Fostering Real Estate Disruptors - REALTOR Magazine

Colorado is a hotbed of real estate innovation. Learn how four companies are bringing change to the industry and glean some ideas for your business.


"STEPS made its mark in Boulder with one distinct feature: personalization. Focusing on client education, local knowledge, and personal relationships, it created a friendly model for both buyers and sellers. Its branding and voice appeals to the individual’s dreams and desired experience, creating a kind of custom concierge feel while employing the same brokerage processes as a major brokerage chain.

“We’re about very high customer service,” said cofounder Sean Moudry. “We’re intense about it.”

STEPS has a varied clientele, but its style is uniquely appealing to a growing force in the real estate market: millennials. Bypassing the oft-viewed sentiment of millennials as basement dwellers not interested in real estate, STEPS has taken great pains empowering this generation to home ownership, through clever marketing, an out-of-the-box style, and client education.

“A lot of the other real estate companies are ignoring them,” Moudry said. “They don’t have the training for them. They’re a different group of people, their expectations are different, and the way they deal with technology is different.”

The brokerage also educates young would-be agents with an in-house real estate school. They also teach them business principles for financial success, and find a lead-generation model that fits their personality profile (based on tests such as Meyers-Briggs).

Unlike tech startups, Moudry embraces training them in a face-to-face model that creates a communal sense of family: “We want them to be happy. We wanted to be that place that isn’t an online environment. We’re really a community, a place where an agent can go to and feel supported. And [they] feel like they’re getting high levels of service, so that they’re going to provide high levels of service to their client.”

Knowing their audience, they understand the need to market creatively. Their latest venture is a upcoming, self-funded TV series called “Agents with Altitude” that they hope will find a network home. Produced by InTroubleZone Productions of Naples, Fla., the team that created Discovery’s “Tobacco Wars,” the show follows four story lines:

  • Cofounders Sean Moudry and Kevin Byrne collaborate to go against the grain of traditional brokerages;
  • STEPS’ millennial agents share their lifestyles, struggles, failures, and successes in real estate;
  • Sean and Kevin disagree about growth and going national; and
  • Kevin pursues personal real estate deals, vying with rival agent Lisa Ray.

STEPS works hard to keep a local vibe, exemplified in their branded VW bus that tools around Boulder. As they expand via franchising to surrounding Colorado neighborhoods and beyond, there’s a desire to make each office feel as if it’s a local one-off that knows its neighborhood and is plugged into the community atmosphere.

“We’re very local-neighborhood–focused,” said Moudry. “We want our brokerages to really not be just a city-branded office. We want each office to take on the vibe of their neighborhood. We want to have more small offices, because we’ve designed it so they can operate in a smaller market and still be profitable.”

Colorado’s pro-startup culture and its strong population of investors to provide seed money have been a boon to real estate innovation. Continued prosperity in the state will no doubt foster interesting new twists in buying and selling property."

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