Report From Inman Connect NYC
I’m back. If you are a regular reader you probably noticed no new posts last week. I was lucky enough to spend last week at a real estate and technology conference in New York City. (The picture in this post was taken on The Highline one evening). If you are a real estate agent and are serious about your career, The Inman Connect conference and Agent Reboot in NYC should be priorities. If you have ever been to a conference, you know that you are often pretty lucky to come away with a few “jewels” but this week was nothing but gold. Much of the focus was on utilizing tools to making the buying or selling experience better for our clients. There is an upside to making the experience better too – you can make more money. Interesting concept don’t you think? I wanted to share my theory on why the U.S. is leading the way in the Real Estate field.
We all know that the U.S. real estate market has been challenging for many years so it is no surprise that when industries have their backs against a wall they have two choices….adapt or die. You just have to look at the American automotive industry for proof of that. I always owned a foreign car. Japanese, German and Swedish wheels were my particular favorites partially because they were perceived as either luxury, or well-built, but today I drive GM. My Yukon Hybrid is the epitome of comfort and technology and the service, when needed, is amazing. Oh, by the way, I’m not being paid for that recommendation.
Not surprisingly, organized real estate in the US has faced a massive public relations problem. Before the crash, many agents were making a great deal of money, now, the national average for a Realtor is less than $30,000 per year. There has been a tremendous amount of attrition. The best agents are still out there but don’t think for a moment that they aren’t hurting a little too. So faced with extinction there were some serious decisions to make and it seems that the two significant changes that have taken place both adapted advanced technology to drive their business.
First, Virtual Office Websites, also known as VOWs are a development that, I believe, were born from necessity. As someone who has owned and set up a real estate office, I can tell you that one of the biggest operating costs are rent and staffing. VOWs aren’t confined to bricks and mortar and can utilize 3rd party services (virtual assistants) to do anything from answer phones to handle paperwork. These two significant cost savings have allowed them to invest in finding clients and recruit agents. Their virtual offices are growing because they provide an inexpensive sales alternative to the hundreds of thousands of home owners who are still under water and looking down the barrel of foreclosure or short sales. They are not out there to replace the job of a Realtor because you still need someone to do the paperwork. VOWs just believe you don’t need an office to run a business. But one fundamental is missing; Camaraderie is an important part of keeping agents properly trained, engaged and held accountable.
The second major change comes from the full service companies who are using Social Media to further establish themselves as market leaders. They are building relationships and showing that they are market leaders through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest and 4 square. They are blogging a lot and reporting on the hyper local level. They are openly sharing information and providing a massive level of training to agents. They are upping the ante in the race to be the best.
The take away for me was simple. Technology is here to stay. It is not meant to replace the person to person relationship that should exist between an agent and their client. We are in an information society where Buyers and sellers know more about what’s out there so a Realtor’s role has shifted from source to trusted advisor. Over the next few weeks I hope to write a lot more on these topics so I hope you will continue to check in to my blog for more on my experiences with Inman Connect and Agent Reboot. I’m sitting at the airport in writing this and really looking forward to my Monday meeting where I will be conducting a panel discussion with 5 of the 13 agents from Toronto, who spent the week in NYC. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Only 13 agents from Toronto, including 5 from Bosley Real Estate, attended this very important conference. 13 out of 33,000. Crazy.Have a great week. Mark