“Right now, real estate is experiencing a slingshot effect. The entire industry is catching up to the rest of the world in terms of what the transaction experience should be,” Qualia CEO Nate Baker said. Baker spoke alongside Brian Shorr of Agent Image and JP Piccinini of JP and Associates at Inman Connect earlier this week.
The panel discussed how real estate agents and others in the transaction ecosystem can better collaborate to deliver the best customer experience possible. Piccinini, Shorr, and Baker each took a different angle on the subject, delivering insight on harnessing the value of education and innovation to compete in today’s market.
Evolving consumer expectations
To set the stage for why homebuyer expectations have evolved, Baker discussed the digital tools and platforms consumers interact with every day. Through smartphones and Amazon-like e-commerce experiences, consumers can purchase nearly anything with the click of a button. Even some of the most complicated transactions (such as buying stocks) can be executed nearly instantaneously.
As Baker initially suggested, real estate has not kept pace with these digital transaction experiences. This is primarily due to the complicated nature of real estate purchases which often involve close to a dozen different stakeholders and many intricate processes.
Baker noted that a single system of record where title agents, real estate agents, lenders, buyers, and sellers can transact will massively improve the purchase process. “That’s the coordination problem Qualia is solving,” he said. “To do this at scale will be very helpful for the overall transaction experience.”
From siloed roles to an integrated transaction party
Piccinini discussed the unique approach his brokerage—JP and Associates—takes to empowering the individual real estate agent to expand his or her skillset. With changing consumer demands, he knew that he needed to rethink the real estate agent’s position within the transaction.
“We want our agents to be in charge of the transaction,” he said. “That means we needed to go beyond the traditional brokerage models to think about how to get agents involved in the title portion and even beyond into the mortgage process,” he said.
Piccinini’s integrated approach seems to be resonating with real estate agents. His team brought on 1,500 new agents in 2019. “What sets us apart is our dedication to innovation, technology, and training,” he said of the support his company provides each real estate agent. When real estate agents are empowered to deliver the best customer experience, they can better operate in a world that requires strong cooperation and seamless communication between different transaction stakeholders.
Shorr, who leads business development at real estate website design company Agent Image, agreed that peer collaboration and education is paramount to staying ahead of the curve. “Look to your peers. There’s a lot to be said for leaders in your office or community,” he said. “What are they doing and how did they get there?”
Baker also acknowledged that education is essential—especially in an environment with so many vendors claiming to provide the “best customer experience.” Baker encouraged the Inman Connect crowd to have confidence in their own knowledge and the knowledge of their peers. By leveraging their network’s accumulated expertise, real estate professionals can uncover the best tools that help them deliver a seamless customer experience.