Real Estate Webmasters (REW) is definitely a leader in providing platform technology to real estate brokers in North America. The Canadian based company supports significant brokers, teams, and top producers in both Canada and America with a user count of around 60,000. The pride of the company that differentiates them from most brokerage platforms is customization. If you want it, they will build it. They are particularly strong at helping brokers write content to build traffic though SEO. Europe is about to get a dose of REW.
WAV Group has been attending the Real Estate New Technology (RENT) conference in Paris for the past five years. It allows us to spend a week each year helping our clients in North America develop strategies for Europe and generating opportunities for us to work with European companies who want to investigate expansion into North America. Disclaimer: REW is not a WAV Group client. This experience of attending RENT gives us a valuable perspective that enables us to support WAV Group’s clients in improving and supporting their international business growth.
What we see in Europe is a hodgepodge of small technology firms building real estate products – many of them focused on a handful of countries. The advertising portals dominate the landscape making it hard for brokers to compete. However, like North America, brokers still need websites, CRM, and other technology solutions.
REW has two significant partnerships that they have developed to seed their European expansion – Leading RE and RE/MAX Integra.
When you create an ambitious strategy for expansion like this, it’s a good idea to have great partners. From the outside, it looks like REW has nailed down relationships with two very significant friends who can provide immeasurable support to REW.
REW has been a partner of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (Leading RE) for many years. Their European affiliates who attend the Leading RE Conference are outspoken about the pent-up demand for the types of solutions they see available to brokerages in America. European brokers want more. Soon, REW can say “yes,” we can support you in Europe.
REW is also a partner with RE/MAX INTEGRA. If you do not know, RE/MAX INTEGRA is a privately owned company within the RE/MAX umbrella with over 2750 offices across 35 countries….I think that they own about half of RE/MAX Canada and all of Europe with a ton of business in Midwest and North East USA. Add it all up and they are about 30% of RE/MAX.
It’s worth noting that REW is also integrated with DocuSign® who is having a ton of success in Europe – especially in Real Estate.
Creating Foundation for European Expansion
There are many benefits to REW operating a software development company in Canada. People are great and there is a wonderful international culture – especially in Vancouver where REW has offices. Real estate operates similarly in Canada as in United States with MLS, IDX, etc. Canada throws in one caveat – French Canadian. Quebec’s charter requires that computer software and customer support are available in English and French. REW cut their teeth on multi-language back in the early days of their company with Sutton and Sotheby’s Canada. They are built for this.
In a Facebook post this week, REW CEO, Morgan Carey announced that REW is participating in the Canadian Business Scale Up Program (BSP). This matching loan program will help REW adapt their systems to support productivity, grow operations, and increase exports to global markets. REW puts in $2.5 million, Canada matches $2.5 million. Payments are deferred for three years after which the loan is repaid interest free. In total, REW will be investing about $5 million of combined funds for the European launch. The funding can extend up to $10 million from Canada as long as REW matches the $10 million.
As a side note, this movement is probably great news for the Real Estate Standards Organization as REW will be using the RESO standard for building out the listing maintenance tools for Europe using RESO Data Dictionary.
Europe has a distinct set of challenges that go beyond language barriers. European nations have adopted GDPR and other specific privacy and real estate compliance laws. Knowing the people, customs, laws, and other local requirements will be the secret to REW success.
I am not going to write up how this may impact European technology incumbents. That topic is too far afield for our readership. The important perspective here is that very few real estate technology platform companies support multi-national customers. Frankly, there are not many vendor choices because operating in Europe is very hard and very expensive. But it is worth noting market share may have some impact on a few North American technology companies over the next three to five years.
The incumbent technology provider for RE/MAX Europe today is GryphTech. We learned from our friends in Paris that at a recent all broker’s meeting in Switzerland, CEO Michael Polzler, CEO of RE/MAX Europe announced their intentions to move forward with REW as their new technology vendor. This is likely to impact Gryphtech as RE/MAX Europe is a major customer.
We will also watch to see how this impacts booj®. Presumably RE/MAX LLC would like their franchises everywhere to use booj®, but you gotta win them over.
Leading RE brokerages in Europe do not have a dominant vendor.
This may also represent an existential threat to Gabriels in NYC – the firm that develops the platform for Sotheby’s International Real Estate franchisees and Christie’s International Real Estate.
We will see where this goes. REW has a major roll out to Century 21 Canada next month. If they hit a home run there, that will be a significant lynchpin for their European efforts. It is super hard to roll out anything across a franchise – booj® is only days into a multi-year program to roll out RE/MAX, LLC. The Zap roll out by Realogy is in its 5th year and is not fully complete for North America. C21 Canada will be a much easier roll out for REW than either booj® or Zap, but it will take a bit of time to get everyone on the platform, get them trained, and drive usage.