Glenn Sanford, CEO and founder of eXp and former Keller Williams top producer, made two major acquisitions in October of this year. He acquired VirBELA, a virtual reality platform that has been operating eXp’s cloud-based virtual world since 2016, and ShowMeNow, an on-demand home tour app that enables prospects to gain immediate access to homes on the market for sale.
VirBELA enables eXp agents to train, meet and communicate/share information via accustom 3-D, video game-like immersive world from anywhere. Currently, eXp has 12,000 agents throughout the US and Canada under the umbrella of one brokerage, not franchised offices. No boundaries in real time and no boundaries in the cloud for eXp agents, thanks to VirBELA.
“Our goal with VirBELA is that we’d build up our talent pool in the organization that has incredible depth of experience and knowledge in not only the virtual world, virtual reality and the future of work, but also organizational behavior and other concepts that can enable us to do things dramatically differently than anybody else,” said Scott Petronis, chief product and tech officer with eXp.
The acquisition of ShowMeNow is self-explanatory. This app puts immediate access to home tours in the hands of prospective buyers. No appointments, no coordinating schedules are required.
Compass, specialists in marketing coastal homes and condos, water-front properties on the Gulf of Mexico and now vacation rentals, is building “real estate’s first ever end-to-end tech platform,” according to Joseph Sirosh, former Microsoft executive and Compass chief tech officer. Sirosh said, “A master suite of software tools connects agents to clients, mortgage brokers, title attorneys and anyone else needed for communications, marketing, advertising and management features.”
Compass has also just launched its West Coast tech campus in Seattle. Compass is looking to nearly double its tech staff at this new hub with online platform product managers, hundreds of engineers, and program managers. The company, valued at $4.4B, currently purports to have 7,000 agents.
Ryan Schneider, CEO of Realogy, sees agents as its future. Realogy is the largest real estate holding company in the US. It consists of seven distinct real estate brands including Better Homes and Gardens, Century 21, Climb Real Estate, Coldwell Banker, the Corcoran Group, ERA Real Estate and Sotheby’s International Realty. Realogy isn’t opposed to tech but sees it as a means, not an end, for agents to provide customers with highly personalized services.
Schneider makes room for each distinctive brand under Realogy’s umbrella. There is no “one way” of buying and selling real estate; there is only highly competitive, individualized service in Schneider’s thinking.
Pam Liebman, president and CEO of the Corcoran Group, speaks to one Realogy point of view when speaking of the Corcoran Group.. “We need people who will reflect our brand identity and will live for the DNA of Corcoran.”
Climb president Chris Lim speaks to another Realogy viewpoint. He said, “…we know there is a real craving for the connecting generation who is always on and always moving…to have tools and technology that Climb offers.”
Both of these Realogy brands are franchising in 2019.