Kylie Davis: (00:01)
Welcome to The Proptech Podcast. It's Kylie Davis here, and I'm delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. I passionately believe we need to create and grow a sense of community between the innovators and real estate agents, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. Now the aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a Proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and to explore those issues and challenges raised by the tech and how they can create amazing property experiences. Now my guests in this episode are Angus Ferguson and Daniel Portelli, the co-founders of Real Time Agent, a point of sale platform that streamlines the sales process from end to end, to make it faster and easier to transact.
Kylie Davis: (00:48)
Now, the company started in Melbourne as Bidtracker, an app that helped agents capture bidding data about their options, auto-generated clearance rates, and automated the reporting to major media publications, and they stunned the Proptech community back in November last year when they announced that they had sold to domain in a deal worth a total of $35 million when it completes at the end of the 2021 financial year. So Dan Portelli and Angus Ferguson, welcome to The Proptech Podcast.
Daniel Portelli: (01:19)
Thanks very much for having us.
Angus Ferguson: (01:20)
Thank you. Thanks.
Kylie Davis: (01:21)
No worries. Now Angus, I understand you're the one that's going to be doing the elevator pitch. What's the Real Time Agent elevator pitch?
Angus Ferguson: (01:28)
Beautiful. So basically what our product is, we're a point of sale solution for real estate agents, so we do everything from authorities, auction tracking, so Bidtracker is the name of the product, through to digital contract signing. By doing those three products, what we're actually able to do is save 244 minutes per transaction.
Kylie Davis: (01:47)
Angus Ferguson: (01:48)
So you're saving a huge amount of time, taking away a lot of the compliance as well, and just building it straight into the system. So no agents having to do the checklist anymore or anything like that, we handle all of that up front for them.
Kylie Davis: (02:00)
So let's drill down a little bit on that. What are the actual problems that you're solving for agents more than just taking a lot of time doing admin?
Angus Ferguson: (02:07)
Yeah, so the main key thing is, when we started this business, we started with Bidtracker, which was auction reporting, and solving the problem of how do you report your auctions on a Saturday, not only internally but also to external parties like CoreLogic, Domain, REA.
Kylie Davis: (02:22)
Yeah, because that gets really tedious, doesn't it, for agents?
Angus Ferguson: (02:26)
It does. If you look at an agency in Victoria, they're getting a phone call from property data, realestate.com, from Domain and CoreLogic, and they're all asking for the same information. It's what was the price that you sold it for? Do you want to disclose it? And please give us the price, obviously, as well. So what we're able to do is just automate one simple problem. Where we went from there is we went to a lot of the businesses, the some of the best businesses in Victoria, and said show us all your process, let's see what problem we should solve for you next. And what we identified is the two biggest catalyst for your work file are when you list a property and when you sell a property.
Angus Ferguson: (03:01)
And generally what's happening is when you list a property, everything comes back to the office and you kick off your process of organising photos, floor plans, send the letters to the lawyers, everything that goes on. Same as when you sell a property. So what we tried to do is, instead of having this process of a helicopter view or different ways of managing workflow, is solve the problem up front, which is give the agent a tool and then from that tool we can actually get the information, automate into different systems, and automate a lot of their workflow.
Daniel Portelli: (03:31)
Just following on from there, with Bidtracker, and agency agreements, and digital contracts, the problems we solve across those is basically we speed up the signing process for the agent, we increase compliance, so the admin offices of different agencies really like that part of that as well. With Bidtracker we solve the reporting issue, not only externally but internally as well, for agency principals so they can see what their whole team has done for a particular day, or week, or month. And then in digital contracts we solve the problem of having to sign three or five copies of the same piece, or same contract I should say. And what we found there was that there was not a whole lot of continuity between the different documents. Three or five different copies being done on the same day on the table at auction for example, you'd have different settlement dates, maybe because one person speaking to the purchaser at one time and the admin person might be filling it out. So single point of truth, and then distribute it out from there. That's the problems we solve across those three products.
Angus Ferguson: (04:33)
So if we give you an example of that, Kylie. So if you've got a sales price and it goes to four different data houses, either verbally or via an email, internally. So like hockingstuart, they had someone they'd employee on a Saturday who would sit there and call their offices, much the same as every other corporate, so you've got some kind of visibility of the business on Saturday, and then you grab that sales price, you're putting it back into the CRMs, the purchases data back in the CRM. And then small things on the way like there's agencies who do sells through rentals form, so they're providing a lead to the property manager. We're able to just do that straight away by just having a button in there that says are they non or occupying, yes or no? And if it's a no then we're just sending that lead directly to the property manager in real time.
Kylie Davis: (05:17)
So I'm just quickly doing the maths, because I can't do it in my head. 266 minutes, you said, per transaction.
