Everyone seems willing and eager to embrace new technology in the real estate industry, and many market watchers see it as an area ripe for disruption. But not all real estate disruptors are the same, and I would divide them into two distinct types:
- Technology companies that create solutions that empower brokers and agents to simplify, standardize, and automate business processes so they can deliver increased speed and efficiency.
- Technology companies that want to effectively phase out and replace real estate professionals by helping buyers and sellers manage the entire transaction.
From my vantage point, I believe that today’s agents and brokers are well-positioned to partner with the former in order to outcompete the latter. The best way for brokerages to access innovative products, services, and resources is to affiliate with a brand that provides them.
Looking at today’s dynamic landscape
There’s plenty of room in the real estate industry for competitors to bring new ideas and solutions. Personally, I think disruption benefits everyone.
Yet the combined challenges of macroeconomic uncertainty and emerging PropTech is putting unprecedented pressure on brokerages to either transform or be left behind. Venture capital shows no signs of slowing down, and the tools themselves have evolved from being office software for firms and brokerages to facilitating all aspects of real estate transactions.
But the simple truth is that you cannot outsource real estate relationships to digital tools — and the industry is built on the trust that brokers and agents share with their clients. This is where technology comes in. Brokerages need to form strategic partnerships that will let them access the solutions they need to better serve their clients while disrupting the disruptors.
Here are the questions brokers should be asking:
- What partner will complement their growth strategy and help them get to the next level of success?
- What types of learning, marketing, and support do they provide, along with tools and technologies?
I would make the case that the most powerful partnership opportunity for agents and brokers is affiliating with a market-leading real estate brand. Here’s why.
1. Brokers and agents need a solid foundation for future innovation
Established companies tend to be contrasted — often unfavorably — with new up-and-comers, which benefit from excitement and hype. Yet the fact is that well-known brands already have the size, scale, and deep insight to nurture and deliver innovative solutions.
For instance, Realogy has developed RealSure® which works towards fixing the outdated processes within the industry that get in the way of home ownership. As a result, it’s delivering financial impact in ways others in the industry are just starting to figure out. Likewise, the RealVitalize® program is transforming how sellers maximize the value of their homes by enabling them to renovate at no upfront cost — and a solution like that is only possible with deep connections, wide networks, copious resources, and earned trust in the industry.
Affiliated agents, brokers, and entrepreneurs have also told me personally how much they have benefited from having access to Realogy’s experts and thought leaders during recent market upheavals. It has allowed them to better understand both the macroeconomic environment and their own hyperlocal contexts.
2. Having the implicit confidence of consumers plays a critical role
Disruptors that aim to eliminate brokerages from the listing, bidding, negotiating, and closing processes are overlooking two crucial factors. First, real estate transactions are high stakes, and oftentimes, professional expertise is crucial to get them right. Second, buying and selling property is a fundamentally emotional journey, and buyers and sellers benefit from having a trusted advisor who will guide them from beginning to end.
Being affiliated with an established brand is therefore an asset. It not only creates genuine connection and loyalty with clients, but significantly broadens the pool of leads and prospects.
3. Traditional brokerages reduce the risks and costs of adoption
It’s also important to note that brokerages which aren’t affiliated with a franchise bear the onus of licensing or owning the tools and technology they need to stay competitive. This can lead to overhead and maintenance costs that become more prohibitive over time as technology keeps advancing and updates — or new tools — are inevitably needed.
A franchisor like Realogy solves this by providing a deep bench of tools and resources to affiliated brands, so they don’t have to adopt them on their own. In the US, 50% of franchisees share the view that technology tools are the top value that their franchisor provides.
Building a community for your company
Beyond the business considerations, being part of a franchise builds a culture of community and information-sharing. For those in the Realogy family, this has proven invaluable. As soon as they affiliate with one of our six flagship brands, agents and brokers are connected to a network of peers, as well as to Realogy itself. This provides them with not one, but two corporate partners that deliver continuous insights, resources, and opportunities.
This thriving environment of learning, sharing, and support is a powerful differentiator, enabling brokerages to recruit and retain top talent. At the end of the day, it’s not just clients who rely on expert advice, authentic relationships, and emotional support — agents and brokers benefit from this too, and it’s what a franchisor provides.
There are many other ways that being a franchisee allows brokerages to stay ahead of disruption. Here are a few that are worth noting:
Mergers and acquisitions
M&A is a powerful strategy for brokerages to improve their business, but it can be incredibly complex. A franchise’s sales team is adept at negotiating these deals, helping companies navigate the M&A process so that they can obtain the knowledge and capabilities they need.
Mentorship and training
Skills, like software, can become outdated — and it can happen in the blink of an eye. Affiliating with a larger brand provides learning and coaching opportunities to ensure no broker is left behind. Agents that enrolled in Realogy’s learning programs enjoyed 24% more closed sides, 26% more listings taken, and 30% higher sales volume than untrained peers.*
Resilience and succession
In spite of a volatile global market in recent years, all industries agree — the franchise value proposition has remained strong and prevalent. By affiliating, firms future-proof themselves. But as a franchisor, Realogy also invests in the future of our partners by empowering the emerging leaders. Examples include:
- Ascend: The Executive Leadership Experience, dedicated to preparing next-generation franchise owners for succession.
- What Moves Her, which I launched in 2020 to help women in real estate realize their potential and achieve their goals.
Traditional brokerages are today’s true disruptors
In the year ahead, our team will continue to forge new pathways to move the franchise forward. A special focus for us is on delivering real-time insights that brokers and agents can leverage for their teams and their business.
The great Mia Hamm once said, “Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed”. That’s exactly what we have been doing, and what we’re going to continue to do at both the local and global level. With six iconic brands that brokers and agents can affiliate with, Realogy is enabling professionals to position themselves not only as market leaders, but as the real real estate disruptors.
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*Disclaimer: Listings Taken, Closed Units, and Closed Sales Volume (collectively, the “Metrics”) were measured during this Study. To calculate the results, we took a sample of the 5,857 independent sales associates who had been affiliated with Coldwell Banker®, Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, ERA® , or CENTURY 21® for at least a year prior to the study and who participated in their respective brand’s “Listings” training classes and activities between August 2017 and August 2019 (the “Sample Pool”) and entered their activities into REScoreboard.com. All sales associates included in the study completed one or more training classes, each ranging in duration from a minimum of three hours up to twenty-two hours. We measured the Metrics generated by the Sample Pool during the 12 months prior to their taking any of their brand’s training and then measured the Metrics generated during the 12 months after the end date of each agent’s training. Study completion date was September 2020. The research is subject to a sampling error rate of + or – 5%. This was not a controlled study; correlation does not equal causation. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Market conditions may influence results and there is no assurance any Realogy affiliated sales associate will achieve the same or similar results. © 2020 Realogy Services Group LLC. All rights reserved. Realogy Services Group LLC and its affiliate companies fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each franchised office is independently owned and operated.