Why HomeSmart International Believes It Has the Business Model for the Future
Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the October 2020 issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today.
As a consumer of any type of news or media today, you are inundated with ads, emails and articles swarming with the latest buzzwords and phrases: “unprecedented times,” “new normal” and “uncharted territory.” In some cases, companies you have relied on have had to make drastic changes in their business operations. They’ve had to reassure clients that they are working hard to navigate these “rocky waters” and provide the support and customer service their patrons deserve.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many brokerage companies had to shift gears entirely. They were forced to focus on finding and implementing technology solutions and easy-to-manage processes their agents could utilize in order to keep their businesses moving forward. Firms brought on third-party software and created new systems that not only allowed them to operate remotely, but also, resourced agents to run a virtual real estate business for the first time.
But why did it take a global crisis for brokerages to move their businesses in this direction?
According to HomeSmart International, the company has had the tools, systems and processes in place to easily adapt and continue to support their clients the whole time.
HomeSmart International was built on technology. CEO and Founder Matt Widdows originally opened his flagship brokerage in 2000 because, as an agent himself, he felt the real estate industry was outdated and did not offer the tech he needed to do his job efficiently. He created a brokerage with tech DNA—technology ran through the veins of the company; it played a role in every part of the lifecycle of a real estate agent and broker.
For two decades, HomeSmart International’s RealSmart Tech Suite has offered agent and broker software that goes far beyond transaction management. It provides complete synchronization and continues to grow and evolve with every passing year.
The agent platform, RealSmart Agent, boasts an all-in-one capability that maximizes an agent’s productivity by streamlining business tasks. No more competing pieces of technology that don’t speak to one another. No more keeping track of multiple usernames and passwords. From one place, using only one login, an agent can do anything from managing transactions to creating listing flyers to accessing training. They can move every aspect of their business forward from a single piece of technology that is free for all HomeSmart agents.
And because agents are constantly on the go, touring clients and showing listings, HomeSmart International created the RealSmart Agent mobile app. This way, busy agents can experience all the ease and features of the end-to-end platform from the palm of their hands.
All of this was available long before stay-at-home orders. And 100 percent of HomeSmart agents were adopting this technology long before it became a necessity.
Through seamless integration with the company’s broker platform, RealSmart Broker, RealSmart Agent gives real estate professionals complete visibility into document review status in real time. Today, when every transaction and every commission matters, automated notifications and instant updates from brokers lead to agents getting paid faster. This is all made possible because HomeSmart International brokerages nationwide run on
RealSmart Broker, the business management software that grows with the brokerage and allows brokers to conveniently manage their entire business from—yes, you guessed it—one place.
The home screen gives brokers a snapshot of their entire brokerage in an organized and prioritized list so they can set their business up for success. They can manage files from start to finish in one tab and easily add notes to automatically notify agents of document approvals or requests. As a mirror of the RealSmart Agent screen, RealSmart Broker keeps brokers in the know at every stage of review.
Yes, the robust platform facilitates document review, billing, recruiting, the educational calendar, and more, but what seems most important at this time is big data. Now more than ever, business intelligence and real-time reporting is crucial to business success and evolution. All brokerage data is stored in the system so brokerage owners and operators can instantly pull reports to analyze their business, make better decisions and, ultimately, increase productivity.
With back-office tasks, efficient transaction management and data insights in one central location, RealSmart Broker gives complete visibility and access to run a brokerage wherever you are. And now, brokers and agents aren’t the only stakeholders with complete visibility into the transaction process.
HomeSmart International continues to lead tech evolution in real estate with its brand-new RealSmart Client product.
The real estate tech giant has built its reputation on consistently pushing the boundaries of how technology plays a role in the industry. RealSmart Client is the company’s latest offering and first platform that gives the consumer detailed insight into the listing and transaction process. Not only does the app continue to allow clients to search for homes, but now, they can also view their transaction status, manage documents and have more insight into the sale of their home and the purchase of their next residence. RealSmart Client also integrates with mortgage and escrow partners, giving buyers and sellers access to up-to-date information on the entire transaction process in one place.
“Launching RealSmart Client to round out our tech suite simply made sense as our next move,” says Widdows. “It has always been our goal to connect and provide complete visibility for all those involved in a transaction, and that also includes our buyers and sellers.”
Technology equals adaptability, and according to HomeSmart, the RealSmart Tech Suite allows for business success from anywhere.
HomeSmart International is powered by better business operations as well as people who constantly question the status quo and ask how they can streamline the brokerage business for all parties involved.
According to HomeSmart International President Ashley Bowers, “The company prides itself on being hyper-focused on the three Ps of business: people, process and profits. This is what drives the success for the business and where we focus much of our time and resources.”
Having streamlined processes in place assists brokerages in meeting their goals and gives them the power to exceed them.
From the company’s inception, Widdows made it a goal to limit repeated manual processes and, instead, use technology that eliminates human error. All HomeSmart International franchises utilize the company’s proprietary software, which was developed to standardize the transaction process. This makes business more efficient and scalable for owners, brokers, agents and staff. With the brand’s well-known, 100-percent commission model, scalability is key to profitability.
When analyzing how exactly a company of HomeSmart International’s size—over 19,000 agents strong—can scale at the rate it does while providing the service and support promised, there was one glaring answer: process allows for scalability. Because the model is based on a transaction fee and a low monthly fee, the business relies on large numbers, the use of technology for efficiency, and a streamlined business with a focus on service metrics and service level agreements. By running a lean business with complete awareness of its profits and losses, the company’s brokerages have proven to be successful in any market condition.
HomeSmart International’s ecosystem allows for business success no matter what.
Due to the nature of the market, the real estate industry ebbs and flows. But HomeSmart International has seen some of its biggest growth during down markets because, in those times, agents and brokerage owners can clearly see the benefit of partnering with the brand.
The HomeSmart model is as close to recession-proof as possible.
Take HomeSmart agents for example. In a good market, agents receive free technology and responsive broker and agent support. These resources help them close deals faster, get paid quicker and return back out to the field to do more business.
In a down market, agents can find financial relief by paying minimal brokerage costs, receive exceptional support and training needed to help them move their business forward, and get 100-percent commission every time they close a transaction.
Broker/owners in a good market have systems that allow for efficiencies so they can move through transactions faster and, in turn, pay agents quicker, which helps them do more business.
And in a down market, these operators have streamlined costs by using one tech suite, and have low overhead, thanks to a model that allows for smaller office space and less staffing due to technology solutions. HomeSmart International’s SmartReception virtual reception technology reduces the number of employees in offices, as does the utilization of the company’s Centralized Services offering, where corporate staff handle paperwork processing, recruiting and agent support for the franchise. This allows the broker/owner to focus their time and attention on things that help them generate the most revenue, like partnerships with mortgage, title and home warranty companies rather than clerical work, which takes the most time.
Bottom line: HomeSmart International believes it has created a better way—a smarter way—for the future of real estate.
To put it simply, HomeSmart International’s success is foundational with technology in its blood, operational excellence at its core and a culture that puts the agent first in its heart. That’s why Widdows and Bowers believe this industry-leading, rapidly-growing real estate company is the way forward.
For more information, please visit www.homesmart.com.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.