To describe Steve Carroll as an early adopter when it comes to property tech would be an understatement.
The digital thought leader, who has recently taken up the position as CEO of fledgling interactive property listing platform Homeloop, first developed an interest in the role digital technology could play in the property sector more than two decades ago.
Back then, when most of today’s digital natives were yet to be born, he was still living in his native England and employed as Group Commercial Manager for EMAP, which, at the time, was a print-publishing powerhouse.
“Back in the early part of 2001, one of my jobs was to talk to real estate agents about this thing that was coming that was going to revolutionise the way that they were marketing property, and it was called the internet,” Steve tells Elite Agent.
“So, there was this mad guy who was in his early 30s, talking to middle-aged English real estate owners about this thing that you couldn’t really touch or feel that lived in the cloud,” he continues.
“As you can imagine, I’ve got turfed out of a number of offices, they thought I was just absolutely, raving mad, and to be honest with you, the passage of my career over the last 20 years has kind of followed that feel.”
It should be pointed out that Steve is referring to his enduring fascination with the intersection between technology and real estate, not the consistency at which he has been turfed out of offices, and history has obviously shown his foresight to have been spot on.
In the two decades since, Steve’s passion and prescience have led to a career that has spanned three continents. He spent almost a decade at REA, where he served as both the Group’s Director of Sales and Director of Industry Relations, a role he held until the end of 2019.
So, what was it about Homeloop in particular that compelled Steve to get on board?
HomeLoop is being marketed as Australia’s first interactive listing platform and is white-labelled, meaning it can be tailored for agency brands. It allows its users to give agents instant, real-time feedback within seconds of a property being listed.
“Often people will present new technology to me and go, ‘Hey, Steve, you’re a bit of an old fella that understands digital technology and real estate, what do you think about my new start-up?’ And often the problem with technology is it just does so many things that it’s all so bloody confusing,” he says.
“The technology [for Homeloop] really only does two things.
“The first thing is, it takes communication into the 21st century,” he says, pointing out the elimination of unnecessary callbacks, which can be the bane of both an agent’s and a disinterested prospective buyer’s Monday morning.
Steve says Homeloop can be used in a similar manner to dating apps such as Tinder, with prospective purchasers swiping right if they are interested, or left if they are not.
“The second thing the app does, is you are invited to put your filters into the app, and, say you’re looking at 3 Smith Street, and say you’ve got, for example a Ray White app [with Homeloop technology integrated] on your phone.
“You can literally take five seconds and say ‘I’m looking for something that’s seven $700,000-$750,000, it must be three bedrooms, it must have a garage and it must have two bathrooms’.
“Then it’s set and forget, because every single time Ray White have a property that fits that criteria, you’ll get a notification that says ‘we’ve just listed this property that fits with your criteria’, and again, you can swipe left, or you can swipe right.”
Homeloop includes calendars that sync with an agent’s database for private inspections. It also offers real-time inspection feedback and live chat, and provides connection to all one-click rental applications.
This information can all be integrated straight into the agency’s current CRM, with the end result being it will automate “all the non-productive time within the sales and leasing process, so agents can focus on what matters – getting deals done”.
Steve is quick to point out that Homeloop is in no way intended to replace the replace the traditional role of agent but is instead designed to remove inefficiencies that hold them back from their core duties.
“Technology doesn’t disrupt industries, what technology does is disrupt efficiencies and I think that’s a really really quite great way of looking at it,” Steve says.
“Everybody talks about, ‘will technology or digital disrupt real estate?’ No, it won’t, but what it will do is it will disrupt inefficient processes within the real estate ecosystem.
“I think the agencies that will thrive in this digital world will be those that can take the best of technology and combine it with the best of human touch. Human touch is never, ever going to go away.
“That ability to use those skills that we were born with – the listening, the empathy, the sympathy, the visualisation, the creativity – is such a massive part of real estate.
“But if you take the best of that, and you combine it with the best of technology, and you get rid of the outdated, antiquated processes. That, for me, is a winning formula.”