I attended the Association Executive Institute (AEI) last week in Vancouver, hosted by NAR. First of all, shout out to Carol Seal, CEO from the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®, for orchestrating an awesome event! As usual, many great discussions were had, both formally at the sessions and informally in the hallways (or perhaps the lobby bar, but whatevs).
After taking a few days to reflect on the trip, two topics stood out for me this year — increased search traffic happening on mobile, and the questions surrounding the independent contractor status of agents.
Increased Mobile Traffic
According to Russ Cofano, Senior Vice President of Industry Relations at Move, Inc., realtor.com® experienced a 33% increase in search traffic, driven primarily by their mobile app. I can’t remember over what time frame that increase occurred, but regardless, it’s more proof that consumers are choosing mobile search over desktop.
While this idea is not surprising to anyone (I hope), many MLSs and brokers are just now beginning to consider their own mobile strategy. No bueno.
At HomeSpotter, we’ve seen the success that our customers have had in retaining (and growing) market share and brand awareness by using our branded, mobile app solutions. Especially when they promote the heck out of them.
Contractors or Employees
During the legal update from Katie Johnson, NAR’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, shared two cases where the status of real estate agents as independent contractors is being challenged, saying they should instead be considered employees.
If the courts determine that agents should be considered employees, running a brokerage could cost exponentially more and could change the typical model completely. Usually we expect these kinds of business model changes (should they occur) to be accompanied by increased fees or changes in the product or service experience.
And while most brokers operate on razor thin margins already, additional overhead costs could be devastating, or force them to change or increase fees charged to consumers or agents. Or… it could reduce the monies brokers have to invest in new technologies and tools that will improve consumer and agent experience. I’m just speculating here, but as I mentioned in a previous post — the more that brokers’ dollars get stretched, the less they have to invest in other areas.
But real estate is not alone in this.
Uber and Lyft are being challenged to view their drivers as employees. Could the lower costs and technological efficiencies people love about these companies — built completely on mobile platforms — have to change if something like this goes through? Who knows. But it’s important to watch other industries for changes that could impact ours. Especially as real estate migrates to mobile, and (some) brokers begin to reinvent their businesses to follow suit.