The clear message to technology firms is to let brokers decide
In the last few months, multiple technology companies launched a marketplace inside their transaction management solutions that sells products directly to agents and their clients. I am conflicted: Should technology companies enter a space in which real estate brands would want control of that experience? One of the companies claims in a press release that the marketplace sells directly to 1.3 million agents through their transaction forms products. Products in the marketplace at launch include escrow, agent websites, moving services, among others. The tech company indicates that they will continue to expand the marketplace to include home insurance, mortgage and title.
Wait, aren’t the smarter real estate brokers adopting these services internally to increase company dollar with products associated to the transaction—putting the new tech marketplaces in direct competition with the real estate brokers that the tech company supports? Brokers can only stop this from happening by canceling the contract, which is really not possible since real estate agents and brokers have little choice other than to use the forms made available by their association of REALTORS® or their MLS, which most often provides the forms service.
Real estate brokers and some franchises have been investing heavily in delivering end-to-end business solutions for their agents. Typically, this includes the agent website, CRM, marketing platform, transaction management solution and client-for-life solutions. Enterprise brokers or franchises also have joint ventures in the area of title, mortgage and homeowners insurance. For example, Realogy has been developing this marketplace solution for years. Their newest platform called Productivity Hub will replace the Zap Store. Aside from the benefits of integrating technology solutions, Realogy emphasizes negotiations for bigger discounts and driving revenue back to the brokers and agents as new revenue streams. Realogy is not unique in this endeavor; RE/MAX and Keller Williams are also working on their own version of a Marketplace.
In truth, most of the MLSs and associations of REALTORS® were not informed about the plans for the marketplace before they were launched. Many are currently engaged in dialogue with the tech firm right now to mitigate the impact on upset subscribers and members.
There is a simple solution. Tech firms can open the marketplace to everyone and give control to the brokers to determine what services appear. This approach would remove them from this competitive position with services that brokers would like to display to their agents or clients. If brokers do not want a particular service to appear, they should have the ability to hide it. If the broker wants to display their services, they can add them. Let these tech firms know how you feel.
Scott Oakley is CEO of MooveGuru. For more information, please visit www.mooveguru.com.