Real Estate

WATCH: Zillow Exec Sara Bonert Shares Catalyst For ShowingTime Purchase

MoxiWorks’ York Baur, Zillow’s Sara Bonert, and eXp Realty’s Jason Gesing explained the role of consolidation at Inman Connect Las Vegas, as the industry aims to improve the transaction process.

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Over the past two years, the real estate industry has rapidly evolved to meet the needs of consumers as the pandemic continues to upend the traditional process of buying and selling homes.

Even with the progress that’s already taken place, MoxiWorks CEO York Baur, Zillow VP of Broker Services Sara Bonert and eXp Realty CEO Jason Gesing all said the industry has only scratched the surface of what’s next and should prepare for further consolidation as everyone claws to create the ultimate seamless end-to-end experience.

“Consolidation is a natural maturation of this industry, across MLS, brokerages, agents and proptech,” Baur told Tech and Data Track attendees on the fourth day of Inman Connect Las Vegas. “What’s unique about real estate is that it’s been a relatively late adopter of technology, we’re seeing the same consolidation wave that we would’ve seen in other verticals much earlier.”

Session moderator, Lone Wolf Technologies MLS General Manager Greg Robertson, quickly placed Bonert in the hot seat as he highlighted Zillow’s controversial purchase of ShowingTime as a prime example of what’s to come in real estate tech.

“In that sense, it just really made everybody think of vendors versus brokers versus participants — it’s all different… it’s cats sleeping with dogs in a sense,” Robertson said while Bonert threw up her hands and flashed a smile. “How did you guys look at something as big of an acquisition like that before you did it… how were you going to message it in that space?”

Echoing Zillow’s ethos, Bonert said the company’s decision to purchase ShowingTime came down to one thing: The consumer.

“Not to sound like a broken record, but we’ve always looked at the consumer,” she said. “How can we help them through the entire process of finding a place to live, and how can we make that easier and smoother.”

“We look at consolidating the tech to make it easier and more efficient for the consumer to move through the transaction and that process and make it more transparent,” she added. “We can partner with people like a brokerage and other vendors to make it easier for agents and more efficient for agents to get the house sold.”

All three panelists said the consolidation wave won’t stop with technology companies — it will also change the structure of brokerages, which are increasingly embracing the power of teams.

“I would start by saying that I see a convergence of the broker and team concept,” Baur said. “We used to regard them as a separate thing, almost at odds with brokers. There are teams that realize it’s a little harder than they thought to run a mini-brokerage, and brokers have embraced that better and provided a lot of leadership, a lot of training. We can see the convergence happening.”

Watch the panel’s entire session via the video at the top of this post.

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