Tech enablers. That’s what I will be looking for at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, May 14-19 in Washington DC this week, best known as NAR Midyear. I’ll head down to the trade show floor and spend the rest of my time shuttling between the Marriott and the Omni lobbies talking to influencers and tech leaders.

My goal is to get a handle on what new tech firms – and tech tools – are likely to dominate real estate pros lives in the next few years. The NAR REach new program participants are high on my list.  Booth 1731 – including zavvie (Hyperlocal marketing), Active Pipe (email marketing automation), Quigler (compliance checklist app), (magic-like photo editing, virtual staging, CGI – Booth 1836), RealKey (browser-based transaction management), CurbCall (mobile lead routing), Hurdlr (like a Fitbit for agent financial performance), and Glide (transaction coordination).

On my list of a few newbies to check out: Streak (CRM inside Gmail – Booth 116), Chime (IDX with integrated CRM powered by AI – Booth 218), Stilio (connects agents with pro photographers – Booth 518) and Move Easy (moving concierge for agents and brokers – Booth 524)

I always stop by RatePlug (agent-centric mortgage rate, product info for MLSs – Booth 623) to see their next innovation. Last year RatePlug’s ability to show Fannie/Freddie condo complex qualifying status next to an individual condo listing was a killer innovation. Tech Helpline from the Florida Realtors is a great place to stop if you have a technical glitch with a device as they have experts on hand to troubleshoot (Booth 818). And you really can see a glimpse into the future of real estate at RESO (Booth 1702), the Real Estate Standards Organization, if you chat with them. Ask about what the newest standards their Workgroups are exploring.

My must stops include Homesnap (Booth 501), not just because they are a client, but because they are on fire since becoming the technology the powers the Broker Public Portal. (Booth 502) is always an attraction and with their new tricked out AI-powered, completely reimaged home search site. I expect them to have SRO crowds.

There’s also an abundance of marketing companies, a list of exhibitors to check out that runs literally from A to Z: from Adwerx (digital advertising – Booth 722) to ZipperAgent (agent marketing platform – Booth 1837). A couple of other marketing firms to check out include HomeActions (email marketing – Booth 1835) and Bomb Bomb (video email marketing – Booth 216).

A Sea Change Is Coming

Things are rapidly changing, and NAR Midyear is an excellent marker for this change. Technology in real estate has entered an exciting phase right now. The traditional real estate industry is stepping up its game and battling back against the disruptors.

Don’t just take my word for it. Just ask Bain Capital’s Matt Harris. He gave a startling presentation in New York at Capital Connect on the last day of Inman NY. Most people missed it, but if you have an Inman Select membership, you can watch the 15-minute video here.

Matt argues that the majority of the Venture Capital money is no longer going be flowing to firms that are trying to disrupt the real estate industry but those that seek to enable the traditional real estate players. The winners will be the tech firms that facilitate the industry, not disrupt it.

About Those Tech Enablers
To put this in context, think about the flurry of news announcements in the first quarter of this year:

  • Keller Williams casting itself as a “technology company
  • BPP with Homesnap grows 150% to reach 800,000 agents in just its first year
  • RE/MAX buys booj and rolls out national marketing automation via Imprev
  • Century 21 ditches their Gold Jacket days and debuts a major gold standard rebrand
  • Arizona Regional MLS and Wisconsin’s Metro MLS team up 

This represents a lot of transformation by traditional real estate companies who are breaking the mold, doing the unexpected. It’s exciting to see this kind of change among the traditional players. I expect to see a lot more out of the box thinking ahead. I will be looking for this kind of forward thinking at NAR Midyear.