Built Piece by Piece: Morgan Carey of Real Estate Webmasters

About Morgan Carey

Morgan Carey is the CEO of Real Estate Webmasters and was named as one of the 200 Most Powerful People in Real Estate according to Swanepoel, Inman Most Influential People Top 40 under 40, and just a whole plethora of things.

Real Estate Webmasters founded this particular iteration in 2004. But they actually go back to about 2001 in real estate. So around 20 years in the real estate space. Today, they’re the largest custom agency in the world that does real estate, marketing, and technology. They’re in the whole agent space. They don’t deal with sort of entry-level brokerages and agents and stuff like that since they specialize in people who are really looking to accelerate, build their brands, you know, do lots of recruiting lots of lead generation. Today, real estate webmasters have around 60,000 agents on the platform today.

Morgan grew up as a foster kid here on Vancouver Island. He lasted a whole three weeks in high school, he got kicked out for doing what he needed to do to pay his bills because he was on the streets. Morgan had a kid at 15. He decided to take a vocational adult’s secondary training program as opposed to regular high school. He did his 10 through 12 when he was 15 and then got a job because he was a dad.

When he was old enough to go to university, he enrolled in university and started in molecular and cellular biology and then moved over to Liberal Studies in economics. And finished off abroad over in Florence, Italy where he studied the seven major disciplines of the Renaissance period then he got into the internet pretty quickly after that.

How Morgan Got Into Internet Marketing

He actually came back and took a job in a call center. The funny thing is that he wrote his real estate license 30, whatever, years ago, however, long, long ago that was, and he was going to get into real estate, but he didn’t have any experience selling anything of the legal variety. And so he thought he’d try my hand at sales while I was studying the real estate course. And so he took a job with MCI WorldCom.

At the time, MCI was a big long-distance provider, and they had a large call center here on Vancouver Island. And within a couple of weeks, he was the number one salesperson in the world selling long distance to Americans and so he was that annoying kid on a dialer, who no matter what he was gonna sell you a new long-distance package and did super well but a lot of notoriety for it.

Then a local internet company called Morgan up out of the blue and said, hey, you know, we want you to come running our company. he doesn’t know anything about running companies, he was just some good selling long distance. They said, well, we hear you’re special and wants you to come run our company. And so they were a company called performance marketing.

He took the job and did pretty well. They paid him well, and he did very well with the company. And then at the end of the year, he went to them and said, you know, I made you guys lots of money, and I want to raise and they said, no. He said, cool so he quit. And so Morgan quits and started his own search engine optimization consultancy, called “SEO Guy”. He was the original SEO guy, people say they have an SEO guy, he owned the domain, worked with Adobe and Digital River, got to go to Google a lot and this was around in the late 90s early 2000s.

Morgan was a self-taught SEO and at that time there was no such thing as SEO. We’re talking late 90s here, right, Google, like back then they had Alta Vista, all the web Inktomi. People were just starting to figure out what the internet was and so there was no business called Search Engine Optimization. It was a word that was really just starting to be discovered. For Morgan, he’s a giant math nerd.

He loved algorithms and loved computer programming and things like that because it just made sense to him. And I was also a single dad of two kids. He was home every night. He had the kids it was what else you’re going to do? Here you’re on the ICQ chats on the MSN chat, whatever. Morgan found a love for communities and forums and stuff like that and in fact, he was a webmaster in a forum, but because he was lonely and bored and interested in the internet.

Starting Real Estate Webmasters

The original company was called RealEstateOptimization.com. He was an SEO guy, became the number one lead generator for the University of Phoenix in the early 2000s. He has done exceptionally well with his own properties. He ranked number one for online degrees, online colleges, etc, got millions of visitors. The company that managed the lead generation program for them came along and said, we want to buy you out. Morgan said, sure, right, write me a check. And they did. And so that came with a non-compete in the education space.

So he figured, well, he just did really well, in a niche market, right on his own. And he can’t work in education, what should he do to move on to? He just bought a bunch of real estate because he was an entrepreneur and a wealth builder. He was ready to start his journey. He loves real estate. Everyone loves real estate but he didn’t just pick real estate. He had a couple of real estate customers already, but he bought law webmasters, they basically looked at all the most expensive keywords out there that he knew he could compete for.

So Morgan bought lawwebmasters, mortgagewebmasters, realestatewebmasters, etc. He was gonna go do this in all of the industries he started with real estate because he had a few back in 2002-2003. He had clients like Gary Ashton, who’s the current number one team leader in the world for REMAX and still a webmaster customer. And so he figured let’s start with real estate because I like it and he had some customers there and he never left real estate so he’ll get back to that loss stuff some other time.

12 years ago, REW had less than 40 employees, today’s they have around 70 though has been as large as 180 but the last couple of years, they have taken the opportunity to focus more on the enterprise side of things and with COVID and everything else, they do a lot less of agency work now and a lot more software work.

Dragon’s Den

Morgan went to Dragon’s Den to pitch REW and got the largest valuation in reality television history even to date. They were sub 10 million at that point in revenue and ended up doing a deal on the show with the two dragons, Michael Wekerle and Jim Treliving, who actually lives in Dallas, Texas now. They didn’t do the deal with those guys through due diligence, he decided that wasn’t for us. He went on to do a business partnership with Barbara Corcoran instead. Barbara and Morgan were partners for a long time.