Angus Ferguson: (05:24)
So 244. If you're a business that does 150 sales a year, works out to, I believe, about 76 days in admin.
Kylie Davis: (05:33)
Holy moly. Okay, well that's worth it. Yeah.
Angus Ferguson: (05:38)
Yeah. So how we arrived at that number, because it's usually something we get asked a lot because it's a pretty big number, is we actually went to offices with a stopwatch, sat there and said, "Go with your paper process," timed every econ rental step. So things like scanning the contracts in, sending the letters off, all those things that I spoke about before, they're all five minute tasks with the same information, but they add up. So we were actually able to justify it in that way and now we've built a really cool calculator that we're actually able to send out to a client in a website so they can go through their own process and see how it impacts their business as well.
Kylie Davis: (06:14)
Because well 244 minutes is more than four hours, isn't it? That agents are spending for every single property that they're working on. And you wonder why you can't go home in time to have dinner with your kids. That's probably part of it.
Daniel Portelli: (06:30)
If they're not, and if they're not completing that task, they're passing it on to somebody else. So we've seen this kind of growth of admin teams because they want salespeople to be able to make more calls to make more money. So there's this kind of paradigm of we just keep adding personal assistants or more admin into the people. Then what we see is we take that process and we put it off shore, because the cost comes down. But what we looked at was actually let's look at the whole process and see where the actual issues are, and where this time is being created, and basically fix those problems.
Kylie Davis: (07:03)
Yeah. Perfect. And I think this is one of the really huge strengths of tech, isn't it? Is that where you've got a process that requires a person to run around between the different processes to pull the information from one section and take it to the next, that's probably the best place in your business where you could introduce a technology to clean that up and make it more automatic. So we've heard a lot about the benefits to agents, obviously. If I'm a real estate customer, if I'm selling my property at the moment, what are the benefits to me, or to me as a buyer even?
Angus Ferguson: (07:41)
So the main benefit are ... Well, let's just use two different scenarios. So main benefits are, if you're at a point of a listing and you've got an investment property, the current process has always been that the agent prepares a document, they'll scan that document in, email it off to the estate vendor, they then print that off, sign it, scan it, send it back.
Kylie Davis: (08:01)
Yes, it's painful.
Angus Ferguson: (08:02)
Like 24 hours. It's arduous. What we can actually do with the agency agreement is they can prepare everything digitally and the compliance is already handled. So they've got one succinct process that they're able to follow and then send out to the client, they can simply sign it, send it back without printing it off or anything like that. The other big part of it is offsite signing for contracts as well. So we've had one just last week where the buyer was actually over in China, they were able to load that contract up into our system, send it for offsite signing, and get it back instantly so they could transact it straight away. So what it's doing is it's actually bringing the days on market down as well because you know where your buyer is, you can't get the contract to them because, at the moment particularly you can't get it into China, or you can't get out back to Australia.
Kylie Davis: (08:48)
No, true. No.
Angus Ferguson: (08:49)
So it was able to speed up this entire process for that real estate agent, which meant the vendor got to sell their property in a quicker process as Well.
Kylie Davis: (08:56)
Fantastic. And I guess you're not getting asked a million times to fill in addresses, because no-one wakes up in the morning and wants to do paperwork, do they? And I think this is fantastic. I once nearly lost a property that I bought because the agent kept emailing me the documents, and I was working from news at the time, and we had a 10 meg limit on your attachment level. And so it kept bouncing because the document, every time someone printed it out, signed it, and scanned it, and then sent it back, it got bigger, and bigger, and bigger until it was about a 20 meg document. And yeah, the whole deal nearly fell over. It wasn't until the last minute that we worked out why the hell it hadn't come through. They thought I was the one that was holding it up and I was waiting on the paperwork. So tell me about how you evolve from Bidtracker ... Well tell me about how Bidtracker came about, and how you guys then evolved to Real Time Agent.
Angus Ferguson: (09:49)
Daniel Portelli: (09:49)
That's an interesting question. So Gus and I had worked together in the past on different real estate projects, and Angus was running his own office. He really was the ideas behind Bidtracker, let's call it V1. The two of us joined forces and kind of worked away at solving this auction reporting process problem that was really easy to see for us because Angus was living and breathing it on a Saturday. So we went about solving that problem first, and then from there it kind of grew out and we looked at okay, well that's one efficiency in the office. Where else can we put some efficiencies into this process?
Daniel Portelli: (10:27)
And we noticed that there was basically these dark or black holes in the process when it went offline, which is what Angus was talking about earlier in regards to the transactional process with the real estate agent, when they're with the vendor, or with the buyer. And that's where we looked at it and said okay, well hold on. Bidtracker is not really going to fit across this product suit, so it's time to change the name. So what we did was basically elevated Real Time Agent as the parent product, for lack of a better term. And then basically we've got our RTA or Real Time Agent authorities agency agreements, Bidtracker in the middle, and then digital contracts at the end of the transacting process.
