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NAR iOi 2019 Roundup: Seattle Edition—Part 1

It was a quick jaunt to Seattle last week for the National Association of Realtors’ Innovation, Opportunity, and Investment conference—NAR iOi 2019, for short. 

This was the second running of the event, the inaugural conference being held last year in San Francisco. Most people that HighNote Labs Founder Mark Choey talked to thought that year two was decidedly better and much improved over last year’s. 

iOi stands for Innovation, Opportunity, and Investment, and is primarily focused on and around real estate technology. This 2-day conference kicked off on Saturday, August 21st—a beautiful Pacific Northwestern day, to be sure. 

Here’s a recap of some key points of the event, with a bit of Mark’s perspective thrown in for good measure. Over to you, Mr. Choey…

Day 1: Morning Session

The NAR iOi opened with a session featuring two absolute titans of the real estate media industry: Brad Inman and Stefan Swanepoel, as well as Marilyn Wilson, Managing Partner / Founder of WAV Group—a research firm that supports the real estate industry with information and strategy for business planning. 

For those who require an intro:

Brad Inman is a journalist and entrepreneur who is responsible for creating several influential companies including Inman News, HomeGain.com (acquired by Classified Ventures in 2005), TurnHere.com, and Vook. He is the author of Livable Neighborhoods of the Bay Area. His deep knowledge of and expertise in the real estate industry extends back to his time as a columnist with the San Francisco Examiner

Stefan Swanepoel is Chairman and CEO of the Swanepoel T3 Group and an acclaimed international best-selling author, a New York Times best-selling author, and a real estate trends strategist. For more than four decades, he’s served as a highly successful executive, including President and/or CEO of a real estate brokerage, a global real estate franchisor, a national REALTOR® association, an MLS organization, and a tech startup. 

The Discussion 

Innovation: Trends & Predictions

• Bob Goldberg: moderator (CEO NAR)

• Brad Inman (Chairman of the Board, Inman), 

• Stefan Swanepoel (Chairman @ CEO T3 Sixty, LLC)

• Marilyn Wilson (Managing Partner / Founder of WAV Group)

The quartet discussed a wide range of topics, here are some key takeaways:

Process-Driven. Data-Driven.

  • We’re going to see people get more process- and data-driven. 
  • Data is more powerful and important than ever.
  • But process is just as important.
  • Tools for automation, improved delivery, presentation, and efficiency—in addition to more traditional tools and techniques—will be key to pulling ahead of the pack. 

The Decade that Changed Everything.

  • 2010-2019: It’ll be the decade that changed everything for us. 
  • For the future: We’ll see if Compass pulls it off. Can Realogy hold the line? Did Berkshire make a move? 
  • AI, VR, AR, Machine Learning, have they come to fruition in a meaningful enough scale that they make a difference in the consumer’s lives, the business side, the transaction?
  • Was it a home run, did it force different players to form different camps / take down / merge / consolidate, how does the landscape change? 
  • We acknowledge that this industry moves slowly. But this is where the innovators and early adopters will pull ahead.

You May Not See the Next Wave of Innovation.

  • Most of the innovation up to this point has been on the front end; marketing and listing, etc. Now we’re moving to the boring back end: transactions and documents. 
  • Search improvements will likely be forthcoming from innovators. 
  • Presentation of homes will be much more alive, much more present, interactive, driven by AI, VR, AR, etc. 

The Multi-Billion Dollar Question.

  • The big question: Will there be another wave of big money?
  • We’re in the midst of the biggest wave of investment in RE-Tech. People are raising billions. Not millions. Billions.
  • The biggest unknowns are Compass, iBuyers, Opendoor, etc. 
  • “Passion, money and brains got us to the moon decades ago… we have a sh*tload of passion… this is on Mainstreet. This isn’t just Silicon Valley. And we have a ton of brains coming into the industry, and a ton of brains inside the industry. Now we have money galore.” – Brad Inman

In a brief clash of the titans, things got a little testy between Brad and Stefan, with some jostling and terse banter between them. Brad was seemingly starting to get annoyed with Stefan for either correcting or interrupting him about predictions of where the iBuyer market is going to be in the future. 

Brad: I disagree with Stefan. In 18 months we’ll still be sitting here and not imagining that iBuying is 50% of the market. 

-is interrupted by Stefan- 

Brad: “Even when I said 5% — we made a bet 2 years ago — I think we made a bet about this stuff 2 years ago and I think YOU OWE ME.”

Stefan says, “No. We did NOT make a bet. In your dreams! Like your agents!”

Whoa where did that come from?

 

Some Notable Quotables: 

“Ultimately, the consumer is going to be choosing the winner.”

When discussing all the different and innovative business models out there now from Opendoor to Zillow to Compass and the bevy of startups trying to re-invent the square wheel that is the real estate brokerage , Bob Goldberg said very poignantly: 

“Ultimately, the consumer is going to be choosing the winner.”

 

“The second wave will only happen if we have some success with the first wave.”

Brad Inman tackled the question: ”Will there be another wave of big dollars?” 

His response:

“The second wave will only happen if we have some success with the first wave.”

 

“Amazon is the #1 brokerage in America”  

When the group was asked:

“5 Years from today, we are sitting on this panel, what do you think the headline about this industry is?” Marilyn had, in my opinion, the best response of the three: 

“Amazon is the #1 brokerage in America”  

*Crowd groans

“Look at what they did with Whole Foods. Food is our most important thing. Next is our home.”

*Crowd is silent.

 

 

Morning Keynote

The Morning Keynote by Chris Bashinelli (actor, producer, explorer, and television host, Sopranos, Bridge the Gap) quite frankly blew me away.  

He told human stories about his travels around the world and meeting people who are so incredibly rich. Not monetarily—but in the heart. The generous, selfless, caring people he encountered everywhere from Tanzania to China. 

He crushed us with the story of hearing from his dad who’d found out he had Stage 4 cancer, and how his mother had to break it to him that, “There is no Stage 5, honey”. 

Chris described this as the most important moment in his life, and right then and there, he realized: He is not here to change the world, but the world is here to change him.

And what does it mean to Chris, to be a “global citizen”? 

 

It’s about doing small things with great love.

 

Becoming a Global Citizen is not about traveling the world—not at all. It’s about opening ourselves up, expanding our perspectives, and nurturing these 3 qualities:

  • Be Present
  • Authentically Connect with One Another
  • Be Inspired by a Mission that is Greater than Ourselves

Awesome.

Stay Tuned for Part II of My Review