RE/MAX CIO focused on tech’s role in real estate, alongside agents
Chief Information Officer Grady Ligon says the value of tech is "helping real estate professionals do what they do — but better."
- Ligon joined RE/MAX in October as the company’s first chief information officer.
- He sees technology as an important tool in simplifying the real estate journey for both consumers and agents.
- Real estate remains a people-first business, but “technology is inescapable.”
Grady Ligon's dream was to be a blues guitarist on the order of musical legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Instead, Ligon moved into the financial and energy sectors before settling into real estate, where he has spent the past 15 years in executive roles. In October, he was named chief information officer at RE/MAX, becoming the company's first C-suite executive with an exclusive view of technology across the globe — and perhaps the only RE/MAX executive with a guitar collection on display in his home office.
As a licensed real estate agent (whose wife is also an agent), Ligon has firsthand knowledge of the daily rhythm of real estate, and a low-key, understated style when talking about technology and the high-stakes role it plays in the industry.
"Where we sit today, technology is inescapable in the real estate ecosystem. Almost all consumers start their journey online," he said. "And, we are at a place where the entire real estate transaction could be completed online. But real estate professionals know their market and area and can provide context and expertise for the consumer. The key [with technology] is helping the real estate professionals do what they do — but better."
Technology complements agent expertise
Ligon described the "wealth" of online information and data about properties as "staggering." That is where the expertise of real estate agents and brokers comes in, he said, as they can help "make sense of all the stuff out there and what it means," guiding buyers and sellers through a sometimes complicated and difficult process.
Technology also plays an important role in simplifying the home-search and transaction process, Ligon said. "The overall vision for technology at RE/MAX is to enable consumers to more easily engage in the homeownership journey and connect with the most experienced and productive agents in the world," he said. "Technology is not the differentiator in real estate. It is how technology is used in concert with real estate services and the in-person experience to make the journey easier and better for consumers and for agents."
Ligon underscored that real estate remains a people-first business. "I never see a point where agents are out of the picture, but I do see a time when an agent who does not embrace technology is replaced by someone who will," he said. Ligon said he also recognizes how integral technology has become at most every stage of the real estate process, from home-shopping online to qualifying for a mortgage and signing the reams of paperwork required in transactions.
Building on convenience, efficiency of tools
Among Ligon's immediate goals at RE/MAX is to build upon the convenience of online real estate transactions. He wants to remove the frustration of technology in everyday use. "I don't want the tool to get in the way of people using and realizing the value of it. That is where we need to be as a company," Ligon said. "Most of us as humans don't want to use technology. We don't want to think about using Microsoft Word, for example. But we do think about the results we want and gain from using the product."
Ligon is also focused on streamlining technology at a vast organization where resources were developed and implemented at different times. That means auditing systems, removing redundancies and optimizing efficiencies to create a holistic approach to tech.
"Then you have the ability to make stuff interesting across the board. If you think about technology in pockets, then you get pockets of value," Ligon said. "If you think about technology across the organization, that is when you can do things that are transformative."