The real estate issues and trends discussed at the 2015 LeadingRE Annual Conference

LeadingRE screen at the annual conference
We’re always excited for new opportunities to get out and meet real estate professionals face to face. Last week, we attended our first ever LeadingRE Annual Conference in Las Vegas, and were able to speak with some of the best and brightest brokers and relocation specialists in the industry. Here are some of the issues and trends that were discussed:

Just like it has been throughout the industry since ‘Zulia’ 6 months ago, syndication to portals was the hottest topic at the LeadingRE conference. One of the most popular sessions of the week was a panel discussion titled ‘The Portal Dilemma: The Pros and Cons of Syndication’. This panel consisted of Russ Cofano, a representative from Move, Inc., Chris Meyers of Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate, Jay Teresi of Nothnagle Real Estate, and Ignacio Artagoitia, a real estate professional in Spain.

Panel discussion on portals at the LeadingRE Annual Conference

This panel really shed some light on the fact that syndication to portals is still a very controversial topic, and also one that produces some very polarizing opinions. Meyers explained how Houlihan Lawrence has wholly embraced the syndication movement, purchasing enhanced plans from the major portals to ensure they’re getting exclusive access to leads. He summed up their philosophy on portals as this: Retreating from portals doesn’t make sense, because the consumers have proven they prefer them.

However, Teresi gave Nothnagle Real Estate’s experience with portals and shared a very different story. They spent years advertising and buying leads from portals, but ultimately made the decision to stop purchasing leads in 2012. Since then, they’ve focused on enhancing and optimizing the listings on their own website, and have seen an increase in business at a lower cost. Though both companies are extremely successful in their market, their relationship with portals couldn’t be more different. The reality is that most real estate professionals are somewhere in the middle. One of my favorite comments during this panel came from the moderator, Jeremiah Daly, who suggested a happy medium that many in the audience could understand and implement. Though his office purchases leads, they still focus efforts on creating valuable content on their own website beyond what portals cannot provide for the consumer, such as neighborhood videos and blog posts about the area.

In our discussions with some of the top brokers and relocation specialists across the country, the portal dilemma was a big problem for many. Some brokers who purchased leads from several sources were interested in a solution for organizing and tracking the ROI on these leads, and we were able to share with them how Lead Manager can help with this. No matter your opinion on portals, the truth is that they won’t be going away any time soon. Every agent and broker has to decide how much money (if any) they spend on portal leads, or how much time they dedicate to attracting leads through other marketing efforts.

Pipeline ROI employees at our LeadingRE Conference booth

Another divisive issue that was discussed during at this conference was the value of print vs. online advertisements. Mark Bardo of John R. Wood Properties explained how agents should look to their target market to decide how they should allocate their marketing dollars. For example, if you’re a south Florida agent who focuses on retirees, you work with a market that still reads the newspaper. If you work with first-time homebuyers in an urban setting, you’ll likely see a better results with retargeting or social media ads. Big-time brokers don’t all use the same magic advertising and marketing strategy, they’re simply in tune with their target market and have learned over time what gives them the best ROI.

Between the classes I attended, and conversations I had with others in the industry, the key takeaway I got from the conference is this: Whether you’re a brand new broker with 2 agents working for you, or an experienced one with 2,000, there are certain issues that affect everyone in the industry. Every single real estate professional has to make decisions about marketing mediums, advertising budgets, website designs, and a million other things every year. However, the people at the top of the game are the ones that make an effort to stay on the cutting edge of new technology, marketing strategies, and trends in the industry. Stefan Swanepoel, author of the annual Swanepoel Trends Report, spoke at the conference and said, “There’s more industry change happening right now than in the last 3 decades.” Making an effort to adapt to these changes, rather than fight them, could be exactly what you need to grow your business this year.