Alex Lange has always been at the intersection of technology and real estate, and as the industry continues to change and consolidate, Forbes Global Properties CEO believes technology will play an even bigger role. .
Lange arrived at Forbes Global Properties last December with over two decades of experience in real estate technology. He was the CEO of UpstreamRE, a national real estate data platform, which has grown to include more than 250 brokerage firms. Prior to that, Lange was instrumental in the deployment of the Market Leader business model, leading to its acquisition by Trulia. He also led Roost.com from inception to public launch in six months in 2008, winning the coveted Inman Most Innovative New Technology Award.
As Forbes Global Properties’ first anniversary approaches, Lange recently sat down to discuss the company’s growing reach in U.S. and international markets, ultra-luxury destinations, harnessing real estate technology and reducing the footprint of independent brokerage. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
PE: Can you tell us about the members of Forbes Global Properties in the United States and around the world?
AL: We increase the visibility of our members and develop our network of internal references. They are handpicked brokerages focused on luxury real estate that offer clients white glove service. We look at their reputation within their geographic area. So many people are looking to settle into different types of lifestyles and living conditions. The growing cohort of affluent buyers and sellers is younger and younger, and we see them more broadly looking for primary and secondary homes. Our members enjoy the exposure they receive as we showcase their properties on Forbes, a century-old iconic brand that receives more than 130 million visitors in 70 countries.
We envision continued growth, with 50% of our members being international brokers. This expands exposure to wealthy international buyers for our members.
For example, our member in Hawaii has a $ 25 million oceanfront development opportunity that lends itself to international buyers. In addition to the Forbes readership for the show, our members in non-competitive markets help each other market their properties and have created a strong network of referrals. They leverage the Forbes brand and they leverage each other.
PE: Luxury and ultra-luxury real estate defines Dubai’s Driven Properties, which recently joined as a member. How is the Forbes Global Properties brand collaborating with Driven Properties as more international luxury buyers turn to Dubai?
AL: As with all our members, our goal for Driven is to give them all the visibility possible. Dubai is open for business despite the pandemic and World Expo 2020 begins on October 1, which will draw many visitors, investors and international attention to Dubai.
The growth in Dubai is striking as you see it go from desert to cityscape in three years. In June alone, there were 6,300 transactions totaling AED14.79 billion, the highest monthly value in eight years. We are looking to collaborate with Driven Properties through this hyper-growing business and the Expo. The iconic Forbes brand and affiliation with both digital and physical marketing are important factors for them in terms of exposure.
Unlike other luxury real estate brands, Forbes resonates with established affluent families and investors “30 to under 30”. It is not uncommon for properties in Dubai to be purchased using cryptocurrency. If you’re looking to attract affluent, tech-savvy investors, Forbes is the place to be to showcase these amazing properties.
PE: Forbes Global Properties has expanded its reach since its launch last December. What do you see for brand expansion for the remainder of 2021 and through 2022?
AL: We have seen a massive amount of brokerage consolidation over the past few years. The first independent broker is almost an endangered species. However, in the luxury space, no one serves customers better, so our focus is on amplifying independents. Our newest member in Singapore, who will be online in a month, understands how to serve both luxury residences and new developments better than anyone in the area.
Currently 50% of our members are international, and I think this trend will continue as we grow to around 100 members. We are very proud of our growth as we approach our first anniversary. Our members are hand-picked and carefully vetted as we organize a network of âbest of the bestâ brokerage firms.
PE: Can you explain how technology continues to evolve in today’s market? Scottsdale’s newest member RETSY is helping to change the existing model. Where do you see it going?
AL: RETSY is a technology-based real estate brokerage firm founded by a team that built and left technology companies before entering real estate. They are on track to record a billion in sales in the first year.
While they can custom create any tool their agents need, they have a good understanding of what gives them a competitive advantage and what should be bought âoff the shelfâ. They take advantage of technology to better inform their agents and significantly reduce their acquisition costs. This gives RETSY a competitive edge in its local market, allowing it to redirect marketing dollars to tailored services that resonate with luxury buyers and sellers.
PE: As the big franchisors take on independent brokerage houses, how do those brokerage houses that wish to remain independent continue to provide a bespoke service while handling the competition in technology and marketing?
AL: So many large companies and franchisors are trying to take advantage of technology to stay competitive. They strive to arm their agent with better technology and better services. The problem with big franchisors is getting these tools adopted by a sea of ââindependent contractors, and they focus on all price points. To get economies of scale, you need to use the same back office system for all price points without a separate luxury system. The âuber-luxuryâ customer expects concierge-level service, not the execution of the lowest common denominator. Today’s affluent shopper is younger and tech savvy. Independents need to embrace technology to better understand and engage young buyers and sellers in their own mental space and serve them on their terms.