NAR Annual was filled with great sessions, great vendors, and great networking. Having Boston as the backdrop for the 1st time brought new faces into the mix, which adds a new perspective and great dialogue. I’ve heard from several agents that attended the conference for the first time that they’re ready to sign up for 2019 in San Francisco. I think that says it all!
Here are my top 5 takeaways from this year’s conference:
1. The conference focused around a renewed commitment to excellence throughout the industry
- The National Association of REALTORS® proudly introduced Commitment to Excellence (C2EX), a program that empowers REALTORS® to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to conducting business at the highest standards. C2EX takes professionalism to the next level by enabling NAR members to assess their expertise in 10 (11 for brokers) elements of professionalism ranging from customer service to use of technology. This innovative engagement tool encourages participation in all levels of the REALTOR® organization. It’s not a designation or a course. It’s not a requirement, but a benefit available to all NAR members at no additional cost. To get started, log in to www.C2EX.realtor and take the self-assessment that measures your proficiency in each of the elements of professionalism, known as the C2EX Competencies. Based on your results, the platform will generate customized learning paths, recommend experiences, and provide tools and resources to increase your knowledge and enhance your skill sets.
2. Companies appear to have stopped defining themselves as ‘disruptors’ and are now using phrases such as “cutting-edge” and “innovative”
- Last year nearly every company started using the phase “disruption” or some variation. Even companies with a 25-year tenure were using the phrase because… well… everyone else was. It appears that self-defined ‘disruptors’ were finding more difficulty converting prospective clients using terms that challenge the status quo. The exception to this rule is newer online brokerages, such as Compass and Redfin, which are still described as disruptors. I’m not sure I agree that they’re disrupting the industry, but rather, offering an innovative way to engage today’s on-demand buyers, sellers, and agents
3. Today’s consumer demands a great experience and it’s the best way an agent or brokerage can create an impression and repeat customer
- Technology will never replace a REALTOR®, but a REALTOR® with technology will replace one without. Today’s consumer wants what they want and when they want it. We must carefully balance the efficiency gained through technology with the need to create an experience that will keep you top of mind with past buyers and sellers. More and more vendors are creating consumer portals to improve transparency and the overall experience. More and more brands are helping agents sell a lifestyle as opposed to selling real estate. And more and more agents are realizing that they need to do something memorable to get repeat business in today’s sea of constant distractions. This theme permeated the event from the tradeshow floor to the kickoff presentation where Terry Watson shared that the easiest things to improve the consumer experience are to explain the process clearly and not make your customer think – his clearly made up statistics: “1% of people think. 4% of people think they think. 95% of people would rather die than think.”
4. We have some major challenges ahead of us – these are the top 5 short term threats and top 5 long term threats to our industry:
- The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) have been tasked with illuminating challenges the real estate industry will be faced with. They are not advocating, they are illuminators. Here’s what they had to say about short and long-term threats:
- Short Term:
- E-commerce and logistics
- Consumers have changed the way they buy and data suggests this is bleeding into real estate. On-demand expectations will force the industry’s hand to provide more e-commerce-like tools for buying and selling real estate.
- Generational Change
- We have 4 distinct generations buying and selling homes right now which is changing how space will be used and where people will relocate
- Housing Affordability
- With low supply and high demand for lower end inventory, the industry faces a major challenge due to income stagnation in the corresponding income brackets
- Politics & political uncertainty
- This is an all-encompassing topic from immigration to infrastructure. The lack of compromise in Washington DC creates a higher risk for banks and consumers – this is the cost of uncertainty.
- Interest rates & the economy
- Experts predict that job creation rates will begin slowing from nearly 250,000 jobs per month to as low as 61,000 by 2025. We can’t grow our economy the same way without new jobs.
- E-commerce and logistics
- Long Term Risks:
- Energy & Water
- Natural Disasters & Climate Change
- Disruptive Technologies
5. Great new technology is coming our way:
- The NAR REACH Accelerator helps startup companies launch in the real estate space through mentorships and financing arranged through 2nd Century Ventures, the venture capital division of NAR. Here are some of my favorites they announced at this year’s conference:
- Zavvie – “Where savvy homeowners go.” This platform connects buyers and sellers with a “hyperlocalist” agent that is vetted as a market expert. 45% of consumers choose an agent based on local market knowledge – Zavvie aims to connect those consumers with their network of agents.
- Quigler – Quigler is a handheld compliance checklist helping both new and experienced agents navigate the real estate transaction helping to reduce transaction complexity, improve communication, and improve professionalism
- ActivePIPE – ActivePIPE is the MailChimp of Real Estate. It is a well-designed marketing automation platform.
- ConnectNOW – These guys have created a faster, smarter and safer way to connect an interested buyer/seller with an agent. The system is designed to automatically route leads to agents who are available to respond. They even have a safety app built into the platform which is free for all REALTORS®.
- RealKey – These guys have built a platform to improve transparency between the mortgage originator, the agent and the consumer. It’s designed to close loans faster and keep everyone in the know.
- Hurdlr – Hurdlr automatically tracks all your mileage, expenses, income streams, and tax deductions in real-time. It helps agents set goals and understand the work needed to reach them.
- While REACH brings new companies to the industry that NAR has invested in, there are a lot of other companies that are new to real estate and have a lot to offer. My favorites are:
- VoiceterPro – Voiceter Pro, Inc. is the conversational search company that brings businesses and consumers together through voice-driven interactions with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. Voiceter Pro’s real world, voice-powered skills are revolutionizing artificial intelligence-assisted searches in real estate and other markets.
- Letsbutterfly – These guys are all about transparency and efficiency connecting buyers and sellers (homies), agents, and vendors in a single platform. Their philosophy is an agent working with an informed consumer creates a smoother and more efficient overall experience at an even lower cost.
Insights provided by RETI Team Member Warren Dow