The word “competition” has taken on a new meaning for those in the real estate industry. The speed of change is accelerating as new technology emerges and unconventional partnerships take shape. 

Just the other day, Amazon announced its partnership with Realogy Holdings Corp to launch a new home-buying program called Turnkey. Announcements like these are creating uneasiness and an increasing sense of competition; however, businesses can stay ahead by focusing on their own opportunities for innovation. 

At the Inman Connect Conference held in Las Vegas, Qualia CEO, Nate Baker, joined Compass National Director of Sports & Entertainment Kofi Nartey, Quicken Loans Senior VP of Mortgage Banking Jason Pace, and Agentology CEO David Tal to discuss how businesses can get ahead in today’s competitive environment. They discussed four key themes for keeping pace with change.

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Be Customer-Obsessed 

Baker, in reference to Amazon’s recent Turnkey announcement, said he believes Amazon’s success and ability to traverse industries is rooted in the company’s focus on the customer. “At Qualia, we’ve taken that lesson and applied it to real estate,” he said. “We’re creating software that will allow an Amazon-like checkout experience for buying a house.” 

In the past few years, the real estate industry has accelerated toward an empowered consumer. Search platforms like Zillow have removed the opacity around searching for a home and new iBuying models offer consumers alternative options for selling their home on their own timelines. Title & escrow companies who adopt a similar consumer-first mindset will innovate with the highest and “stickiest” value. 

Educate Yourself to Differentiate Yourself

In a quickly-evolving world, it’s easy to stay out-of-the-loop in an effort to focus on your business’ day-to-day. Every panelist agreed that staying educated is mandatory in order to stay ahead. “I look at the learning from a customer service standpoint,” Nartey said. “If I can learn this information, I can give my clients a better experience. That motivates me.” 

Pace agreed that education, curiosity, and consistent leveling-up  translates to a better customer experience and opens up opportunities to differentiate your business from the competition. He noted that Quicken Loans created a role called “Realtor Relationship Managers” who are experts in a particular geographic location. These individuals are the point people for local agents in a particular area and ensure a smooth transaction. 

Think 100 Miles Ahead 

To stay competitive, it’s not enough to react to changes. Every panelist agreed that companies with a proactive mindset will come out ahead. “We’re always trying to out-innovate ourselves,” Tal said. “If we don’t someone else will, so we don’t just think ahead, we act ahead by making decisions in the mindset of the company we want to be 12 months from now.” 

Complacency is simply not an option in today’s fast-moving, digital world. As we’ve discussed in previous posts,  title & escrow companies that embrace digital tools and processes are more likely to feel confident in the face of disruption, act proactively, and come out ahead. 

Invest in Hiring and Training

“Overall, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to not settle for mediocrity and get the egos out of the room,” Tal said. “Continue to level up your team and invest in training. If you don’t have the team to execute your vision, you can’t succeed.” Nartey agreed adding, “It’s also important to get out of your own way. Recognize that you can’t do everything yourself and that you’ll need to trust your team to get there.” 

The Future is Now

Representatives from some of the most innovative companies in real estate agreed that proactivity, curiosity, and a deep commitment to the customer are key to staying ahead in today’s competitive landscape. Title & escrow companies of any size are capable of innovating with these principles and can begin pivoting toward the future today.