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20 predictions for the real estate and technology spaces in 2011

With the year coming to a close in less than three weeks, we’re at that point where we all finalize our 2011 goals and spend time being introspective. It’s natural this time of year. I decided to make my predictions for 2011 and you’ll see more predictions here on AG.

This list is by no means complete and I had to stop myself at only 20 predictions so you would read the entire list instead of getting A.D.D. and seeing a shiny distraction… seriously, I could make it a lot longer.

Tell us in comments which predictions you agree or disagree with (and please, let’s be civil).

  1. Mortgage rates will remain low. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve board to keep the federal funds rate below 0.25% for the entire year with 30 year fixed rate loans to remain under 5%.
  2. Housing will remain affordable. Affordability rates will remain high in most American cities given the downturn in values which is not expected to rise dramatically in 2011.
  3. 2011 might be rock bottom. With house values and sales stats in decline, we haven’t quite hit bottom, but we’re pretty close and we’ve been bouncing at the bottom for a while, so 2011 could be the year of rock bottom.
  4. Foreclosures will continue to rise. Whether you believe in shadow inventories or not, with the robo-signing scandal freezing most foreclosure activities, 2011 will see an increase in foreclosure listings when the freeze ends.
  5. Home sales will continue to suffer. With a high volume of foreclosure activity, existing home sales will have to be reasonable and competitive in order to meet their asking prices.
  6. Social networks will be a staple in all listing agents’ tool belts. With most buyers beginning their search for a home online, agents will be expected to list homes on as many websites as possible, especially those claiming to be tech savvy.
  7. Real estate blogging will become more competitive as more agents come online. Most blogs coming online in 2011 are late to the party and rather than forge new ground will likely regurgitate others in an effort to keep up.
  8. QR codes will be all the rage. Despite the rise in curiosity and use of QR codes, this technology will be short lived as technologies like Google Goggles will obsolete QR codes.
  9. Web browser use will shift. Despite most MLS systems only running on Internet Explorer (IE), most agents will follow the trend away from IE toward more stable and fast Google Chrome and Firefox.
  10. Mobile devices will be upgraded in 2011. Agents will continue to free themselves from the horrendous Palm Treo of the past in favor of iPhones and Android apps with flip phones becoming a thing of the past.
  11. Mobile web use will continue to increase. Real estate professionals will join the bandwagon of video creation and web-ready blog sites in an effort to meet consumer demand.
  12. Social awareness will rise. With the web enlightening consumers, people are becoming more aware of philanthropic causes and are mobilizing via social networks like Twitter. Green real estate will become a more common factor in buying.
  13. The number of Realtors will dip. NAR membership has dropped considerably over the last two years and we anticipate this decline will continue given a down market.
  14. The brokerage model will continue to shift. With agents looking for the next best thing, the Redfin (discount) and Goodlife (agents responsible mainly for negotiations and hand holding) models will become more mainstream.
  15. Short sales experts will increase in number. With the aforementioned rise in foreclosure activities, as a survival mechanism, more agents will become certified and focus on short sales as they take over their local markets.
  16. Key real estate search sites will merge. Real estate megasites will acquire or merge with others and make their offering more complete in 2011, much like Twitter acquires companies like Twitpic.
  17. Pocket listings will be more in demand. Because some consumers are wary to list for a variety of reasons in a normal market but even more reasons in a down market, we predict that pocket listings will rise.
  18. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be a headline stealer. With Barney Frank calling for abolishing the two and having named a new director in November, the FHFA will undergo a major makeover in 2011.
  19. “Realtor ratings” will be a phrase you’ll be sick of in 2011. We’ll cover it here so you’re aware of it, but in 2011, we promise you’ll be tired of hearing about ratings as the remaining big dogs add ratings systems to their search sites.
  20. Web ad spends and investments in real estate sites will increase. Many investors have been on the fence, as have companies willing to spend, but 2010 has primed many for finally spending what they’ve been withholding.

Is any of this surprising to you? If you’ve been reading AG, it shouldn’t be- this list is an extension of our real estate and technology coverage this year.

