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Opinion Editorials

NAR REThink: meaningful dissection of the future of real estate

As a convention cynic, I typically roll my eyes when someone addresses “the future,” but at this event, there was a tangible sense that people are finally becoming aware of industry changes.

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nar rethink

nar rethink

Finally, a real estate event that didn’t put me to sleep

The thought of conventions, seminars, and webinar’s of people in the real estate industry getting together to talk usually makes me yawn. Talks of the latest technology, IDX syndication versus sites like Zillow and Trulia, agents fighting for the return of their information, agents becoming extinct and how social media perfection is the way of the future… I tire of this not because I don’t agree things are/will change in the future. Quite the contrary.

I LOVE ideas, but loathe lack of action and continuous talks of some so-called revolution or people just trying to sell me things. While things never change overnight and there have been some big game changers in the past decade of real estate and technology coming together, agents are still around, doing the same things and thinking still, that nothing will really ever change. Leadership in state and local boards don’t want to talk about it because that would mean opening up and discussing the idea their jobs may one day become extinct. Many brokerages don’t want to talk because there is fear of agents becoming too educated and leaving.

But that didn’t happen at the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) recent REThink session, NAR’s new “open source” strategic planning initiative. I was impressed. If any of you know me at all, a good impression of a national convention attended strictly by people out to protect their own jobs is NOT my idea of a great way to spend a whirlwind of 24 hours between Baltimore and Chicago and leaving my work and family to attend. However, this was different. There was even a young 25ish agent helping to lead the discussion on stage in skinny jeans and some hip brand of shoes I am sure I don’t know about.

Told to arrive at 8am on Monday at the Sheraton in Chicago, the YPN (Young Professionals Network) chairs from around the country were brought together to be given an intinerary of how the remainder of the day was to go. The NAR strategic planning committee announced that this year, they were switching things up. The idea was to have all 200 of us man 2-3 tables each of 6 incoming or outgoing NAR and state level leadership.

Our job was to get them to fill up tables from the front to the back, inquire as to who followed the email sent out about bringing a fully charged lap top or iPad and make them “tech scribes.” We were even in charge of giving each of our tables the instructions for the day. Let me just tell you how someone reacts to someone 20 years their junior telling them where to sit and how a program was to go… Let’s just say the majority of us weren’t greeted too fondly. I am pretty sure at least 10 people rolled their eyes at me when I asked them to fill up tables before sitting down where I had asked, people walked away from me and sat where they wanted and I know I heard several comments of “What is going on?” and “We’ve never done it like this before…psh.”

Once everyone was wrangled, seated, directed and served food, things started loosening up a bit.

nar rethink

Legitimate outside research on the future

The usual talks were given in the beginning and then an outside company from Canada was introduced. The term used to describe the role of the company that caused me to start paying attention was “Cultural Anthropologists.” Coolest. Job. Ever.

This company had actually researched data from consumer attitudes, REALTORS(R), and other national trends and had put together over the course of a year of research, an amazing well thought out, data driven prospective on the future of real estate. Not some general ‘what-if’ scenarios, but actual scenarios based on facts. With NAR (the strategic planning committee) bringing in an outside company, the level of credibility (in my mind) sky rocketed.

The overall idea of the conference was focused on this central idea:

“In an ever-changing world, what is the future of the real estate industry in 5 to 10 years?”

How will this impact:

  • Consumers, including buyers and sellers?
  • Agents, brokers and companies?
  • NAR, state and local associations?

The responses at first were slow. The idea that people don’t fear change but fear some sort of loss was very apparent. The blunt ideas presented made people squirm. I loved it. Once people got talking though and felt more comfortable things came to life for the next 4 hours.

Here were some basic scenarios presented:

  • There will be a large exodus of brokerages leaving NAR. REALTORS questioning their dues and opting out. Together another solution is found to allow agents access to lockboxes and MLS’s without being a “member” of a board.
  • More independent brokerages get together from around the country and put their heads together to form a “new” brokerage
  • Outside of the industry, companies start sharing their data with the real estate industry to predict home buying and selling signals and sell that back to brokerages as leads
  • People stop buying homes and want to be more transient and ideas of leasing homes gains popularity
  • Homesharing becomes the norm
  • Small communities of people get together to start sharing land, farming it and owning it
  • More immigrants coming to the country reinvigorate the idea of the “American Dream” of owning a home and long time residents opt for other investment options
  • Big data: how can it reduce expenses? How can competitors come together to combine new value and create new ideas? When will Zillow, Trulia and/or Realtor.com come together to create something so massive no one can compete?
  • Finding cooperation and competition amongst one another to balance and change the game.

The unavoidable future

Once the scenarios were rolled out, they used a technology called Sayzu. With this real time technology, the “tech scribe” of the group (aka, the one person per table that followed directions and actually brought a laptop or iPad) was able to collect actual comments and thoughts from each member of the table and stream directly to the cloud. Ok, and there were also low tech options of branded REThink plastic paddles for yes/no questions and good old fashioned text the answer to…

Hashtag for the event was #rethinkfuture and after looking back through Twitter, this was no real estate tech conference with my whole feed blowing up and everyone tweeting and retweeting the exact same thing to get in the “cool crowd.” There were a very small handful of tweets, hardly anything in Instagram, and then just some chatter on a closed Facebook page for the event through YPN.  

