The Inman founder kicked off Disconnect in Palm Springs, California, on Monday by calling on real estate leaders to deliver a path forward through the rough patches ahead.

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No one expected the pandemic housing boom to last forever. But few economists and analysts predicted that mortgage rates would rise as quickly as they did in 2022, sparking a deep — and sudden — real estate downturn.

Brad Inman

Brad Inman believes the next chapter of real estate’s future will be written by real estate practitioners, not by experts, he told a group of industry executives and leaders Monday at the beginning of the Inman Disconnect gathering in Palm Springs, California.

“It makes us feel good to read some forecasts,” said Inman, who once covered business and economics for a living as a real estate columnist. “It makes us feel more certain somehow that this guy’s telling us what’s going to happen, because we all want to know what the future is, right? But they’re always wrong.”

Instead, the real estate entrepreneur and founder of Inman challenged the executives and leaders to come up with a series of predictions of their own for what the real estate industry will look like on the other side of the ongoing market correction.

By compiling the collective insights of top U.S. real estate leaders, Inman argued the industry could arrive at a better idea of where things will stand nine months from now than any single expert could form on their own.

“Occasionally you hear about some hedge fund guy — [like in the Michael Lewis book] The Big Short — that figures it out,” Inman said. “And yeah, occasionally that happens, but it’s like winning the lottery. So it’s my view, and it always has been, that the wisdom of crowds, the wisdom of the Inman community, is collectively smarter than any of them.”

The sum total of Disconnect attendees’ assessments, insights, and predictions for the year ahead will be compiled by Inman and published in the weeks to come. 

But in the meantime, Inman’s founder said the industry would need to navigate its way through several messy challenges, from the correction in housing demand to the way that COVID-19 has changed the way of life for real estate companies.

A broad range of experience will be represented at this year’s three-day event, spanning the major corners of the industry. 

Brokerage giant Anywhere’s Sherry Chris is slated to talk about the megalawsuits that could upend how the industry does business. Zillow’s Errol Samuelson and Fifth Wall’s Jon Hong will discuss where proptech companies — and investors — are flocking in the times ahead. 

And other real estate voices will discuss the fallout of the months in the rearview mirror and the challenges and opportunities facing business in the years ahead.

Effectively, the exercise will serve as a challenge to the industry as well, which could spur decision-makers to think ahead and possibly achieve more in the process, Inman said.

“That’s what we’re going to do collectively,” Inman said of the upcoming talks at Disconnect. “We’re gonna write one big, fat letter to our future self — which, ‘self,’ in this case is going to be to the real estate industry. Where will it be? And also, maybe, where do we want it to be?”

Email Daniel Houston

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