Lessons from Real Estate Connect

Friday at 2:00 p.m. I opened the door to my home, gave my wife and daughter a hug, apologized, and went to bed until 9:00 a.m. the next morning.

In my suit.

It was that kind of week. Between moderating sessions, hosting meetings in our suite, dropping in at parties, enjoying late dinners and making sure my business partner stayed out of a Percocet-induced coma, I was fried.

But Connect was a blast. What a show! The Inman crew did a great job. And I came away with plenty to think about. Here are just a few observations while I’m still recharging:

  • This was the most harmonious Connect ever. In the “old days,” the tension between the real estate brokerage and online folks was palpable. Not so now. Brokers love the big online sites for their free distribution and the Internet companies are much humbler.
  • While the tension between the tech and brokerage crowds was gone, the space between the two has increased since last year. Solutions are getting dramatically better. Technology is getting cheaper. But too many agents can’t even get listing photos right, and too many brokers are getting their butts kicked in markets they could and should dominate with a little money and inventiveness.
  • Along these same lines: Someone I respect a lot approached me on Friday to say simply, “The notion that this industry is adopting technology is a myth.” Put that in your pipe and smoke it and see if it doesn’t ring true after a while.
  • Everyone (including myself) coos about their iPhone, proclaiming they have found the future in their pocket. It’s a little much — but basically true. I saw two killer iPhone home search apps at the show being prepped for release in the next few weeks. And remember, this is not just about the iPhone. There are now dozens of handsets that do web browsing well and will be the channel through which most consumers experience real estate in the not-too-distant future.
  • Hyperlocal is the future of the category. I believed this going into the show, but am convinced of it now. So much data, so many conversations — indeed, so many people — come alive with relevance at the street level. I covered some of the apps and content that get us there in my “20 sites you don’t know about — but should” presentation in Thursday’s general session, but there’s a lot more coming here.
  • IDX is sexy. It is the killer app that’s been sitting under every practitioner’s nose for ten years, waiting for good implementations and marketing.
  • The Tosca is the best bar in San Francisco, and possibly the world. Get there before the hipsters, sip a Venetian Coffee hunkered down in a red vinyl booth, and you’ll forget about your troubles fast.
  • The relationship between “the real estate blogosphere” and the rest of the industry is interesting but not as meaningful as you might think.
  • Generally speaking, time spent Twittering comes at a real cost measured in units of the more meaningful stuff you would otherwise be doing.
  • Mapping is not the best way to display listings. It never was.
  • The market is bad, and won’t get much better soon. But those with a little cash, a lot of commitment and serious smarts will come out the other side stronger. I met many of them at the show.

Much more later. I need to catch up, play My Little Pony with my daughter, and go to bed early for a few more nights.

Brian Boero