Inland Valley Association of Realtors Chief Executive Mark Dowling held up a relic Wednesday to open up the second annual RealtorTek conference in Ontario, showing how technologically savvy and social media-immersed the real estate industry has become.
It was a cocktail napkin with scribbles on it.
"Who in this room is doing business today the same way you did five years ago?" he asked. "How about three years ago?"
After no one raised a hand, Dowling said the industry is changing so fast that anyone pining for the good old days is at risk of being squeezed out. "Those days are never coming back."
Recognizing that the real estate business is getting more complex, and requiring more levels of education and training, the IVAR conference that drew more than 1,000 attendees and 50 vendors offered breakout sessions on digital and social marketing, iPad use, new rules and upcoming laws that will change the industry dynamics.
"Today's business is more complex and requires higher levels of training and education," Dowling said, adding that if ever there was a time to be at the top of your game -- with housing prices rising and inventory diminishing -- this is it.
Nancy West, of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, advised the group that the federal agency is looking for a rules change that would require every homebuyer who applies for an insured mortgage to have counseling before they can get approved for the sale.
With counseling agencies already bombarded with interviews, she predicted this rule change could delay -- even derail -- deals.
"It's important that you submit comments to HUD about the effect this will have on you," West said.
Art Carter, chief executive of the California Regional Multiple Listing Service, discussed the Web dynamics involving broker listings and third-party websites like Zillow.com. "With more and more consumers going to those sites to find a house," he said, Realtors need to know how to turn that dynamic to their advantage.
Sanjay Wagle, a lawyer with the California Association of Realtors, briefed the group on the dynamics of short sales, foreclosure transactions, and steps one can take if they suspect offers are not being presented to sellers as holdouts for all-cash or investor-driven offers.
Bruce Norris, of The Norris Group, also led a panel discussion with U.S. Reps. Joe Baca and Gary Miller on pending legislation that will strengthen real estate and home ownership.
Diana Diaz, of Moreno Valley, said sessions like these are helpful to agents who are starting out. "I brought my Notepad," Chris Roberts, a six-year veteran from Rancho Cucamonga, said. "I feel like I'm up to date, but this definitely helps sharpen my skills."
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