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I don’t know who it was, but a very wise person once said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This statement seems very apropos to the real estate industry conference scene right now.

November 9-12 was the NAR Annual Conference and Expo in Orlando.  I attended every NAR Annual from 2007-2010.  I even spoke at and lead sessions a few of them.  Heck, I helped to plan the very first NAR BloggerCon, which was an early precursor of what would become the very successful and widespread RE Barcamp scene.  At that 2007 NAR annual in Las Vegas, there are a few things that I distinctly remember:  1)  That very first BloggerCon in a tiny corner room of the Venetian that was attended by a handful of people.  2)  Meeting Jeff Turner for the very first time.  3)  Listening to Seth Godin give the keynote address.  4) My fingers literally aching from live-tweeting my way through the whole damn thing.

I’m not telling you all of this to brag or seek congratulations.  I’m telling you this to give you some context.

In 2007, all of this blogging and tweeting and social technology was a new horizon for real estate.  There was a community of real estate professionals who were passionate about the technology and its potential to influence the industry in a positive way.  The sun was just beginning to rise and shed light onto what promised to be a glorious new world.  At that time, the larger industry was basically completely unaware of what was coming.

Fast forward to today, 5 years later, and I kinda feel like that sunrise has come and gone, and the industry has largely missed it because we’ve all been too damn busy staring down at our iPhones.

As I searched through the #NARannual hashtag stream, I had to stop because it was depressing me.  It is almost completely devoid of anything that could be described as valuable information to anyone who wants to know anything about the real estate industry, or to any professional seeking to improve their business.

I know that sounds harsh.  But it’s the truth.

This is the most accurate summary of the #NARannual hashtag that I can come up with:

Lots of congratulations and thank yous. More than adequate coverage of the parties people went to, and how fabulous the Peabody hotel is.   The requisite amount of vendor hashtag spamming.  Some drive-by tweets about the tech tools that people heard about in sessions.  A small smattering of conversation surrounding industry issues.

That’s it.  Honestly, I could learn more about the conference from looking at the schedule than I could from reading the hashtag history.

After reading the hashtag, I’m actually kinda glad that I wasn’t there.  I mean, sure, I missed out on seeing many of my friends in person (which is always great), but on the positive side, I got to spend those 4 days with my family (which is better).

Look, if you want to kill my assessment of the conference because I wasn’t there, that’s completely fair.  I can’t argue that.

What you can’t argue with is the fact that NOTHING that I read about in the reactions of people who actually did go to the conference made me wish I had gone.

What Happened?

I feel like for all of the advancements that have been made in technology and all of the growth that we have experienced in the community of real estate professionals who care about making the industry better, we have gone nowhere since 2007.

Maybe nowhere isn’t accurate.  There has been improvement, overall.  But in the industry conference scene?  Not really.

Ok, so maybe the standard conference session topics have changed a bit.  There is more coverage of technology issues and social technology issues, but most of it is almost purely superficial.  Very little of it is really focused on helping you improve your business, which should be the goal of a conference shouldn’t it?

It’s My Fault

I’m standing up right now to apologize for this.  I’ve dropped the ball on this issue as much as anyone.  As someone who has been involved in real estate and technology for most of my real estate career, as someone who has been on the forefront of many of the social technology issues that have come up, as someone who has held leadership positions, the fact that the conversation hasn’t moved forward significantly since 2007 is my fault.

I’m sorry.

But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try to do something about it now. . .


For those of you who were at RETSO 5.0 and heard my closing speech, you know that I am passionate about bringing about positive change in the real estate industry.  I also passionately believe that such change must start with us, the RETSO community.  We cannot rely on any other outlet or community to drive this change.  There are a lot of reasons for this, so many that I won’t cover them here, but you’ll have to trust me that I’ve been involved with many of the other options, and significant change won’t come from there.

So it’s up to us– me and you.  The RETSO community.

We’ve already started the planning for RETSO 2013, and I can guarantee you that this will not be like any other real estate conference you’ve attended.  Even if you’ve been to all of the five previous RETSOs, you’ll be in for a different experience this go around.

That’s a good thing.  That’s what the real estate conference scene needs.  That’s what this industry needs.

At RETSO, we are totally focused on delivering to you a conference experience that won’t just entertain and inform you.  We are focused on delivering a conference experience that will fundamentally change and improve the way you think and your business.  We’re focused on this to the point of obsession, almost to the point of derangement.

We know that if change is going to happen, we must deliver it.  We are committed to delivering that change.  We are committed to you.

We are RETSO.