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innovationMy position entails a great percentage of time on the road interacting with agents and brokers. Recently, I’ve been taking audiences through an exercise and asking them to identify the company I describe:

• Founded by a 24-year-old entrepreneur in San Francisco to bring about change and a new consumer experience
• Changed the way people viewed an entire industry
• Built to withstand the test of time with ethics and integrity as its foundation
• An industry leader from the beginning, with a constant drive for innovation

As you might suspect, the majority of the audience calls out “Apple!” though invariably, several identify the correct answer: “Coldwell Banker!”

Coldwell Banker Real Estate was the original Silicon Valley real estate start-up and, not surprisingly, innovation is at the core of the brand. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, unscrupulous real estate salespeople were making deals and profiting off other’s misery. Colbert Coldwell, later joined by Benjamin Arthur Banker, saw opportunity to innovate by focusing on honest business practices years before NAR introduced its Code of Ethics.

To this day, the Coldwell Banker brand retains not just the spirit of innovation, but also an unwavering commitment to the consumer from whom we obtain our inspiration. This spirit of innovation has never been more evident than in these past months. At the end of 2014, we launched the new Coldwell Banker digital platform. Our “seller stories” feature brings sellers into the process like never before by allowing them to work closely with their Coldwell Banker agent to share memories of the home through words, photos and videos. This information is invaluable to buyers who gain a greater understanding of the “story” of the home and experience unique content they cannot find on any portal.

We are taking advantage of Big Data with the debut of CBx, an exclusive listing app. A Coldwell Banker agent at a listing presentation can use stunning visuals to illustrate how information about the home, area comps, RPR data and even the availability of jobs in the area come together to properly position the home. CBx uses data from leading market research companies to identify the potential buyer profile and location, positioning the agent as a local market authority who is tech-savvy, forward-thinking and has access to information far beyond what a seller could access. The use of big data continues with the introduction of the incredibly powerful Zap platform, comprised of brokerage and agent websites, a state-of-the-art CRM, and unrivaled predictive analytics to score the interest of buyers.

We are leading the Smart Home Technology movement by partnering with innovative brands such as Tesla, LG, Nest and others who are redefining how we interact with our homes, which will ultimately change how we market and sell homes. Our relationships with leading-edge companies keep Coldwell Banker agents up-to-date, allowing them to showcase valuable market knowledge to consumers.

“Innovation” is a word too often overused in our industry without merit or proof points to back it up. But at Coldwell Banker, innovation is in our DNA and we continue to demonstrate it time and time again.

Budge Huskey is president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

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