SAN FRANCISCO — Real Estate Connect is a whirlwind of meetings, sessions, parties, networking in hallways, bars, streets, the hotel lobby and more.
Here are a few takeaways from a handful of attendees of this year’s San Francisco event, which culminates today after three days of nonstop action.
Dustin Adkins and Sarah Beehler attended the event on behalf of Bellevue, Washington-based title and escrow company NexTitle, a 5-year-old startup that does business primarily on the West Coast.
Adkins, a project manager at NexTitle, and Beehler, a marketing editor at the firm, are in the process of helping NexTitle design and build out its mobile presence and say, thanks to the mobile-focused panel at Connect, they will focus their efforts on a native app.
At that panel, Trulia’s senior product manager, Matt Holder, explained to the crowd that a mobile website is a decent option for a mobile presence, but a native, stand-alone app is necessary to seamlessly and quickly harness the full power of a mobile device’s many features, including geolocation and push notifications.
That was a big insight, Adkins said.
“We were thinking about developing a mobile hybrid presence (doing some native app and doing some mobile Web), but we’re definitely not going to do that now,” Adkins said.
That option would have been cheaper, Adkins said, but wanting to delight consumers and provide them with a stellar mobile experience, the firm would double down on its mobile app.
Streamlining consumer use of the app was another mobile lesson that hit home, Beehler said. The conference taught her that consumers should be able to access what they want in a maximum of three clicks on mobile, she said.
Adkins also says that seeing some of the larger title insurance firms talk onstage about building experiences that please brokers and agents first and foremost inspired him to build an app that has a focus on delighting consumers as well as brokers and agents.
Adkins says he expects his smaller title agency’s value proposition on mobile will be targeting exactly what agents need to do in the field:
- Pull up property information.
- Calculate the seller’s net proceeds based on an offer.
- Get a fee quote from the title and escrow company.
Josh Masters has been a buyer’s agent with Australia-based Your Empire for the last 3 1/2 years.
He came to Connect because he’s in the process of launching his own agency and wanted to get cutting-edge insight on real estate technology and best practices at the conference.
In addition to reinforcing his understanding that mobile should be the primary focus of his online presence, Masters says that he came away with an understanding of the power of delegation.
“Buying and selling is my expertise,” Masters said. He’ll look to bring on technology partners to handle that part of the business, so he can focus on what he does best.
Masters also said he came away with a deeper understanding of what above-and-beyond customer service can and should mean in real estate.
He relayed Boston-based Unit Realty Group co-owner and broker Joe Schutt’s story from Tuesday’s “Broker War Room” about servicing a client. Schutt spoke about leaving his vacation one day early and driving three hours to be with a client at a home inspection.
“It’s not just about money, but about doing the right thing,” Masters said of how Schutt’s story hit him.
Luiz Turano came to Connect from Rio de Janeiro where he serves as director of online marketing and information technology development for the firm Patrimovel.
Brazil real estate is in the early stages of ramping up its technology, Turano said. So, being at Connect and learning about the importance of supplying agents with fully functional mobile solutions for transaction, client and lead management was an eye-opener and something he will work to implement for agents at his firm.
Turano also came away with some new ideas on how to handle agent profile photos and their presence in marketing. The photos should be professionally done on the one hand, and agents should use their discretion about when to include on marketing to avoid the perception of pushiness, he said.
Harold Kraft, vice president of product management for the realtystore.com operator Nations Info Corp., was one of the Connect attendees who never made it to a session.
A big part of Connect is connecting with potential clients and partners, touching base with existing partners and scouting out for new ideas, and that’s what Kraft was doing in earnest over the past three days.
Strolling around Startup Alley, Kraft says he came across two firms that his company might look to partner with to enhance the listings on its portal.
The agent-matching site HomeLight could provide some info to consumers about connecting with vetted agents on the realtystore.com site, Kraft said. WikiRealty and its user-generated content was also an enticing potential partner, he said.