Connect the Speakers: Stefan Martinovic on a big year ahead for REBNY

REBNY technology executive will share his thoughts on the board's progress in bringing syndication to New York and its plans for 2018

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Stefan Martinovic will speak at Hacker Connect on Monday, January 22, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, Times Square, during the session, “Overcoming the tech integration problem.”

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We’re really excited to have you joining us as a speaker for Inman Connect New York, but tell us a little more about yourself. How did you arrive in your current role?

Stefan Martinovic

I got my start in real estate working for a development company in Washington D.C. about seven years ago, building everything from affordable housing to mixed-use neighborhoods. It was there that I gained an interest in real estate data and how it could be used to gain unprecedented visibility into the property market.

That inspired me to write a patent and launch a startup around the premise of aggregating large amounts of location-based data and processing it into real estate insights.

I raised venture capital and ran that company for five years before moving on to my current role at REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York).

What I saw in the opportunity to grow the Residential Listing Service (RLS) was to deliver a best in class service of immediate and tremendous value to the most powerful real estate constituency in the world, which was too compelling for me to pass up.

Tell us a little more about your session, what kinds of things will you be talking about in January?

In “Overcoming the tech integration,” we’ll take a deep dive into some of the challenges inherent in adoption of technology products en masse across the brokerage industry.

We had a really unique experience in New York this year with the launch of syndication and the learning curve inherent in communicating the nuances of a technical process that enables a new way to conduct the business of listing advertising.

Bringing in hundreds of brokerage firms into a brand new process in a very short period of time can feel a little like building the train as it’s already rolling down the track, but we managed to pull it off and had to be agile in the rapid growth of our business development, support and compliance functions in the process — lots of lessons learned to share.

What does a typical day look like for you?

REBNY and the RLS are a hybrid between a tech startup, MLS and very powerful association.

I start by working through member issues related to listing syndication and data accuracy, then turn my attention to bigger-picture strategy. This means a lot of juggling between managing members, partners, projects, and innovation initiatives.

I also work closely with companies in our syndication network, from the big guys like realtor.com to new up and coming startups like Urbanr and Igluu, which are building really cool listing and workflow tools for the NYC market.

I treat every interaction with internal and external stakeholders as an opportunity to collect feedback on how we do business so we can continue to learn, develop and grow the capabilities of our service.

I also meet frequently with other players across the property tech landscape such as venture capital funds and other listing service executives to identify trends that help to establish the RLS as a leading offering.

What do you think the biggest challenges facing the real estate industry are at the moment?

We’re in the midst of a generational shift in terms of the way homes are planned, designed and built. The struggle to maintain affordability in an environment where prices continue to rise faster than incomes will continue to be the greatest challenge in today’s real estate industry.

Simply put, residential real estate needs a “stock split” to make it approachable. Supply constraints in growing urban areas and housing types that don’t meet the needs of today’s occupants have led us to the tipping point of an untenable situation.

While land prices continue to rise, developers will need to embrace new construction techniques that can manage costs and schedule risk to deliver marketable units at scale.

I believe we’ll see housing continue to get more compact and adaptable, while new financial and ownership constructs will be developed to preserve affordability for more first-time homebuyers.

2018’s shaping up to be a really exciting year, and as we look ahead, what are your hopes for the next 12 months, and what will you be working on?

At REBNY, we are planning for a huge year in 2018, developing several new digital products, transforming how we deliver services to our members and producing more thought leadership content to get our brand on the national stage.

The cornerstone of our work this year will be the development of a game-changing property database.

REBNY has built an incredible cache of data over the last 120+ years and now that the RLS is in growth mode, the rich set of building and amenity information we’ve amassed will for the first time serve to power the next generation of listings platforms in New York City.

We’ll also be building pioneering software around the data to provide unmatched insights to our members, allowing them to deliver the best possible experience to their clients.

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Want to connect with Stefan? You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Email Matthew Shadbolt.