Days of Disruption

Disruptors seem to be a dime a dozen these days. At least they’re self-defining themselves as disruptors. I cringe every time I come across the word because there is nothing disruptive about many of their technologies. They aren’t turning the industry upside down. They aren’t replacing brokerages or agents as a part of the transaction. They are building new software and processes designed to make this industry more accessible, more secure, more reliable, more profitable. Many of these self-defined disruptors have great products, services, and technologies that will improve the day to day of working in real estate. Let’s call a spade a spade – we’re surrounded by innovators, not disruptors.

An article I came across recently suggested that all disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors. The same as how a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square. I think this is an important distinction because these words are closely connected and many companies appear to use them interchangeably.

Disruption has a clearly negative connotation. If you were to ask me if I wanted disruption in any part of my life, personally or professionally, the quick and finite answer would be ‘no.’ Many of you may be thinking, well, industry and technology disruption is different than normal disruption. But is it really? Disruption, in any form, poses a threat to an existing process or technology. For real estate, that would mean a new technology that would significantly change the way we do our jobs, not tools that help us do the same job in a more automated or efficient way.

On the other hand, innovation has a positive connotation. Innovation on existing processes and technologies means an improvement on an existing workflow. There’s no suggestion that innovation is killing real estate, because innovation by definition is making our existing workflow more efficient.

In my opinion, the major real estate portals aren’t disruptors. The new online brokerages aren’t disruptors. Very few, if any, companies are actually disrupting the industry. Unless a group is trying to remove brokerages or agents from the real estate equation, they are all working toward offering consumers a more convenient experience in their real estate transaction. We are surrounded by innovation in this industry. Not disruption.

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Ultimately, there are only three ways to understand a company, product, or person: What they say about themselves, what others say about them, and what they do. As you evaluate new technology, make sure that you’re seeing consistent messaging throughout your research. The most innovative companies know what they stand for, why they provide the services they do, and what enhancements will be coming down the road. These are the companies that aren’t around to disrupt our industry; these are the companies that are here to help your brokerage and agents thrive.


In Warren’s Corner I share my thoughts on new real estate technologies, events, industry and market trends, and everything in between. I invite my readers to reach out to me with feedback, questions and ideas for future posts! The views and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Wolf.