Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Lone Wolf gets Better

Lone Wolf invites mortgage lenders onto its broker-agent tech platform

“More than 30 technology companies are already integrated with Transactions, offering services including rental screening, earnest money deposit, commission advances, disclosures, home warranty, home insurance and moving services through the Lone Wolf Marketplace.

Better will be the first mortgage lender to have the same opportunity, with Loan Wolf planning to onboard additional mortgage partners over the next several months.

“Adding this integration to Transactions will bring our customers even more value in their trusted transaction management solution,” Lone Wolf CEO Jimmy Kelly said, in a statement. “When agents and brokers have everything they need for their client experience in one place, they can quickly capitalize on opportunities, cross every T, and dot every I along the way.”

Matt Carter, Inman News

Great to see all the pieces falling in to place. Lone Wolf is way ahead with their marketplace and has the product adoption to show their partners real value.

Whaaaaat?

Google’s demo of their Gemini AI is next level.

Ready to ditch your iPhone?

Pretty cool. A different approach from apps and screens. I know some people that have ditched their iPhones to flip phones just to get away from so many distractions. When I first saw a demo I was wondering what real estate use cases could be implemented and I made the mock up below.

Trackxi

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I really enjoy the beginning phase of starting a company.  Building a team, fleshing out the idea of a product, branding, positioning, pricing, billing, go to market, etc.  Once that part is done is more of a matter of managing and optimizing (which I kind of like too).  That’s why I always enjoy talking to new vendors, hearing their ideas, and if I like the idea/founder seeing if I can match them with the right people.

That’s exactly why I’m started working as an advisor with Trackxi.  Trackxi is a deal tracker software solution for agents, teams and transaction coordinators, it also so has light CRM.  It’s more a project management solution than a “transaction manager”, it doesn’t have any MLS integration or does it incorporate forms natively.  In that way it’s a very opinionated piece of software.  Trackxi is pre-loaded with deal workflows (tracks?) that agents can share with their clients and other people involved in the deal. It has a kind of “pizza tracker” data viz element that clients can view to see what tasks have currently been completed, what tasks are in progress, and tasks that haven’t been started. Which I think will be great for buyer’s agents showing their value.

You can use Trackxi to track pretty much anything.  One client used it to plan her wedding.  I think beyond tracking deals you can make templates like “First 90 days as a real estate agent”, “Kick start your real estate business.” , etc.

Another reason I’m working with Trackxi is their co-founder Vijay Gopalswamy.  Vijay lives in Portland, Oregon and  is bootstrapping the company.  Vijay started as an agent and later a broker team leader and Trackxi was born from some of the lessons he learned with starting that team.  Vijay is a pretty humble guy and has an interesting background. I interviewed him on Listing Bits that I will share later today.

I’m actually not sure what being an “advisor” really means.  But I am having super fun working with Vijay; brainstorming messaging, positioning and company strategy.  Our hope is that these discussions and work translate to getting Trackxi available to more agents.  To find out more about Trackxi please visit their website here.

Less software?

Next week Lone Wolf Technologies will reveal its new platform at the T3 Technology Summit, and I’m super excited about it. Why? Let me tell you a story.

At W+R Studios we were bootstrapped, so we needed to grow organically. Our product strategy centered around making core features of an MLS system better.

CMAs on MLS systems suck? Let’s make a better one. Enter Cloud CMA.

MLS system’s client portals and listing alert emails are ugly. Let’s make them pretty (and easier to use). Voilà , Cloud Streams.

Searching on MLS systems too complicated? Let’s make something simple. Boom, Cloud MLX!

The problem was two fold. In order to grow we needed to add new products (more software) and at the end of the day is that we had 3 different software apps, each of them great in their own right, but they didn’t really work together. Also if you wanted all three you had to buy each one separately, and have 3 separate logins, and 3 separate onboarding scenarios, 3 different times you entered a credit card number, and 3 separate…you get the point.

We solved most of this by creating the “Cloud Agent Suite“, but really only scratched the surface of what was possible, then we were acquired in December 2020.