Angus Ferguson: (11:08)
It was actually our customers that came to us and started saying, "We need to change your name," because we had these digital agency agreements or authorities out in the world, and agents who were in the living room with the vendor, and they're saying, "Okay, we're going to sign up our new listing on the Bidtracker." And it just didn't make sense for the client.
Kylie Davis: (11:25)
It feels a bit scary, doesn't it? Oh, what are you tracking? What?
Angus Ferguson: (11:28)
Daniel Portelli: (11:28)
Kylie Davis: (11:31)
We're all very sensitive to that these days. So who are your competitors in this space?
Angus Ferguson: (11:38)
So the general competitors that we get that come up is DocuSign, I would say most of the time.
Kylie Davis: (11:43)
Okay. So do you use DocuSign? Or, no.
Angus Ferguson: (11:45)
Yeah, we tried to use it at the beginning. The problem we run into is DocuSign's just a digital signature. What's actually the really valuable part of the process is being able to grab the vital information that's off the contract to the agency agreement and then integrate it back into their CRM, send the letters into the automation off the back. We couldn't do that with DocuSign. The other big one was it doesn't work offline, and what we were finding is, we tested it with agencies, two major things happen, internet drops out, agent loses all confidence straight away. You're signing a contract, you need it to work 100% of the time.
Angus Ferguson: (12:20)
The other one was just a latency in email, so because of the way the unique links were generated, you would be sending off one party to party A, being the vendor, they sign their part, it's coming back to the purchaser, but that process could take 10 minutes to wait for that new envelope to come back, which didn't work, and it was too slow. If you're in auction scenario.
Daniel Portelli: (12:43)
Yeah, and also in combination.
Angus Ferguson: (12:43)
Yeah, if you're in an auction scenario, you want to get the deal done as quickly as possible and get everyone out of the room before anyone changes their mind, effectively. So it just doesn't work.
Kylie Davis: (12:50)
Oh, yes. If you're the vendor you just want it done because you just want to crack that bottle of champagne as quickly as you can, don't you?
Daniel Portelli: (12:59)
Kylie Davis: (13:00)
Yeah. You just want [crosstalk 00:13:01].
Daniel Portelli: (13:01)
You've been a nervous wreck for five or six weeks while you've been doing all your opens.
Kylie Davis: (13:04)
With that last little bit of extraordinary pressure that happens at the end that completely explodes your brain. Yes, I remember it well.
Daniel Portelli: (13:12)
Exactly right. The other reason why a lot of the digital signing platforms didn't really work for us, and we went down the path of building our own, is that combination of in the room and offsite. So in all of our documentation you can basically ... Let's say you're in the room, and you've got a husband and wife, and one party's in the room, one party's at work or at an office, let's say. Basically we can do the combination of the two. We keep the document stored, and it's encrypted throughout the whole process, so we can give people access as required. And that's the kind of control that we didn't get with third party applications.
Kylie Davis: (13:52)
And so do the agents upload their own forms that they've got? Or how do the forms work?
Daniel Portelli: (13:58)
There's a few different options there. So we've basically got the ability to put in fully customised forms. So it depends on how the agency wants to work, or we've got a really exciting integration with the REI Forms guys, Forms Live at the moment, it's going live. So if you're a Forms Live member you can use your forms and we don't charge any extra for that.
Kylie Davis: (14:23)
Angus Ferguson: (14:23)
So the problem that our customers were facing was there's more and more compliance coming into our market, means more forms. So comparable sales.
Kylie Davis: (14:34)
More forms, for admin.
Angus Ferguson: (14:36)
Exactly. And so a lot of the agencies we were finding are waiting on the REI more so, to be able to get those forms and that documentation, because it's not just an agency agreement anymore that needs to be signed at time of listing, or they're getting their own done as well. So we had to build the flexibility to be able to upload a document from the REI or a document from anywhere at all.
Kylie Davis: (14:56)
Daniel Portelli: (14:57)
And we've got ad hoc forms as well, vendor checklists and all kinds of different things that kind of come into the system in different-
Angus Ferguson: (15:03)
Then do a checklists and all kinds of different things that come into the system in different shapes and forms, which we've just been able to provide that flexibility. So we hold hands a lot through the start of the process with a new business coming on, and make sure that we're not missing too many gaps in their existing process, or missing any forms and things like that. So yeah, we've got a lot of flexibility there.
Kylie Davis: (15:26)
Let's just pause there for a moment and hear a quick word from our sponsors.
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Kylie Davis: (16:25)
So tell me about your growth trajectory. So what were some of the key markers along the way as you guys have grown? And I guess that's the segue into the Domain conversation, but let's start from the beginning.
