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Friday, November 20, 2009

Just Back from the Realtor Convention & Expo in San Diego

[Published Nov. 19, 2009, in the Denver Post - Jeffco editions]

Those of us who traveled to San Diego last week for the National Association of Realtors annual convention and trade show really lucked out on the weather, leaving before the snow storm began and returning after it ended..

I did attend one of the educational sessions, and I did enjoy several non-real estate activities such as visiting the Wild Animal Park and cruising San Diego Bay. But, for me, the major value of such conventions is the “expo” — the opportunity to get current on technology and products being introduced. In that regard, the NAR convention is the “daddy of them all.”

Being an iPhone owner, I was particularly struck by how many vendors offered apps for this device which has already transformed the practice of real estate.

It was only a year or so ago that I had an ordinary cell phone — no email, no web capability, nothing at all, compared to today’s smart phones. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine being a successful Realtor® without a smart phone. My wife, Rita, who is not in real estate, now realizes that she, too, must discard her cell phone and get an iPhone. I heard this weekend that there are 50 million iPhones in use today.

In a previous column I mentioned zillow’s great iPhone app which, curiously, zillow was not promoting at their booth.

Other vendors, however, offered something zillow doesn’t offer — a branded MLS IDX search engine, something I look forward to offering as soon as I can install it. Look for more about this feature after I get it up and running.

What will make such an app unbeatable will be a GPS component which allows you to search the MLS listings closest to where you are standing with your phone.

There were other technologies being promoted, of course, but the iPhone has definitely captured everyone’s attention and imagination — and with good reason.

Taking it all in at one trade show is like drinking from the proverbial fire hose — it’s simply impossible to do justice to what I learned this weekend. It’s only appropriate that the same kinds of technology allowed me to be completely in touch with my clients and business throughout the convention and expo. Indeed, I sold one of my listings while I was in San Diego.

I have never been more convinced that a real estate agent must be “with it” technologically to be competitive in today’s industry. If you’re unhappy with that fact, you can blame the iPhone.

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