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KW’s consumer search app delivers on multiple fronts

03/13/2020

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Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

KW App is Keller Williams’ consumer-facing home search app.

Platforms: iOS, Android and browser Ideal for: Homebuyers; clients of Keller Williams agents

Top selling points Custom buyer and seller guides User activity feed Connectivity within KW operating system Personal place-based search Collections Top concerns

Keller Williams has to get its agents to use the app, and rely on them to encourage their customers to adopt it. In turn, this can also hamper user-driven feedback and updates.

What you should know

Reviewing products from major real estate players isn’t easy. In part, because not all of them like to share, but that doesn’t bother me at all.

Should the industry’s biggest names be held to a higher standard, or should leeway be given, because, hey, is Keller Williams really a technology company? Was that all just hyperbolic grandstanding?

For the first time since Gary Keller rang that bell, I can say with confidence that until I see otherwise, his company leads the industry in offering their agents and offices homespun technology solutions.

The KW app, for lack of a better name, surprised me in its careful feature choices and combination of resources to support its search functionality.

Although this app is certainly consumer-minded, the agent is never out of the loop on what the client is up to, as user activity is mirrored in the associated agent’s Command dashboard.

Collections are Pinterest-inspired saved searches that can hold homes ranging from realistic buying scenarios to pie-in-the-sky dream homes or homes as idea-engines.

Agents can add homes to each Collection, a sharp way to keep your clients engaged. As in, “Here are some homes you may also like … ”

Agents should encourage clients to organize Collections by “needs” and “wants” or by “easiest commutes” or “homes below budget.”

From a straight search standpoint, the app functions like most in this space, with some nice value-ads.

It highlights available homes in the user’s search area, based on nearby KW market centers. Users can draw a search perimeter, favorite homes, locate neighborhood boundaries and scroll property pictures within the image window without diving all the way into the listing data.

Tap an image to open the listing details, tap again for a gallery of images, then again for individual images. It’s easy to dive into pictures, swipe through, favorite and share.

Other brand agents are given their due credit on non-KW listings (as per law and best practices). There are walkability scores, school ratings, a place to announce any upcoming open houses and a quick breakdown of relevant market stats.

I also like the tag cloud of “what locals say” about a listing.

The KW app allows users to include Places in their profiles, such as their current work address or a restaurant they frequent.

Each saved listing search can be benchmarked against these places, incorporating a nice bit of what’s now known as “social search” as well as allowing buyers to get on-point comparisons of each prospective home.

Guides are in-app descriptions of the buying and selling process, and user-types can toggle between the two.

Behind the curtain, in the Command system, agents can customize each guide (or use what’s provided) to each of their clients, adjusting it for a home in a flood zone (added documentation) or a new construction project. The order of each step can be adjusted and where relevant, linked to other KW services, such as Keller Mortgage.

Keller Williams isn’t unaware of my chief concern, which is getting agents to sell (figuratively, because it’s free) this app to buyers and sellers. To do this, the company is embedding Command with a series of Promote My App “smart plans,” or send-ready email and social media campaigns.

Also, at Inman Connect New York in January, I was shown a series of slick animated, market center-localized videos designed to help in this regard.

I’m open to being wrong here, as adoption isn’t a new concern for any software company. And, the company’s rollout isn’t all-at-once, it’s being done in phases.

Still, tech adoption is definitely unique in a real estate setting. It’s not because this app isn’t very good — it is. It’s because they have to oversell every search app already installed on a user’s smartphone.

All that said, Keller Williams has essentially built itself an operating system. From Command to Kelle and now this app (which could really use some sort of actual name), we have no reason to not take what this company is doing in the tech space seriously.

This app won’t overwhelm the consumer. It’s smartly linked to agent workflow, and it offers the marketplace a strong new alternative in mobile home search.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman. He lives near Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.

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