This year’s REALTORS® Convention & Expo in San Diego traces its origins to the first Chicago meeting of the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges held May 12-14, 1908.
One hundred and seven years later, some 20,000 real estate professionals will visit the San Diego Convention center where more than 400 organizations will display their offerings and pitch their products.
2016 promises to be a pivotal year of rapid adoption of sweeping innovations and the emergence of new powerhouses in the residential real estate matrix. Here are five hot trends to look for and listen at the workshops to learn about to get the most out of NAR to help you next year.
Full disclosure: All of these trends identified here come from my own personal biases and prejudices, having delved deeply into these subjects over the last several months.
Trend #1 – Marketing Automation
It’s is a no-brainer that Marketing Automation will dominate the minds of broker owners in 2016. This is what solves the low adoption rates by agents of new technology offerings their firms provide. It’s also a huge boost for broker ROI as it removes agents from the quagmire of self-created marketing materials.
Agents waste a huge amount of time creating marketing materials to promote a listing and themselves, and Marketing Automation allows them to focus instead on the things they are good at: Generating listings and closing sales. Take the agent out of the equation when it comes to creating, deploying and promoting listings by automating the marketing for them and you have 100% agent adoption and deliver zero wait time to promote properties for every seller. Bill Yaman, President of Imprev, a leader in this effort, has written extensively about this topic in his blog, here.
Trend #2 – Mobile everything
It’s go mobile or go home in 2016. It’s not just Google driving this accelerated change, it’s also your clients. Zillow is saying that 70 percent of its weekend search traffic is coming from mobile devices. Mobile First remains the best strategy and companies that understand the difference that this approach brings – versus the shortcut of building responsive websites or just mobile apps – are going to distance themselves from the competition when it comes to lead gen. At NAR, look for firms that really are committed to a Mobile First strategy.
Trend #3 – Mobile Admin
Speaking of mobile, forward-thinker Randall Standard, CEO of VoicePad, arguably has more experience and expertise in the mobile space than anyone in real estate. He came from the wireless world and brought to real estate what is the most in-depth solution for IDX Mobile Lead Generation that’s totally integrated with AutomatedProperty Marketing. Standard just introduced a new term to real estate technology – Mobile Admin – by penning a piece that sets the stage for what is really going to revolutionize the industry’s adoption of mobile. Being able to administer systems and networks from any mobile device is the next horizon. The idea that you will be able to monitor, manage, troubleshoot and fix systems and networks from anywhere at anytime with any vendor — all from a smartphone or tablet – is going to happen. It will take time, Standard cautions, because it is hard, very hard. My guess is many tech firms are going to be bringing this revolution to the marketplace next year. Listen for this buzz at NAR.
Trend #4 – Lead Nurturing
So much focus is on the front end of the lead equation, generation and conversion. The problem, as Listingbook CEO Randall Kaplan points out in his blogs on the subject, is that tens of millions of dollars are being spent to support a current model that allows for only a 1 to 3 percent success rate. Studies show that real estate firms are turning as few as 1 out of 100 online leads into a real deal. The focus is on the lowest hanging fruit: What will close now, not later. Kaplan and others argue that the long game actually has more value to a brokerage and that the key is lead nurturing. The trick is most lead nurturing approaches also have a huge fallout rate. In 2016, watch for systems that figure out how to stay in touch with the “lookers” over time as they eventually will become loyalists, clients you can serve not just for their next transactions, but their future ones as well. Look for a “sticky” lead nurturing program that can deliver value over many months and even years to potential prospects that right now are being discarded as dead leads.
Trend #5 – Big Data: Standards, Upstream, Broker Public Portal and ListTrac
Just look at what has happened to the Real Estate Standards Organization, or RESO, this year and you’ll see that innovation is going to be unleashed like never before in real estate next year. After NAR mandated the adoption of the RESO Data Dictionary, many doubted its success. Yet RESO just announced that MLSs serving about one-third of all Realtors® in the U.S. have already been Data Dictionary Certified. This data standard movement is being embraced by large industry initiatives that include Upstream and the Broker Public Portal. Standards remove so many obstacles for startups that 2016 is likely to be the year of standards. Standards will also drive transparency, and that’s the sandbox that fast-growing ListTrac, the company known as the Google Analytics for Listings, is playing in. ListTrac leverages Big Data in a way that gives agents, brokers and MLSs incredible insight to how their listings are performing across the web in one easy-to-read Dashboard. They manifest transparency at its finest as they help agents finally figure out what’s working online and what’s not. Look for firms that are aligned to embrace new industry standards and you will find firms that will help shape the future of real estate.
Remember, when you stroll the Exhibit Hall aisles at NAR, attend the workshops and meetings, look and listen not only for signs of these trends, but others industry trends in 2016. That’s because the one thing that this convention does a great job of doing is showing us what we are going to be talking about next year.
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