Inman Real Estate Connect 2014 Highlights and Take-Aways

Spent two-and-a-half days at the Inman Real Estate Connect conference. It was great to be invited to speak on a panel about "Great Real Estate Transactions" and to learn from so many forward thinking real estate professionals. There was a ton of info and I couldn't be in multiple places at once, but here are some highlights, take-aways and personal action items from last week's event:

Uberfication of Real Estate

This terms was thrown around a lot. A lot. With all of the disruption coming from Uber and it's mobile technology is doing to the traditional transportation and taxi industry. Or Tesla to the auto industry. Or AirBnB to the hotel industry. The list goes on and on... I was amazed about how many tech company start-ups were here pitching their ideas.

Here are some notable apps and tools that I'd thought might provide value to me and my clients or at least help me be more efficient (I recommend choosing only ONE and implement it):

Updater - Simplifies the way people move. Not only a change of address website, but they also continue to offer new and innovative features that fundamentally change the relocation process — making it easier and more efficient.

Tempo.AI - A smart calendar that finds everything you need to be prepared. Looks like a great Google calendar add-on (works with Exchange and iCloud too). I can't be efficient without my Google calendar, so excited to see how it works and if I find it useful. 

Contactually - helps businesses follow up with the right people, at the right time, to maximize relationship ROI.

MailLift - Increase sales with handwritten letters for sales professionals. I sent a free test letter to myself. We'll see how it works out.

FindTheBest - Interesting new way to do research better. They collect, structure, and connect all the world’s data so you have everything you need to research with confidence. One application that would help with clients that I'm work with is the school search

Brivity - Task management, client communication, and property advertising all-In-one system for real estate agents.

Lunch Time

Save time and money eating lunch: The founder of restaurant start-up called Sprig gave a great speech about how hand-crafted dishes sourced from the best ingredients, can be delivered to you within 15-20 minutes with three taps on your phone. Being an early adopter, ordered on my phone while listening to the talk and when we broke for lunch while all conference attendees crowded the nearby restaurants, I walked down to the lobby, met my food deliverer, and just like Uber, got my food without having to worry about paying at delivery or tipping. Cost of a meal was approximately $9-11. Not bad. We need this in Palo Alto and Los Altos.

Some interesting tips that I learned from RedFin CEO, Glenn Kelman:

  • Best email open rate for clients is for agents to send on the weekends (Sat 7am)
  • Make sure to have a good email subject
  • RedFin agents load their calendars onto google to see who is available so a client can get access to a house right away. I started thinking how this type of agent crowd sharing can help a real estate office.
  • Since adding a “Sell My Home” tab next to its home search section on its home page, Redfin has seen listing consultations jump 54 percent

Running a Social Business

Hubspot gave a great presentation called "Graduating from Social Media to Running a Social Business". Some great tips for the more seasoned social media agent:

  • be USEFUL in every thing you do
  • you social account needs a MISSION and bio
  • be intentional about sharing blog posts of the people you care about
  • source your clients and nurture valuable relationships
  • 4 free tools to look at your marketing:

Day 2

was kicked off with Jared Simon, COO & Co-Founder of HotelTonight, a mobile app designed to help find last minute hotel deals bookings, shared some great keys points in terms of creating a great user experience:

  • there is a societal shift towards mobile and primacy of user experience (that's why the reason an App Store rating can make or great your app, is because they are real reviews and no longer are companies trying to game the search results), so reviews are very important!
  • HotelTonight only focuses on last minute same day hotel days and only on mobile devices (takeaway: specialize!)
  • focus on the mobile experience - takes 4 taps & 8 sec. to book a room vs. competitor websites 40 taps & 109 sec (takeaway: I started coining the term 'be efficient or become extinct')
  • ok to have bells and whistles, just keep them out of main experience, but important to dedicate a holistic experience including before or after the actual use of the app (takeaway: focus on the entire experience before, during, and after the sale)
  • your suppliers <—> you <—> partners, train to solve problems and create great partnerships
  • treat it holistically, there is no silver bullet to build a killer user experience
  • if you care about a great user or client experience then ratings and reviews are your friend
    • creates authenticity, allows those business who really care to shine versus the business that just try to game the system in order to be found
    • humanizing the experience
    • know where you can add value and know where you can’t add value, double-down on your strengths

