New tech has away of making “traditional” jobs obsolete. Myriad examples exist, from Microsoft’s product suite replacing secretaries and the e-commerce’s erosion of “brick-and-mortar” retail.
But real estate is a different beast. Or at least, that’s the thinking of Aaron Kardell, CEO of HomeSpotter, which has assembled a rather comprehensive suite of tools agents use to find and manage home buyer leads. Hot on the heels of HomeSpotter’s acquisition of real estate lead capture tool, Spacio, Grit Daily caught up with Kardell for a deeper dive on tech’s “blue print” for the global real-estate market.
Grit Daily: You have an interesting background as a founder. Share more.
Aaron Kardell: I’ve started a number of ventures along the way. In high school in the 90s, I wrote a shareware application called EasyZIP Self-Extractor Pro. When I started receiving those $49 checks for software I wrote, I was immediately hooked. In my final year of college, I started an ed tech company that sold three years later to Pearson. After that, I had a few minor successes and a failure before starting what would become HomeSpotter. Across all of these ventures the one thing that has remained is a desire to write and deliver software that people love to use.
GD: How are consumer expectations changing when it comes to residential home buying?
AK: Consumers have access to more information about houses than ever before and are questioning the traditional model of agent representation. But the fact remains that agents play a critical role in guiding consumers in the biggest purchase decision of their lives with nuanced knowledge of local markets. The challenge for agents is to demonstrate their value by offering extremely high levels of service and access, so consumers can’t imagine buying a home without them.
GD: What’s the reasoning behind the Spacio acquisition?
AK: The opportunity to add the best open house lead generation system to our suite of products means that we can drive more value for our customers looking to enable real estate relationships. The products that we offer are naturally complementary. For example, an agent might use our Boost product to advertise their open house, Spacio to capture the lead, and the consumer will hopefully walk out of the open house with a Connect-powered app to continue their search and collaborate with the agent.
Thankfully our companies have been very aligned in our approach to serving the industry. Like us, Spacio has found a way to serve large enterprise organizations and make it easy for them to offer cutting edge tech to their agents. We also operate with the same attitude toward being integration-friendly, ensuring our products will work well with existing systems.
GD: How important is the “open house,” really?
AK: It’s an interesting fact that as consumer-facing real estate portals have proliferated over the last five years, the number of leads sold to real estate agents and brokers has multiplied several times while the number of homes actually being sold has remained very steady. That means that it’s more important than ever for agents to generate their own leads and to be the first to offer value to consumers.
Open houses represent a way to cut out the intermediary lead broker for agents that are willing to put in the effort. We’ve found that smart agents and teams are investing in open houses and refining their approach based on measurable objectives for each event. When executed as part of a proper lead generation operation, open houses can be a differentiator and profit driver for a savvy real estate pro.
GD: What role do Instagram and Facebook play in moving real estate? Are any other social media effective?
AK: Purchasing real estate is inherently social, with consumers involving their friends and family to gather ideas and feedback. Facebook and Instagram are currently the place where users consume and interact with content publicly the most and it makes sense for real estate brands to reach them there. Social channels primarily drive brand awareness for the real estate company and the agent. Secondarily they can facilitate sharing and offer a point of contact for consumers that want to connect.
GD: How near or far are we from ubiquitous “virtual tours” and other tech like “one signature” (simplified) purchases?
AK: The pace of change in the industry is remarkable and there are plenty of ways that technology can upend traditional real estate processes. The tools that win out will be the ones that improve the experience for consumers. It’s good to remember that despite the incredible technology available today, real estate remains a very personal and emotional thing and we feel that the best tech solutions enable human relationships.