During his opening address at Inman Connect Now, Inman advised agents to embrace change, look for opportunity and hold their heads high.

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At the beginning of the summer, when the pandemic was causing entire populations to shelter in place, Inman founder and publisher Brad Inman issued a challenge to the real estate industry: Put your head down, dig in, be present for your customers and do your job with integrity.

Now as summer turns to fall, Inman has a new message for the industry, which he revealed in his opening address at Inman Connect Now on Tuesday: Hold your head up high and look for opportunity.

“I want you to hold your head high because you should be proud to be a real estate agent out there serving people. And also hold your head high and look up because you might see opportunities,” Inman said.

Inman, in the opening address, shared three anecdotes to emphasize his point, the first of which involved a 700-year-old redwood tree under the shadow of which he spent the summer.

“For 25 years I went up to that cabin and I never really spent much time looking at that tree,” Inman said. “I was too busy looking down.”

But this summer, in making the effort to look, he saw the redwood as the great protector of all things below its canopy — other trees, animals and humans.

The second lesson was one learned from Inman’s wife Yaz, a native of Morocco. In her country of origin, Yaz faced discrimination and persecution, but her mother always told her to hold her head high.

“The reason she told her that is, because if you walk with your head high, you walk with confidence,” Inman said. “You walk with the confidence that people aren’t that willing to put down and bully you.”

The final story was a lesson Inman learned from his son, Cal. Throughout his youth, Cal was always looking up, Inman recalled, even when playing soccer or on the baseball diamond. Constantly looking up, and noticing things that others weren’t looking at, is what made Cal a successful real estate developer.

“The thing also about Cal’s story is that he saw opportunity,” Inman said. “And that’s the thing that I’d like to give all of you today.”

“There is so much opportunity if you hold your head high and you’re looking for that opportunity.”

That opportunity takes form in the “great reshuffling,” touted by Zillow CEO Rich Barton. Inman, fresh off a road trip across the country, saw that great reshuffling first hand, with more RVs and U-Hauls on the road than ever before.

“There’s no question this reshuffling is taking place,” Inman said. “People are rethinking everything about not only who they are but where they want to be, and who they want to be next door, and whether they want to be in the mountains, or the woods, or by the ocean, or plains, or in the suburbs. There’s definitely something going on there.”

For real estate agents, that doesn’t mean hordes of out-of-town buyers are going to show up at your doorstep looking for a home, but rather there’s opportunity in the fuzziness surrounding the living situations of most people. There’s a confusion about what’s best and aspiration for a different space — and that’s where agents come in.

“It’s being there when someone has that imagination and has it running and are confused,” Inman said. “That really is not only imperative that you’re there to serve those customers but obviously it also creates a lot of opportunity.”

Inman also advised agents to embrace the mass amount of innovation the pandemic caused this summer, whether it’s iBuying or new fintech models that allow homeowners to use their existing homes as essentially all-cash offers in a competitive market.

“Use this as an opportunity to be really aware of the opportunities and the resources and the technologies that are out there for you,” Inman said.

Agents should be prepared to spread their wings, said Inman, and seek opportunities outside of the close-knit groups formed during the pandemic as worlds became smaller.

Email Patrick Kearns

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