Technology is shaping new approaches for how homes are bought and sold

Bode, eXp Realty among new companies with a different approach to real estate transactions

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Advanced technology changed the food delivery and home shopping experience, and now it’s changing the way real estate is bought and sold.

Recognizing that buyers and sellers have the confidence but not the information to adequately represent themselves, Calgary entrepreneur Robert Price and three partners launched an online self-serve marketplace in late 2019 called Bode.

Price developed the platform after using an agent to sell a property in 2017.  He felt he did most of the work, yet the agent collected a large commission.

“I had expected that I could sell it myself. There’s technology in the travel and banking industries, but there were no options for real estate. Technology hadn’t moved at all,” says Price, who is CEO of the company.

Sellers can list their home for free with Bode, a fully certified brokerage, using tools that help determine a competitive asking price. Buyers can make an offer, using legal offer to purchase online forms, at no charge.  Bode charges a one per cent fee when one of its listings is sold. MLS listings are a different agreement and commissions will apply.

Buyers have access to Bode listings and all MLS listings in Alberta. Sold data, showing requests and offers, can all be done in the Bode marketplace.

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Price says 95 per cent of buyers and sellers in countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Scandinavia are self-represented compared with 10 per cent in Canada, where entering into a transaction without the expertise of an agent is discouraged.

“Fundamentally, an agent is in between every step of the process. We kind of flipped that on its head and said, we’re going to empower you with the tools and the data. Canadians are smart. They’re educated. This is empowering intelligent people,” Price says.

Bode sellers are provided with a yard sign. Prospective buyers can scan the sign using the Bode app, which provides all the listing details. A request to view the property can be sent to the lister and all transactions, including assembling and forwarding the conveyance package to a lawyer, can be done through the website. The only face-to-face transactions, which are legally required by the province, is a wet ink signature on the title transfer and mortgage documents.

Price says Bode will be expanding into other Canadian markets in 2021.

Over on the full-service side, agents are beefing up their competitive edge with technology knowledge and new skills. Recognizing that the real estate world was shifting under his feet, long-time Remax realtor Jonathan Popowich jumped ship to a new agent-focused company out of the United States called eXp Realty.

“For me, eXp is the Amazon of the real estate world. Or Netflix. For me, eXp’s tech alignment is a big attraction for me. Conventional brokerage models have been the same for a very long time. It’s very forward thinking in terms of how the world is changing,” he says.

Popowich still maintains an office for team meetings, but a bricks and mortar location isn’t required by eXp.

Interactive, cloud-based training and collaborative space allows agents to learn from top realtors around the world.

There are realtor incentives and stock options, much like the WestJet model he says.

“Happy agents sharpening their skills, happy in the workplace with revenue sharing opportunities — at the end of the day that translates to customers having a happy experience,” Popowich says.

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