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Inman Interview with Steve Harney

The Inman News Conference gathers together top real estate professionals from across the country, and combines them with some of the top technology minds of today.  The conference is a few days long and immerses agents and brokers in what the real estate market and industry will look like in the future.  Towards the end of the conference, the KCM Crew was able to sit down with speaker Steve Harney and get his thoughts on the conference as a whole.  Below is a brief interview with Steve from the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

Q. What was the overall feel at the conference of where real estate will be in 2010?

A. Most of the people at the conference were optimistic about the potential in real estate in 2010; however, almost without exception, there was some trepidation about the second half.  With interest rates low and the tax credit extended to April 30th (when the property has to be in contract) most felt that the first half of 2010 would continue the strength that was recorded in the last quarter of 2009.  Once there is a “government withdrawal” from assisting the housing sector (the ending of the purchase of mortgage-backed securities, which have kept interest rates at historic lows, and termination of the tax credit), the big question is whether buyer demand will drop off dramatically.  If we can continue the momentum that most feel will carry us through the first six months, 2010 could be a great year; however, if that momentum does not continue, the last six months will require a bearish outlook.

Q. What about home prices?

A. The overall feel at the conference was that prices would be stable as long as demand remained strong.  Greg Rand, CEO of BH&G Rand Realty, said that demand will remain strong for properties that are priced appropriately.  Patrick Stone, Chairman of the Stone Group, said that the average sales price would actually rise.  His reasoning was interesting.  He felt average sales would increase because the number of homes that would reach foreclosure in the mid and upper tier markets would increase…  and I agree with his analysis.

Q. Talking about foreclosures, were distressed properties highlighted at the conference?

A. Yes, as a matter of fact there was a half-day devoted to what foreclosures and short-sales will mean to the market moving forward.  The consensus was that foreclosures and short-sales would be with us for the foreseeable future.  There seemed to be a great emphasis on short-sales.   Many in the industry believe that the ultimate answer to the millions of distressed properties entering the market in 2010 will not be modification or foreclosure.  But instead, the short-sale.  As a matter of fact there are new technologies being developed to make the short-sale process easier for the lender, the borrower and the agent.

Q. What other technologies were discussed during the conference?

A. It appears that the amount of data & information that will be available to both buyers and sellers will grow exponentially throughout 2010.  Agents of the future will have access to a plethora of widgets, apps and mobile technologies that will make the consumer experience much more immediate and interactive.  The feeling is that any technologies or social media advancements should not be broker-centric nor agent-centric, but instead, consumer-centric.

I was happy to see that as an industry, especially in technological advances, we were putting the consumer first.  The information needed for the process of buying or selling a home will be at the consumer’s fingertips.  They will now depend on the real estate professional to help them analyze and interpret that information.

(Conclusion of interview.)

As he left the room we could see that Steve, who is always very positive and passionate about the real estate industry, had an even greater belief in the strength of the real estate market in 2010.  After spending time with so many of the attendees, both in the sessions and in private brainstorming moments, we can see that the future of real estate is here.  2010 is the year that the real estate market will start its recovery.

-The KCM Crew


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