Is Technology Helping or Hurting the Real Estate Industry?

“When Keller Williams is renaming itself a technology company, it’s probably fairly important,” said Mike Schneider, CEO of First.io in our recent Technology Panel.   There’s no doubt technology is important, but we wanted to know from the group if they felt real estate was helping or hurting our industry.

The overwhelming consensus?  Real estate companies and professionals benefit from technology, but only when they use it right.

“As a whole, [technology is] helping [the industry],” said Aaron Kardell, CEO and Co-Founder of HomeSpotter.  He cautioned however, that technology shouldn’t replace face-to-face time and connections between clients and realtors.  “Real estate as its core is really a relational business,” he said. “Agents that maintain strong relationships with their clients are the most successful.”

Any technology that is incorporated into the process of buying or selling a home should increase the time spent on productive, valuable activities.  The entire panel felt like client-facing time was the most beneficial for any real estate professional.  Technology that reduced the time it took to complete administrative tasks was a huge benefit to both the professional and the industry.

“Technology is most of the time a good thing, however there is an ongoing problem of noise in the business,” said Jack Berube, CEO and Founder of Pathway RE.   He continued to explain there is general agreement among investors and industry analysts that there is a lot of noise in the real estate technology space.  As a realtor, the challenge will be to focus on what you personally are trying to improve for your business, especially as the noise increases.

“If the technology isn’t immediately making an impact so you can spend more time on client-facing actives, then it’s probably not a good thing,” said Berube.

 While overall the panel believed technology was benefiting real estate, there was a concern not only on the volume and amount of the technology available, but also what that technology was trying to achieve.  “Technology has been helping, but it’s almost hard to talk about technology in that generality.  Most technology is focused on generating or curating more leads, which doesn’t facilitate relationships,” said Schneider.  “We’re at Stage One for a lot of technologies that are actually going to fit agents workflows than just more marketing to drive leads that we know don’t drive the industry.”

Technology that depletes client facing time for realtors, like superfluous lead generation, is where technology risks harming individual agents and the industry as a whole.  The group emphasized the importance of understanding the business of real estate and only applying technology where it makes sense.  They were encouraged with some of the shifts away from pure lead generation, and using technology to identify likely home sellers within your network, expedite administrative tasks, or more easily promote the agent’s core competency as a local area expert. 

Schneider finished up the discussion with an optimistic note: “We’re already seeing massive amounts of venture capital [in real estate technology], so we’re going to see a lot of changes, which should make more agents overall more effective.”

Listen to the entire conversation here.