Realogy Franchise Group brought together 300 industry leaders to hear and vote on their 6th Annual Realogy FWD Innovation Award. Sherry Chris of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is the brand sponsor of the event but it was really a team effort that fostered collaboration among all of their brands. Chairman Ryan Schneider kicked off the event with opening remarks that focused Realogy’s strategy for the event suggesting that Realogy always balances the decision of “Build, Buy, or Partner” in all of their technology decisions. He noted that for Realogy, it is “our opportunity to leverage technology, remembering that real estate is a human-focused business enhanced by technology.” Well said.
I took some notes on each company that comes from my perspective as a consultant who works on technology strategy with America’s largest brokerages and franchises. So my comments are slanted in that direction.
Amarki was the first presenter. They have a product that is like “Amazon for real estate marketing.” For those who are aware of the Imprev features, Amarki is a direct competitor with a number of differences. Among those differences, I noted that they have a tight integration with Adobe InDesign. Unlike other marketing platforms where a marketing person would send a template to a vendor for programming and data tagging, Amarki empowers marketing designers to upload and data tag a design in a few minutes. Amarki has also invested in CRM integration where triggered marketing can happen. For example, when an agent schedules an open house, the system will send the Open House digital postcard to the agent by email, who can easily select the postal route for that property area and canvass the area with the announcement, share to social media, print flyers, email to clients, etc. There are lots of other use cases, but I will not belabor the point. Amarki is mobile enabled, uses artificial intelligence for automation, and has live “in-line” editing for photos and text. I can see how Amarki would integrate well into Realogy’s Zap platform more seamlessly than any offering that they currently have. This product would be useful to all Realogy Brokers, Offices, Teams, and agents.
Bytegain is a predictive analytics company that does a masterful job of lead qualification. It is a service that is well matched for high volume broker or portal websites to mature leads. I can see how Bytegain would integrate to the Realogy brand websites and their large broker websites and provide lead intelligence though LeadRouter® and Zap. Their artificial intelligence engine watches consumer behavior and encourages lead conversion though Newsletters, ReTargeting, HomeTours, and live chat. I really liked their tracking dashboard too. This is a great tool for Realogy’s high volume websites.
Disclosures.io is an excellent product that is used by a number of our clients in California. It allows listing agents to pull together their disclosures and share them with buyer’s agents along with an offer management solution and tracking application that keeps sellers aware of buyer offers. I particularly liked their integration with DocuSign, allowing the acceptance of offers digitally. I can see how this product can integrate with Realogy’s Transaction Management solutions, and would like to see Disclosures.io integrate with forms providers like ZipForms and InstanetForms. This is a great solution for high producing agents and teams. Disclosurres.io was one of the three finalist and finished second place to Homebot.
Evabot.AI is a personalized gift solution with a really cool twist. The agent or gift giver sends a text message to the bot with the cell number of their client. The bot asks clients a few questions about what they like, for example, wine vs. coffee. I learned that great coffee passed wines as a consumer preference a few years ago. The bot also asks questions about birthdays, and already remembers things like a home purchase anniversary. I think that this product is aimed more toward top producing teams or agents who do not have the time to go shopping for a client gift. I really like the personalized box that the gift is packed in. I think that they have a leg up on competitors like Loop and Tie. Maybe this is one for WAV Group to take a look at for its customers. The most common gift is $50.
Homebot was the winner, and industry startup veteran Ernie Graham was my pick for the best presenter of the day. It is a solution that is very similar to CoreLogic’s highly successful ePropertyWatch product. It allows the agent to enroll their clients in a home value and home equity report. The data is driven off of data from Black Knight, CoreLogic, Mortgage companies and others. This product is a no-brainer. Every agent should have something like this. My only critique is my belief that the product should show a number of AVMs. We learned this from Buyside and from surveying agent and consumer reactions to the Zestimate. No AVM is accurate and agents and consumers accept a variety of opinions better than a single opinion. AVMs just get you close. Today, Homebot does not allow the agent or the consumer to adjust the AVM (a great feature of NAR’s Realtor Property Resource RVM). Good news is that this is a product that sits in a category with a proven track record of success (ePropertyWatch carries over 50% open rates). I would love to see this integrated into Realogy’s websites to allow consumers to enroll. It would also be an awesome integration into Zap to create a client for life engagement drip. As mentioned, Homebot was one of the three finalists in the competition and was the winner!
IOVOX is a call management and tracking solution that allows agents to record conversations and make notes and create tags when they take customer calls. This has huge opportunities to help agents convert more phone leads and track customer conversations that come in by phone. The App is free on the Apple App Store, so I am going to try it. Agents pay for transcriptions and integrations with CRMs (revenue model). I do not believe that LeadRouter® has a click to call feature with “call capture” today. This may fit in nicely to that strategy if deployed.
RealKey was not my pick to win the competition, but definitely my pick to become the most successful company that presented today. The founder already had a successful exit with Sindeo. They take a different approach to Transaction Management and Mortgage Origination, namely, they are a systems integrator that allows lots of TM Systems, Title Systems, and Mortgage Systems to talk through a single platform. For example, a consumer’s credit is only pulled once but shared through consumer permissions to a number of mortgage companies. It is the one to rule them all! I do not see a clear path for Realogy with this one, but I would suspect that the Realogy Mortgage and Title companies may take a look.
SISU is a business intelligence dashboard for franchises, brokers, offices, teams, and agents. On the light end, it is the same type of sales funnel and activity reporting that you would find in Moxi CRM.
Today, companies who want a more robust reporting platform go to applications like Tableau. This is Tableau in a box for real estate whereby the integrations are already there. I really liked the scoreboard that shows the sales leaders in a company. I also liked the Challenge feature that enables a broker to set a goal, like the number of new customers added to an agent CRM. The system tracks the success and ranks agents by office or region or company to create a competition. Again, I see this as a great addition to Zap and am particularly excited about how this tool can empower office managers to coach agents. It just went live in June.
Shyft was my big WOW at the event. They solve the problem of moving. Today, companies like MoveEasy and MooveGuru are in this space. MoveEasy has a move concierge that will organize the process of getting quotes on moving. MooveGuru enables the broker to send discounts. With Shyft, the agent or consumer opens the app and is connected to a live operator via live video. The consumer goes room to room with the live stream and adds comments like “I am leaving this couch, I am taking this bed,” etc. The application uses image recognition to calculate the total move without having someone come to the house. In less than a minute, they calculated the move of everything in the conference room for the event and offered full-service pricing (pack and ship), customer pack and ship, etc. I was amazed. Like Homebot and Disclosurers.io, Shyft was one of the three finalists for the Innovation Award. They came in third.
TourZazz was the final presenter, offering a service that manages home showing tours for buyers. The product was developed by two Realty Austin agents who operate in Texas and it was really well thought out product. With MLS integration, the agent can select the homes to visit (they support off MLS addresses also). The app will follow the MLS showing instructions to arrange showing appointments with the agent or seller. When the showing tour is arranged, it is shared with the agent and the buyer. It has a great feature that allows the buyer to keep notes and rank home features while they are viewing each property. There are a number of competitive home tour software vendors today, but this one is the pick of the litter from what I have looked at recently. They are developing this for brokers and agents, but I would like to see it integrated into the core MLS system.
Great job to Realogy for putting this wonderful event together. It was an honor to be invited. I look forward to next year, and the opportunity to see how each of these companies find their way in the industry.