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Ripe for disruption, real estate industry has room for innovation

Denver's hot real estate market is met with much resistance to revolutionize


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It’s impossible to read the About Us section of a small young company these days without the adjective – disruptive – being flung about like splatter paint on a Jackson Pollock original. Startups are vying to be recognized (and self-describing) as the next Ubers or Amazons – transformational, game-changers.

Indeed, our world is morphing at, what feels like, a faster pace than ever before, and it’s giving us some serious introspective whiplash and ultimatums:

SINK OR SWIM

Back down on earth, here in Colorado, that is, we’re flying on a figurative water jetpack.

Ray Kurzweil explains this most succinctly in his Law of Accelerating Returns:

Technology evolves exponentially over time making way for new ideas to take root.

While this has caused many occupations and gadgets of yesteryear to grow obsolete, it has also opened many doors and enabled greater steps forward in our collective quality of life.

The complexity of this constant evolution touches every part of our lives in both the public and private sectors. As Gov. John Hickenlooper attested in his January 2017 State of the State address, Colorado serves as a laboratory for innovation dating back to the our inception, often pioneering legislation that other states later adopt in rapid succession. Recent demonstrations of our metamorphosis include:

  • Legalizing marijuana
  • Expanding health insurance coverage to more than 600,000 people since 2011; 94 percent of Coloradans are now covered
  • Hiring the country’s first digital transformation officer
  • Combining a number of services across multiple agencies now under a single, easy-to-use app

Private sector demonstrations of innovation abound as well, from industry to industry.

Keeping an eye on real estate, we harken back to 1973, when Dave Liniger’s controversial maximum-commission model combined with robust marketing and agent services resulted in RE/MAX and shifted the real estate landscape forever.

Here’s the struggle, more than 40 years later and during one of Denver’s hottest real estate markets on record, much resistance remains to revolutionize this dinosaur of an industry yet again.

In order for Denver to continue its claim to be the real estate disruption capital of the world, the time is now for revolution, involving the full 360 view of the market, from service to technology to financial models and customer paradigms. Here's what it's going to take: 

  • A leap of faith: introducing a new product or business model to the market will seem counterintuitive to peers and onlookers, but someone has to be brave enough to take an idea and make it into something tangible.
  • Don’t stop believing: When the nay-saying majority is laughing at your product or service, it’s tough to keep going, even if you know you’re right. But then the rubber hits the road and there’s a tinge of traction – your early adopters. These individuals who take a change on your idea are also the ones who are most willing to provide honest feedback, ultimately improving the product. Their faith in your innovative service is what keeps the momentum alive. Meanwhile, as industry incumbents scoff at your efforts, the evolution of your product seals their fate.
  • Haters turn into followers: More homeowners are aware of a new service, and despite the negative reviews they receive from their neighborhood REALTOR®, decide to find out how they, too, can save their equity. Incumbents begin to graduate from the denial, anger and bargaining stages of grief. Commentary from spectators begins to shift to an understanding and accepting tone – more: “I-told-you-sos” are exchanged by homeowners to their skeptic peers.
  • Acceptance: The new technology becomes a go-to solution. Early adopters have attested to its capabilities, REALTORS and the incumbents of the industry have caved in and adjusted their business models – if possible, and market share increases for the innovator.

Serving as a case study, Trelora has helped area homeowners buy and sell more than 2,231 homes, saving more than $25,500,000 in agent commissions – still, the industry, specifically in Denver, has a long way to go.

Innovation stands at the crossroads between humanity’s ability to conceptualize the future and our ability to execute on that vision.

In today’s environment, we are able to execute faster and with grander visions than ever before. Colorado is a prime example of technology advancements merging in the public and private sector, impacting countless lives.

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Joshua Hunt

Joshua Hunt is the founder and CEO of TRELORA, a technology-enabled flat fee real estate brokerage, and a 20-year residential real estate veteran. Contact him at joshua.hunt@trelora.com or 303-886-3000.

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