Trends 2023: A boutique brokerage gets a tech checkup
As competition intensifies, brokerage leaders must strengthen business fundamentals like technology to stay competitive.
Editor's note: Since 2006, the Swanepoel Trends Report has provided in-depth research and analysis to help leaders understand the forces shaping residential real estate. This exclusive series of excerpts highlights each trend featured in the 2023 report.
How to Seize the 2023 Brokerage Technology Dream: As the market shifts and competition intensifies, it becomes increasingly important for brokerage leaders to focus on strengthening business fundamentals, such as technology, in order to stay competitive and provide value to agents and themselves. This excerpt is a distillation of a recent T3 Sixty technology audit of a boutique brokerage.
This well-established boutique brokerage with nearly 200 agents operates in one of the US's most expensive metro areas with a 2021 sales volume of over $2 billion.
Firm Structure and Goals
The firm prides itself on providing one of the highest agent-to-support staff ratios in the industry and, as a result, its agents primarily operate as individual sales contributors.
However, the firm experienced intense retention pressure as its top-producing team received compelling offers from other brokerages and was contemplating a move due to dissatisfaction with the tools offered by its brokerage. The team, for example, operated on an entirely different marketing and technology stack, which made the value the brokerage provided it thin. The team represented about 40 percent of the firm's sales production, so the brokerage wanted to find a way to keep them happy and engaged.
The brokerage wanted to use the technology audit to create a roadmap for its technology stack. The stack needed to inspire consumer confidence in the firm's ability to market luxury property, equip agents with tools to provide bespoke customer experiences and still allow its support team to work on the agents' behalf, and increase its value proposition to agents and teams, especially the top-producing one.
T3 Sixty Assessment
The brokerage's templated website would work in most markets, but in its more upscale market, the site did not fit its brand proposition or the expectations of its discerning clients.
The brokerage had the resources and expertise to properly differentiate its brand but lacked the technical ability to realize the full benefit of these assets.
The brokerage's technology toolset lacked the functionality for multiple administrative roles and support staff to create, share, distribute, and, when necessary, communicate effectively on behalf of its agents. Building concierge services around marketing and transaction management functions can effectively achieve broader technology and secure the adoption of best practices.
T3 Sixty Recommendations
T3 Sixty recommended the firm retain an industry-leading vendor to build a website worthy of the firm's average sales price and local market expectations.
While only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, a firm's consumer-facing website is its most recognizable and possibly most valuable marketing asset. In luxury markets, the design, user experience, and content of the brokerage website must create confidence in a firm's ability to market luxury real estate.
In the luxury space, incremental improvements by custom real estate website developers have created a gap between run-of-the-mill websites and luxury ones. The firm needed a best-in-class website to remain competitive. Achieving parity with recent well-funded and equipped market entrants requires developing a custom website that inspires agent pride and exceeds the market's expectations.
Concierge Services for Top Agents
To create meaningful differentiation, each brokerage must develop its value bundle to elevate and improve its agents' businesses. Given the increasing complexity of modern real estate transactions, providing agent support for marketing and transaction management has become an effective way to justify compensation splits typically associated with traditional brokerage models.
T3 Sixty recommended the brokerage demand sophisticated administrative and user role provisioning capabilities from its vendors, so that its staff could act as a true extension of agents, as their concierge. Obtaining this administrative functionality empowers brokers to make service guarantees capable of establishing meaningful points of differentiation in their service delivery and provide the support agents need to focus on their client relationships.
Digital and printed copies of the 2023 Swanepoel Trends Report are available for purchase at t3trends.com.