July 15, 2013: A fly on the wall would have heard different comments over the past 17 years of Inman Connects in San Francisco. This year’s was no different however, some very interesting subjects came up that are of importance to our business.
I am a Conference groupie and have been going for years. I love learning new things. However, I felt that there was a distinct Anti-Organized Real Estate position that Inman Connect and Brad Inman chose to take, however I realize that by challenging and asking the big questions, would we be able to evolve and learn from both sides. for the betterment of all concerned.
There are a number of talented people who attend: Technology users, like myself, CEO’s of Franchises, Brands, Boutique Companies, Technology Sales and producers as well as the latest and greatest new toys. There are too many attendees who see the event as a chance to get their product noticed and advertised rather than speaking to the question. Yearly there are winners and losers and lots of discussion as well as winers….
My first day started with an invitation to a three hour CEO Summit where the 100 technology providers and CEO’s sat at tables and discussed what they felt where the big issues and becoming the big issues for the coming year. The economy in the States has settled and looks promising and there was lots of discussion that pointed to a great frustration in the business that keeps repeating…the disparity between where the Corporations would like to go, how much change the REALTORS can handle and a consumer that wants immediate access and ease in getting all the information as fast as possible.
The CEO’s were busy adding facilities to their businesses for their Agents and the agents were not taking advantage of the offerings. This was especially evident in Document E-signing, Document delivery and Document Storage. To be truly successful you need a number of parties to sign on to a new system and few were prepared to make that a mandatory Company policy. There was also discussion of Virtual Agents and Teams and whether that was truly possible unless major changes happened in the set-up of the Corporations. Too many times however, someone would start advertising their better widget rather than address the questions and the moderator would have to get people back on track.
The first afternoon had a few discussion that were outstanding when the CEO’s of Redfin, Trulia, Zillow and REALTOR..com took to the stage. At this point in the US, Trulia and Zillow are getting more eyes that REALTOR..com. However, if all of them are operating for profit, where are the differences with the exception that REALTOR.com is part owned by NAR and may not be a moveable as the others.
This has been a bit of a battle between DotLoop and CAR and it looks as if it will not be resolved soon. However, sparks flew, sides were taken but not everyone got what I thought was the main point. That being, what offerings Trade organizations should be proving and what happens when those become mandatory in nature.
Day Two at Inman was a a morning of General Sessions and an afternoon of Four different tracks whether Broker/Business Owner, Agent, Board Member, or CEO. I was on panel about the use of Video in marketing and there was a lot of great sharing between the four panelists and the audience. Each of us used video with a different goal, either to market the brokerage, the community, the property or the REALTOR. We were the full range but the bottom line question had to do with cost.
The last day focused on the International Buyer with a strong focus on China. There is a strong realization in the United States that the International buyer and seller is helping with the housing recession. Canada is the most prolific buyer but when it comes to the very high end buyer, it is not the Canadians. My own travels in China recently revealed some very interesting patterns in the middle class and their buying in China and abroad but that is a whole other blog and as I write this I am in Vancouver for the first day of a Global Business Summit held by the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) and the next two days will be filled with great information that I will glean to help in our Toronto marketplace.
At the end of the day, the best and most interesting part of any Conference is what I like to call Lobby-Con. It is the connections that are forged, revisited and made as you move from meeting to presentation to dinner and back home. Lobby-Con has been the source of many a referral and even at Inman Connect 2013, I was able to make a referral to a great agent who I know will do an excellent job for my clients.
I connected with some Canadian counterparts and was also able to learn a great deal. At the end of the day, I think that one of the enduring comments came from some important American CEOs and consultants who are very impressed with the way that CREA’s product REALTOR.ca and Technology products run. They are very impressed with the Data Distribution Facility at CREA and the non-profit nature of most of the Boards that are working on behalf of the member, providing services with mandate and allowing business models to flourish.
Inman Connect 2013 stands out for me as one of the better connects I have been to however, like most Conferences, they are only as good as the energy that you put into them. There many not be the newest widget there next year but I will be there, happy to connect and learn. My hope is that I will see you there!