Technology has changed the way we live and work. Advances in the digital age have transformed industries from medicine and health care to defense and education. Though comparatively late to the game, the business of real estate is being simultaneously disrupted and invigorated by technological innovation. Two and a half years ago, I joined Compass after more than three decades at three other very traditional brokerage firms. Compass’ bold leadership was compelling, and the commitment to innovative technology was a lure.
As both a technology start-up and a residential brokerage, Compass employs more tech and software product professionals than any other firm today. With the benefit of 74 engineers, the company is creating and perfecting superior tools for its agents and changing the way buyers and sellers navigate the process of finding and selling a home. Among them:
Collections, available on desktop and iPhone, is an interactive Pinterest-like interface that allows the buyer or the seller along with all stakeholders in the decision making process to collaborate with an agent and team members. It organizes properties in a single place where each can make comments and follow price changes and contract activity in real time, streamlining the search and evaluation processes for both principles and agents alike.
I’ve used Collections to show sellers how the competition is faring compared to activity on their own listings; for buyers, I’ve curated Collections in differing price categories and neighborhoods; for the public, I’ve grouped properties around a specific theme: homes in need of TLC, residences with amazing views, or great designer kitchens and baths.
The Network Tool, another favorite of mine, allows me to identify agents from other firms who in the recent past marketed properties similar to my own newest listing. With a couple of clicks, I can eblast and reach every co-broker who might have a buyer in the wings. For the property owner, this leads to shorter time on the market which ultimately maximizes price.
The Valuation Tool offers agents a choice of four methodologies to obtain reliable property estimations. My go-to option provides analyses of comparable properties that are actively listed, in contract and recently sold in the neighborhood or the buildings of choice.
The Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), probably Compass’ most highly anticipated tool, is being built now to be unveiled this year under the direction of Head of Product Eytan Seidman who developed the first ever CRM product for Microsoft. The customized model will simplify deal management and more effectively manage all communication to better service clients.
We can thank technology for improving the way information is gathered, stored, updated and retrieved. With data at our fingertips and faster access to more accurate intelligence, time is saved. Data helps us to make more effective marketing decisions, and improved efficiency leads to greater productivity.
According to a report from Manhattan based think tank Center for Urban Future, technology will create and expand more jobs than it displaces. The January report from the research initiative states, “In many cases, automation will require humans to work more closely with machines, rather than be replaced by them…. As technology tackles more social and cognitive work, its role in the workplace will vastly expand…. [Jobs] will be augmented by robots, machine learning and artificial intelligence. This brave new world will create enormous opportunities...”
Real estate may have been late to the high tech party but advances are proceeding at a steady clip and changing the way we do business. At a recent industry convention, Compass Chief Operating Officer Maëlle Gavet asserted, “The reinvention of real estate by technology is inevitable and unstoppable.”
More Compass tools are coming, and while it’s tough to even imagine how AI and machine learning will reshape the business, I’m excited to embrace the next generation of Compass tools so I can work even smarter and have more time to advise even more clients and close even more deals.