of the people making decisions about brokerage technology are no longer in production themselves. As Bob put it: “If you’re not actually using the technology to complete transactions, you have no idea what you’re talking about when you’re telling your team what to do.”
Even more significantly: While brokers are experts in many things, they typically do not have Bob’s IT experience. So why are so many brokers and other industry leaders without tech backgrounds fully responsible for selecting, implementing and troubleshooting their firm’s tech stack? Agents want to know the solutions they’re using were chosen by someone fully immersed in the world of real estate technology.
“At DPP, our core competency is running a brokerage, not running a technology company,” George explained. “There are so many solutions out there, and everyone says theirs is the best, but we don’t have time to research every new offering. That’s a key reason why we brought on Side as an integral partner: so we could be at the forefront of technology.”
Just as sellers should not try to sell their home without an agent, brokers and team leaders should not be solely responsible for their tech strategy: It’s not what they do best, and everything will go a lot smoother once an expert gets involved.
Side is a behind-the-scenes brokerage platform that exclusively partners with top-performing agents, teams, and independent brokerages to create and grow their own boutique brands without the cost, time, or risk of operating a brokerage. Side’s proprietary technology platform and premier support solutions empower its agent partners to be more productive, grow their business, and focus on serving their clients.