Sarah Richardson
Designated Broker, Tru Realty


Residential real estate has experienced a significant amount of change this past decade. There have been seismic shifts in the brokerage landscape, a historic economic upheaval, new rules for title and added scrutiny to the lending process. We, as industry insiders see these changes firsthand every day.

As a designated broker of a real estate company in a robust market, I believe we need to go beyond the actual temperature of the housing market and look at deeper issues. What type of governance do we exercise for our industry? How do we want to operate as brokerages or as agents? Are we providing the type of buying experience that today’s consumer seeks? Are we aware of the impact technology is having on our world and are we ready to adapt our operations to keep pace with that change?

Satya Nadella, CEO credited with the recent revitalization of Microsoft, stated “there are four initiatives every company must make a priority.” They include: reimagining the relationship with the customer, empowering employees (agents), optimizing operations while simplifying business processes, and transforming current business models.

The real estate industry must heed this advice. Being slow to change our business practices leaves us vulnerable to losing market share to the wide array of tech-based real estate platforms that are becoming increasingly more prevalent.  As challenging as it may be to constantly stay on the forefront of the many advancements in technology, brokerages must be committed to being adaptive with technological progress.

In working with our technology partners we have a multitude of goals. First and foremost is providing our client with a real estate experience that is beyond reproach. We should endeavor to provide our agents with technology that provides them with time saving, cost saving platforms that improve their ability to communicate with their client. For the brokerage we want to constantly reinforce our brand image, manage administrative costs, and enhance collaboration among our agents.

The goal is to make sure that each and every tech partner that we engage address the aforementioned goals that we have in place. At times it can be challenging to see beyond their promises to evaluate actual performance. Just like real estate it is best to negotiate from a position of knowledge when dealing with a technology vendor. Homework in vetting a new technology partner is important and getting additional, outside help before making a commitment is essential. Avoid long term binding contracts and don’t hesitate to ask for references that are utilizing the platform here or in other markets.

This analogy and the nearly countless other examples are a wakeup call for our industry. At last count there were a half dozen start ups that want to commoditize the real estate process. The most disconcerting aspect of this is the affinity for Millennials to prefer working with an app over a human being. The most exciting being a new platform that will allow you to sell your properties via blockchain through any currency including cryptocurrencies globally – a huge game changer driven by our younger generations.

The real estate industry will need to implement ways to make technology something that enhances the work of the real estate professional, not eliminate it all together. I have no doubt that we as REALTORS® will continue to compete for share with apps that dehumanize the selling and buying process. Adaptation and proper training will hold the key to using technology to our advantage.

Technology will drive enhancements to customer experience and differentiate our brands in a crowded and historically non-adaptive real estate space. Real estate is a relationship driven industry. We must embrace technology and utilize it to be an asset to agents and our clients.

This is not the time for business as usual for the real estate industry. We must invest and embrace technology solutions that play to the strength of what we do best – putting the customer first, understanding the nuances of their need and providing the expert guidance that a software program simply cannot.


Sarah Richardson is the founder and Designated Broker of Tru Realty; a quickly growing tech enabled brokerage in the Phoenix Market.  Tru Realty is known for its proprietary training curriculum for new agents who want to work as a full time Realtors.  Additionally, Tru Realty is disrupting the brokerage space with the use of Blockchain technologies,  digital transformation and the immediate use of technologies in house to help the realtor be of better use to the client.