With more than 1,000 Inman posts, Bernice Ross is a long-time contributor whose weekly column on real estate trends, luxury, marketing and other best practices publishes every Monday.

Fierce competition for top agents, capturing consumer eyeballs and market share can often lead to some memorable zingers both on and off the Inman Connect Las Vegas stage. Here are some of the best from ICLV 2019. 

1. Compass (politely) faces off against Keller Williams 

On July 30, 2019, Compass announced that it has now raised approximately $1.5 billion in funding. Compass has also opened a new tech hub in Seattle with more than 300 employees. 

“In a statement, the company said the new round will position Compass to make further investments in software development, including support for the launch of the redesigned consumer search and app experience,” Inman staffer Patrick Kearns reported

Onstage at Connect, however, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin admitted that a big chunk of that has gone to build market share (signing bonuses and acquisitions), for establishing physical locations, for coordinating with over 800 MLSs and to the development of its CRM and other technology tools. 

According to KW President Josh Team, KW already has all that in place. Team summed it up like this, “We’ve got more people using our system every hour than almost any of our competitors have in their entire ecosystems,” Team said at Connect.

He continued, we were also named by Fast Company as the No. 1 most innovative real estate company for 2019, and KW Labs won the NAR hackathon, pitch battle for 2018 that challenged software developers to build an innovative product that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to serve the industry.

“My job is pretty easy. I’ve got one billionaire guy I answer to who is a Realtor,” Team said in terms of KW’s funding and philosophy. Moderator Clelia Warburg Peters jumped in to ask how much Keller has invested in the platform. 

“He’s already committed [to] over $1 billion, and he’s even told me privately, ‘I’ll go above that,'” Team responded. “This is not about money.”

“I don’t want to speak for Reffkin here, but there’s a nuance here. Our billion is going into technology. We’re not buying market share. We’re not trying to go to growth. We’re not trying to acquire agents. We’re going into technology.” 

Perhaps this round goes to KW. 

2. Black to red?

What was probably the best takeaway and the best zinger?

Mike DelPrete won hands down. 

He began his talk by asking: How many people think Zillow, Opendoor, Redfin and Compass are profitable?

The answer: None of these big disruptors are profitable. 

DelPrete went on to say: “Profitability these days is passé.

There’s a new competitive advantage in the world of real estate — it’s not network effects, product differentiation or low cost — it’s sustained unprofitability for long, long periods of time. The biggest disruption in real estate is financial.

Red is the new black,” he quipped. 

In terms of the best takeaway, DelPrete summed it up like this: IBuyer offers are the new Zestimate. What better way is there to price your home than having a written cash offer? It’s better than any CMA or algorithm.

DelPrete went on to explain how the growth of Zillow’s $1 billion Premier Agent program has ground to a halt, due largely to Opendoor and increased costs per lead. 

Prior to Opendoor’s launch, Zillow was the first stop for consumers searching for a home. Zillow was in a powerful position where it could determine which leads would go to which Premier Agents. If Zillow wanted to continue to maintain its position as the first stop when consumers shop for a home, it had to get into the iBuyer game.  

Making matters even more difficult, in 2018, Zillow was paying 85 cents per lead or using the “gap basis” number $1.10. (What this means is that for every dollar Zillow makes in revenue, it was spending $1.10 to acquire the lead).

For Q1 2019, those numbers had increased for 95 cents per lead and on a “gap basis,” or $1.20 per lead. 

This opens up a whole new model for Zillow. While Zestimates generate mostly buyer leads, the iBuyer model generates seller leads. 

According to DelPrete, the bottom line is: The companies that will win the battle over where the consumer begins their search will be the ones that also empower consumers to make the choice that is right for them.

3. Our favorite drinking game for ICLV 2019 

Wendy Forsythe nailed it when she asked, “How many of you felt like every time you heard the word iBuyer this morning you should have been taking a Las Vegas shot?”

IBuyer overload? Possibly.

Watch her full talk with Amy Somerville on the top tech trends impacting real estate below.

4. Be better than Vanna White

Realtors often complain that they’re shooting videos, but no one is engaging with them. 

She pointed to Vanna White tour guide listing videos. You know the type: Here’s the kitchen, there’s the master bedroom — yada, yada, yada.

Nobody’s watching you’re videos? “Have you watched them? They’re boring!” Sue “Pinky” Benson preached from the stage.

Stop making Vanna White tour guide videos of your listings. Instead, try engaging with local business owners or the many other tips Benson offers in the video below. Don’t forget to include puppies!

5. IBuyers are like tigers

As Inman reporter Teke Wiggin wrote:

John Gafford, broker-owner of Las Vegas-based Simply Vegas Real Estate, is alarmed.

IBuyers, companies that use technology to quickly buy and resell homes, he alleges, are bilking homeowners left and right.

“Here’s the deal: 60 percent of the American population has no other wealth than equity in their house,” he said, speaking onstage at Inman Connect Las Vegas.

What do you do if iBuyers come to your market? Gafford says think about Siegfried and Roy. They trained the tiger; they loved the tiger; they nurtured and nourished the tiger, but in the end, the tiger turned on them.

6. They’re coming for us

Scott Petronis

Summing up the Amazon-Realogy partnership, Scott Petronis, chief product and technology officer for Redefy said at Tech Connect, Amazon built a business off of convenience to the consumer, and look where it is now — that’s the future.

Someone coming in from the outside and showing us how it’s done. No one really likes that, but it’s what’s coming, he added.

To see all the other can’t miss moments from Inman Connect Las Vegas, watch video replays of all the best talks. More are added daily.  

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUp and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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