Tell us in comments what you think about these predictions!

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

78 Comments

78 Comments

  1. Sara Bonert

    December 14, 2010 at 6:56 am

    I’ll comment on a few of the technology related points, although I agree with just about all of your list.

    #6 – I think just listing on websites won’t be a competiting factor, but the actual size of your social networks will be. Not saying your actual klout score will be important, but the things klout measures certainly can be.
    #7 – I wonder about blogging. For those that aren’t into writing, there are a lot easier ways to broadcast/interact. For those that are, finding a niche to compete in will be key.
    #8 – Totally agree about QR codes.
    #9 – As mobile becomes more prominent, operating systems on pcs become less important. What’s keeping me on IE are all my plug ins I have installed. But Chrome is great and I hear good things about Rockmelt.
    #11 – I had to scold my dad for texting and checking sport scores in church the other day. Yup, safe to say that mobile is now mainstream if Mr. Anti-Technology himself is now doing this.
    #16 – I think you are correct here too. Managing large databases in resource intense, there are definitely synergies to be made because of this.

    With regards to 2011 and social media in general, it reminds of when NAR used to report on the ‘Traditional Buyer’ verses the ‘Internet Buyer’ – eventually they became one in the same and the report basically merged. This will happen with mobile and social too, verses the ‘Traditional Internet Buyer’.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 18, 2010 at 11:51 pm

      Sara,

      #6- I don’t think it will be a competing factor, it will be more of an expectation just as websites were in 2005. But since you bring Klout up, I think you are on to something… I think Klout and other social scores will play a bigger role in 2011 as other offerings begin integrating them into their products and services.

      #7- Most still won’t find a niche, they’ll regurgitate talking points from their competitors’ blogs and call it blogging and they will still be told in pep talks slash training classes that they have to blog to survive.

      #8- yay 🙂

      #9- I haven’t been impressed by Rockmelt (hence why we haven’t written about it) but many of the IE plugins exist in Chrome as well, it would take you *one* afternoon to switch, it’s so worth it, I promise! 🙂

      #11- my dad too. Is this one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse? lol jk

      #16- that’s a perfect word, synergies… wish I had used that word in my predictions, that’s exactly what I meant!! 🙂

      Great bonus point, thank you so much for weighing in!!

  2. Chuck Gillooley

    December 14, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I agree with Sara on point #7. Throughout 2010, I saw the number of blogs in my area actually decrease. Quite a few were started early in the year when it was fashionable to try something new, but almost every one of them were left to die after only a few months. Hey, they’re a LOT of work!!

    That leads me to believe there will be some other “big new thing” to chase in 2011, but I don’t see what that will be just yet. I don’t think it will be blogging, though…

    • Lani Rosales

      December 18, 2010 at 11:53 pm

      Hey Chuck, it will be microblogging (Twitter & Facebook) as the race heats up, but it is my firm belief that most of these efforts will be poorly executed and thus done in vain.

      Blogging is tough and time consuming, but trainers still spout the virtues of it (although niche blogging is poorly defined by many in front of the classroom).

  3. Jose Rivera

    December 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Lani, that is quite a list of predictions for 2011. However, let’s think about HOW, every active real estate agent in the nation can make MORE money in 2011 than they did in 2010. No, I’m not talking about having the lastest cellphone and real estate App, although I really like new cellphones and new apps too. I’m also not talking about being “certified” or being on all the good “social marketing” websites. Lastly, we shouldn’t be so worry about what the “fed” does or doesn’t do, or if the interest rates go up or down.
    What EVERY real estate agent needs to do better next year (if he or she really wants to make more money) is take better listings. They need to take more pictures (a picture is worth a thousand words). They need to help the seller “stage” the house better (including less furniture, a coat of paint in some rooms, and a “curb appeal” front lawn landscaping). They need to write about specific and unique features about each property. Each property has “something special” about it, and the agent has to find it and write about it. Just filling out the regular MLS Listing Form is NOT enough. The pictures should be in logical sequence so the buyer can get a better sense of the property when he or she is looking at them on the Internet. Some pictures are just horrible! Take the time, to take better pictures or else hire someone else to do it, especially with a high-end, my goodness! Homes will sell faster, in any marktet, if the agent does a thorough job of listing it properly. Buyers on the Internet want lots and lots of details, and especially pictures! Some of these Buyers are non-american, remember that!

