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When I became an agent in the early 1990s, the real estate industry was lagging in technology and systems to support agents in their day-to-day business needs. I knew there had to be better, more efficient ways to operate utilizing technology to automate, streamline and provide exceptional service, and I wanted to combine traditional real estate concepts with innovation and a technology approach.

My vision was to utilize technologies that supported systems and services to make both the agent and brokerage successful. This would provide long-term growth and stability for the brokerage and ensure success for the agent, giving them the power to have 100-percent control of their business and life. That’s what agents want and deserve: 100-percent commission, useful and purposeful tech, on-demand training, and expert support staff. That’s what a real estate professional needs to be empowered to build the business and life they desire. But lately, it’s been easy for all of us around the world to feel like we’ve lost control. Due to the spread of COVID-19, we are in an unprecedented time socially and economically.

So much has transpired in a relatively short period, and I understand that this event is bound to affect our industry, which it already has. We’re seeing an effect on the marketplace, and it’s crucial that you consider what your business should look like moving forward.

There will be consolidation in the industry. Many brokerages will feel the revenue loss and no longer be able to operate at the level necessary for success. Additionally, agents are looking for ways to operate remotely and run their businesses in a tech-first environment. Brokerages who aren’t built this way will have a tougher time competing in the current market and beyond.

By offering technology and systems that allow an agent to take their life in their own hands—providing them the ability to do transactions and operate their business remotely, take webinar-based classes or host virtual open houses using a proprietary tool—a brokerage will not only be able to remain 100-percent operational, but also thrive in uncertain situations by remaining constant and reliable without skipping a beat.

The firms with access to these tech tools that are offering them to agents without charging additional fees will come out on top. For example, without making any operational changes except for sending staff to work from home, HomeSmart agents are still being paid in less than an hour, oftentimes via electronic checks. This was not a tool we had to put in place due to the pandemic, but rather, technology we built in-house and were using prior to the crisis.

Real estate is about entrepreneurship. Agents go into this industry for the lifestyle. They want control of their own destiny. Providing tools that give them power is important, especially in times when they feel they’ve lost control. That’s all brokers should be doing for their agents, not only in times of uncertainty, but always.

The world is learning a tremendous amount as a result of this tough lesson, both economically and socially. It is my belief that this situation will drive our industry forward many years when it comes to utilizing technology, realizing remote workforces can work when done right, greater utilization of remote education, and many other things.

With that said, I wholeheartedly believe that HomeSmart, other similar brokerage models, and the agents and brokers affiliated with them will emerge from this in a far stronger position than before. When a brokerage company runs off a technology-driven model of low fees and high service, they are poised to grow tremendously during and after this unfortunate event.

Matt Widdows is the founder and CEO of HomeSmart International. For more information, please visit www.homesmart.com/franchising.

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