5 Minute Read | by Tim Rose
Despite all the talk of lawsuits, unease, and concerns, there was a central message I kept hearing at the Inman Conference in Las Vegas: It’s time to work together. Over the years attending these conferences there is usually a little bit of fear and anxiety in the air. Zillow is coming for us. Redfin is coming for us. Compass is coming for us. iBuyers are coming for us.
Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow
Now the tone has changed (although I am sure quite a few were thinking “Amazon is coming for us”). Enough agents have had success using Zillow’s platform that more than half of the room roared with applause when Rich Barton (Zillow CEO) came up to speak. Zillow is introducing a referral fee (their “success fee”) at closing to incentivize agents to provide the client with a better agent experience.
Glenn Kelman (Redfin CEO) joked that he tried–and failed–automating real estate agents out of business. Kelman recently sanctioned a large survey of agents to understand their wants, needs, and frustrations, in an effort to be a better employer to his real estate agents.
Eric Wu, Co-Founder & CEO of Opendoor
Eric Wu (Opendoor Co-Founder & CEO) was celebrated for pioneering “iBuying” as we know it today, because it creates a new option for consumers, and gives agents another thing to show their clients while guiding them through the listing process. As real estate tech strategist Mike Delprete elaborated, “Companies and agents that win will be those that empower consumers to make the choice that’s right for them.”
The conversation at this year’s conference felt more optimistic. It felt more forward-looking. It felt more collaborative.
For example, Emily Chenevert (CEO, Austin Board of Realtors), in her talk “Stop Being a Victim”, challenged everyone to “embrace the change and work together”. We heard Dave Gordon (CTO, Realogy) talk about building an open platform for their brokerages that can integrate with any tool. Glenn Sanford (CEO, eXp) explained how his entire brokerage is built around the concept of a platform.
Frank Major (CTO, BrightMLS) talked about how data standards are critical, as they enable two entities that might not know each other to speak the same language. Sam DeBord and RESO are working to make this a reality. Ryan Gorman (CEO, NRT LLC) mentioned how unique our industry is given that every deal requires cooperation with a competitor.
Every panel and every presentation acknowledged the urgency to work together, to think together, and to innovate together.
When considering why the tone seemed to change this week, that was clear: There are plenty of people out there that want to buy or sell a house–but they aren’t doing it simply because the process is broken. If the industry works together to create a frictionless process, consumers will buy and sell more homes, creating more volume in the industry and a larger marketplace for consumers. Everyone wins.
PlanOmatic's colorful wall display at the Inman conference
At PlanOmatic, we created a new role this year solely dedicated to integration. That’s my job, so yes, I was excited to hear this theme of collaboration throughout the week. Our customer is the real estate agent, and their process should be frictionless as well so they can keep their attention on their client.
From the transaction management system, to the photography vendor, to the MLS, to the website vendor, to the print/advertising vendors, etc. Everyone should be connected for the sake (and sanity!) of the listing agent. That’s our mission. That’s my mission. And after 7 months in this role I can plainly see that the road is long, but as long as we are all walking down the same road we’ll get there before we know it.