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(Above, L to R) John Featherston, RISMedia; Hoby Hanna, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services; Kuba Jewgieniew, Realty ONE Group; Rory Golod, Compass; and Frank Gay, JP & Associates REALTORS® Franchising, discuss “The Future of Real Estate: Which Models Will Win?” at RISMedia’s 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange. (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

I just returned from New York, where I was graciously invited to participate in the RISMedia CEO Exchange. It’s always an honor to be asked to engage with others in the industry, and I’m grateful to John Featherston and the team for the opportunity.

It’s clear that too many tech startups are actually working to dehumanize our industry. I understand the inclination, as some traditional industries have gone the way of technology and automation. But I deeply believe this will not work for real estate.

Traditional brokerages have been on autopilot for the past 15 to 20 years, letting change and evolution just happen and letting partners of our industry direct it. But now’s the time when we can do something. As national real estate franchisors, we can actually impact the industry by rehumanizing data, applying what matters most in our business.

Money is flooding into our industry, from Wall Street to venture capitalists and private equity firms. It makes sense. With interest rates low, paper is cheap and the economy is booming despite talks of a recession. There seems to be more money on the sidelines then there are viable ideas to spend it on—and most who peer into our industry are betting on technology to replace the real estate agent. That fascinates me. When did we give up on people and human relationships?

Will technology ever ask a homebuyer or seller about their children, their recovery from cancer or their journey to find their dream home? Will technology spend the time to find out about your aspirations for your real estate career and the dreams you have for your family?

Those conversations still matter, because they develop relationships, and relationships add to the depth and color of our lives.

(L to R) Kuba Jewgieniew, Realty ONE Group; Rory Golod, Compass; and Frank Gay, JP & Associates REALTORS® Franchising, at the CEO Exchange (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

Emotionless Data: They Just Don’t Get It
Zillow and iBuyers like Opendoor and Offerpad focus in on data, ignoring the emotion involved in real estate. To them, buyers and sellers (mostly) are just another data point on a spreadsheet. The more data they collect, the faster and the cheaper they can make a transaction.

That just shows that they don’t understand our business, nor do they understand the power of data. I remember 20 years ago, when “databases” were the new buzzword. We collected so much data that we didn’t know what to do with it all. Then just 10 years ago, the talk was all about data warehouses. Today, it’s data lakes—raw data syndicated from mass amounts of data sources. The raw data in these data lakes is normalized, and a predictive layer is added on the top so that we can engage machine learning and predictive analytics based on the habits and actions of all user types. Then, artificial intelligence takes over, making our lives seem simpler.

What if that data was used to find out more about the depth, the soul and the feelings of that user type—or more accurately, that user? Could we understand each other better? Get to know each other faster?

Creating Value in Every Aspect of the Transaction
Realty ONE Group is in an extraordinary position to capitalize on an opportunity right in front of us. Because of the deep meaning and emotion intrinsic to a real estate transaction, real estate professionals and their clients will continue to seek value in the transaction beyond what’s cheap and fast. And we can use data to add even greater value to the experience—match the right real estate professional to the right office, match the right buyers to not just the right home, but the perfect home.

For Realty ONE Group, our infrastructure is solid, our leadership the dream team of this industry, and our raving fans thrive in our coolture as we have the same goal: to make a positive difference in people’s lives across the globe, every day, together as ONE.

(L to R) John Featherston, RISMedia; Kuba Jewgieniew, Realty ONE Group; Hoby Hanna, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services; Rory Golod, Compass; and Frank Gay, JP & Associates REALTORS® Franchising, at the CEO Exchange (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

Kuba Jewgieniew is the founder and CEO of Realty ONE Group. For more information, please visit