Real Estate Connect Conference – San Francisco Aug 2009

This conference which is held twice a year gathers together real estate agents, technology companies and service providers wrapped up in a demanding and comprehensive agenda designed to provide a vital insight into the trends in real estate with both a true international perspective and a full-on focus to the online world. It is not however a geeky technology conference, the participants come from all over the US and all types of real estate operations – sales people, business owners and service providers.

Over the 3 years that I have been attending the conference I have witnessed it becoming far more international. It is as ever a very practical conference with strong participation and discussion in all sessions. The challenge is as always to find the time to fit in as many of the sessions which span the 3 main days of the conference as possible; there is always a parting sense of “I wished I could have gone to that session as well..”

This year for the first time there was an additional leg to the conference organised on a separate day. This was a specialised mini-conference focussed exclusively on the operation of real estate portals internationally. This session with over 50 attendees brought together owners and managers of real estate websites from the UK, US, Holland, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Germany as well as some regional operators in Europe, and of course New Zealand.

The discussions and debates at these sessions were wide ranging and in-depth covering pricing models, agent services, and the role of Google, search engine marketing, social media, and media ownership vs. Independent, display advertising, consumer research and a host of other topics.

What stood out for me was the similarity of issues and challenges despite our diverse geographical spread. That was matched to a non biased judgment that we (along with Australia) are among the leading innovators in real estate online marketing. This is strengthened today by a very changed relationship with the REA Group in Australia. When the Group was operating the website of allrealestate.co.nz in NZ we were stern competitors, however since their withdrawal from the NZ market we have established a strong professional relationship to share insights and developments.

The main Inman Connect sessions really highlighted for me a couple of key themes:

Transparency

This theme is judged to be becoming pervasive across the US industry as a consequence of the enormous fall out of the property market – the worst of their market is still with them. Prices are still down close to 30% from peak and the flow through of foreclosure property (mortgagee sales) has a long time to go with the lasting consequence on prices. The industry has had a wholesale clean out of agents. The confidence of the consumer has been significantly damaged, this is what is driving this desire to open up as an industry and share complete information about how the industry works.

This trend is driving agents to focus more and more on building online profiles around their unique skill set, largely through the use of social media. A trend that was first witnessed at the first Inman Connect conference I attended back in 2007. The key evolution over these years is the fact that to have such a profile is no longer relevant, today the challenge is to be found online as part of the conversations going-on on the web.

Mobile

There is a sense of a coming of age of mobile applications. This can be attributable to the Apple iPhone. This application as a “poster child” for smart phones has provided what up until now has not been possible – a handheld mobile computing device that by chance is a phone. Up until the launch of the iPhone all mobile applications were endeavouring to operate on phones – a situation that was doomed to failure.

In the context of real estate mobile applications are likely to make the greatest impression when they incorporate the GPS and compass feature – this is when the rich data can be focused to the hyper-local environment where the answer to the questions ” what is for sale round here?, what did that house sell for? And what does that property for sale look like from the inside?” becomes really appealing and relevant.

Be assured that within the line up of activity in the coming months realestate.co.nz has a programme of developments in this area.

Facebook

Far from being a teenage phenomenon Facebook is fast becoming the web’s universal directory and meeting place. The figures are staggering – over 100 million new users added in the past 9 months!

In the US real estate market Facebook is being seen as a great platform for engagement and discussion about real estate by vendors, buyers and agents. Savvy agents are using “business profile pages” to network and be part of conversations regarding real estate where content can be easily shared and taken anywhere you want with whomever you want. Watch out for Facebook, the median age of users is 29 years – that would be pretty close to the median age of property buyers. Additionally the most active users of Facebook are women aged 35 – 55 years.

Market Statistics

The media in the US as with NZ is awash with data on the property market. Agents are up skilling themselves to be better able to assist buyers and sellers to better interpret the data to make sense of local markets. Companies are offering personalised reports that utilise local data to present the trends on the market and add to the profile of professional agents that fully understand the market dynamics.

Agent Evaluation

It was evident at the conference that there are emerging examples of websites and services that endeavoured to assist the public better evaluate agents. These are on the whole more than just simple “rate an agent” feedback sites. Many are taking sales data and analysing the capabilities and record of property sales by agent measured as number of listings, number of sales, conversion rate – sale price to listing price performance.