Angus Ferguson: (16:41)
Probably the three biggest milestones for Dan and I have been that we'd reached 40% of the Victorian transactional market in about 18 months.
Kylie Davis: (16:51)
Wow, that's fantastic.
Angus Ferguson: (16:52)
With just the two of us running. And then we effectively went, okay, we actually need to go and raise some capital, and we need to start to build out this business and build a team. Because we've got customers, but to keep going and keep iterating at the same rate, we couldn't keep doing it ourselves. The other big one has been, last year we [inaudible 00:17:09] over $50 billion worth of property has been sold through [crosstalk 00:17:14] in just the last year. So that was a huge one. And then what was our other third largest one Dan?
Daniel Portelli: (17:20)
I think we're up to one in 10 homes in Australia now go through the Real Time Agent platform.
Kylie Davis: (17:26)
Wow, okay. That's fantastic.
Daniel Portelli: (17:29)
We are predominantly Victorian based, in our customer base, that's up upwards of 65% now from a market share standpoint. But we're very much focused on New South Wales and, and Angus has moved up there to lead the boots on the ground there.
Angus Ferguson: (17:47)
So Kylie, I think that leads into the Domain question really well, around that why have we done the deal, and what does it mean, and what's it mean moving forward as well? So effectively we got up to a point where we were raising our series A, went out to the market Domain. Came and said, "Hey, we'd be interested in doing something." It ended up being a full acquisition, but it's allowed us to stay on with the business for quite a few years. The other really great thing about that as well, is that we actually have access to their sales force as an introduction to be able the scale our business up. But the other main thing is we talked to various businesses along the way that are from the industry or just sitting outside of it, who were interested in what we were doing.
Angus Ferguson: (18:29)
Definitely by far that Domain is very pro agent, and has definitely [inaudible 00:18:34] themselves really strongly with agents in industry. Which sat really well with us and with the business, which affectively ... Because what we're doing is, our products are a little bit different. We don't do a hard sell, it's more of a consultive sell into the business. And sit down and understand their pain points before selling a product back to them. Which is a little bit different approach to other products. I think for them as well, a big part of it was we're still effectively a startup, but we now have the Domain Group above us, so we can access the leadership, we can access the resources, we can get introductions to people.
Angus Ferguson: (19:10)
If we've got issues with technology, we can certainly go in there and ask them, "Hey, what should we do about this problem we're facing?" So there's a lot of different areas of expertise, but we still get to have that nimble ability that most startups want. And it is [inaudible 00:19:25] ways for you to excel very quickly and iterate very quickly. So it's been a really good deal for us to do.
Kylie Davis: (19:31)
Fantastic. So the question that I was dying to know when I saw the news out there, in real estate in Australia, there's two teams, there's the green team and the red team. Does being on the green team prevent you from selling to anyone who's a predominant user of the red team?
Angus Ferguson: (19:50)
Not at all.
Kylie Davis: (19:52)
It doesn't change your market scope at all?
Daniel Portelli: (19:55)
We very much pushed throughout our journey that we wanted to stay. Whether it was CRMs, whether it was proposal systems, whether it was payment systems, to be as agnostic as possible.
Kylie Davis: (20:08)
Daniel Portelli: (20:09)
And that doesn't change for a portal. So for us, whilst we might have our green underpants on whilst we're at work and whilst we are selling our product, we don't have that direct feed into a portal, where someone who wears their [inaudible 00:20:27] underpants on the other side would say, we don't want to use the platform because we're supporting the wrong team. It is very much about we our agent services, and that seems to be a really big focus for Domain.
Angus Ferguson: (20:38)
And I think to add to that, we've still got a partnership in place with REA to be able to support supply auction results to them as well.
Kylie Davis: (20:47)
Angus Ferguson: (20:47)
[crosstalk 00:20:47] be agnostic to it. I think it's gone are the days of you being able to sell off your business [inaudible 00:20:53] piece of technology to just what you do. And I think now you've got to integrate with everyone. You've got to be open to doing things together, because it's more about the customer than it is about your business as such.
Kylie Davis: (21:05)
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. Yeah, I couldn't agree more. So what's protecting you guys a little bit is the fact that you're not plugged into that portal, you're not delivering services directly to that portal. What you're really doing, is enabling the agents to transact quicker. And so that's part of Domain's bigger strategy of being end-to-end services for agents, isn't it? Of which the portal is one, and I guess you guys are part of the other as well.
Angus Ferguson: (21:31)
I think it's just an overarching thing to say, having a really strong alignment with the industry, and where they're going.
Kylie Davis: (21:38)
Yeah. Fantastic. So what's your business model? Are you subscription based, or per report, per document based, or how does that work?
