Milestones Makes Real Estate Transactions and Homeownership Easier and More Collaborative—for Everyone Involved
While millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers, Gen Zers are following closely in their footsteps, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. As these younger generations continue to move into homeownership, the real estate industry is at a crossroads.
Serving the next generation of consumers in a more modern way is mission critical for real estate professionals who are looking to gain more clients, nurture relationships and provide better service—all while solidifying their position in the transaction.
“Real estate professionals must evolve, or they’ll continue to lose market share to a growing number of well-capitalized, tech-driven, direct-to-consumer brokerage and mortgage companies,” says Dustin Gray, co-founder and CEO of Milestones Labs—a company whose mission is to make real estate transactions easier for everyone involved.
“At Milestones, we’re augmenting personal relationships with technology, rather than trying to supplant them,” says Gray, who is a huge proponent of getting the customer experience right—especially during a time of fierce competition.
Bringing a Vision to Life
For the past 25 years, Gray has played an instrumental role at a variety of real estate technology companies, beginning with founding Catylist.com—a commercial real estate marketplace eventually sold to Moody’s—while attending college. From there, he went on to earn his CCIM designation and served in a senior leadership role at the CCIM Institute before joining technology juggernaut RealPage, where he led the initiative to develop an integrated consumer experience for millions of renters. He then got involved at realtor.com®, helping the organization support its vast network of real estate brokers and agents while improving conversion rates for e-leads.
Today, he’s at the helm of Milestones, a company he has poured his heart and soul into as he works to bring his vision for a seamless and collaborative transaction with less confusion, anxiety and red tape to market—while keeping real estate professionals at the center of the deal.
Inspired by his family’s journey to relocate from Chicago to Austin—an experience that can best be described as “disconnected”—Gray knew there must be a better way.
“The entire process of buying a home, getting a mortgage, making improvements and maintaining the home on an ongoing basis was a hot mess,” explains Gray. “There wasn’t much buyer education along the way, and the overall process felt disjointed and opaque. We worked with good people but lacked a system to keep everyone on the same page and moving forward.”
And so, Gray channeled his industry experience and know-how—as well as his passion and enthusiasm for all things technology—into creating a collaborative platform between agents and their clients. The ultimate goal? To make buying, selling and owning a home more like shopping on Amazon, filing tax returns on TurboTax or getting a project done on Thumbtack.
Deliver Great Service, Then Stay Connected
The team at Milestones is aiming to level the technology playing field for brokers, agents and mortgage professionals to compete with technology companies so that they can excel at what they do best: delivering great service.
“Milestones makes complex, multi-party transactions easier and keeps agents connected to their customers for life,” explains Gray. “Our core product helps consumers, agents and other service providers collaboratively manage homeownership so that the agent is connected to the customer when it’s time to buy or sell a home.”
Providing one place to manage everything associated with a real estate transaction, according to Gray, it all begins when the agent engages with a client—and it never ends.
“Portals like Zillow, and tech brokerages like Redfin, can deliver a great digital consumer experience for real estate, but ultimately lack the local market expertise and personalized service that experienced agents provide,” says Gray.
“So, we thought to ourselves: what if we gave brokers, agents and mortgage professionals amazing technology that made the customer journey truly amazing, empowering them to serve the next generation of homebuyers and homeowners better? In other words, Milestones democratizes the technology-driven portion of the consumer experience to make agents better.”
To that end, the team has developed software that is designed to remove any and all friction at each step in the process. Drilling down even further, the software plays a key role in bonding the consumer to the agent through carefully constructed interactions that drive a meaningful relationship, including:
– Creating a central place for everything and everyone involved
– Making it easy for consumers to get educated, collaborate and take action
– Integrating many disparate tools and datasets from behind the scenes
– Providing access to qualified service providers to get stuff done along the way
“We support agents in anticipating and answering the consumers’ need for information at the right time, every time,” says Gray. “We keep homeowners aware of every step of the transaction and educate them along the way.”
Growing Revenue Beyond Commissions
Beyond the consumer experience, another goal the team at Milestones has their sights set on centers around helping brokers and agents evolve their business models.
“Commission income will continue to get compressed, and as that happens, brokers will need to generate income from other places, including mortgage, title, insurance and home services,” says Gray.
“Within our platform, we’re developing a deeply integrated shopping experience that enables the agent to serve as a concierge throughout the transaction and beyond into homeownership,” adds Gray. “We believe this is the future of real estate.
“We’re something different that real estate professionals don’t already have,” says Gray. “We’re the last mile of your real estate tech stack—what your clients interact with. Keep using your existing CRM and website, and plug in Milestones for an incredible customer experience.”
Poised for the Future: ‘We’re Just Getting Started’
Looking toward the future, there’s a lot on the horizon for the company.
Topping the list? Helping agents nurture relationships beyond transactions.
“In order to help agents get more listings during the historic drought we’re currently experiencing, we’re expanding rapidly into personalized marketing and lead generation,” says Gray.
In fact, the company has pioneered purpose-built websites for agents to create dozens, hundreds or even thousands of customized portals for specific clients, topics of interest, locations and properties.
“In tandem, we’re launching hubs to manage homeownership and keep real estate professionals connected to clients well beyond the transaction,” adds Gray.
But it doesn’t end there, as Milestones was recently announced as a member of NAR’s REACH 2021 class.
REACH is a growth accelerator created by Second Century Ventures, an early-stage technology fund, backed by NAR. Leveraging 100 worldwide bilateral partnerships in 85 countries, REACH helps launch and accelerate the most promising new technology companies in real estate and adjacent industries.
“Our superpower is building great technology, and we’re just getting started,” concludes Gray. “But that’s only as good as getting brokers and agents—and, ultimately, consumers—to adopt it. With REACH, we’re tapping into some of the industry’s best leaders to get the flywheel spinning faster, build strategic partnerships and recruit executive talent to get the company to the next level.”
AUTHOR: Paige Tepping
DATE PUBLISHED: May 31, 2021
PHOTO CREDIT: rismedia.com