GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: The Inevitability Of Change

Richard Haggerty | October 2015

I spent the last week in Syracuse and Kansas City at two industry conferences. I’ve been attending such conferences for 30-plus years, and it’s interesting that some of the topics are still very similar over all those years. However, when you consider the fact that organized real estate in this country is just north of 100 years old and is still constructed on the same bedrock as when the Realtor organization was first created— cooperation—perhaps that is not surprising. Cooperation amongst Realtors is the strength of organized real estate. There are not many other industries that are rooted in competition, competing to get listings, while at the same time cooperating to get those listings rented or sold.

Another constant theme at these conferences is the inevitability of change. I’ve discussed these changes previously in this column. When I first started working for the association we had listing books and daily hot sheets. We transitioned to computers with mainframes that required their own air-conditioned rooms. We now have our data in the cloud and access it using everything from a desktop computer to tablets to smart phones.

We sometimes take these changes, and the speed at which these changes happen, for granted. We can’t afford to. We sometimes want to stop the speed of change. Good luck with that. Again, change is inevitable. One of the themes from a session I attended especially resonated with me. The speaker was Michael Rogers, a nationally known columnist and speaker who refers to himself as the “Practical Futurist.” Michael hammered home the fact that change is happening faster and faster, and he cited the speed with which various Apple products have impacted our lives in a very short period of time. He also pointed out how quickly Uber has grown in popularity, and how the yellow cab industry, a mainstay in New York for decades, has been totally disrupted by the popularity of Uber in a few short years.

Another speaker, Patrick Schwerdtfeger, emphasized the importance of data and content. He pointed out that the cost of storing data has plummeted, using an example that in 2010 storing 1 petabyte (don’t ask me how much that is—it’s just a lot) of data was $80,000. Today it is $4. The easier it is to store data, the more data companies will collect, especially when it comes to consumer preferences and trends.

In the next several weeks many of you will be experiencing some key changes with HGAR and HGMLS. For example, HGMLS will be conducting a lockbox conversion to the newest generation of Supra lockboxes. This system functions most effectively with the new generation of smart phones. We will also be launching a new HGAR association website that will have single sign-on technology. The first time you access the website you will be asked to set up some security questions and change your password. The reason for this is twofold. First, single sign-on will ultimately save you time in the future because you will no longer have to log into multiple sites. Second, it creates a more secure environment, protecting your data.

Change is difficult and sometimes aggravating. However, if our industry is going to keep pace with consumer expectations and demands, change is inevitable, and we need to learn to adapt and embrace it.

Richard Haggerty