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The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® FutureTech 2018, held April 19 in Los Altos, led 200 REALTORS® and brokers in discussions about smart home technology, big data and virtual reality. Products and services showcased at the event were intended to put agents on the forefront of technology so they can better serve their clients in the 21st century, according to Palo Alto broker Michael Dreyfus, with Golden Gate Sotheby’s Realty.

Dreyfus, who chairs the local trade association’s Palo Alto district, opened the program by noting the business of real estate has come a long way from big listing books, which agents and their clients valued, to paperless documents and virtual tours.

A session on the future of smart homes moderated by CBS News technology journalist Larry Magid, featured Sean Paterson, head of marketing and sales for Noon Home, a smart lighting system that wirelessly generates light in different levels to transform the look and feel of a home, and Sophie Le Guen, director of product management of Nest, which produces programmable, sensor-driven, WiFi-enabled thermostats, smoke detectors, security cameras, and other security systems.

Another on how big data is going to affect the future of real estate featured Dave Wetzel, CTO & COO of multiple listing service provider MLSListings Inc., Avi Gupta, president and CEO of SmartZip, which offers predictive marketing services so agents can land more listings by identifying homeowners most likely to sell in any neighborhood; and Stas Alexandrov, founder & CEO of iDevelop.city, an application that allows brokers and developers to view lots, find a place for a building, and see all the specific restrictions in one place.

 

 

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Brokers share a light moment during their discussion. Left to right are Tom Tognoli, Intero Real Estate Services; Ryan Iwanaga, Sereno Group; Carol Burnett, Alain Pinel Realtors; and Don Tornincasa, Coldwell Banker.

Brokers share a light moment during their discussion. Left to right are Tom Tognoli, Intero Real Estate Services; Ryan Iwanaga, Sereno Group; Carol Burnett, Alain Pinel Realtors; and Don Tornincasa, Coldwell Banker.


Brokers/managers from SILVAR’s Los Gatos/Saratoga District educated members on the do’s and don’ts of the business at Wednesday’s tour meeting. The panel included Don Tornincasa, Coldwell Banker; Carol Burnett, Alain Pinel Realtors; Tom Tognoli, Intero Real Estate Services; and Ryan Iwanaga, Sereno Group. District Chair Karen Trolan served as moderator.

The brokers said all top agents are educated about the marketplace, they go on tour, keep in constant touch with their database, work long hours, and make it a point to meet potential clients every day, even during the holidays. They encouraged agents to pick up the phone, touch base with clients, send holiday cards.

“We’re in a relationship business. Take advantage of the holidays. It’s an opportunity to connect with people and thank your clients,” said Burnett.

The panel said
Iwanaga observed that the most successful agents are those who work hard in the first quarter of the year, which can define the whole year. He encouraged agents to start contacting potential clients and cultivate relationships now.

“Don’t wait for January 1 to do it,” said Iwanaga.

More than in the past, the real estate business is changing, and changing fast. There are now micro-markets that are also changing. Agents need to be open-minded, flexible, and embrace new things. Read, dedicate yourselves to improving your skills and look forward, said Tornincasa.

“Keep your eyes out in front of you,” added Tognoli.

Passing the exam is not enough. Agents need to invest in themselves, take seminars and learn.

“Preparation means opportunity,” said Tornincasa.

On technology, the brokers recommended embracing social media, but while engaging in social media is good, most important is building a good website because that is where people eventually come to find out more about the agent.

“You need to make sure your website says something to the world,” said Burnett.

The brokers set standards in their offices, discuss the Code of Ethics at office meetings, and some provide training, but in the end, it is up to the agent.

“You can’t teach ethics and honesty,” said Tognoli. Agents needs to care about their image, their behavior and their reputation.

What do some of the region’s brokers have to say about 2011 and what to expect for 2012?

On a panel at Tuesday’s SILVAR Menlo Park/Atherton District meeting were brokers of the larger real estate companies – Mike James (Coldwell Banker), Maureen Barker (Keller Williams), Larry Klapow (Intero Real Estate Services) and Don Faught (Alain Pinel Realtors). They told SILVAR REALTORS® that compared to other markets, the Bay Area is doing quite well.

“You are definitely very, very fortunate,” Faught told Silicon Valley’s REALTORS®. “California is on sale … Interest rates are great, money is free.”

Yet, consumers hesitate. The brokers said the biggest challenges facing consumers are uncertainty about the future, the lack of jobs or fear they may not have a job in the future, and difficulty meeting strict loan requirements. Klapow said there is a “crisis of confidence.” People are nervous about the future and those who want to purchase homes are having a difficult time getting a loan. Barker said people are feeling so much uncertainty about the future that even with lower home prices and interest rates, they won’t act.

Asked about the role of the Internet and technology in real estate, James said consumers today have access to so much information, and it is the REALTOR®s job “to make sense of the information and educate them.” 

“Technology helps facilitate what we need, but we need to get in touch with consumers and each other,” said Faught.

The brokers spoke about the importance of social media. “Social media is here to stay,” declared Barker. “Real estate is going to be transacted differently, especially by the next generation. … It’s a vehicle to help build who we are, but you need to get smart about how you do it. It’s about creating relationships and being in touch.”

The brokers also discussed the benefits of participating in organized real estate. James noted, “The more involved you are, the better you will be. There are benefits to staying connected and networking with your peers.”

“It is important to have a voice in our industry in Washington,” stressed Klapow.

“We need to be involved,” said Faught, who is California Association of REALTORS®’ treasurer and 2012 president-elect. “If we are not involved in politics, there won’t be an industry.”

How should agents prepare for 2012?

James believes 2012 will be a lot like 2011. “If you don’t like 2011, then you need to change what you are doing, put more effort and reach out to all areas,” said James. “Retool, revamp or you will slip.”

“Mindset is number one. You need to have the right mindset,” said Barker. “Now is a great opportunity to focus on what you love to do, find the right niche, use your gifts, sharpen your area of expertise, take classes, learn more about social media, and video blogging, challenge yourselves to stay up with it.”

“Remain relevant. Filter through information and apply to each client’s unique situation. Find new and fresh things, show your true value,” said Klapow.

Faught said, “We are affected by what we know. During the slow time, work on yourselves. Our value is educating consumers. We need to work ourselves so we can work the data and help consumers understand it.”

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