Five things we learned on the Realtor tradeshow circuit

May 25th, 2015 | By Ryan Lambert

FCT’s Emerging Business Group and Digital Marketing team has been on the real estate tradeshow circuit for the past few weeks. On this circuit, we had the opportunity to attend the OREA Leadership Conference; the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Realtor®Quest 2015; and Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph’s XPO6. The primary purpose of our attendance was to generate awareness of FCT’s Certified Resale Home in the GTA and test out the TwinCities (Kitchener/Waterloo) as a potential second market for the product. Following a whirlwind two weeks, the teams got together and summarized a few key learnings:

1. While everyone is talking about how hot the Toronto market is (it still receives the majority of the airtime), perhaps a more appropriate reframe would be that it’s the Ontario market that is hot. Realtors from Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Waterloo, Guelph, and the Durham Region all said the same thing—properties are moving quickly and multiple-bid scenarios are becoming more common. It shouldn’t be shocking to correlate the fast pace of market growth in these areas with their associated robust employment markets. Whether it is the tech sector in Waterloo, the gentrification and rebranding of Hamilton, or the focus on attracting global entities to Burlington and Oakville, the view is that strong employment dynamics are underpinning growth as opposed to a less logical market dynamic.

2. We are nearing an inflection point when it comes to the adoption of technology by realtors (real-tech). The pending regulation around allowing an electronic signature on the agreement of purchase and sale in Ontario will play a big role in the evolution of real-tech. Two years ago you could have asked about real-tech and quoted what was happening in the US market as proof of real-tech’s ubiquity and been met with indifference. This year it was quite different: realtors seem more aware of the shift in the way consumers engage with services; it is a matter of identifying where to best invest their dollars to enhance their own productivity. Millennials are a mobile-first generation, and finding a way to replicate the experiences millennials have using consumer tech like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix will find its way into all spheres, including real estate. Companies like DealTap™, Teranet’s ViMO®, LoneWolf, and a variety of other players are at the forefront of this change.

3. It is critical to have an objective in mind before attending the tradeshow otherwise it is very easy to get lost in the conversations and the pandemonium
of TREBARDY. The most successful booths were those that engaged attendees in a unique way, often avoiding the hard sell, and those able to crisply deliver their elevator pitch within often brief interactions.  We decided to offer free lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos. Suffice to say: realtors love their coffee—we had a captive audience to generate real-time feedback on the Certified Resale Home product, and likely had the type of booth traffic that most would envy!

4. Realtors have won the battle against For Sale By Owner (FSBO) in Ontario. We didn’t hear one piece of feedback that suggests it is even a concern anymore. That’s a strong testament to the branding work that was done by the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA’s) various Why a REALTOR® campaigns. However, the next battle front is really solidifying the realtor’s value proposition across the real estate lifecycle, which can be divided into two phases: pre-agreement of purchase and sale (everything to get the deal signed) and post-agreement of purchase and sale (closing the deal). The realtors we met who are “crushing it” right now understand the value in a full-service, end-to-end offering.

5. More than ever it is clear there is a proliferation of business-model innovation in the real estate space and that is a good thing! Real-tech is here to stay and will be one of the driving forces that helps power the innovation. Whether it is a full-service strategy, cost leadership, or a hybrid of priced offerings, innovation will drive the next phase of evolution of the industry and the winner in the end will be the consumer.

If you also attended any of these conferences and would like to share your learnings, we invite you to comment below.

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