NEW YORK CITY — Another Connect down. Brad and the Inman team keep executing, and expanding, the conference into a must-attend event in residential real estate. By all accounts, Hacker Connect — the technologist-focused event, which debuted on Monday — was a success, but left many exhausted who faced a week straight of the endless connecting that Connect stimulates.

This was the first Connect I felt more pulled to the lobby and the demo floor than the sessions — hope to avoid that consultant black hole in the future.

Other than many real estate questions I pondered this week, a modern art one (from a visit to the Met) popped up — what makes a Jackson Pollock so interesting to look at, leaves the brain tickled?

Sophistication rising

Real estate is settling into a digital maturity of sorts — no big funding news, no big acquisitions — just the steady hum of technology and sharp minds, reflecting the subdued riot of Times Square nearby, inventing real estate’s future. Zillow Group made an interesting (and expected) move by announcing the integration of its powerful MLS software tech Bridge Interactive with its data-normalization engine Retsly under the Bridge Interactive brand.

Among many other things, this merger will allow brokers to add-update their data from just one source — sound familiar? That’s a central value prop for Project Upstream. It’s also not clear whether Bridge Interactive necessarily involves the MLS or not (I suspect it does).

This tech resembles much of what Upstream hopes to build, and if it makes MLSs core to the function, will solve a major painpoint Upstream currently grapples with. For all things broker data management and a compelling Upstream update, check out the Swanepoel Trends Report (which I helped produce this year with Stefan Swanepoel) — we break it down well in two of our most interesting chapters, a must read.

Content and generating your own leads is king, that’s for sure (ask me about how to do that with content marketing) — and the industry appears to be wising up, offering tech that aims to engage consumers and leads with sleek designs (and design is so important). The sharp guys at W+R Studios came out with Cloud Attract this week, which provides sleek landing pages, and widgets, that engage buyers or sellers with simple, crisp value offerings (home value or see listings first) — they keep spinning out smooth products.

 Screen shot of a Cloud Attract landing page. Screen shot of a Cloud Attract landing page.

The industry also seems to be rapidly maturing toward integration — you don’t need to build the whole platform, just do something exceptionally well and have a kick-@$$ API to execute a tie-in with others.

Another thing is clear — VR will be HUGE in real estate. came out virtually swinging with its in-the-works VR product. News Corp., parent company of operator Move Inc., invested in real estate VR heavyweight Matterport in 2016. Matterport rolled out VR to nearly all of its models in October — in 2016, 2.4 percent of all listings had a Matterport model, the firm’s CEO Bill Brown told me a few weeks ago. Pro-tip: buy a pair of Google Cardboard — they work great, and cost $15.

Until next week …