So this problem of “simplifying real estate” has been on the minds of our (W+R) design team for a very long time. How do we bring all of this together to create an end to end solution that makes sense, and still grow? Can “less software” be the answer?

Turns that the problem was about to get bigger. Starting in 2020 Lone Wolf acquired 5 companies in 9 months (including W+R); HomeSpotter, LionDesk, Terradatum and Propertybase. Now you had 9 (at least) separate logins, 9 separate… you get the point.

Sean Wheeler, CTO Lone Wolf
Sean Wheeler, CTO Lone Wolf

When I left Lone Wolf I was starting to see the green shoots of this work. Most of it on the backend led by Sean Wheeler, Lone Wolf’s CTO. One login, one credit card, one database of contacts for all products, etc. Jimmy Kelly, Lone Wolf’s CEO, talked about their effort and the concept of “less software” on a post on Inman News titled “Real Estate Doesn’t Need More Software“. I was also privy to see some of the earlier mock ups from the design group, which were super impressive.

Jimmy Kelly, CEO Lone Wolf
Jimmy Kelly, CEO Lone Wolf

But, like any good meal it all comes down to ingredients. Lone Wolf from my estimation has the best ingredients in the market. The products they acquired (and the teams behind them) are not only best of class but have high adoption rates and great partnerships. Now it comes down to presentation and taste. And I have full confidence in the design chops of the team behind this. I had a chance to interview, Damien Huze, who was W+R’s Chief Design Officer and now a principal designer at Lone Wolf on my Listing Bits podcast which should drop this week.

Damien Huze, Principal Designer Lone Wolf
Damien Huze, Principal Designer Lone Wolf

Am I biased? Absolutely. Am I still a fan of simple focused software applications? You betcha. But I’m a bigger fan of people. So I look forward to seeing how this particular group of talented people proves less software is better.

Mosaik, the future is now

One of the best things about publishing this blog for so long I (16 years baby!) is that a lot of early founders find me and I get to hear the ideas they are working on and see what they are building.  Sometimes they are looking for advice, or maybe an introduction.  Which I’m always happy to provide if I can.

In the past (I would say my generation) the typical real estate software vendor was a developer and maybe their spouse was a real estate agent or maybe he/she got frustrated buying or selling their home.  They had an itch to scratch.  Whether it was helping their spouse or themselves.  So they made something.  Maybe a small software program that managed  contacts (it always starts with a CRM, doesn’t it?) They bootstrapped their company.  The spouse would start using the software, maybe the broker noticed and asked if other agents in the office could use it, fast forward 3 years, and a company is born.

Nowadays typically I see young founders with funding from VC firms or other outside sources and they have ideas about some level of disruption of real estate.  Or they see the quality of some software applications and think that they can do better.  The biggest difference is the shear confidence, ambition and smarts these new generation of vendors have.   As a bonus they really have great taste in software.

Enter Sheila Reddy.  Sheila is the founder and CEO of Mosaik.  Sheila describes Mosaik as the “operating platform for agents, teams and brokerages”.  In the parlance of the broker/teams software world I would call this an “end to end platform”.  Due to this approach Mosaik really does a great job of focusing on the entire client experience.  Craig Rowe at Inman News did a really great review of the product you can read here.

Sheila came from the healthcare industry and saw a few parallels in software design/quality for the real estate industry.   She knew it could be better.  And to say Mosaik is ambitious is an understatement.  MLS data?  Yup.  Form integration.  Of course.  AI? Duh!  Client collaboration?  Absolutely. Schedule Showings? You betcha! Native mobile app? We got you!

Framing all this functionality is a beautiful and simple UI.  The biggest challenge she has is just the sheer magnitude of the feature set.  As someone who has always favored small simple “it does one thing and it does it well” type of software applications I am impressed with what she and her team has created.

The industry needs more founders like Shelia.  Their ambition, drive and optimism is just what the doctor ordered. If you are brokerage or a team you should check it out, the video on her website alone is worth the watch.

