Technology Hangover – I'm a little fuzzy.

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I returned Friday from my total immersion field trip in geekdom – the Inman Real Estate Connect conference – and am only now returning to the living. Blame it on jet lag, lack of sleep, or too many hosted after-hours social networking opportunities. I blame it on information overload.

First, the photo-op which was one of the bigger kicks in the britches for me:

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It turns out that my designated photographer, the Phoenix Real Estate Guy, was a little off-balance at the time, but you get the picture. In case you need a hint, I am standing next to a rock star who needs no last name. He goes by “Craig” and he has a “list,” hundreds of them, actually. Pretty cool.

Steve asked about the constituency of the attendees. Once again, I found myself in the thick of the tech-savvy bell curve, albeit leaning a little toward the right. The agents, brokers, mortgage brokers and other industry professionals in attendance ranged from the “What is a Zillow?” end of the spectrum to the innovative extreme. There is one thing of which I am certain, however. If you are an agent who is more than one standard deviation off of the wired mean, then you have cause for concern.

More than once, I found myself amidst a capacity elevator crowd where every commuter was checking their email, sending a text message, and even posting to the Internet from their global positioning somewhere between the 12th and 15th floors. At one point, I took a ten minute break to receive an eFax of a Request for Repairs, which I forwarded to a client in San Diego for his electronically signature, and which I summarily delivered to the other agent, also on the West Coast. Ten minutes and 3000 miles away. And all of this stuff is just basic application of what have now become the more elementary tools which improve our efficiency and our value to our clients.

Despite this, I heard one sentiment repeated in the halls all too often. Real estate is still personal; technology is great, but we tend to forget that the average consumer doesn’t (need, want, appreciate, grasp) the online world. This statement is at least half correct, but I wouldn’t be so quick to put all of my data points at one end of the axis.

We all heard those same proclamations when web sites first made the scene. And email. And electronic ticketing. And online shopping. The difference is that we are now advancing at a much faster clip than ever before. Five years ago, it was much easier to “get it” after the fact and play catch-up. Today, that same hesitation could very well leave the hoof prints of the thundering herd squarely on your forehead, and leave you in the irrelevant dust.

To the consumer and the real estate agent, technology is about information and connectivity. It is about efficiencies, and it is about the ability to cast a wider net. As individual agents and as a collective, we can distinguish ourselves by remaining contemporary and enhancing our value to our clients as our roles continue to be redefined. We can commit to change and betterment, which is going to require a retooling of our of entire culture. Or we can hesitate and resist – until it is all a blur.

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