Real Estate Innovation Might Be Simpler Than You Think

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Looking back on what was a successful 2013 convention, I got to thinking: I’ve spent more than half my life in this business and the more things change, the more they remain the same. That San Francisco – the epicenter of change – was the location of the convention was icing on the cake. Even the ‘neversoldahousebeforenerds,’ who I talked to in droves, realized that REALTORS® getting back to what makes people successful, getting to know the real issues that affect them, and realizing where offline and online connect is what differentiates them from the online world of real estate.

In essence, kicking it old school is every bit as innovative as innovation itself.

So my takeaways from this year’s convention encompass exactly that…

Innovation and the quickening pace of change. Bottom line, practical innovation in real estate is where REALTORS® and nerds meet, the pace of which is quickening and becoming more refined. Realogy held an innovation summit where – in three days – up to five real and very relevant real estate products were born. The Reach incubator companies took their products to the next level in only nine months integrating their products into many REALTOR® and brokerage ecosystems. Kudos to Reach150, Planwise, Updater, Lumentus, and BombBomb for remarkable progress in their offerings this year. The Center for REALTOR® Tech announced predictive data analytics endeavors to try and help REALTORS® prepare for the future using data at hand now. In the end, if your business isn’t bobbing, weaving, and adjusting to current and future trends, you’re not innovating.

Marketing goes back to the future. Micromarket, niche-based, global reach, and other highly focused marketing techniques were the topics of many a conversation. Remember when niches were a thing? They still are, it turns out – but less for offline reasons than online. Real estate search has become very specific and very local – a sentiment that’s echoed on NAR’s Google Digital House Hunt Study released earlier this year. Google generic terms like “#nameyourcity# real estate” and judge the MILLIONS of search returns you get for yourself. It’s noisy and confusing for real estate pros, much less consumers themselves. REALTORS® were urged to take part in a “digital journey” through strategic marketing that will let them stand out from the noise and create long-term relationships online for business off. Marketing a niche, whatever it may be, means being found through website content that exudes expertise creating virtual rapport that many agents and brokerages can cash in on later. Marketing a listing has come full circle to telling the story of the home and community in which it rests, and that storytelling has increasingly become video-based. Regardless, tell a damn good story in your marketing, plan for long-term gain of clientele.

Old school is the new new school. Processes and procedures all mixed with consumer know-how took center stage this year. Get to know your clients, set expectations, and don’t be afraid to lose a client while doing it. Moreover, get to know the issues that affect your clients now and prepare yourself and them for a tumultuous future. Political unrest, economic uncertainty, property rights, and consumer advocacy – understand it all and how it affects your clients past, present, and future. (Sidenote: I’ve never seen those convention sessions packed like they were in San Francisco.)

Check out some of the video interviews I did to cover all of the above!

Where real estate is going over the next decade will be fun to watch, but I’ve never been more convinced that at the heart of it all is the REALTOR®. Thanks and see you all in New Orleans next year!

Nobu Hata is the National Association of REALTORS®’ Director of Digital Engagement. An industry veteran since 1996, Nobu is a student of marketing, communications trends, social media, and technology in the real estate industry.

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