Listing Bits Episode 84: Enabling Collaboration in the Home Buying Experience – with Tom MacLeod of ZenList

In preparation for a move, Tom MacLeod and his wife were looking at properties in the Bay Area. Tom was on Redfin. His wife was on Zillow. And they were receiving listings via email from their agent.

But none of the applications talked to each other. So, Tom was making a spreadsheet when he thought, “There’s got to be a better way.”

Tom is Cofounder of Zenlist, an agent-to-client home search that enables efficient collaboration by putting everyone in the same space. 

On this episode of Listing Bits, Tom describes how @properties helped him develop Zenlist and what differentiates his app from Homespotter, RealScout and other competitors in the space.

Tom shares Zenlist’s initial growth strategy, explaining why it didn’t include targeting MLS customers and how that’s changed.

Listen in to understand how Tom’s team gets consumers to download an app and learn how Zenlist is facilitating collaboration in the homebuying experience.

What’s Discussed:  

How Tom’s experience with moving inspired him to build Zenlist

Why Tom made the decision to bootstrap Zenlist over taking venture money

How Zenlist facilitates collaboration in the homebuying experience

Tom’s experience of developing Zenlist with the help of @properties

Zenlist’s initial growth strategy and why it didn’t include targeting MLS customers

What differentiates Zenlist from Homespotter, RealScout and other competitors in the space

Tom’s ambition to serve both real estate agents and consumers

Zenlist’s mobile capabilities and how it was called into action during the Rapattoni outage

How Zenlist is overcoming the challenge of getting consumers to download an app 

How consumers benefit from using Zenlist vs. Zillow or Redfin

Connect with Tom MacLeod:

Zenlist

Email tom@zenlist.com 

Resources:

SNL Skit on Zillow

Leo Pareja at eXp

Trackxi

Our Sponsor:

Cloud CMA for Brokers

Did Amazon just choose Lundy (not Zillow) to power the real estate voice search for Alexa?

I’m hearing YES! How cool is that!?

Previously you had to install Lundy’s real estate search as an “Alexa Skill”. From reports I’m getting markets where MLS organizations have partnerships with Lundy you can just ask Alexa straight up…

Alexa,

“Find me a house”
“Are there any homes for sale near me?”
“Help me buy a home.”

Current MLS partners for Lundy include:

Park City MLS, UT
Metrolist, CA
WARDEX, AZ
RMLS, CA
Valley MLS , AL
FMLS, FL
REcolorado, CO
Miami AOR, FL
Gulf Coast MLS, FL
Stellar MLS, FL
Greater Chattanooga, TN
Mid-Georgia MLS, FL

I wish this was set up in my market so I could test. (If your are in any of the markets above and have an Alexa device test it and tell me what you think.)

Amazon is doing some cool shit with AI and voice search, check out this video from their event last week.

I know Justin from Lundy will be at CMLS next week. I’m sure he will be happy to give demos.

Bill Hurley presents 2,851 Miles

Do yourself a favor an watch this presentation given at the ALL-IN Summit by noted Venture Capitalist Bill Gurley. It only about 35 mins and worth the watch.

What lesson can we learn in our industry from the phrase, “regulation is the friend of the incumbent”?

SentriLock and NAR deal turns 20

SentriLock Celebrates 20Years as Official Lockbox Solution of the National Association of REALTORS®

“SentriLock began when Scott Fisher, founder and CEO of SentriLock, with his partners, was working on improving the existing lockbox solution used by real estate agents. As the first working prototypes were being assembled, NAR made the decision to respond to member dissatisfaction of having only one lockbox solution and purchased majority interest in SentriLock. SentriLock and its new lockbox made its debut at the NAR Leadership Summit in August 2003 and, with its return to the Summit this year, SentriLock celebrates 20 years as the NAR’s official lockbox solution allowing REALTORS® to “Unlock their potential”.

Scott’s contribution to the industry goes even farther back to PC Access, which was an earlier competitor of mine (Lightning -Easy MLS Access) in the pre-internet days. Many years later Scott and I had a chance to sit down at lunch and talk about the old days of VT-100n, Moore Data, PRC, and BORIS. Congrats.

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