Daniel Portelli: (21:46)
We used to be per office. Now as we've scaled up and we've moved away from just being an auction centric business, where we can do private sales, do auctions, we can do all kinds of stuff. We wanted it to be more suited for everyone. So we've changed it to a per head basis. So we charge on a per user model, which allows us to get a small office who may be doing less sales, which probably has less sales people in it, up to a really big business, that's got say 20 sales people doing 500 sales a year. It just scales accordingly to how big their business is. So it seems to be a unique model.
Kylie Davis: (22:23)
And have you got any case studies of how agents have been able to use it effectively, or how much time they're now saving?
Angus Ferguson: (22:32)
I think the case study we put together to get that 244 minutes saved is probably the biggest one. And we made sure that we did it in the right way. There's things that we've foregone in that case study, because we know there were edge cases for that particular business. And just focus on the core things that we know are happening across the industry. Besides that, it's really hard to put a dollar amount on it. And it's probably not for us to do, just because it's probably their arbitrage as opposed to ours. We just provide the facts of how much time they can save, whether people decide to let people go within their business, generally hasn't happened. For us it's more, they're reallocating those staff to more dollar productive items. So instead of doing data entry, they're focusing on social media, or something else inside that business to actually grow it.
Daniel Portelli: (23:21)
[crosstalk 00:23:21] trying to take them out of the operating costs and put them above the line to revenue producing activities, and supporting a sales team, or it might be customer care, or something like that. As opposed to just being there, just typing in information, or sending off emails and things like that. I guess one of the best anecdotal pieces of evidence we get is when an agent calls and says they've made us way more efficient, and I'm able to pick up my kids from school and sign up a listing at the same time, using the platform. Just that mobile nature of it, where you don't have to make sure you've got your authority or agreement pad in your bag. You've just got to have your iPad.
Kylie Davis: (24:01)
So what I really love to understand, is on the podcast before we had Dave Stewart from Market Buy, and I had Kate Chalk from RESO, and these kind of negotiation platforms. Are they alternatives to you guys, or do they fit in with you guys, or how does that whole end-to-end process work? And then on the other hand you've got the proposals, like ProposalPoint and Pete Matthews' one. Is that all part of a lack of a whole spectrum of start and finish of agent services?
Daniel Portelli: (24:36)
Yeah, they all are agent services, and I think they all do fit in the same category. They all do very different things. The ProposalPoint one is probably a really good one to touch on. We have an integration with those guys. We're basically, you finish your proposal, you click the button, it will launch into our system to allow you to do your actual documentation and make sure that all the compliance and everything that's relevant to that office, is there. So that's how that links together. With your Market Buys and RESO and things like that, they still don't have a transaction piece of the platform. So they're handling the negotiation side, and basically providing that auction type sale for a private treaty. However, when it gets to the stage of ... Actually I think [inaudible 00:25:21] side it says, you have to sign the documentation within 24 hours, otherwise the property is not considered sold to you as an example. There could be the potential there for us to take over the transaction piece.
Kylie Davis: (25:35)
Angus Ferguson: (25:36)
[crosstalk 00:25:36] spoken with Kate in the past as well at RESO-
Daniel Portelli: (25:37)
Angus Ferguson: (25:38)
About how we might be able to actually be their transactional tool as well. So they can be, they're part of the process of negotiating, and we just fit in when it's time to transact, that's when our system is launched.
Kylie Davis: (25:48)
Angus Ferguson: (25:49)
So that's some stuff that we're working on in the background as well, is how can we take it out and be a little bit more modular in our approach as well. Because what they're doing is completely different to us. But on the surface, as Dan said, it is sitting in the same category, same as your realtors, same as all the ProposalPoint, all those guys. And I think it's one of those things where everyone thinks the problem is really simple until they start trying to solve for it.
Kylie Davis: (26:17)
Until you start walking around with a stopwatch, seeing how long people losing four hours of your life chasing someone. I can imagine.
Angus Ferguson: (26:26)
We've got a real appreciation for everyone that [inaudible 00:26:28] of what they're trying to do, because we know that we definitely couldn't do it as well as them.
Kylie Davis: (26:34)
Yeah, fantastic. So what does the future hold for you guys? You're expanding into New South Wales, you've got a lot of men, and you've got a lot of money, I guess and energy happening behind you with the Domain crew behind you. What does your future look like for the next year or so?
Daniel Portelli: (26:54)
Heads down, bums up.
Kylie Davis: (26:56)
Daniel Portelli: (26:56)
We're very busy at the moment. New South Wales is our main focus. Angus is building an awesome team up there. We've had a few new starters already just prior to Christmas. So we do have our own sales team that sits outside of the Domain sales team and account management, and customer success. That all sits under the RTI brand. In Victoria it's about depth and making sure that utilisation is as high as possible, and making sure that any further processes that we can bring in, integrate into the workflow for those existing customers, is done in a really, let's say beautiful way. Because there's plenty of integrations out there that don't necessarily work really nicely, and we like to make it as good as possible.
