T3 Tech Summit: How technology can simplify real estate transactions
Speakers and vendors at the inaugural event focused on tech solutions that add value for real estate professionals.
- Tech will not replace agents — and isn’t designed to.
- Experiential learning and human connection were common themes.
- “Shark Tank” style pitch battles were categorized by the product's place in the funnel.
Even at its most powerful, tech will not replace real estate agents, nor is it a cure-all. Maybe not the message you'd expect to hear at a tech event, but these were common threads running through the inaugural T3 Tech Summit.
Perhaps more expected are the floor-to-ceiling video screens, and those were absolutely part of the experience — or more specifically, the "experience rooms," where attendees got to see products in action at the event in Newport Beach, California.
The message to technology companies was to find ways to simplify and show value as the industry continues to shift, particularly in terms of realigning expenses with lower revenues. And as Jack Miller, president and CEO of T3 Sixty, noted on stage, the high churn rate in the industry and highly localized, fragmented data remain challenges that need to be addressed.
Making their pitch, live
The summit pitch battles — a staple of tech events — followed a "Shark Tank" format, pitting companies against each other to convince a panel of judges, and the audience, that their idea is the best. The overall winner, Inspectify, received a $50,000 prize.
The competition categorized presentations by their place in the marketing funnel. Vuse, a video-focused content-creation app for agents, won for top of funnel. AM Cards won the middle-of-funnel category by offering custom cards to build relationships by marking milestones.
In the bottom-of-funnel duels involving the final transactions, Inspectify won by offering a way to take some of the stress out of the home inspection process. In the end-of-transaction category, Kintaro.io offered a platform that allows real estate companies to better use the data they are already collecting.
Holding out for a tech "hero" who gets it
Wendy Purvey, president and chief operating officer at Pacific Sotheby's International Realty, said agents are "exhausted" and looking for ways to simplify their jobs. They also want support and training — as long as they understand the "why" of what you're teaching them.
"The training portion of whatever you do has to always come back to 'How does this help me?'" Purvey said.
Brokers, meanwhile, need help too. They're cutting operating expenses, but desperately trying to hold on to their agents and increase their margin. Broker margins have declined from an average of 22.4% to 11% over the past 10 years, she said.
"There's no wiggle room for experimentation right now," Purvey said. "You need to provide goods and services that will help them grow their business. They're looking at you to make them a hero."
Tech can enhance consumer experiences — and company culture
Maurcio Umansky, whose company The Agency recently acquired Triplemint, also sees technology as a way to maintain the culture of the company as it expands.
"It's a people business," said Umansky.
Umansky, who is also launching the Netflix series "Buying Beverly Hills," is setting the company in a growth mode, establishing a goal of growing from 65 now to more than 300 in 2025.
Buying and selling against the backdrop of a virtual Vail
The Stockton Group allowed visitors to explore a virtual Vail, where real-time sales data lit up properties in green and red (depending on availability) and ski runs cut through the woods.
Buyers can explore properties in detail, and in comfort. Sellers can have a perpetual open house without opening their door to a stranger. The idea, said founding partner Tye Stockton, is to create the real estate version of Amazon Prime: a friction-free experience. It's flashy, but customer-focused.
"You can fit six, eight, 10 hours of tours into an hour," Stockton said. "Curation meets entertainment."