Big Bad Zillow

There was a brief break before Brad Inman interviewed Greg Schwartz, Chief Revenue Officer, Zillow. When they opened for Q&A, Brad reminded the audience to “be respectful but it’s an open forum”. Discussed the ‘coming soon’ option. Greg assured the audience that, "Zillow wants to be a media company, not a MLS", yet someone asked for clarification about how Zillow wanting to be a media company contradicts there most recent acquisition of Retsly

1000 Things Real Estate Can Learn from Surfing

Matt Beall, President/Principal Broker of Hawaii Life Real Estate Services, LLC, gave a great speech using surfing as a metaphor for real estate and the wave is like the deal...

  1. Learn to Swim - the board is the only technology/tool you have in surfing- we spend so much time obsessing over our tools, but we have to be ready and capable even without your tools
  2. Paddling Matters - so much in surfing is positioning, how much time we spend  maneuvering and building up to the deal, spending so much time preparing
  3. When in Doubt, No Go Out - don’t sell commercial building if you're in residential real estate, so "don’t go out"
  4. Don’t Leave Waves to Find Waves - like a fish swimming in the ocean looking for water, just focus on where you are, ride the waves you got
  5. Waves Come in Sets, 3-5 wave sets then lull, during lull, paddle, position, prepare for next sets of waves, like deals
  6. Don’t Fear Technology - evolution of the board was (and still is) a constant progression, one older group feels alienated by the new technology of others, when you're in the ocean complaining about lack of waves, you need to embrace and stop complaining about it. Find your niche and go paddle
  7. Don’t Get Caught Inside - instead of catching wave, breaks on your head or bail
  8. Don’t Drop In - get your own stuff (clients, content)
  9. When the Water is Murky, Don’t Go Out - when you are starving, everything looks good, don't take on every deal
  10. You are not Laird. Nowadays, everyone is a "luxury agent".  Pick you spots.

Art of Enchantment

Guy Kawasaki spoke about the "Art of Enchantment". It was similar talk that he had given at Sereno Session in 2013. Still laughed when he introduces his top ten format in case he sucks, we will know how long he will suck. Guy is currently consulting with an Australian graphic design company.

Here is a way to receive free copies of three of Guy Kawasaki's past books:

  1. create a Canva Design
  2. tweet it with #canvaconvert
  3. receive free copies via @canva

Lastly, there was a 24-hour real estate brokerage website revamp. Pretty cool to see the transformation of Willis Allen website to something more contemporary, fresh, and engaging.


Some interesting changes: 

  • simple search box
  • simple navigation with no visible navigation bar
  • tells a story 
  • an interesting forward-thinking option was to have a 'Found something u like on zillow' page asking the consumer to paste the zillow results link into the search bar hence taking the traffic back from Zillow.
  • Properties marketed by Willis Allen
  • Has to work well on mobile 
  • The website is not in competition with your competition, website is in competition with your customer and clients' time

My personal action Items:

  • Sign up for Updater account to test it out and if I enjoy the experience, look into options for other people I care about to use their services
  • Download the Tempo calendar system app and and use as default calendar for two weeks
  • Try HomeSnap to see if it adds value to client
  • Take a look at different ideas that the 2014 Inman Innovator Awards finalists and list out some great ideas like branded Starbucks cards.
  • Sign up to test out Brivity for my next real estate client (received multiple recommendations)
  • Reminded importance of Phone/Email/Texting sellers every day for at least the first two weeks. Over-communicate and front-load your communication.
  • Define a mission for all of my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram)
  • Purchase book - Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • Add 'Properties marketed by Alex Wang' to website