Real estate brokerages: Tech won’t ruin us

HW-the-broadmoor

“The thing we need in real estate is more buzzwords about tech,” deadpanned Craig McClelland, vice-president and chief operating officer of BHGRE Metro Brokers in Atlanta.

So began one of the more compelling panels at RealTrends’ “Gathering of Eagles” conference in Colorado Springs – “Intersection of tech and brokerage.”

Any real estate talk about technology can degenerate into to just saying the word “technology.” “We talk in generalities so much when it comes to tech,” said Joe Skousen, CEO of Core Division at Inside Real Estate.

But the panel seemed to arrive at a few key observations.

  • Zillow won.

The biggest real estate tech change of the 21st Century is that anyone can look online about what homes are for sale, information that the National Association of Realtors was once able to closely guard on behalf of its member agents.

Today, consumers go to Zillow, and to a lesser extent, Redfin and Realtor.com. Brokerages largely waved the white flag in building competing home listings sites.

“Don’t go out and build a consumer-facing technology,” McClelland advised.

There are consequences to surrendering, one of which is that agents can spend hundreds of dollars a month to Zillow for leads, just as Zillow itself enters brokerage.

“Who here is experiencing commission compression and profitability compression?” Skousen rhetorically asked the crowd at the Broadmoor Hotel. “Are your agents working for Zillow or are they working for you?”

  • Zillow lost.

Former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff “said in 2006 that there wouldn’t be any more brokers,” McClelland noted.

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