I’ve been a Realtor for almost 2 years now, and I still remember my first client. I was working with a seller, and I brought a 178-page listing presentation to their home. After about an hour and 15 minutes of selling to this client like my life depended on it (after all, my rent check three months from then did!), the client stopped me and said, “Well, how much do you charge.” My reply? “How much will you pay me?” I can’t remember the exact amount, but I know I accepted whatever she said, and a Realtor was born. There are so many different reasons people begin a career in real estate (natural sales ability, desire to work for themselves, love of HGTV, interest in investment opportunities, etc.), but you can’t truly be fulfilled in the business if you don’t fundamentally believe that homeownership is a life-transforming event that you want to be a part of. Helping someone buy or sell a property really means helping them create a home, a business, a legacy. And that’s pretty cool. A lot has changed in those 12 years — I no longer operate from a scarcity mentality and always, always, put value first. Price is only an issue when there is an absence of value. I’ve gone from being a single agent, to building five organizations with over 300 agents who have chosen to partner with me. Where once I was transforming the lives of individual home buying or selling clients; I’ve shifted my focus to transforming the lives of the real estate agents and CEOs I get into business with. The game changed. And I owe much of that to Gary Keller’s mentorship and leadership. Last week, Gary Keller took the stage with Brad Inman at Inman Connect, and I couldn’t have been prouder to know our company is led by such a strategic, innovative and fearless leader. Not just a leader of our company, but a leader of the entire real estate industry. He’s been blazing a trail for the rest of us (agents, business owners and real estate company competitors alike) for over 30 years. The next 30 years? Damn. I can’t wait to see where he takes us next. Keller’s mission has always been about the Realtor, and he is still completely committed to protecting the real estate agent as a partner, a professional and the industry as a profession. Today, Gary Keller and Keller Williams believe our industry is on the threshold of profound change and have made it their mission to arm agents with the very best tools, rooted in technology, to allow them to efficiently run their businesses and provide a seamless end-to-end consumer experience for their clients.
Here are my top three takeaways from watching the man himself stand up and share what’s really happening in the real estate industry:
1. The real estate industry hasn’t really changed in the past several decades, but it’s on the cusp
Think of it as the water getting to 33 degrees, and any moment now, it’s going to drop to 32 degrees and ice over. Any second now, people are going to wake up, and they are not going to recognize the real estate industry. It will seem like it happened overnight, but it won’t. Changes of this magnitude happen slowly (over many years) — and then suddenly. We are in the calm right before the storm. Slowly, slowly, slowly — then boom!
2. For real estate agents, our database and our data have always been our most important resources
And they still are, so we must own both. However, the cheese has moved, and the new winning formula will be one personal database connected to one statistically significant large database. The playbook today will be to create meaningful relationships with our database and then let technology use a massive transactional and informational dataset to make the client experience, faster, easier and cheaper. Owning as much data as possible, utilizing that data to optimize the consumer experience and using artificial intelligence to personalize that experience in real time will all very quickly become the most important foundational pieces of a real estate agent’s value proposition to their clients.
3. As real estate agents, we individually have neither enough data nor the financial resources to build and run a real estate innovation platform that can compete at the level we need to, to stay at the core of the consumer’s real estate journey
So we must align ourselves with someone or some company who is suited up for the game and ready to play right now. Someone that has invested the time and money to build a powerful platform (not software) that is ready to compete right now on our behalf. According to Google, it takes at least two years to build a massive industry specific cloud service once you have a significantly large data set. It also takes at least a year to build a fledgling artificial intelligence to even begin to optimize it. Given where our industry is, I’m afraid that a year or more just may be too late.
Keller Williams is ready.
While other companies were building micro-services and bolt-on technology, KW was building a true innovation engine. Industry insiders say that it is the only one in existence. Thanks to its profit share program that required it to collect data starting in the ’80s, KW simply had to connect a pipeline from its enormous databank to its cloud service and start training what they call the Keller Cloud. At the same time, the KW team started building its own real estate specific artificial intelligence to drive its cloud service. Even as a “baby,” Inman immediately realized what KW has done and recognized Kelle as the most innovative product of the year. Keller Williams does not believe in agent-enabled technology, but rather the tech-enabled agent. Gary Keller has put his agent partners first by building a platform that will allow each individual agent to be their own Netflix in their individual markets. As we move into this next phase of the real estate industry (get ready, it’s coming!), agents get to choose the partners they’ll bet their careers on. I choose KW because it has proven time and time again that it deeply cares more about me and my business. Gary Keller will fight to protect the agent instead of trying to remove or marginalize the agent. I’m proud he stood up for me.