The Harcourts’ vision is simple – the brand wants to be known for delivering the finest experience in real estate.
To achieve this, Managing Director Mike Green says each interlinked component of the brand – from management to its agents, support teams and even third-party business partners – must focus on and provide value in achieving that vision.
“Our theme this year is, ‘One team, the finest experience’,” he says.
“One of the things we talk about within our group is ‘one team’ and that we all play a part.
“The salespeople play a part, but the business owners and the managers, we’ve got to provide an environment for our people to excel in.”
Mike says one of the ways Harcourts curates a healthy, first-class environment for its team to succeed is through its partnerships with third-party providers, and it’s never been more important to work with tech partners that understand their vision.
Providing the ultimate in tech solutions not only makes team members feel valued and supported, the right ones can save them time, empower them to do more and give them the ability to create an even better experience for the end client, be they a seller, a buyer, a landlord or a tenant.
The right tech helps them deliver “the finest experience”.
MRI Software acquires PropTech Group
This is why MRI Software’s recent $93.4 million acquisition of PropTech Group (PTG) is an exciting development in the real estate space.
The acquisition combines MRI products, such as Box and Dice and PropertyTree, along with PTG platforms, including VaultRE and Eagle Software.
Harcourts has been using both MRI and PTG products for some time and is excited about the leverage their amalgamation will bring.
“When we work with a business partner, we feel a responsibility to provide them a great experience with us, but equally, that business partner needs to provide us with the opportunity to deliver a great experience to our clients,” Mike says.
“So, if they slow us down, if the tech is clunky and it doesn’t deliver what we need it to deliver, then we push back pretty hard on that.
“But I think the whole consolidation of MRI and PTG gives us huge latitude.
“The umbrella this creates gives us the best opportunity to maximise the experience we can deliver to clients and that we can deliver to our own team.”
A single provider
MRI Software Managing Director and Senior Vice President (Asia Pacific) David Bowie says bringing the two companies together will enable agencies to simplify their tech stack under a single provider, but, critically, it will also advance an end-to-end view of the client, irrespective of where they are at in their property journey.
A recent YouGov national survey commissioned by MRI in Australia, called Voice of the Australian Real Estate Consumer, revealed seven in 10 consumers felt it was a “hassle” to deal with multiple real estate agencies for property changes.
The research showed that, on average, Australian real estate consumers made seven transactions over the past 10 years and, of those, 64 per cent would prefer to deal with a single agency for all of their property needs.
“What we’re looking to try and do is create end-to-end visibility and connectivity that allows us to put the person at the centre of the engagement with the agency, and pull data from across their tech ecosystem to create a single view,” David notes.
“Where PropTech Group comes into that is it brings together the area of property management with sales into a more cohesive tech stack.
“It allows us to put, at the centre of it, the data that drives those engagements with a person over their journey from being a tenant to a buyer, to a seller and a landlord over the journey of their life.”
MRI Software Director of Strategy Josh Symons says the traditional sales-based software will also integrate and ‘talk to’ the property management technology, so agency owners, sales agents and property managers can see when a client cross-pollinates or moves from one sector to another – such as when a tenant is ready to buy a home or a landlord is ready to sell.
“There’s been a long-spoken idea in the industry that the Holy Grail would be sales and property management together. PTG was on that path, well and truly with VaultRE, and MRI has long believed in that same philosophy,” Josh says.
“The idea was to bring together our property management base with their sales CRM, allowing us to execute that vision for our customers. By doing that, we could help them grow their business with the data they have in front of them, regardless of the source of that data.
“It would bring together all of the personas, whether it’s a landlord, a buyer, a seller or a tenant and help them serve those people throughout their entire property journey, rather than just on a per transaction basis.”
Clients for life
Josh says until now, real estate agencies hadn’t truly been able to “connect the dots” when clients moved from requiring property management services to sales and vice versa.
But now that data is available, MRI won’t just identify them, but highlight them within the system so agencies, such as Harcourts, can act on them.
“The data is only as valuable as the action you can take from it,” Josh says.
“Ultimately, that is to realise the lifetime value of a client.
“One of the primary goals (in real estate) is ‘clients for life’, and the solutions MRI wants to provide for our customers is to help them live and breathe those values in reality.”
Mike says people will always be at the core of real estate, but great technology-enabled agents do better work.
“Having that single tech stack will enable our people to be better because of those integrations,” he says.
“Part of the integrations will be that they can give us more information about our clients and track them across platforms.
“And if we can help our people do business more effectively and more efficiently, then they’re going to be able to produce more experiences and better outcomes for our clients.
“When salespeople feel empowered, when they feel like they’ve got the best resource or support, they just do better. They’re better in their roles, they go out and they’re more confident.
“Us having the confidence in our platform, and having the full integration as we do, flows through to our people.”
Josh says a byproduct of the integration and agents that provide better service is elevating the entire industry and building clients’ trust in the real estate sector.
“If a landlord walks through an open house of a property that’s for sale and they’re on that same agency’s rent roll, the chances are the sales agent won’t even know,” he says.
“But if you can turn that client experience into, ‘Hi Mr Smith, thank you for coming through, I notice we manage X, Y and Z properties on your behalf’, that’s a very different conversation, and it starts to bring transparency and trust to that relationship.”
Josh says cross-pollination of information between sales and property management also has the potential to boost the employee experience.
Real estate, particularly property management, has a high burnout rate, with the MRI Voice of the Property Manager 2021 report revealing 23 per cent intend to leave the industry.
Josh says an open and connected tech stack will enable PMs and sales agents to work together better and reduce the number of instances where sales and PM departments are missing knowledge, such as a landlord selling but the sales agent forgetting to tell the PM because the systems will keep everyone informed.
He says the role of the property manager will also be elevated beyond administration tasks to more of an advisory role.
“The PTG acquisition included Real Estate Investar, a consumer-facing platform built to help property investors identify their next investment property,” Josh explains.
“And for MRI, we’ve always spoken about elevating the position of the property manager away from administrative duties because, as we release new features and functions into our solutions that are AI-driven and create efficiencies, they can start having investment management conversations and serving information to their landlord that’s relevant to their current situation or potentially a new investment.
“That’s a really exciting part of this (the PTG acquisition) as well.”
MRI Software will host a free Voice of the Consumer webinar on 5 April at 2pm AEST/4pm NZST. The webinar will share more insights into how the combined PTG/MRI open and connected approach benefits any agency’s ability to meet the changing demands of today’s real estate consumer. Register here.