Real estate CIOs drive deals with data


The first platform is Command, a core agent-facing CRM that supports Keller Williams’ agents and real estate teams. The second cloud-native application, called Command Market Center, is a CRM solution for the company’s brokerages and market centers globally, Cox says.

The third application is its consumer-facing digital platform, called kw.com, which can be customized and be made available through franchise owner branded sites linking agents to local customers. Finally, the IT team developed a digital market center that offers event management as well as training and education content.

Like rivals, Keller Williams will not provide a hardened ROI on a process that is only one part technology and still largely relationship-based between agent and customer. But Cox and Djuric do know that 82% of Keller Williams’ agent have been active on the homegrown CRM application in the past 90 days and can deduce the high value of their data from that statistic alone.

“We’ve been on a journey for the last six years or so to build out our platforms,” says Cox, noting that Keller Williams uses MLS, demographic, product, insurance, and geospatial data globally to fill its data lake. “We have made a tremendous investment in this integrated architecture that sits on the cloud and are aggressively innovating on top of that.”

Cox says his data team has “rationalized” its data architecture, combining multiple data lake instances into smaller data lakes “so we know what data we have and can make it more accessible,” he says.

Many technologies fall under the AI umbrella, and Cox and Djuric say the IT team is pushing harder on refining advanced analytic capabilities, including predictive modeling, as well as machine learning and AI — inclusive of generative AI, Cox says.

One simple use of generative AI, for instance, requires teaching agents how to list their properties in more descriptive ways than in the past. The gen AI model will save agents time and create better listings. “Generative AI engines like ChatGPT will create better and well-crafted descriptions for new listings and put more time on the agent’s calendar,” Cox says.

Will the real estate industry become wholly consumer-driven like CarMax?

Franchisees remain compliant with real estate regulators in each region but are free to innovate. Still, Cox says residential real estate transactions will remain a largely human relationship business unless consumers find it more productive to use technology to buy and sell home.

“Technology is a huge differentiating driving factor, and this is an extremely data-rich business and high transaction volume business,” Cox says. “But the sanctity of the relationship between and agent and their client we take very seriously. There is no intent to disintermediate or get in front of that fiduciary relationship.”

Real estate technology on the move

IDC maintains that residential real estate falls into the domain of the personal and consumer services vertical industry. This industry sector has spent among the least on digital transformations over the past several years, with construction spending roughly $42.6 billion in 2022, resource industries $82.1 billion in 2022, and personal and consumer services at $82.6 billion in 2022.

Re/Max’s Ligon acknowledges the real estate vertical is tough to track because it is fragmented, with each state reporting to its own Board of Realtors.

Additionally, there are hundreds of different MLS listings on different platforms and roughly 100 different CRMs independent franchisees use. The top three industry clouds — Inside Real Estate, Lone Wolf, and Constellation — are likely used by between 65% to 70% of agents, Ligon estimates.

His is a service business and he is only serving the real estate franchisees, their brokers and agents, and a separate mortgage business. But he and others agree that the industry’s use of technology will only continue to grow in volume and sophistication as AI tools evolve and data from many sources continues to accumulate in data lakes.

“At the end of the day, we are a real estate company powered by our own proprietary technology, but it’s going to shift,” Keller William’s Cox says of the overall industry’s use of technology. “In the next few years, I think you’ll find us talking about our technology more aggressively.”

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