Real estate brokers offer a critical service, but one that is much the same from firm to firm. Every transaction has the same elements, more or less: marketing, negotiation, due diligence, closing. This is just one of the reasons why brokerages spend so much effort establishing a unique brand identity through high-gloss market reports and trend report conference calls. It’s some wonder, then, that the most important information any brokerage could offer, property listings, so often seem to live on completely brand-neutral platforms like LoopNet or Crexi.
Commercial real estate marketing platform SharpLaunch aims to change that with a new tool that allows brokerages to host property listings on their own sites. Using the SharpLaunch API, this new tool, which SharpLaunch calls its “property search engine,” is actually a WordPress plugin. It includes a mapping component as well as a number of ways to filter properties.
“We continue to see a growing need of CRE firms that want to differentiate their property search experience from dated legacy solutions (ex. LoopLink) with greater customization, better control and a more automated approach to property/listing updates,” said Bob Samii, founder and CEO of SharpLaunch.
As a WordPress plugin, the tool should be easy enough for the typical brokerage team to get their arms around. But the extent to which property buyers or renters will be inclined to search on a specific team’s website, and not the massive listing sites like LoopNet, is uncertain. Additionally, the service’s property data flows from listings within SharpLaunch’s broader ecosystem of marketing services, and not a platform-agnostic hosting service. This could be a challenge for teams that don’t fully buy into the SharpLaunch value proposition, which also includes elements like a website builder and CRM system. Other marketing services, like BuildOut, also have similar limitations.
Nevertheless, the opportunity to differentiate through tech is great enough that Bob is confident the tool will be successful, adding that “commercial real estate companies will continue to adopt solutions that help them differentiate from competitors, integrate with their marketing/tech stack, and provide better control of their digital assets.”
SharpLaunch’s announcement is evidence of one thing: PropTech leaders are hearing the concerns of brokers. Jones Lang LaSalle’s recent announcement of their plans to acquire investment sales broker HFF is yet more evidence of the need to stand out in a crowded field. Bob explained that property firms “continue to invest heavily in their digital presence.” Until property pros become web design hotshots, utilizing a third party solution might be the most effective answer.