Our friend, Charles El-Moussa, president of Coldwell Banker Realty Texas, talks about battling ‘disruptors, discounters, interlopers’

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Excerpted from a Dallas Business Journal interview.

Charles El-Moussa calls residential real estate a “belly-to-belly business” and he doesn’t see a day when agents will be replaced by technology — although leveraging technology is a huge part of what today’s successful agent must master.

Charles El Moussa, president of Coldwell Banker Realty Texas
Charles El Moussa, president of Coldwell Banker Realty Texas

Are agents ever going to be replaced by technology?

No, they’re not, because technology is just an aid, a catalyst, to what we do. Think about it, this is the biggest asset people own, they’re not going to trust somebody with a technology tool to come into their house without an experienced agent or somebody to accompany them.

What’s changing in the residential real estate business?

We’re in the era of disruptors, discounters, interlopers, and technology companies trying to get in our business. Our focus over the last 12 months has been to launch a lot of product. Most of our product has been focused on how to get the agent and the consumer to get the greatest value for their home.

What’s the biggest challenge that you face in the market?

The biggest challenge is the discounters. There’s a lot of money being thrown out there right now. Look at the tech companies that think they can do real estate. They’re buying a lot of agents. They’re spending a lot of money. You can be wrong so many times when you’ve got billions of dollars thrown at you. It’s the shiny object. People are attracted to it.

From a customer’s perspective, it’s really just agents getting out there and ensuring there’s clarity to what real estate agents do as a whole, and the value proposition the real estate agent brings to the table. You’ve seen a lot of ads from some of our competitors advertising discount fees or saying they make it easy to sell your home, but there’s a lot of substance behind that that they’re not sharing with the customer.

I think the customer has to feel like they’re getting value for what they’re signing up for, and they’re getting the experience, the professional real estate agent. Credentials are critical in this business.

How do you fight against disruptors?

Disruption happens a lot faster now because of technology. What took people 10 years to develop is now taking two to five years to develop. But we’re a big company, and we have a vast technology team that’s constantly looking at the new and the innovative, and what the market needs. We focus on multiple niches.

There’s always going to be disruption in the industry. Coldwell Banker has been around for over 100 years.  We went through five different recession cycles. We’ve gone through all the disruption that’s happened in the past, and we still sustain.

We have an array of products that we’ve launched that are very specific about how we help agents work faster and work smarter, not harder, while also delivering value to the customer that’s different. You’ve seen iBuyers come into the market, you’ve seen technology companies, you’ve seen discount guys, but we still sustain. We’ve maintained our trajectory, continue to grow, and keep the best of the best in our company.

How does your RealVitalize service work?

Part of RealVitalize is a program that gives the consumer the ability to borrow money and spruce up their home. If you have a house that needs curb appeal and work to maximize the value of the house, we can help the consumer sell the house in the quickest amount of time, for the most money, by borrowing money from us under RealVitalize. We partner with HomeAdvisor (home repair and improvement company). A contractor, assigned to them, oversees the project and basically frees up the REALTOR. Traditionally, the REALTOR used to manage all of that stuff. That’s not the REALTOR’s forte. RealVitalize gives the REALTOR the flexibility to really focus on selling the home. The buyer can take that money and do the updates they need — whether it’s curb appeal or paint — and pay us back at the closing, at no cost to the customer.

SOURCE: Dallas Business Journal


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