During his opening remarks at Connect Now, Brad Inman shared his thoughts on how the real estate industry has thrived through a pandemic and what’s next.

As a return to normal moves further out of reach, Inman founder Brad Inman on Tuesday challenged a digital audience at Inman Connect Now to leave the expectation of returning to normal behind.

“I regularly banter with the owner of Bea Bakery, Kerry, who offers mounds of wisdom in a kind of sarcastic, straightforward manner,” Inman said during an opening statement leading into Connect Now, a one-day virtual conference. “Recently she told me, ‘Brad, this is it. This is our life. I’m not waiting for things to get better or return to normal or be like it was. Was is over.'”

“Is Kerry right? I have no clue,” Inman added. “But I do know that unlike our dreams and our hopes, expectations can be a problem zone for human beings.”

“Life gets better when we let go of ideas about what we expect things to be,” he added. “Those ideas get in the way of enjoying what we have. And now more than ever, reality is a lot more interesting than fantasy.”

So, what is certain? According to Inman, the real estate industry has managed to not only survive but thrive through a global pandemic thanks to a few key factors: the local nature of real estate, the essential nature of housing, and a wellspring of technological innovations.

“[Houses] are not cut up in some global supply chain breakdown like a crate of paper towels,” Inman said. “You offer an experience that everyone needs right now and something that people can actually buy. No one shut real estate down.”

To continue thriving, Inman said real estate professionals must shift their focus from proving the industry is essential to building their business on the fact that housing is a basic, universal need that agents can connect people to.

Remember the debate about essential services several months ago? We all focused on the industry being essential, but in fact, it’s housing that’s essential,” he said. “Too often we try to make what we do more glamorous, more exotic and more interesting.”

“But at its core, shelter is as necessary as the air we breathe and the water we drink,” he added. “Getting people in and out of homes has never — never — been more important.”

Inman said real estate professionals have a unique opportunity to offer stability for scared consumers by providing “solid advice” based on market intelligence and using technology to create safe, seamless and efficient transactions.

“For all of the tech entrepreneurs out there — and I know there are many — don’t be discouraged,” Inman said while noting the career trajectories of real estate giants Rich Barton, Dave Liniger and Adi Tatarko. “Never let anyone intimidate you.”

“We value and honor your courage, your risk and your ideas — no matter how crazy or disruptive,” he added. “We need your innovations to make every step of the virtual experience possible.”

He continued, “Without it, this market and this industry would be less vibrant.”

Although the real estate industry has continued to experience success despite lockdowns, and political, social and economic upheaval, Inman reminded professionals not to become complacent.

“Yes real estate is essential, but it’s still a hustle,” he said. “And while our industry did not collapse, earning a decent living is still tricky. Deals are hard.”

“Let’s do this right. Don’t associate with the speculators, discriminators, or the greedy,” he added. “Don’t puff up your chest or overstate your value. It does not show well at this time.”

“Ethics and service are the values rewarded today,” he continued. “In the end, what matters most is being there for your clients with the best service, the keenest market intelligence and the most useful technology.”

Lastly, Inman shared a touching story of a recent trip to North Lake Tahoe that sparked fond memories of a previous trip with his mother, father, uncle Jack and aunt Marie.

“I felt this safe and warm sensation come over me as I reveled in the nostalgia of these four very important people in my life who loved me completely, who encouraged me and protected me always. Gone now, they stand behind me every day,” he said. “In many ways, life has gotten simpler to understand lately.”

“It has offered us more clarity on what is important, what we value and even what we should do with our lives,” he concluded. “We better understand what matters most, who we can count on, who we serve, and where we should put our energy, our love and our devotion.”

“These aren’t expectations. But they are vital to staying strong in one of the most extraordinary moments in the history of humankind.”

Email Marian McPherson

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