Episode 72: Keller Williams – From Training Company to Tech Company with Angie Ponsell

“Having the data just helps Kelle become smarter and smarter – and whoever owns the data owns the market and that’s true for everything…

Last week on the podcast, we had CEO of First National Ray Ellis who mentioned that a great company to watch in the US is Keller Williams (KW) and this week our guest, Angie Ponsell is from Keller Williams in Atlanta, Georgia. Angie Ponsell has been with the company for all of her 17 years in real estate and she says Keller Williams has always been more of a training company than a traditional real estate ‘franchise’. 

But under the stewardship of industry legend Gary Keller (The One Thing) the company is making deliberate changes to morph from training company to tech company – so that his team of 180,000 agents worldwide can meet the changing demands of consumers while taking advantage of big data. 

Keller Williams has been making a number of purchases from its $1B tech fund, including a Philadelphia startup called Smarter Agent, a large property management software platform, a home inspection product and a company that is focused on data, AI, predictive intelligence and contract analysis – all evidence of Keller’s vision of the company ‘owning their data’ – and therefore their destiny – rather than ‘giving it up’ to technology companies. 

But our chat with Angie is not all about tech
 – it’s as much about how to have a successful career through all sorts of markets as real estate becomes more ‘international’, how to navigate ups/downs and uncertainties, plus Angie’s advice for dealing with difficult clients.

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Episode host: Samantha McLean
Special guest: Angie Ponsell, Keller Williams


03:34      Angie’s focus area of Sandy Springs (just outside of Atlanta) and what real estate is like in that area – apartments to multi-million dollar properties
05:30       Angie specialises in ‘ranch houses’ – single level with a basement, but not big land areas
06:50      When Angie and Sam met in Australia – and some of the differences between selling in Australia and in the US (Angie is a listing agent 75% listing – 25% representing buyers agents)
08:13      Why Angie prefers to be a listing agent
08:45      “As a listing agent I like it when the buyers are represented because then I’m dealing with another agent and the emotions are taken out of it and we’re able to get the deal done…”
09:48      Angie has been in real estate for 17 years, how she came to work for KW, what is different about the KW model and why it appeals to so many
10:37      The road to uncapped commission with KW – once you get to a certain number of sales you keep 100 per cent of your commission
11:14      “Keller Williams is — we call it a training company and now we’re moving into a technology company that just happens to be in real estate”
11:45      KW is privately owned, doesn’t do any advertising and shares profits.
12:24      “You’re a Keller Williams agent, but you can brand yourself to be whoever you want”
13:19      Some advice from Gary Keller – from The One Thing – and why that has been some of the best advice Angie has had
15:11      The messages Gary is giving the company the ‘need for speed’ in winning the race for data
15:46      The advantages of being a private company versus being a publicly listed company –  it allows you to try new things more quickly without answering to shareholders
18:00      Keller Cloud and Kelle the Virtual Assistant – what are they like to use and how do they fit into the broader KW strategy
18:50      “Kelle is getting smarter and smarter every day, the more we use her – the smarter she will be.”
21:52      The purchase of Smarter Agent and how that adds to the data that KW now owns
23:22      How big data will change property marketing
25:13      Difficult clients and what do do about them
25:50      Will KW ever come to Australia?
26:38      The market in 2019 – the shift is not limited to Australia
26:50      “There’s always buyers and sellers no matter what cycle you are in, no matter what market you are in.”
27:18      How Angie has approached various market downturns in her 17 years in real estate.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.