Angus Ferguson: (27:48)
We'd love to replicate what we've done in Victoria in New South Wales, but at the same time, revenue's obviously important to our business, but we take very seriously and it quite have a big impact on our people and our business of, what's our retention rate, which sits at 98%, which is pretty good.
Kylie Davis: (28:04)
Angus Ferguson: (28:04)
So we're pretty proud of that. And the utilisation of about 85 to 90% on a weekly basis. So they're the things that we look at really heavily, because we're an efficiency product, efficiency is only as good as if everyone's doing [inaudible 00:28:17] the office. If you're still doing paper process for one person, the whole system falls down, and you lose a bit of that efficiency. So we have a strong focus on that, to try and help these agencies to get everyone over the line. Because change management is hard as we all know in tech.
Daniel Portelli: (28:31)
So basically what we're seeing in businesses, is the change management has to really come top down. Not only just top down, but a little bit of bottom up as well. But we've got younger people coming into these businesses that are really well established, that have been driven by these principals to their size over the last 20, 25 years. And the principals that are adopting change and they're saying, "Hey, I'll be the one to test it in my office first." Or, "I want to be the one to be the first on the platform." That attitude really sprinkles down throughout the whole business, and those guys have a great experience. Where we have offices with directors or principals that aren't as open to it, or a little bit more afraid of what the changes will bring, you can see that does trickle down through the business as well. So we very much like to work with all principals, and understand why they might not be open to the change, and then basically hold their hand through that process.
Kylie Davis: (29:28)
I really do think that this year, one of the key things that the industry is going to learn to get its brain around, or I think the key challenge for the real estate industry at the moment is not really tick, but is more around change management. And how do we adopt technology into our businesses, and how do we make sure that's not a terrifying experience? That we actually do it in ways that we can test and learn and then scale, and get confident that we've chosen the right thing and that it's doing what we want. So it's really interesting that you say that.
Daniel Portelli: (29:59)
The last thing we want is to, let's say an agent goes live on our authority or agency ...
Daniel Portelli: (30:03)
One is to, let's say an agent goes live on our authority or agency agreement platform, they go into a listing presentation. They've got their scripts and dialogues, and their usual flow of how they do a presentation. If they've not had the time to understand how this fits into their process as their new scripts and dialogue.
Kylie Davis: (30:17)
Daniel Portelli: (30:18)
They're going to have a bad time.
Kylie Davis: (30:19)
Daniel Portelli: (30:20)
So, whilst it's easy to use, it's something different to what they're currently doing.
Kylie Davis: (30:24)
Daniel Portelli: (30:24)
So we have onsite training as part of our onboarding, and we do have support there as well, that's really responsive. Like Gus was saying, we track utilisation. If we can see things might be dropping off or there's issues popping up, we'll be proactive, and go and see that office or group, and make sure we understand why.
Angus Ferguson: (30:47)
So to your point, Kylie, the other thing that we're doing is, the nature of real estate business is it's generally speaking principle says, let's do this, let's get on board. And that fallback or the support position is the sales coordinator or the sales administrator. And they're the person trying to help the agents change as they go. We've taken a slightly different approach, we try and take all of that work off them. And what we actually do is, we run a six week induction. Which is basically tracking utilisation, week in week out, to try and have different benchmarks at different weeks.
Daniel Portelli: (31:18)
Angus Ferguson: (31:19)
Which if they drop below 70% utilisation rate, we're [inaudible 00:01:22], the sales and we just try a bit. that's also prompting our team to call that individual and say, "Hey, what is it? What's going on? How can we help you? It looks like you're not using it." Nine times out of 10, that's solved over the phone. To Dan's point, it's just purely based on confidence and attitude towards things. If you're willing to adopt new technology, you've got an open mind about it. You'll figure out a way to make it work.
Daniel Portelli: (31:44)
Angus Ferguson: (31:45)
As opposed to the ones that don't, and then it's a little bit more resistant.
Kylie Davis: (31:49)
Yeah. But look, if you can save four hours per property per agent, per... I don't know, well, per everything. That starts to really add up over. Yeah. Well that starts to really add up over time, doesn't it?
Angus Ferguson: (32:04)
Kylie Davis: (32:04)
It really does. So what is the next cup... Next year, 12 months is going to be super busy. What does the next five years hold for you guys? Are you looking at going overseas? Are you staying, state by state. It seems that the legislation that operates in each state is part of the thing that you guys have to adopt to, each time you move into a new market. How does that affect your overseas ambitions?
Daniel Portelli: (32:30)
It gets easier each time.
Kylie Davis: (32:31)
Daniel Portelli: (32:32)
Because we obviously go in with open eyes, and we need flexibility. So anything we kind of build, or have built over the last kind of 24 months, we've really made sure that, okay. We don't 100% scope for that state or country or whatever it might be. But Hey, we know that there's going to be flexibility required over here. So let's build it in a way that isn't, concrete.
