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Technology and current events dominate topics at Inman’s first all-digital conference

The conference runs through Thursday

At Inman‘s first all-digital conference on Tuesday, Inman Connect Now, many speakers addressed current events pertaining to the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and David McAtee, as well as the industry’s shift toward all digital workplaces after COVID-19.

Zillow CEO Rich Barton said that the pandemic is accelerating the use and necessity of technology in real estate, while year-over-year traffic to home listings is higher by 40%.

Because people are spending more time at home, Barton said homeowners want to improve where they live and get more space.

“[The] crisis will cause an explosion on home views,” Barton said. “It’s OK to have a longer commute, because more people are working from home.”

Barton continued to say that “we have to be angry and understand” about discrimination in the system, and how Zillow’s Zestimate has fluctuated based on neighborhoods.

Keller Williams Cofounder and CEO Gary Keller said that real estate professionals need to think about what they are doing digitally to keep up with what is happening physically.

“Just because this is the new normal, doesn’t mean it’s worse,” Keller said, mentioning open houses via Facebook Live and agents being digitally based.

Keller also said that the pent up demand due to low inventory will mean home prices are going to continue to rise, “creating its own set of problems.”

Over the weekend, Keller sent out an email to Keller Williams employees, saying “Racism is wrong and Keller Williams stands with the Black community and wholeheartedly supports equality.”

Ryan Serhant, a real estate broker featured on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” and “Sell It Like Serhant,” said that networking through the computer is important now more than ever, including checking in and connecting with people during the pandemic.

While Serhant was speaking, he noted that there was a protest happening outside his window in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.

“We should be speaking out loud, and using social [media] to do so,” Serhant said about the death of George Floyd.

Like Keller, Serhant also said that agents will be selling in a whole new normal after COVID-19.

Howard Hanna CEO Helen Hanna Casey said that living patterns will change, and believes that people will leave urban areas for the suburbs.

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