Last week at ICNY, agents reconnected and perched on the edge of their seats as they filled their minds and hearts with innovative ideas, encouragement and sage advice for the coming months in a rapidly evolving market.  

Diversity, women’s viewpoints, stronger leadership, better strategy, friendlier office environments and using technology that creates opportunities, not headaches, are the must-haves this spring for agents who are struggling to stand out against their competition in the most challenging markets in recent history. 

Missed some of the coverage? Here are a few of the can’t-miss takeaways from the industry’s premier event:

Ryan Serhant to agents: Find the ‘and’ in your personal brand

Find authenticity, lean into your passions and think about your future self, says “Million Dollar Listing New York” star Ryan Serhant.

Serhant recommends that agents grab their smartphones and get started with building their personal brand right away. Agents don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on professional marketing; they can gain an audience by consistently sharing simple pictures and leaning into their enthusiasm to sell homes. 

Serhant also mentioned that agents should focus on what “feels right” in their marketing and include personal hobbies and passions to create unique and interesting content.  He doesn’t dance on TikTok, but he does believe in vlogging and has a strong presence on Linkedin.

Hot Tip: Invest in a domain that is as close to your name as possible to help build your brand and make it easy for consumers to find you.

How women are leading the diversity, equity and inclusion conversations

Diversity in the industry is not keeping pace with the consumer of the future. At ICNY, three of the industry’s top talents discussed how to change the equation.

Panelists discussed the fact that although women make up the majority of the real estate industry, women real estate agents are still disproportionally underrepresented in leadership and decision-making roles. The panel spoke of the personal responsibility that women agents have for creating room for more inclusion and to champion issues of diversity for all minorities in the industry.

Hot Tip: Women help women and their community. Get involved and give your voice power to be a supportive change in the industry for underrepresented agents and clients.

Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider: Make no mistake, ‘Zillow is a competitor’

Ryan Schneider said Zillow is competing with agents and lamented they’re still writing checks to the company. “It is a shame our industry let those companies get created,” Schneider said at ICNY.

CoStar is ready to give Zillow a run for its money, and Schneider feels that agents need to reconsider Zillow’s future intentions before they continue paying for their Premium lead generation programs. Zillow insists that they consider agents their partners in the joint mission to find homes for millions of consumers. Big changes are coming to Zillow in 2022 for Premier Agents, and it most certainly will get a second look this summer.

Hot Tip: If you are a Zillow Premier agent or on a team that receives Zillow leads, make sure to regularly review your account and stay on top of all the latest platform changes. 

Transparency and speed: 3 leaders share the future of transaction tech

SkySlope Vice President of Product Buck Avey, Openn Managing Director Peter Gibbons and ShowingTime President Michael Lane shared how transaction management is key to ushering in a more equitable buying and selling experience.

If there is one thing agents and consumers can agree on, it’s that transaction management is the key to a smooth ride to the closing table.  The pandemic has fueled huge growth in proptech, but there is still room for improvement. Panelists noted that there is still too much busy work for agents and consumers to make many of these tools as efficient as they could be.

Hot Tip: Make sure that your tech tools serve you and your clients with ease of use. Price match and survey users regularly to see if the tool is still working to make your transaction smarter, not harder. 

Ending discrimination must be ‘top item’ for real estate: OJO Labs CEO

OJO Labs CEO John Berkowitz and Realtor.com CMO Mickey Neuberger hit the Inman Connect stage to talk about eliminating discrimination and how tech could level the playing field.

Berkowitz and Neuberger urged brokers to keep disenfranchised communities top of mind as the industry races toward a digitized future. Tech needs to be created that is optimized for all price ranges and housing needs, not just the needs and experience of luxury clients.

Hot Tip: Make sure to test your website and review your marketing to make sure it is fair housing-compliant for all of your potential clients in all price ranges.

4 predictions for what’s coming next in real estate

Real estate leaders at Inman CEO Connect discussed what kinds of changes might shape the next chapter in the housing business.

Consumers’ needs and values are changing fast in this new economy. The panel predicted changes in how a mortgage is viewed, potential shared ownership interests, subscription programs and even creative down payment solutions that are on the horizon.

Hot Tip: Pay attention to common questions that consumers ask, and keep a log of significant changes. Seek out newer and more flexible lending programs that might help consumers get the edge to stay competitive in multiple offer scenarios. 

Strategy first — then technology, proptech leaders emphasized

In a session sponsored by Zavvie and Radian, developer of Homegenius, Inside Real Estate CEO Joe Skousen said one of the biggest problems he encounters is brokers trying to solve problems without a strategy. Many agents are looking for a tech solution to solve onboarding, transaction management and communication issues, but without a strategy in place, even the best technology products will fall flat.

Hot Tip: Before downloading that new app, subscription or CRM, make sure you have a good understanding of the problem you need the tool to solve and how using that tool will fit into your daily schedule.

Overwhelmingly, expert panels pushed for agents to prepare to pivot and stay true to themselves so that their business can thrive and not just survive. Lead generation services, brokerage/franchise fees, coaching and marketing systems are all ripe for a long-overdue makeover in the modern agent’s eyes, and the industry is positioned to be disrupted as agents look to the future of what’s next for their bottom line.

By day, Rachael Hite helps agents develop their business. By night, she’s tweeting and blogging. Feel free to tweet her @rachaelhite.

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