Kylie Davis: (32:53)
Daniel Portelli: (32:53)
And that's Testament to, our development team. They are all unsure, for anyone that's wondering. We've built a team here, and that is their focus. It's basically, they understand they have to maintain their own code in the future. So that kind of make their job easier in the first place, rather than, "Let's just get it done." So yeah. But-
Kylie Davis: (33:16)
So what does your future look like?
Angus Ferguson: (33:18)
Yeah. So it's more about the... Our main focus for the next two to three years is Eastern seaboard. So capturing as many transactions across that as well. And then looking at what we can do to assist the agent in being more efficient. What are the other systems that we need to plug into? There's a good few years of work there, I'd say, before looking oversees.
Kylie Davis: (33:37)
Yeah. Fair enough.
Angus Ferguson: (33:38)
Kylie Davis: (33:39)
Let's just pause there for a moment, and hear a quick word from our sponsors.
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Kylie Davis: (34:52)
And so what are the trends that you see, coming down the pipe in real estate, that are going to dramatically impact the industry or change the industry? And how will they impact on what you guys are doing?
Angus Ferguson: (35:03)
I think, personally for me, looking at models like the agency and the more centralised brokerage model, where you're actually leveraging all your race horses and your support and centralising it. That's a really interesting model to watch. I think it's something that will grow. Particularly in very similar to the conveyancing spaces where I get all of these ageing population of people who are retiring out of small businesses and they don't really have a succession plan in place.
Kylie Davis: (35:29)
Angus Ferguson: (35:29)
Already see what a consolidation across the industry in the next five to 10 years. If this business is being acquired by your large or boutique franchises as well.
Kylie Davis: (35:39)
Angus Ferguson: (35:39)
But I think there's a bit of a shift that the franchises are starting to go through now, where what kind of things can they pull together to centralise all of the system and process that they're doing, to make sure they remain profitable as well. And there's certainly a lot of good tech out there that can help them do that. But it's also, as we said before, about change management and getting their people with their heads around that as well.
Kylie Davis: (36:02)
Well, I think we are seeing kind of... We're seeing a couple of things, aren't we? We're seeing this sort of demise of the selling principle. I can't see how they're going to... How that is going to survive or thrive for a huge amount of time longer. And I think also, we're seeing the franchise has become responsible for their own tech stack of how they want to do change management across their groups. But they don't own the tech stack any longer, like they did. So, five years ago everyone was doing their own tech and it was all limited by their own imaginations. But now it's changing again.
Angus Ferguson: (36:38)
Daniel Portelli: (36:38)
I think integrations, and the complexity of different systems grows. And the different influences from the different customer bases that are involved to all those systems. I think those franchisors will come up with their own recipes. I'll give you the analogy of, let's use McDonald's who's completely systemized in the way that they operate. They don't necessarily own all of the different machinery that works within they're set up, to, let's say fry their fries as an example. But they've designed and they've worked through how to make that most efficient for their setup. And then worked with somebody who's a specialist in that field to build that piece of machinery for them.
Kylie Davis: (37:20)
Daniel Portelli: (37:20)
Now that's not in all cases. There's lots of stuff that they do build themselves. But it's that combination. So I think what we'll find is basically we have different brands or different groups coming up with their recipe.
Kylie Davis: (37:31)
Daniel Portelli: (37:31)
Of how they do real estate. And I think that's where your personal brands will become more and more elevated, as we go through time. For agents working under these overarching banners, or let's call it the workhorse, or the machine behind them. That they punt everything in there to get done for them. So they focus on the sales side. And that's where we've kind of... We can foresee that, that's what's likely to happen.
Kylie Davis: (38:02)
Daniel Portelli: (38:03)
And we've taken a pretty big bet on that. And that's why we have that agnostic approach. As opposed to being locked down and we're only going to work with these people, and we're only going to push these products.
Kylie Davis: (38:13)
Daniel Portelli: (38:14)
But in saying that, we'll always... If we're asked recommendations, we'll try and put forward the best of breed in those necessary categories.
Kylie Davis: (38:23)
Yeah. Yeah. And we all tend... We do send to be moving in the PropTech space, into this open source API. And everyone being able to plug into each other's stack, and then hand off to the next thing. So that you can actually get that customization around building. Working out what service you want to deliver and how you want to deliver it and what you want that to look and feel like to your customers. And then working out how the tech stacks up to create that experience.
Daniel Portelli: (38:53)
That might be a good topic for you to handle, Kylie. Because with the new industry body-
Kylie Davis: (38:54)
Yeah. Yes. Because there's no... Yes. No, I think it's a great topic. Well we will be talking about it at the prop tech pop up on the gold coast CC that's-
Daniel Portelli: (39:04)
That's very good.
