Elite AgentOPINION

John Hellaby: the collabarative lessons learned from Inman Las Vegas 2022

The day after Inman I sat in a cabana poolside at the Aria hotel, surrounded by a combination of Inman ambassadors, PropTech founders and execs, and high performing realtors, reflecting on the conference that was Inman Las Vegas 2022.

It was an eye-opening event, especially as an Australian who’d not been on US shores for almost two-and-a-half years. Inman New York had been and gone, but we’d sent Market Buy founder Dave Stewart to man a booth on that trip.

My last trip to Inman Las Vegas had been in 2019, before the world shut down and at that time I’d been stunned to learn just how far ahead of the US Australia was when it came to PropTech and integrating tech into our workflow.

Fast forward to August 2022 and the script had completely flipped.

Suddenly the US was rapidly catching up when it came to integrating technology into their workflow and process. The PropTechs themselves are innovating at an incredible rate.

Walking around Inman, sticking my head in on various sessions, something became abundantly apparent – the US real estate industry thrives on collaboration.

It’s absolutely an abundance mentality type of thing and when you consider the size of the US market, abundance is most definitely the right word.

But the speed with which integration and innovation has happened over the last three years, has been hugely influenced by the rate at which companies and agents, even competing ones, collaborate.

Sitting in the cabana the day after Inman, I watched competitors bantering and brainstorming a solution to a problem one of them had. When I raised it, the response was a very clear “the pie is big enough and we both gain from this exercise”.

Even though one person in that exchange was benefiting in terms of a problem being solved, all parties saw benefit themselves due to the process itself leading to other ideas and innovations they could run with.

Traditionally, Australia has been very closed off, especially at an agent level – remember when we’d do conjunctions?

Now ‘conjunction’ is a dirty word in most markets around the country and the percentage split on a conjunction has gone from 60/40, to 90/10 and that’s if the selling agent is willing to conjunct at all.

In the PropTech space, it’s been a similar approach for years – highly competitive rather than collaborative – though that is changing, especially with some big players aggregating PropTech companies and fostering a more collaborative relationship between their entities.

Collaboration is difficult of course, there has to be an element of trust between the parties and that’s always been the roadblock for many, but it’s something we should all hopefully be able to move past.

It’s true that collaboration leads to significantly faster innovation, better products and it also insulates a market against one or two big players acquiring and maintaining dominance.

As the market shifts and sales aren’t falling from the sky like rain, I’m willing to bet it’ll be the collaborators who thrive through this period, working together to deliver greater service levels to customers.

So the big take away from Inman Las Vegas 2022, wasn’t an app or script, it wasn’t even a new PropTech that could revolutionise real estate. It was the idea that no matter what our role in the industry is, we could all benefit from collaboration.

After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.

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John Hellaby

John Hellaby is the Chief Executive Officer at Market Buy.