This is certainly an interesting development as an emerging trend; one that I will be keen keep a watching eye on to see how it develops. I would like to hear any feedback on this matter. It was interesting to see at one of the sessions on this subject a “show of hands” vote saw very roughly 3 to 1 in favour of this type of open and transparent evaluation of agents!!


August 14 2009 | Events | 2 Comments »

10 great tech tools for real estate

I am attending the Inman Connect Conference in San Francisco this week. As usual with this conference it is a packed agenda providing a great insight into the technology developments as well as the application of such to the real estate industry both in the US and globally.

One of the opening sessions was a fast paced 10 new technology applications that were judged “cool” by Brian Boero of 1000 Watt  Consulting.

Rather than me having to scribble down all the links and then post them all I am indebted to Simon Baker of Property Portal Watch for this list.

My recommendation – take 20 minutes and cruise through the 10 tools and technologies you need to know about

August 06 2009 | News | No Comments »

Blogging – when to know that you are spending too much time on it

I sometimes think there will an emerging organisation “BA” in the same vein as “AA” – yes we (well I) could succumb to blogging overload and need a dose of therapy provided by Bloggers Anonymous!

But seriously the question is key – how much time should you spend blogging and when should you say enough. I blog because it drives traffic to realestate.co.nz and now to Zoodle. It is critical in search engine optimisation and establishing an audience who can respect and appreciate the conversations established on a blog. I also honestly love blogging, it is relaxing and satisfying.

But I am employed to run a website – it is different if you are an agent out there trying to juggle the roles of business advisor and online marketer. So to help you establish how much time to devote to blogging I would encourage you to read this great post by Teresa Boardman entitled “When blogging goes too far“.

Teresa is a highly respected blogger from St Paul, Minnesota – she is a realtor and balances the two roles magnificently. I have had the pleasure of attending the Inman Connect conferences which Teresa actively contributes to.

This article was published on the Inman News site, however it is only accessible to subscribers which I think is a shame – I have allowed you access to the full article as a pdf with due and appropriate attribution to both Teresa and Inman publishing – both of whom I have a huge respect for and as a subscriber to their website I hope they can appreciate my intent in sharing this with key readers of this blog across the NZ real estate industry.

Have a read and be inspired to add blogging to your marketing toolkit.

February 19 2009 | Blogs | No Comments »

World class 2 day conference for just US$399

I know this is late notice – but if you want to invest in your real estate career and more fully understand “how traditional real estate agents will not be replaced by technology.. they will be replaced with agents with technology” – then get yourself to Real Estate Connect in July in San Francisco.

As special offer for NZ real estate professionals I have convinced the team at Inman to encourage NZ’ers to make the trip to SF.

The conference is incredible – take it from me – I attended my first last July and came away hugely impressed – not just from the valuable content and contacts that I absorbed but from an incredibly well run conference the like of which I had never experienced before (trust me I have been to a lot of conferences).

The conference runs from Wed 23rd to Fri 25 July in San Francisco. If you want to get a feel for the value of the event have a read of my blogs I wrote from the past 2 I have been to as archived on the realestate.co.nz forum.

I am attending the event and would be only to happy to answer any questions you may have or to act as connector at the conference.

Fancy joining me ?? – here’s the invitation from the Inman team:

Real Estate Connect is the real estate industry’s premier business intelligence and networking event. Connect SF 2008 is Inman News 12th annual gathering; where the global leaders in real estate, finance and technology come to promote change and innovation within the rapidly changing market.

Some of the topics featured at this summer’s Connect:

  • When is the US market going to turn around?
  • How to reach out to overseas investors.
  • Get Social or Die? Adapting your business to Web 2.0.
  • Plus workshops on blogging, video, foreclosures, internet marketing and much, much more.

Inman News is proud to offer NZ real estate professionals an exclusive offer to attend Real Estate Connect in partnership with realestate.co.nz.

You can register to attend the full package (conference + workshop of your choice) at the special rate of $399. ($299 for the conference only)

All international attendees receive concierge registration. To register for Connect SF 2008 using this exclusive offer, please contact Katy Campana at katy@inman.com or call +1 (510) 658-9252 ext. 143.

May 30 2008 | Special offers | No Comments »