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CRO of realtor.com on the Future of Real Estate

future of real estate

What does the Chief Revenue Officer of realtor.com think about the future of the real estate?

I connected with Ben Rubenstein to discuss realtor.com’s role in the industry now and in the future, and what real estate agents need to do in order to last. Take a look at some of the highlights of our conversation below, or watch the entire conversation here.

What CEO’s Practice

Before becoming the CRO of realtor.com, Ben was the CEO of two start-ups that grew exponentially: Yodle and Opcity. In any industry, leaders juggle a lot of different things, which can lead to distraction from the ultimate goal. 

Ben stated that staying focused and learning to say no is one of the most important things a CEO does:

“In our early days, we just said yes to any customer who had money. Learning that all customers aren’t created equal, and all money’s not created equal, and saying no to things that are detrimental to our business, or could really suck a lot of our resources, and leaning into the things that are great for the business, and finding more of that.”

Ben Rubenstein

What Changed in 2020 

realtor.com has always had a strong culture. Now that employees are working remotely, they are asking questions about how they’ll work moving forward. These are important questions for any team or business to be asking right now:

  • What has been lost during this past year?
  • How do we make sure we retain those things?
  • What have we gained during this past year?
  • How do we keep those things as well?

What makes realtor.com different than Zillow and Redfin 

There are agents who say reatlor.com is another Zillow or Redfin, and it’s something that the team at realtor.com is conscious of. But Ben states they are “much closer and part of the industry than that.”

To begin, realtor.com does not employ any agents. Instead, they work to support agents. 

“Our vision is supporting industry, supporting agents, but allowing them to bring their partners onto our platform. At the same time helping the agent through an end-to-end experience and supporting that agent in their growth and development. If they’re in a place where they can’t afford to buy any leads, we give them referrals. If they’re in a place where they want more predictability and control, they can buy the leads. So much of realtor.com is having options and choice, which I don’t think is prevalent in some of the other portals.”

Ben Rubenstein

Future of realtor.com  

The industry moves quickly, and realtor.com is keeping up. Ben states the platform has many new products coming out, which are all tools that agents can use.  

With over 90 million people visiting the site last month, agents also have the opportunity to gain from realtor.com’s base of consumers. 

“That’s a lot of traffic; that would be next to impossible for any agent to get 90 million people to come to their site. How do they partner with us and harness that traffic to help grow their business?”

Ben Rubenstein

Future of the Industry 

There are currently 1.4 million agents in NAR, but Ben thinks with increased technology, that number could drop. 

Rather than agents starting the home search, platforms like realtor.com allow consumers to do that on their own, and many are also utilizing virtual tours and open houses so they don’t need an agent to tour a home. 

But Ben believes you’ll never be able to replace an agent on the final step of the process. Knowledgeable agents use their expertise to negotiate, share details of the neighborhood, the house, and the process. 

“An analogy I like to make is: If I went to court, I could represent myself in court, but I hire a lawyer, because the stakes are really high, and I want a professional. The same thing is true in real estate.”

Ben Rubenstein

What does every agent need to do over the next 12-24 months? 

To make the most of the fast-paced industry with platforms that make the home search easier for the consumer, agents must go deeper with technology and use it as a competitive advantage.

Some questions to consider for agents:

  • How do you use technology to be more productive?
  • How do you partner with someone like realtor.com to get access to the consumers in their platform?
  • How do you use systems to get leads that turn into referrals?

What are your major takeaways from the conversation?

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