Mistakes Made Along the Way

Morgan stated that there were mistakes we made that we wish we’d done differently. Speaking to all young people specifically young men, you got to be careful with success especially in real estate because it can come quickly. Money can come quickly, notoriety can come quickly and that happened to Morgan. He was in his 20s when he was a millionaire before he was 25 kind of thing and Morgan thinks our ego can get the better of us. We can forget where we came from, we can forget some of the customers and friends that got us there.

Morgan says that he could go back and do things differently or better, he would try to humble himself a little earlier. Because it’s tough when you’re on stage and you’re on TV, it’s hard not to get drawn in by that. Morgan personally thinks he would want to go back and humble himself a little more. Morgan loves his kids, he was two kids and a stepdaughter and that worked a lot because of the appeal. The more money he got right now, the more attention he got. He lost a few years with his kids, he was there when he was there but he’d spend 4-5 days out of the country every week.

Common Denominator with Successful Real Estate People

Morgan states that it’s the same problem he previously mentioned which is working too much. Work ethic. There’s no secret sauce. It’s tall, short, skinny, fat, good looking, not good looking, none of those things are common denominators in successful real estate people. When you look across, you don’t matter, says Morgan. The characteristics aren’t there, what was there is the work ethic. Any of the top real estate people, Justin, Chris Lindahl, Gary, Jonathan Boatwright, Ryan Rodenbeck, etc., all have this amazing work ethic.

The Next Big Deal for Real Estate Technology

It’s not going to be iBuyers according to Morgan but here’s the thing. Morgan thinks that COVID has a reefy sort of resetting the clock in terms of what the next thing will be because he thinks there was a path towards VC domination prior to COVID. Venture Capitalists were looking at, backing companies like Zillow, backing companies like Compass, EXP, etc. All the VC dollars looked like they were going to come in and just squash the little guys. That’s what it looked like. Morgan thinks that it is not the case anymore.

Morgan states that COVID has made the world dar more about relationships again which is wonderful and there’s a lot more apprehension, there’s a lot more fear, more need for personal guidance and that is a wonderful renaissance in itself of the real estate industry because he knows it’s no longer about money or just the most amount of money from his home anymore. It’s like, okay, I need to feel good about this move, I need to know where I’m going, I need somebody to be that professional guide. 

He thinks he needed to talk about the real estate industry, and that is the real estate industry has a second chance in its traditional form in its brokerage, high value, high relationships form, so technology, where he believes, the best use of technology is to enable the process to make more efficient for brokers to be able to manage those relationships and stay in contact, educate, inform, support. The future of real estate technology, short term for gain is to leverage your CRM, leverage your different contact points, etc., and embrace the fact that people want to hear from you right now is the case.

The Future of Real Estate Webmasters

REW launched its Renaissance platform this year. Morgan states that it’s been crazy, they went back to the story earlier where he was talking about things got big really fast and there was all this stuff happening. The other thing they kind of lost sight of a little bit in the middle was their edge when it came to their consultative approach and innovation. They were trying to be as big as fast as possible.

The idea behind the name Renaissance means rebirth, reimagining. They are less than half the size of their largest by design because their focus is really now how do they help the existing customers who have reached scale people. How do they help them take the best advantage of this thing? Morgan states they don’t want this thing. They don’t want 100,000 customers anymore, they’re happy to have a few 100 good ones so their customer base has changed a lot. They recently launched Daniel Gale Sotheby’s with 1,000 agents and this year, they are launching a media dot com that owns a real estate magazine.

Morgan says it’s like they’re just a webmaster that has gone even further in the direction of specialization. So instead of focusing on the 5%, they want to focus on the 1% because they were the ones who are going to win. If you are in the top 1% in your market, you’re going to win. They have hired great coaches and implemented the academy, they’ve got people teaching about ISAs and follow-up and technology and stuff.

Morgan says it’s really getting back to the roots of a consultative company but at scale. This year they’ve been tracking, they’ve been 20 years in the business but they’ve only been tracking their project management system for a little under 10. They’re about to cross a million tracking hours in their professional services group. They are also the largest agency in real estate technology they’re probably done because the other 10 years, they didn’t track but a million and a half hours of projects.

They have bailed on social with Facebook doing their special ads category, they’ve got companies like boldly to basically just had to sell out for pennies on the dollar because they’re no valuable anymore so social media has lost a lot of the power it had from a lead generation perspective because you can’t target anymore.

Fundamentally, they are heavily focused on Google Adwords, YouTube. SEO, etc. They do larger campaigns for some really big companies where if they want to expand like Bing and Yahoo and more, REW can do that. But generally, they tell that the highest quality is Google and there’s more than enough volume to satisfy whatever their needs are. REW does SEO, PPC, Websites, CRM, IDX, and huge engineering projects.

The main thing REW is known for is that all of their websites have always been built with ease for SEO. It’s the innovation advantage. SEO is like a positive side effect of the way they build things.

With Renaissance, it’s ADA compliant which Google cares about, it’s fully responsive and it’s the fastest real estate website on the planet. Morgan states that the funny thing about SEO is you shouldn’t focus on SEO, you should focus on the user experience, you’ll win in SEO. People always think of us as the SEO company because they’re so good at SEO but they’re the user experience company which Google is exactly right. They focus on the quality of the product in the care of itself.

Find Morgan Carey at REW.com or on Facebook.

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