How Morgan Carey Is Helping Brokers Fight Back Against VC-Backed Real Estate…and Win
Morgan Carey has been fighting all his life—for himself, for his family…for anyone who ever needed someone in their corner. Today he fights to protect the real estate industry from disintermediation and ensure consumers are paired with qualified REALTORS® (not algorithms) to navigate the most important transaction of their lives.
With an early childhood marred by abuse and neglect, adolescence spent on the streets, and teenage years curtailed by early fatherhood, for Carey, fighting was necessary to survive.
And despite beating the odds of his past to achieve great personal and professional success, Carey is still fighting today—but this time, for the real estate industry. As increased disruption, led by tech giants like Zillow and Compass, threatens to disintermediate a business built on the backs of hard-working real estate professionals, the CEO of Real Estate Webmasters is hell-bent on helping brokers, teams and agents survive and thrive.
“I want to protect the real estate model,” says Carey. “Our constant pursuit of excellence has allowed us to help brokers punch above their weight class. We’re in their corner.”
Working in close collaboration with real estate leaders to deliver website, lead generation, technology, branding and marketing solutions for 19 years, Nanaimo, Canada-based Real Estate Webmasters believes it is now better equipped than ever to help the cause of real estate professionals. With the launch of its SEO-rich website platform, Renaissance, Carey and his team are empowering brokers, teams and agents of all shapes and sizes with the means to compete against today’s venture-capital-backed competition.
Here, Carey explains the power of the Renaissance platform and also shares why his traumatic past guides his life’s purpose toward helping others, from his immediate family to his family of clients.
Becoming a Renaissance Man
While the term “Renaissance” accurately describes Real Estate Webmasters’ new website platform, it also defines Carey himself, whose life epitomizes rebirth and reinvention.
Carey’s life story begins on a series of islands in western Canada—some were just small, manned lighthouse stations with only one or two families—until his family eventually settled on Vancouver Island, where he still lives today. Tragically, Carey’s father was killed just a few weeks before his birth, and his mother—a blind street musician—subsequently fell victim to a series of abusive relationships. During this time, it wasn’t uncommon to find Carey sleeping in his mother’s guitar case while she performed outside the local liquor store.
Carey and three of his four siblings were ultimately taken into foster care when he was eight. By the time he was 11, Carey ran away, choosing to take his chances on the street instead. He surfed friends’ couches until he and his older sister eventually rented a place together. By the age of 15, Carey had his first child, and at 18, took on legal guardianship of his youngest brother.
While the statistical odds are against anyone trying to come back from a childhood suffused with serious abuse—let alone teenage parenthood—Carey’s untimely entrance into fatherhood became a turning point. The birth of his son, David, in fact, was nothing short of miraculous.
“He saved my life,” says Carey. “When you’re a father at 15, you tend to be highly motivated. I was determined to make sure he didn’t grow up like I did. I wanted to be a better person because he needed me to be.”
The harsh circumstances of Carey’s childhood, albeit traumatic, are directly responsible for the many talents he came to excel in, such as athletics. “I have always been a fighter,” he says. “Trying to protect my mom and my sisters when I was far too little to be faced with such violence, led me to combat sports. From a very young age until the time I was 21, I studied kickboxing and boxing.”
Carey also inherited his mother’s musical aptitude. “As soon as I could, around six, I picked up the guitar and began to play, and I’ve played ever since,” he says. “It was how my mother and I connected, and where I felt joy and love. For me, a child with very little good in his life, I look back on those moments fondly. I’ve had the great fortune over the years to play in several countries and perform with some amazing artists. And it’s a love that I have been able to pass onto my children. My son plays piano, guitar and sings—and my daughter never stops singing. Just recently she has picked up the guitar as well.”
In addition to his athletic and musical talents, Carey was also a gifted learner. As a young child, a perceptive school counselor recognized his extraordinary learning ability and had him tested and identified as gifted. By the age of eight, he was provincial chess champion; however, due to his family’s extreme poverty, they could not afford to support him going further.
By 12 years old, Carey had reached high school, but was subsequently banned from the school district for the trouble he encountered on the streets. Carey was determined to show the world he could be a good father. So at 15, he enrolled in a special vocational program and completed the program through grade 12 in just six months. His instructors subsequently advocated for him to return to a full program at NDSS, where he would go on to win a national poetry contest and be volunteered for special alternative AP programs in calculus and biology. He was one of only three students to be sent to Vancouver Island University (VIU) during his high school studies to have his grade 12 classes replaced by university-level journalism and sciences.
He enrolled at VIU and pursued a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology. He then pursued Economics and Liberal Studies where he learned about the Renaissance. Upon graduating, Carey jumped at an opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy, where he immersed himself in all things Renaissance—art, architecture, music, literature and philosophy, for starters.
“We visited amazing and ancient places and drank far more cheap Chianti than any person even should,” Carey recalls fondly. “But that’s what one does when you’re young and out in the world for the first time.”
Although his talents and interests were ever-widening, in his heart, Carey remained a “math nerd,” and became fascinated with search engines when they hit the scene in the mid-’90s. His passion and skills in search led him to create seoguy.com, and he is now known as one of the original founders of the search engine optimization profession.
For Carey, his past—arduous as it was—is part and parcel of the man he is today. “Because of my background, I have a unique perspective on the world,” he explains. “I’ve been extremely poor, and now I am successful. I’ve traveled the world and understand art and music, but at the same time, algorithms and economies. I’ve been a start-up and an investor. I have a passion for numbers and for design.”
