Editor’s note: Real Estate Connect New York City, scheduled Jan. 7-9, 2009, is billed as "Global Connect — A World of Innovation." In this article, Inman News founder Bradley Inman reflects on real estate in the global setting.

In his book, "The Post-American World," Fareed Zakaria offers a blueprint for the United States to participate in the growing world economy — not as a bully, but as a partner.

He describes how fear-driven parochial isolationism is eroding our position as a leader on the global stage, and how arrogance could cripple our economy and our way of life.

I agree.

These fears run deep throughout our culture.

Many Americans loathe immigration and yet they are inspired to visit Venice to relish their European immigrant past. It may be another sign that America’s day is passing, as we imagine an easier life somewhere else in another period of history that no longer requires hard work, innovation and tolerance.

As the real estate industry scrambles for a smaller piece of the shrinking U.S. property transaction pie, parochialism represents a danger to the industry.

Finding a wealthy Russian buyer for a tired listing should not be the limit of a global real estate strategy.

The world economy offers a much bigger opportunity for the real estate industry and it is not limited to foreign buyers coming here. Instead, imagine a global real estate marketplace that technology-savvy companies, brokers and agents can operate in but also learn from.

Just as technology changed the U.S. housing industry, it is changing the global real estate marketplace.

As an example, 3 billion people around the world have cell phones. As Web applications are pushed to this network of users, innovation will escalate around the world.

Connect was born in 1996 when we began meeting technology innovators from around the United States and wanted to bring them together to accelerate change and innovation.

At Connect this year, a horde of interesting innovators, technologists and companies with varied business models traveled to San Francisco from around the world to revel in U.S. innovation but also to boast about their new gizmos, business plans or innovations.

They came from India, Australia, China, Japan, Europe, Canada, South America and many other countries.

Historically, the United States has led the way in real estate innovation: the land title system, productivity tools, online technology, the 30-year fixed mortgage, and home ownership as a core public policy for economic equality.

Now, other countries are copying our inventions and are developing new technologies, new business models and different ways of selling and marketing property.

Take Richard Ollier from the French company Giroptic, whom I met at Connect. He was walking around with a gadget that on first glance looked like a device to induce happy marital intimacy. Instead, it was a simple 360-degree digital camera.

We only scratched the surface in San Francisco last month.

Now, we are setting out to encourage the global connection among these innovators who are not part of traditional international real estate groups but are hungry for an audience that Inman News can provide.

In New York on Jan. 7-9, we are bringing together innovators from around the world. We will have hundreds of global speakers and experts who are pitching new ideas that will enrich the U.S. real estate scene and create new opportunities for professionals here and abroad.

We are looking for your ideas on topics, panels and speakers. Send them my way: Brad@Inman.com.

Inman News is bringing the world to New York City. The Real Estate Global Connect NYC is set for Jan. 7-9, 2009, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Visit the Inman News Events page for more information and register today.


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