Part 2: Report from the National Association of Realtors Conference

Russ again.  Robert’s still in Belize.  I’m not jealous.  I like wearing sweaters and breathing artificially heated air.  And who doesn’t enjoy sitting in traffic?  White sand beaches, tropical drinks, warm sunny weather are all overrated.

But I’m here to talk about NAR and my three days in San Diego (which was also quite beautiful by the way).

First, the conference was huge. Lots of people, exhibitors, speakers, classes and networking.  The internet will never replace the value of meeting people face to face – or the quality of learning that occurs when you’re in a session without any other distractions.  I had a great time!

The mood was generally upbeat. The real estate industry is still tough, but Realtors exemplify the best of the spirit of American entrepreneurship.  The ship took a turn and most of the weaker players fell off the boat.  Those who remain are developing solutions and charging off into the marketplace to sell them.  This is very good for economic recovery.

Many exhibitors had offerings which focus on short sales and REO opportunities – an obviously large and growing segment of the industry.  Training, products and services to support Realtors who work or want to work with distressed owners, be they individuals or banks, will surely help the market work through this downturn and a return to normalcy.  I also think that the infrastructure to process the next wave (yes, there is another wave coming) of defaulting loans will help lessen the pain.  In other words, the real estate community is now better equipped to react to the problems caused when properties fall into foreclosure.

Another big focus at this year’s conference was on opportunities in international real estate.   In a presentation I attended, Economist Paul Brewbacker of TZ Economics told Realtors to “expect more cross border transactions in the future.”

NAR also had a dedicated International and Resort Home Pavilion on the tradeshow floor.  I attended several networking sessions where agents from all over the world met their counterparts from Asian, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and elsewhere.  I was excited to meet the President Elect of the Belize Realtor Association.

I also attended a very informative (I took many pages of copious notes) session on how Realtors can effectively market properties globally.  This includes selling US properties to foreign buyers and vice versa.  Technology plays a big role. It was enlightening to see the creative ways Realtors are marrying high tech with high touch to help buyers and sellers work effectively across borders.

I was also very impressed with how much support NAR provides its members in terms of educational resources and statistical data. They are really working hard to develop an understanding of what it is their customers are looking for in a very different economy.

I learned about some of the new professional designations NAR has developed to better service specific niche markets such a eco-conscience buyers, seniors, and buyer of international and resort properties.  Look for The Real Estate Guys to interview some NAR officials on these topics in the not too distant future.

As a keen observer of the real estate industry, I came away from the conference feeling optimistic about the future.  Not because of hype.  I didn’t actually hear too much of that.  But because I saw an industry that has adapted and is no longer reacting to the market and economy, but in a position to lead.  This is very good because the first thing necessary in a turn around, whether its sports team, a company or an industry is practical leadership with real solutions that work at the street level.

For the economy to thrive, each individual needs to thrive.  Flowery speeches, conceptual solutions and lofty promises are fine for politics.  But all the work is in the trenches.  When I talked to the people in the trenches, I got the feeling they aren’t afraid anymore.  They know there’s still a lot of work to do, but they’re ready to go.  I think this is good for the economy and for real estate.

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