I recently returned from the Inman Connect Conference in Las Vegas —  it was a phenomenal week of thought leadership and networking. And, I have a couple of takeaways that I want to share!

It felt like a reunion.

The weekend following the conference, I was supposed to attend my 25th (plus 1 year) high school reunion. I never made it. A combination of a low turnout due to COVID and the rainy weather was enough deterrent to prevent me from going. However, in a sense, I had already just attended a reunion. The last business trip — and for that matter any trip — I had taken out of the state of Vermont was to the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World conference, also in Las Vegas, in March of 2020. As we left Vermont, we had no idea that the return flight would be during a state of emergency and most of us would not see each other for weeks on end.  For the folks in the real estate industry, we all know that this is a relationship-driven business. There are many friends and colleagues that I laid eyes upon for the first time in 18 months. It felt really good.

There’s a whole lot of money in real estate right now.

If you missed this year’s Swanepoel Trends Report preview, check out this video from T3 Sixty — better yet, go order it. One of the takeaways from the video was that there’s $10 billion of outside money that has come into the real estate industry over the last 55 months. And you can feel it. The amount of M&A activity is staggering. Just last week, I learned of several other companies that we work with that had been acquired. We are an independently owned business with no outside investors — as the rest of the world keeps zigging, we will zag.

However, it’s not just the private equity money that has come into the market. It’s also the market itself. After 18 months of “being in the shelter business during a pandemic” to quote Rich Barton, the industry itself is awash in bullishness. Everyone is bullish. It feels like the best is yet to come in 2022 and I concur.

Real estate brokers will remain an essential part of the transaction.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The reports of the death (of realtors) are greatly exaggerated.” The hustle, energy, and drive of the brokers and agents that make up the real estate industry are as strong as ever. People used to think that all a real estate broker did is find a house that you would end up buying — that’s no longer the case. They’re the ones who broker the deals; they get both sides to the table feeling good enough about the outcome in order to sign and move forward. That’s what brokerage is. The news about Zillow dropping out of the iBuying world was a big topic, even before they officially pulled the plug the following week. It just shows that no iBuying operation and/or outside investor will ever replace the role that the real brokerage community plays in the transaction.

Now back in Vermont, where the days are getting shorter and the leaves are off the trees, I’ve had a chance to reflect and follow up on many of my conversations. I’m looking forward to all that they will bring to fruition in 2022!