Goodbye PropTech!

We hardly knew you?  Or what you did? Or what you were for?

But now that it’s a running joke on HBO’s Succession; PropTech is officially dead.  It jumped the shark when the dumbest of the Succession cast of idiots said: “It’s going to be hard to sell houses as tech because we have had houses a long time”.   

For non-HBO fans, one of the premises of the Succession plotline is taken directly from our own industry.   The idea is to create wealth and value out of thin air by simply attaching technology to it.  Remember a couple of years ago when Gary Keller suddenly announced KW was no longer a real estate company but rather a “tech” company.   (He even wore a Zuckerman hoodie to prove it)  What the hell was he talking about?  Nobody knew, but it sure “sounded” good.    

There are lot of ex-financial advisors who hawked Compass Inc. stock as a sound investment based solely on the perceived value of technology psycho-babble.    That guy at Compass sure sounds like he knows what he is doing.  Well, look at their stock; pretty clear he doesn’t.  Which makes it easy for those familiar with Succession to imagine Compass executive meetings playing out EXACTLY like those on the show.  Hysterically sad. 

Boomers are obsessed over technology differently than other generations are.  For some reason they want to own and control it.   To this day, Gary Keller still believes owning your own proprietary technology is the way forward in real estate.  This position is not only dated but incredibly egocentric.  Sure, it’s not 2003 anymore, but what on earth gave Keller the idea he could compete with REAL technology companies?

Technology is written by serious engineers.  Young engineers dream of Boeing, Google, Microsoft, and NASA.  Not a lot of top-flight coders jazzed about helping real estate franchisors with “lead management”.  Today’s engineers want to change the world.  Helping the Boomer generation stick around for even longer is not on their radar as goals for themselves. 

Technology is a horrible addiction.  It never stays put; it’s always moving on to the next high.  And unless your company is specifically designed for the “chase”, i.e., Google, Microsoft, etc., you will lose!  Forever chasing your own tail is a poor position to be in. 

The other big problem with PropTech is that no one could define it in a way that was useful.  There was no “elevator pitch” because elevators don’t take hours.  If you are having trouble articulating your vision, maybe you don’t have one.

In a recent interview Chris Cox CTO of KW outlined his top priorities for 2023.  1) supporting lead management, 2) optimizing databases, 3)  “It’s about the data”, (not sure what was meant by that), and of course 4) Mobility, (as in, if it were still 2003)  This interview was last month.  Mind you, these 2023 priorities are the end result of millions of dollars spent in research and development.  What a deal?  Such insight.

When the 2023 top priorities sound very much like the 2017 priorities which were copies of the 2012 priorities and based off the 2008 priorities, one has to question the money spent. 

What was the ultimate goal of PropTech anyway?  Make money sure, but how?   PropTech was supposed to generate all an agent’s leads and then manage that data, so the agent doesn’t have to?   That’s not how any of this works.   A career in Sales is hard work, and no tool or gimmick will ever change that. 

There are tens of thousands of sales agents in Atlanta.  That also means there are tens of thousands of varying levels of technical expertise.  The goal of a single killer app that will service everyone is naive at best.  The logistics of technically getting everyone up on a single platform is exhausting, impractical and off-the-charts expensive. 

There a plenty of software tools out there an agent can use to make their jobs easier.  Find one or two that fits your style.  If you are looking for a PropTech Broker that offers a bunch of technology as a silver bullet against competition, keep looking.  Proudly we don’t have any faux technology to wax poetically over. 

Agents can waste a lot of time chasing someone else’s vision.  Be very wary of brokerages promising the world with technology. 


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