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RESO Spring Conference, 2022.

by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.

This week we sat with Nobu Hata, the CEO of the Denver Metro Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAR), who joined DMAR in 2020 after spending more than seven years at the National Association of REALTORS® directing a variety of industry and member engagement strategies. With more than 20 years spent building an already storied career in the real estate industry, 14 of them enduring this writer’s friendship, there are some yarns to spin. Enjoy the read!

Q1: You and I first met at a kickoff event in Minneapolis in 2008 for what I believe was one of the first ever YPN (Young Professionals Network) outlets of the National Association of REALTORS®. We were so early in the game that we called our endeavor “YoPro,” our own take on “Young Professional.” At the time, we were showered with praise and awards for our efforts. Now that we’re officially OPros, or some may say “seasoned,” do you look back and still see worth in the YPN ideology and why? 

Nobu: Absolutely. An entire slate of new leaders came from that, not just in Minneapolis but across the country. Our local real estate market at the time did not have an outlet like that, and it spread quickly across the river to Saint Paul while new chapters were forming all over.

There was a void that so clearly needed to be filled. Many of the people who were in that room with us in 2008 are now serving the industry as local and national leaders in brokerage, association management and beyond.

RE BarCamp, Minneapolis, 2010.

Q2: Continuing our trip down memory lane, we also successfully helped run Real Estate BarCamps for four years in a row, beginning humbly in an event space above a wine bar and finishing lavishly at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins.

The BarCamp concept, which hinges on the notion of an “unconference” where speakers, topics and the schedule itself are loosely organized around what the audience wants on the day of the event, was beginning to naturally subside at the end of that run, so we stopped after four.

Yet in that time, we got hundreds of new and different voices involved in real estate conversations that we had never seen in a typical boardroom. I recall long-time Minnesota Association of REALTORS® CEO, Chris Galler, walking into our first BarCamp and gasping, “Who are all of these people?”

What is your takeaway from that experience, and why do you think it doesn’t widely exist today?

Nobu: Any time that you can get like-minded real estate professionals who actually do the things that they are teaching into a room together, you can create a good environment for progressive growth. It felt good to be a part of that, because it was so new and out of the norm in a business that can often feel stodgy and out of touch.

Kind of in the spirit of RESO, we had competitors sharing meaningful business experiences and trying to solve problems with competitors. That type of newness and helping each other for a greater good was compelling. Social media was a big player in that as well. People were enamored with having their voice amplified across the country in an instant through something crazy called a hashtag.

NAR Annual, 2021.

Eventually, that newness wore off, but Nashville’s still doing a great job with their annual Real Estate BarCamp. At this point, BarCamp is a known quantity, and people know what they are going to get, which is usually some invigorating stuff. It can still be successful if the personalities involved in it are dedicated to the cause for the right reasons, those being to inform, grow and become better at what we all do to help the industry improve.

RESO: Preach. I still attend the annual Minnebar BarCamp at Best Buy headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota. It’s a great group of technology enthusiasts and thought leaders who put on an amazing one-day show that tends to set my mind on fire with new ideas.

Q3: Okay, let’s paint a picture. The CEO of a large REALTOR® association in the Denver area, and his wife, a highly successful REALTOR® and national speaker, are raising a son in Denver’s South Metro. Yet one is actually on the Board of Directors at an MLS in Arizona, and the other is a top agent in Chicago. Are borders meaningless to these people and why?

Nobu: Yes. It was already starting to happen before COVID, but the work-from-anywhere concept has really taken off now that we understand that most business can be done across the Internet, even business that requires personality and visibility. Buyers, sellers and the industry at large have become more savvy and trusting of technology.

We have often put up our own walls in real estate circles, but consumers have spoken. State borders need not be inhibitors. There is no Central Time Zone anymore.