Kylie Davis: (39:05)
That's slated for that. Definitely. It requires a good... So, guys look, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else that you want to tell those prop techers out there, about what they need to be doing? Is AI going to play a role at all, do you think?
Daniel Portelli: (39:20)
Yeah, I think it definitely will. I think it's about trying to simplify to get the agent to understand it on an office space level. That's probably the biggest thing they're facing at the moment. But it'll come with time. I mean we're seeing it evolve so quickly. It's obviously working pretty well on the States. The States have adopted it pretty well. Obviously you've been over to [eman 00:39:41] as well, like we have. Seeing it over there, it's a huge focus.
Kylie Davis: (39:45)
Daniel Portelli: (39:45)
I don't think it's had the full impact yet on the Australian market quite yet.
Kylie Davis: (39:51)
No. And do you see it coming into your tech?
Daniel Portelli: (39:57)
Angus Ferguson: (39:58)
Yeah. That's a good question. It's still something-
Daniel Portelli: (40:00)
You have a focus on right now. For us, our key focus is how do we keep the agent relevant in the conversation. And it's a conversation that we have often, even within domain. Because it depends who you talk to. If you're talking to a buyer, they're saying they've got a problem with transparency. If you talk to a vendor, they're saying, "I've got a problem with, I need the biggest price." So I don't know how we handle that in a way without any personal touch, or trust. And I don't-
Angus Ferguson: (40:36)
Daniel Portelli: (40:36)
Think we can trust the robots just yet.
Angus Ferguson: (40:38)
And without going into a US model with the buyer and a seller's agent as well.
Kylie Davis: (40:44)
Angus Ferguson: (40:44)
Because it's an interesting thing. And Dan and I talk about this all the time. When you're a buyer, you're really frustrated by underquoting and the perception of what the market value is. But as soon as you become the seller, you're happy to underquote it. Because as long as... Whatever maximises a total return on your investment, you're happy to do so. So it's just really hard thing because it's the same customer just in a different category, different pop on or part of the process.
Kylie Davis: (41:09)
Yes. And as soon as you've sold your property and you've got your money in your back pocket and you're out buying, suddenly your perceptions change immediately, don't they?
Angus Ferguson: (41:17)
Yeah. That's right. Everything's [crosstalk 00:41:17] so expensive.
Daniel Portelli: (41:17)
Kylie Davis: (41:17)
Everything's so expensive.
Daniel Portelli: (41:17)
That's right. Exactly right. Even though you've got a record of the price.
Kylie Davis: (41:25)
Yeah. That's right. Yeah. That's right. It's never enough. It's never enough. Oh look, Dan and Angus, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you joining us here on the prop tech podcast.
Daniel Portelli: (41:36)
Angus Ferguson: (41:36)
Daniel Portelli: (41:37)
And best of luck with real time agent.
Daniel Portelli: (41:39)
Angus Ferguson: (41:39)
Daniel Portelli: (41:40)
All the best with your podcast.
Kylie Davis: (42:07)
So that was Angus Ferguson and Daniel Portelli from Real Time Agent. And I think what the guys have done at Real Time Agent is extremely clever. I love how Angus followed around clients with a stopwatch, and that the proof point that that created for their product. If you go to the Real Time Agent website, you can see their savings calculator. Type in the number of properties you typically sell, and it'll provide you with a pretty compelling value proposition of the time that you can save.
Kylie Davis: (42:34)
And with time savings of up to about four hours per property, why on earth would you want to keep manually managing the paperwork? Real Time Agent is a great example of technology that gives agents their lives back. And with now more than 4000 agents using their systems, they've got $40 billion in property that they've transacted in just three years. And they've recorded over 285000 bids. And that's mainly from their home base in Victoria. But they do have some pretty big targets to sit, as part of their domain deal. Growth of more than 200%. so it will be interesting to see how they go, and we wish them all the best.
Kylie Davis: (43:13)
And if you're an agent that specialises in auctions in new South Wales or Queensland, check them out. It will well be worth the time that you save. Now. If you've enjoyed this episode of the PropTech podcast, we would love you to tell your friends. And or drop me a line either via email, LinkedIn, or our Facebook page. And please tag friends that you think would love to hear this episode. Shout them out so that they hear the news. You can follow the podcast on Spotify, Google podcast, or Apple iTunes. I'd really like to thank my audio support, Charlie Hollands and the fabulous Jill Escudero. And our sponsors Beepo, making outsourcing easy. And HomePrezzo, turning your data into amazing marketing content. That's all for this week. Until next time, keep on prop ticking.
Content marketing strategist, researcher, journalist and presenter specialising in the real estate industry. I'm passionate about proptech, digital disruption and all things property, big data, leadership and entrepreneurial ideas, have an MBA and specialise in social and digital media content creation and automation.