Gary Keller on innovation and the future of real estate

In this year’s Vision Speech at Family Reunion 2021, Keller Williams co-founder and executive chairman, Gary Keller, spoke about the future of real estate in the coming year. Addressing the virtual conference’s audience of 50,000 attendees, Keller focused on such critical topics as the role of technology, the importance of data and the past, present, and future impact of COVID-19.

Keller, in conversation with Jay Papasan and Jason Abrams, first tackled technological innovation. This has become a hot button issue in recent years as tech startups experiment with ways to move the real estate consumer experience entirely online. Real estate is a very competitive space right now, and to stay competitive, you have to stay on top of these innovations.

The goal, Keller said, is to create a technological ecosystem. Google, Amazon, and most of all Apple excel at creating their own comprehensive network of services and devices that all work together seamlessly. Keller divides the real estate ecosystem into three distinct phases: pre-transaction, transaction, and post-transaction. This is the process from searching for and finding a home to closing to living in and maintaining the property.

Keller said, ““If you think about the lifecycle from buying and owning, to selling over and over through your lifetime, this is what it is.”

Technological innovation in real estate is all about providing platforms that eliminate inefficiencies in these three phases. Consumers living in the digital age are accustomed to a seamless, buy-with-one-click, customer experience. New digital platforms can make the process of buying a house a lot more convenient.

COVID has accelerated the process of going digital. Keller elaborated, “What we saw last year was a massive acceleration. There’s no denying that the world is moving toward these digital experiences…We found really quickly how nice it is to be able to set an appointment on an app or without having to talk to anybody right there on the spot. So, as the world goes there, it’s incumbent on all of us to move in that direction.”

Keller also highlighted the ever central role of collecting and maintaining a database of consumer information. Lead generation remains at the heart of real estate success, despite all the changes brought on by technology and current events. He summed it up laconically, “Whoever controls the lead, controls who gets to make the sales and controls the industry.”

As the economy recovers from the effect of COVID, Keller, Abrams, and Papasan stressed the importance on looking forward. Keller in particular advised agents to be proactive in determining where new developments are coming, what property is being rezoned, and the state of the inventory.

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