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Agent Reboot and Real Estate Connect 2012: Four Trends to Watch Closely

By Colin Ryan

Industry News

This week, Inman News kicks off their conference circuit in New York City, first with Agent Reboot, then with the three-day Real Estate Connect. Here are our picks for the four trends and topics that will be not just the talk of the town this week, but also the driving force of the industry this year.

1. Social Media Marketing

Host Katie Lance is Inman’s Social Media Director. Nearly a quarter of the the roughly 50 items on the Real Estate Connect agenda are concerned with social media, while over half of the 17 talks at Agent Reboot are about the same.

Agent Reboot is even offering a four-part “drill down” to help agents understand how to use Facebook for content creation, marketing, and advertising. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to know that social media applications are a huge part of the real estate industry’s future, and both conferences are poised to give agents plenty of instruction on how to use them.

But talks at both conferences about social media’s effect on search engine ranking and the importance of reputation management illustrate just how much these applications are erasing the boundaries between the social, the personal, and the professional spheres of real estate agents’ lives.

That’s why we’re predicting that social media exhaustion and frustration will become a more prominent theme in real estate discussions this year.

2. Video for Real Estate

Real Estate Connect is devoting an entire “innovation track,” one of their Thursday afternoon-long sessions, to mastering video, and it’s easy to see why: back in April, nearly three quarters of homeowners said they’d be more likely to list with a realtor offering to do video, while only 12 percent of real estate professionals had YouTube accounts. The discrepancy may stem from the perception that making videos is difficult and expensive. While that’s still true for the highest quality, professionally produced products, which can range up to a thousand dollars a pop, it’s becoming easier to create your own videos at a much lower price.

Digital cameras, mobile devices, and simple editing tools are making real estate video accessible for more and more agents. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should take video lightly: after all, increasing ease and increasing demand also mean increasing expectations.

Look for video tours and slide shows to become not just an accessory, but a necessity for the real estate search in 2012.

3. Data Management

We’re starting to see the downside of having a vast amount of data at our disposal — namely, the increasingly challenging task of organizing and making sense of that data. Not surprising, then, that Evernote CEO Phil Libin is getting first crack at the Real Estate Connect crowd after the hosts’ opening remarks. Here’s an excerpt about Evernote from the sessions page:

  • Evernote has forever changed how we think about “note taking,” allowing us to keep track of all of the information we encounter in our increasingly digital world while we’re on the go. In only three years, the company’s customer base has grown to over 11 million loyal users who turn to Evernote to capture their life’s work using their computer, smartphone or tablet.

Companies like Evernote are certainly helping us get over our data fatigue, but it doesn’t stop with simple notes. As a real estate agent, you need to manage not only your ongoing relationships with clients and prospects, but also the content you’re creating and the research you’re doing to bolster it. Plus, consumers need just as much saving from data overload as professionals, if not more.

That means it’s up to the industry to make real estate search simpler and more meaningful, both with technical tweaks like geo-stacking map data and larger trends like neighborhood and lifestyle search.

4. Mobile

The growing adoption of smartphones, along with the growing ultrabook frenzy, means highly portable devices will account for more and more web activity in 2012. The focus, however, will be largely be turned to the iPad and Android devices like Acer’s Transformer this coming year, which is why tablet application companies are taking the podium.

Take OnSwipe, which promises easy optimization of content and advertising for touch-enabled devices:

  • There’s no denying that touch-enabled devices like Apple’s iPad are revolutionizing the way we interact with information. To OnSwipe co-founder and CEO Jason Baptiste, tablets are ushering in the largest shift in how we create, consume and share media since the introduction of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440.

Also driving the tablet stampede are advances in hardware and infrastructure. More powerful mobile processors and the improved data speeds of new 4G networks will lead to users who are tired of the simplified and truncated web experiences that defined the initial push in mobile computing. That means increased demand for full-featured web browsing and more and better-quality videos. It also means we’ll start to see a more significant shift in thinking about what tablets can do.

Consider augmented reality, which overlays live, real-time visuals of your physical environment with information meant to enrich your understanding of what you’re seeing. It’s no wonder REC has booked Claire Boonstra, co-founder of Layar, as Thursday’s keynote speaker.

To be sure, this week’s events are shaping up to be the most important of the year, and the Placester team is excited to attend.

Stay tuned for our coverage of Real Estate Connect over the next few days, including live tweets!

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