Keller Williams Goes All in on Mobile

The country’s largest real estate franchisor acquired startup SmarterAgent, maker of branded mobile apps for agents, to aid launching its new consumer strategy.

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The What

Keller Williams announced it’s acquisition of mobile-app developer Smarter Agent this week. Smarter Agent, the Jersey-based startup, develops brokerage-branded mobile apps, including Keller Williams and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, among others. According to the company, it’s mobile apps connect with more than 650 MLS’s and serve more than 300 brokerages.

I spoke with a rep at Smarter Agent who assured me that the company will continue to support it’s mobile app, despite now being under the umbrella of Keller Williams. For how long is yet to be determined. It’s easy to understand why Keller would want to keep the status quo, but why would it’s competitors remain on what is now KW’s technology platform (and provide access to their data)?

 Smarter Agent Apps

Smarter Agent Apps

The How

With the move, Keller is able to bring a tech development team in house, and potentially take away technology from it’s competitors.

“We are building the end-to-end platform for real estate,” Team said. “SmarterAgent, our agent’s branded mobile app, will be connected in real-time with their database, marketing plans and Kelle, our AI, as part of an all-in-one system, allowing Keller Williams agents to simplify their life and focus on providing the best consumer experience.” — Keller CIO John Team To Inman

Gary Keller has continually promoted how Keller is now a technology company, and this acquihire gives his firm a potential competitive advantage in an underserved and underutilized technology (and one consumers demand): mobile. This signals Keller is series about not only continued technology investments, but establishing a mobile presence.

The Why

Clearly, Keller is continuing a major trend over the last three years as the industry is beginning to rapidly adopt technology as a need-to-have.However, simply throwing technology at the problem is not a solution.

We’ve discussed how Keller as in the past prioritized agents over consumers. I this think can have tragic consequences. The 700 or so fractured MLS’s across the country exist due to focusing on the wrong end-user, as does most of the antiquated technology that exists for agents and clients today. A move to mobile technologies certainly is a step in the right direction, and one I applaud.

Is Smarter Agent the best fit for Keller? Is their technology best in class? Can Keller develop it as such if not? These are all risks with any acquisition, and certainly the key questions to be answered in the coming years.

For the non-Kellers of the world, the question becomes, “How are you leveraging mobile technology?”