Hybrid Brokerage Luke Offers Real Estate Agents Another Option: Tech Review

Luke is a New York City real estate services company — a brokerage — that delivers services in a hybrid in-person/technology model.

Luke is a chat-driven real estate sales service provider.

Platforms: Mobile app; desktop
Ideal for: Agents, buyers and sellers

Top selling points:

  • Engaging user experience
  • Hybrid in-person/chat service
  • Automated search and market information
  • Listing pages
  • Included offer submission

Top concern:

Adoption and growth within the agent milieu. This is a unique and growing model that has value, but communicating that value, and recruiting agents, may remain a challenge for those companies offering this brokerage model. Also, while Luke services sellers, it’s currently more aligned with buyer representation.

What you should know

Luke is a New York City real estate services company — a brokerage — that delivers services in a hybrid in-person/technology model. Luke is primarily a text-based listing and market information provider that works in much the same way an agent would by sending new listings, answering market questions, collecting lead data, and engaging the buyer before and during the transaction.

There is a new breed of brokerage sprouting through the cracks of expansion created by the need to meet consumers in new places. I’m calling them real estate service providers, not brokerages. Luke is one such example, as is Prevu, reviewed recently.

These companies are heavily leveraging in-house technology to deliver totally unique agent-to-consumer experiences. And they’re doing it without elbowing out the human element.

Luke’s text-chat services are fairly advanced, being able to respond quickly to requests for comps, market reports and listing information. Users can submit offers, request tours, save searches and interact with loan and legal professionals within the same mobile interface.

Luke starts its relationship in the same fashion as a traditional brokerage, by listening to what a buyer needs. Location. Size. Budget. Amenities. Loan advisors get involved to offer pre-approval, and attorneys are introduced in states where applicable.

The app’s user interface is naturally consumer-directed, and sleekly pared down, especially when justified with the popular portals. It’s a much better search experience, with big buttons to view video tours and comp reports. Upcoming open house dates are included when available, as is a breakdown of estimated ownership costs and building amenities. Luke also offers a transparent rundown of (estimated) closing costs.

Calls-to-action include scheduling a tour and making an offer. Tapping the former will pull up the in-app chat tool that auto-sends a request to tour and an immediate response from Luke asking about the best time to go.

Interactions with Luke are monitored on the back end by company staff and the agent, as indicated by the icons on the app. A tap of the “person” icon reveals the team, and agents can be easily reached by phone.

Luke sends new listings as regularly as inventory will allow, and the entire search and interaction history is tracked in a single dynamic timeline, so you can easily scroll back or search by date.

Like all agents, true value is realized in the offer, negotiation and escrow oversight process. It’s at those points when your relationship with Luke will be tested, as it is in all brokerage models. Only because of Luke’s relatively short tenure in the industry would I suggest that maybe this is where the approach could stumble. However, should Luke pull in more industry expertise and find some initial success, those worries could subside.

Most brokerages pay a good deal of money to multiple vendors to execute this kind of vertically integrated service. I can’t tell you how many third-party chat-engagement tools are out there, and none of them are as service-oriented or in-tune with mobile consumer use as Luke. The dialogue tracks are engaging without trying to get cute with contrived typos or other deliberate attempts to hide Luke’s “identity.”

As of now, Luke is an active brokerage in New York City and is looking to grow. Its sights are set on Miami next.

No doubt they have some adoption hurdles to overcome and they need to spend money on leads in the same way other brokerages do. After a time, however, the model should help establish a unique brand in an industry that’s facing immense change.

If you’re looking to try something different and embrace a true technology-first business model, give Luke a call.

Or a text, rather.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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