There was a pretty apparent lack of social media hype throughout the whole event. This to me ultimately highlights the difference in demographics between the industry of 2012 and the idea of how quickly an idea can spread like wild fire through a more social media savvy type of person/leader of the future. With current leaders already announcing their plans for running in years like 2019, they better keep up quickly with these trends and ideas which are spreading. I have a feeling some of these people have been planning a run for quite some time as a natural progression in leadership and salary based position. But based on what I saw, the times when working up that ladder through time served is coming a lot closer to an end as ideas and people are changing much quicker year after year.

A current NAR leader sitting at my table gathering ideas with us said  “Just seeing those two young women up on stage this year leading this discussion makes you realize things are changing… and they haven’t changed in over 30 years since I have been involved in this industry.”

Kudos to the NAR Strategic Planning committee. You have impressed a convention cynic. And yes, I have read your 2012-2014 Strategic Plan. Thank you for recognizing the new “younger, more racially diverse generation” of agent that demands more from their leaders and for adding the importance of the rapidly changing consumer voice to what we need to be addressing as an industry.

“The thing about tsunamis is that you can not see them from the shore.”

Images of REThink

I took the following photos while at REThink:

REThink the future of real estate

REThink the future of real estate

REThink the future of real estate

REThink the future of real estate

Amanda Lopez is a real estate broker and founder of Style House Realty in Baltimore, Md. She has worked in the real estate industry for over 6 years and prior to that studied advertising, branding and web design. Refusing to believe the real estate industry had to be bland and boring in design and appeal to everyone, she set out to bring some style and technology into the mix. Amanda can most likely be found with coffee that got cold, great shoes, her mind in the sky and her evernote app open.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. kenbrand

    August 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Nice report Amanda, thanks.  Nice to hear there are some sharp tools in the shed.  Cheers.

    • AmandaLopez

      August 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm

       @kenbrand Thanks Ken!

  2. VianeyOjeda

    August 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I was there as a YPN Chair and I concur Amanda. Thanks for writing about it. Vianey

  3. QuincyClayton

    September 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Wow! Well captured!

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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Opinion Editorials

5 secrets to a more productive morning, free of distractions

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?

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distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions

    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on the phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at the desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions

    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.
  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items

    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.“There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” TonyRobbins.com mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.
  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation

    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions but make sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.Vagus nerve stimulation gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.
  5. Optimize Your Workspace

    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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Opinion Editorials

Is the tech industry layoff bloodbath coming or is it already here?

We have large online communities for job seekers, and we can affirm that the layoffs are on the way, but there is a silver lining for all involved…

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layoff time

If you were on Twitter at the end of last week, you probably saw a dribble of conversations about layoffs in tech coming, and today, the volume was turned up to 10 on social media. Several founders have said they’re cutting parts of teams and are nixing contractors. We’re about to be in a recession, y’all, and we can ALL feel it coming.

While this has been happening all of this calendar year, a pending recession is kicking the stock market in the teeth (especially in tech), and combined with a slowdown in fundraising, fuel has been added to what was simply kindling, and layoffs are already rapidly escalating.

JD isn’t the only one hearing it, my inbox has slowly been lighting up on this topic. In response, Joshua Baer noted that it’s a great time to scoop up talent. Love or hate him, he’s right.

There is a lot of data on tech layoffs, for example, Layoffs.FYI has been tracking meaningfully since COVID began, pulling info from public reports. We expect they’ll be busy for the next few months.

While VC funding in 2021 was at a global high, so far, 2022 has shown a significant slowdown, according to CrunchBase. Many believe valuations are tumified, a bear market is believed to be upon us, and tech firms are struggling to increase profitability, all combining to a bubble about to burst.

As Baer noted, the silver lining is for anyone looking to hire. It’s bad news for anyone about to get a pink slip, but it’s also empowering to know that candidates are still in the driver’s seat in this market and negotiations are still in their favor.

We at AG have communities dedicated completely to job seekers and employers, and have created neutral ground on which they can meet, and they do by the thousands (Austin Digital Jobs and Remote Digital Jobs).

We’re not seeing the “bloodbath” of folks with pink slips in hand yet, BUT today, a dozen mid- to senior- level technologists reached out to me personally that got laid off Monday morning.

With our finger firmly on the tech employment pulse, we agree with the assessment that layoffs are coming.

More on this topic: “Why are tech layoffs coming after such great Q1 earnings?!”

Here’s the TL;DR version in memes:

The end is nigh?
tech layoffs in memes

Seems about right

In and out Morty, a quick 24 hour adventure!

Diversification is the key


The May 2022 stock market

Insert angry title here

It’s fedish!

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