A NAR Consumer Web-Play is Absurd

Dale Stinton, National Association of Realtors (NAR) CEO, spoke here at Inman Connect about their recent 900 person board meeting. In that meeting they came away with 13 “exciting initiatives” (time will tell if that’s a prophetic number…) that they were going to do.


Dale Stinton of NAR

Interesting tidbits:

  • NAR wants to play directly with the consumer
  • Raising NAR dues gives them $100 million to play with
  • NAR wants to be the consumer advocate to Washington DC

Is it just me, or does anyone really think that an organization that moves as ponderously slowly as NAR, and needs 900 people to reach consensusfor any decision, really has a chance to play in the fast-moving and dynamic consumer market?

How many large organizations have been able to make a web-play that actually works? If tech giants like Microsoft can’t even buy their way into the consumer market, how realistic is it for NAR?

I might be being overly pessimistic on this. Dale did mention that they wanted to be the consumer’s advocate lobbying in DC. Okay, I can buy that. How though? How are you going to get consumers to pay attention to you online?

Dale mentioned that Realtor.com has fallen behind, but that when they catch up, they won’t fall behind again. Technically, that’s possible, I just don’t believe they can do it. There’s a lot of catch-up that will have to be done, as the Trulia’s, eppraisal.com’s and Zillow’s of the world keep innovating and winning the attention of the average American.


Who’s Searching for Homes Where?

Incredibly cool video from Trulia showing how and where people search for homes.



Every dot on the map is a search on Trulia.com across the US and each line denotes the likelihood that consumers who search here are also likely to search there. It’s sort of like Amazon Recommends for real estate.

For example, in the first city featured in the video we see that people who search in San Francisco are also likely to search in Hawaii, Miami, New York as well as within the state.

Online Tools are for Offline Results

Offline is greater than online

It’s to easy for us technologists to get caught up in our technology, our blogs or our social networks. When we do, we often fail to remember that these are tools that are there to facilitate communication and build towards offline interaction, business and partnerships.

A bunch of us are converging on San Francisco in our annual pilgrimage to Real Estate Tech Mecca. It’s a fun event, where we realize the culmination of our online work throughout the year in the connections made face-to-face. Many of us will go away with partnerships and new business opportunities because of the time spent online blogging or connecting through social networking vehicles like Active Rain and Facebook.

This same lesson applies to real estate agents online. Again, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad tools and possibilities open to you online. You could spend a lot of time making sure you’ve got a couple hundred friends on Facebook, answering questions on Trulia Voices or blogging. The most important thing to remember is that you should be driving towards offline (face-to-face) meetings.

The websites and tools available online are just facilitators for your offline interaction.

Chances are, the next real estate deal you make might be instigated by something you did online. However, it will likely be finalized only after meeting face-to-face. The truth is that offline interaction is far more powerful than online.

Take the opportunity, whenever it arises to use tools that help raise your visibility online – grow your brand. But, also take the opportunity to leverage that into meetings and events that actually result in business.

Real Estate Bloggers Connect

Blogger Connect - SFIn just 1 week real estate bloggers from around the US will descend upon San Francisco to be a part of “Blogger Connect“. Blogger Connect is an extension of the Inman Real Estate Connect conference that happens twice a year in New York and San Francisco.

As many people struggle to find the value in blogging and decide if it works for their business, I don’t. You see,I believe that blogging and social networks provide a valuable service by creating connections and these connections prove their value through the offline interactions that come about because of them.

Can you get a lot out of reading a smart person’s blog? Yes.

Can you learn new ways to create business for yourself and your real estate organization through blogs? Of course.

Does your personal brand, or company brand, increase in value because of your blog? Probably, but it depends how engaging you are.

There are a lot of reasons to blog, but the one reason that provides the most return on your time investment is the offline interactions that result in more business, new friends and stronger relationships. Connecting to a larger hub of people, and being able to communicate with them all easily, allows you to leverage that group when you have a specific need.

If you are a real estate blogger and are not getting involved with the community, offline as well as online, then you’re missing out. If you’re looking to make some connections that will help you in this smaller-than-you-imaginereal estate blogosphere, then buy a ticket to meet up with us in San Francisco in 2 weeks (July 31 – Aug 1).

Contrasting Inman and NAR Conferences

What’s interesting to me about NARdi Gras is how big it is. If you compare the number of exhibitors and attendees, NAR’s annual conference blows away Inman (in both San Francisco and NY combined). So, you’ve got a lot of potential to network with a wide variety of people. It’s a place to get business done – the size of the expo floor alone is a testament to that.

Inman Vs Nar - Conferences

Then you have Inman. Inman isn’t as big. It doesn’t have that “establishment” feel to it either. Brad has done a great job of bringing in vibrant, new technologies into the spotlight.

When you go to a panel on “Top money making strategies in online marketing” at NAR there is no one sitting on the panel that was born after1970. When you go to a similar session at Inman you rarely find a person on the panel born before1970.

So, there is a fundamental difference between the two “big” real estate industry conferences. One is all about change, the other is about the status quo. This makes them both a target for two different demographics within the industry – real estate professionals go to both, it’s just the type of professional that goes to one rarely goes to the other.

As a company going to market with a product, these two organizations have to be met with differing styles. You know Inman is looking for new innovative products that will shake up the industry – if not that, then at least make some waves about old-vs-new. If you’re going to NAR, make sure you’re spouting the NAR company line, and you’ll need to stress how you support and make the real estate agent’s job easier – again, it’s not about change at NAR, it’s about the status quo.

Representing change or defending the status quo are neither good nor bad. In the end, this industry is complicated and has a great deal of history. Change within specific areas is good, and you see a sea-change happening within marketing at the moment because of new media. However, that change needs to be tempered with the understandings of a relationship-based approach to a highly regulated industry that will not allow a “technology lightning bolt” to disrupt it.


Which Real Estate Conferences Are Worth Going To?

We’ve been pretty consistent about showing up and either exhibiting, sponsoring or attending NAR and Inman Connect conferences over the years, but I’m sitting here wondering if there are more and/or better options. What conferences do you think are worth attending? Which ones are worth sponsoring or exhibiting at?
My list of best

RE/MAX’s Liniger: Thoughts

RIS Media has a take on David Linigers famous Inman Connect quote:
“The Internet has not affected RE/MAX growth, profitability share or whatever,” Mr. Liniger said. “Despite six presidencies, four major recessions and all the technological changes that have occurred, it has not upset the applecart.”
RIS Media quote:
But, whether it’s RE/MAX or anyone else,