He also underscores that his past wasn’t all bad. On the contrary, Carey’s journey was punctuated by the caring influence of others: the people who would bring him McDonald’s and Fresca while his mother performed on the street (“I loved Fresca,” he laughs); the school counselor who recognized his gifted learning abilities and had him tested; the librarian who taught him how to play chess; his son’s grandfather who helped fund his trip to Florence; and the friends who let him sleep on their couches when the streets were his home. One of those friends, in fact, used to sneak him into her room and let him sleep in her closet. She would bring him food and he would protect her from the tough kids in the neighborhood. Her name is Carly, and they are now married.
“I wasn’t bereft of kindness,” Carey emphasizes.
“What it boils down to is this: I’ve been fortunate enough to experience many things and learn from many wonderful people,” he says. “My past has taught me to be both resilient and open-minded. At the same time, I have a desire to show my kids what it’s like to be a good parent on a successful journey. They are my reason and my purpose.”
Ushering in a New Era
One of the positive side effects of Carey’s harrowing past is that now, no challenge seems insurmountable. That’s why, in the midst of the massive disruption to business and life triggered by COVID-19, the Renaissance platform was born.
“We had all just taken a whooping because of COVID,” says Carey. “We had the opportunity to stay the course, shrink or grow. We decided to innovate—we decided we were going to have a Renaissance.”
During the process of creating the rebirth of Real Estate Webmasters, Carey took a hard look at where the growth of the company had led him. “I was getting more stage time and more face time, but I was talking less to customers, and they felt that,” he says. “We decided to reinvent ourselves and have more meaningful relationships, and we also decided to reinvent the product.”
From this epiphany, the aptly named Renaissance platform was born. “The word Renaissance represents the beginning of a new era, and this is how we see this new platform,” says Carey. “We knew that a post-pandemic world would be online and that brokers, teams and agents would need an extremely powerful and effective platform if they wanted to compete with the new lions over the hill—the VC-backed category killers.”
According to Carey, Renaissance allows brokerages to compete against heavily VC-funded companies like Redfin, Compass and Zillow by providing a superior and hyper-local consumer experience that allows brokers to showcase their expertise and value.
At its core, the Renaissance platform is four things:
– The world’s fastest real estate website – Great for SEO – ADA compliant – Provides an agency level design
The Renaissance platform allows any real estate professional or organization to benefit from the above features, regardless of their size or stature, by offering a crawl, walk, run approach.
For those at the crawl stage, “The platform is best-in-class right out of the box,” says Carey. “You can go live in 30 days and start generating leads via PPC, social or your own content generation.”
For those who are ready to walk, however, Real Estate Webmasters provides a host of professional web services to take them to the next level, from branding and design to full-service SEO programs and customized lead-generation strategies.
For the largest franchises or brokerages who want to run and compete at the highest levels, Real Estate Webmasters brings them more than 60,000 hours of professional services across all disciplines, as well as experience building highly customized platforms and search applications that serve over 40 countries across the globe.
Working with Real Estate Webmasters not only gives brokers and agents access to top technology solutions, but also connects them with a partner who speaks their language. Unlike Wall St.-backed tech firms, Carey built his company from the ground up.
“Real Estate Webmasters is fiercely independent,” he explains. “We are 100% privately owned and founder-led. Many of my real estate clients came up the very same way I did,” he says. “They came from nothing and are now at the top of the industry. It helps us understand and respect each other. I get their motives, and we probably have many of the same concerns and habits.”
This level of relatability sets Carey and his company apart from most large tech firms. “We love working with brokerage founders as they have a passion for our industry that cannot be matched by a VC-hired CEO,” he explains. “When you work with owners, you work directly with the decisionmakers, and it means you can move a lot faster and be more agile.”
Carey takes collaboration seriously. Enterprise customers have his cell number and every user—from franchisors to single agents—can access the CEO and leadership team via the Real Estate Webmasters online community.
“If you have an idea, we want to hear it. In fact, that is where all the best features in our product come from—our brokers,” says Carey. “No VC can buy this; it has to be earned, and it’s how our clients win.”
Ready for Anything
As the real estate industry confronts further disruption in the months and years ahead, Carey stands ready for anything. In fact, he views challenges and opportunities as one and the same…even the new competition bearing down on the real estate industry.
“I think some would say that the biggest challenge in real estate is trying to compete against Zillow and Redfin, but I don’t think that’s the challenge at all,” he says. “The challenge is not money, or not being able to compete in tech. The challenge is deciding to change and then doing what it takes to make sure that change happens. This change is also the greatest opportunity for brokers.”
For Carey, the clarion call for change in real estate will only help to enhance the Renaissance platform. “Our dream is a platform that truly can be great at many things—a simultaneous representation of your brand and a lead-generation platform; an amazing home search and best-of-breed CRM; a fast and accessible web experience that does not need to compromise on quality.&rdquo
Carey and the Real Estate Webmasters’ team are already working on fulfilling that dream, with plans to soon roll out additional features to Renaissance and the REW CRM. Later in the year, he anticipates launching two new major software platforms: a design and marketing center that allows brokers to automate the creation of marketing materials and listings for agents; and a new CMA product called Watch List, designed to accelerate listing lead-capture and provide an exciting nurture campaign for past customers.
Looking further ahead, Carey has set his sights on Real Estate Webmasters’ expanded international reach. “We are already providing services to over 40 countries, but we aren’t done yet,” he says. “We are not in Asia, Africa or South America, and we see these as amazing opportunities to expand.”
No matter where the road takes Carey and Real Estate Webmasters in both the near and distant future, he intends to stay true to his purpose: “In the end, we’d like to be known as that company that never sold out, and never backed down. The company that helped the true captains of our industry, the experienced brokers and team leaders, fight for a better consumer experience and win.”