Adi Pavlovic, director of innovation, is passionate about enabling and empowering agents as Keller Williams continues its seismic shift toward technology. Our team recently sat down with him to learn more about the industry tech trends we can anticipate in 2019.
You’re seeing a lot of pressure in the industry toward more integrated solutions, which is causing a lot of vendors to focus on integration and APIs. This is good for our industry, and an optimal opportunity to launch a platform like Keller Cloud.
What we envision happening is taking some of the best software that agents already use and integrating those solutions into the Keller Cloud. We’re one of the first to build such a platform in the real estate industry and we’re looking forward to launching some partners on the platform this year. As a result, we’re seeing new entrants focused on not just building stand-alone products, but rather building products that seamlessly integrate within an existing ecosystem.
Due to a lack of platforms in our industry, there hasn’t been a lot of demand on these vendors to build their technology like this. Moving forward, integration will be a much more common term, and switching costs will be lower for agents when they move between different software vendors. So, the agent will win over the long-run.
On the consumer end, what technology should people keep an eye out for?
For consumers, most tech movement now is focused on the transaction. You have mortgage lenders, title companies, and even the real estate agent all trying to modernize their processes. For the ancillary services tied to the transaction, the consumer is seeing more efficiencies, but they’re not simultaneous. When they work with their lender, it’s a particular process, and then warranty has its own process, and insurance has its own method, as does inspection, and so on. They’re all getting better in isolated verticals, but no one has brought all of that together. We anticipate a lot of focus here.
We’ll see a lot more of those industries overlap each other. For instance, lenders start to build platforms for agents, real estate agents introduce the consumer on their platform, you’ll have title do the same, and so I think there will be a race to win the consumer’s preference on which platform to complete the entire transaction. We believe the real estate agent, the consultant, is the relationship. It’s a relationship-based business, so everyone is racing to see who has the best relationship with the home buyer today. That’s really where it gets competitive.
I’d even say that iBuyers as a model will scale this year. They are competing for the seller. That’s another variable to take into account because they are becoming a notable platform.
Are we embracing iBuyers with our technology?
To stay competitive in today’s market, there’s nothing we’re afraid of trying. We are currently working with a KW agent in Phoenix who has adopted the iBuyer model to understand it, and we will continue to explore it in Labs. Right now, it’s a niche market, but we want to learn from it if it gets traction with consumers. Thankfully, we have the infrastructure and bandwidth to experiment with models like that just to learn from it and gain experience.
It looks like there’s a lot of trends making their way to the surface. How is Keller Williams skilled at staying focused on what matters instead of chasing down shiny trends and objects?
Labs helps us distill down legitimate business challenges and solutions. We are not swayed by headlines; we go to our agents first to see what they need in their business, and if the proposed tech seems like a shiny object, it gets called out quickly. We have examples where we’ve showcased something and agents have come back with some other priority.
With the Labs model, we can validate and iterate on new concepts quite rapidly. There’s no fear of failing. Our motto and mission is focused on the tech-enabled agent, so shiny objects fall off fast when you’re trying to build a tech stack for the agent that improves their business, meanwhile bringing their cost of operation down.
How is KW technology keeping up with the demands of the consumer?
Consumer demands can shift very quickly. It’s not really focused around which companies come out with new products, but what the next generation of home buyers and sellers are going to be influenced by. There are a lot of elements we can’t foresee or control in terms of what their financial situation or student debt is going to look like, or urbanization, and all these other macroeconomic variables. Those things influence the market just as much as technology does today. So, building for the future is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to anticipate the needs of consumers and anticipate the needs of agents to be relevant in their transactions. So we constantly consider and analyze if we’re looking far enough ahead.
We work closely with our consumer product team, and the lead consumer UX designer works with us every day. We’re talking to 200-300 consumers that don’t know Keller Williams every week. We’re doing labs and usability testing with them and making leaps and bounds there. We aim to grow that in Q1, so we can get more information and anticipate those future needs.
Any other trends to look out for?
In general, I anticipate venture capital funding to increase this year. There will be more and more products and more mergers and acquisitions between competitors.
In the tech space, everyone’s trying to influence or adapt to the industry. We’re doing a little bit of both.