    • Lani Rosales

      December 18, 2010 at 11:55 pm

      Jose, you’re preachin’ to the choir, buddy! 😉 We write a lot about professional improvement, but part of that is helping agents to know what’s on the horizon for their careers. Agents know they’re supposed to do what you say above, but we’re in an industry stricken by laziness as inherent in many agents (which is why so few do so many of the transactions).

      Here’s to a hearty 2011!

  4. Matthew Dollinger

    December 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Lani – this is a pretty impressive list. However I do have a couple of questions:

    #1 – there isn’t one mention in this list that agents who engage in becoming “students of the market” and use the technology or statistics that are available to become better agents (pricing things more effectively – discussing the market intelligently) – will overtake the masses. I find this kind of a big deal – and one that’s often overlooked.

    #2 – how about this… the consumer will FINALLY become more educated and realize that they are making a HUGE financial decision. Hence they will actually put more worth in the selection of their agent, not JUST go off of online reviews (or friends of friends), and really ask some intelligent questions of their agents.

    #2 – how can #3 AND #5 be true? I like to dabble in economics, but my feeling is that until supply and demand level out (stabalize) can we truly reach a “bottom”?

    * 2011 might be rock bottom. With house values and sales stats in decline, we haven’t quite hit bottom, but we’re pretty close and we’ve been bouncing at the bottom for a while, so 2011 could be the year of rock bottom.
    * Home sales will continue to suffer. With a high volume of foreclosure activity, existing home sales will have to be reasonable and competitive in order to meet their asking prices.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 19, 2010 at 12:18 am

      Hey, Matthew!

      #1- there is no mention of it because (a) it’s totally an incomplete list as mentioned above but more importantly (b) because I disagree this is a possibility. I think that stat tools have been available for years and even offered in the back end of most MLS systems and even when free and in plain sight, most agents ignore the option of use. I do think that as a sector, real estate agents will be more informed, but I don’t believe it will be to the extent you’re talking about, am I being jaded? 🙂

      #2- I agree with this point, despite my jaded nature illustrated above. I have witnessed a shift in this realm and Benn coined “co-brokering with Google” a few years ago and it’s a common behavior now that buyers rely on the internet not only as their starting point but as a mechanism to verify all information and advice they get. As a group, consumers are certainly better educated and 2011 will definitely see a rise in this given the rapid adoption of mobile technologies.

      #3,#5- perhaps I should clarify on #5 that home sales will continue to suffer meaning we’ll be bouncing around the bottom. Regarding competition to meet asking prices, I was simply painting an ideal scenario buyers will NEED, not that they’ll necessarily see.

      Thanks for your thoughtful response, Matthew, I can’t wait to read your response to my additional thoughts. 🙂

      • Matthew Dollinger

        December 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm

        Lani…

        I too share your jaded nature. However – I think that’s going to be the determining factor of agents that survive and those that sink. Let’s do the math here…

        If… in 2011…

        1. Consumers become better educated (ok… just a LITTLE!)
        2. 90% of agents focus on becoming social media gurus, marketing experts, or tech fanatics – where 10% embrace this but FOCUS on becoming Awesome market experts.

        I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the 10% will dominate the market for not only 2011 but for years to come. It’s not enough to simply HAVE or HAVE ACCESS to the data. This is not something that soundbytes will suffice. You have to know what the F*ck it is that you are talking about.

        “how’s the market?” – consumer
        “It’s a GREAT time to buy!” – agent
        “Really? I’m reading alot of mixed signals. Why do you feel that?”
        “………….silence…………….” – agent

        seriously… This is why I have literally weighted 75% of our education curriculum for 2011 to market education and awareness. I’m betting heavily on this being THE determining factor as to why an agent succeeds in the future. Your prowess on Facebook, LInkedin, Blogging, SEO, Photography, etc. will pale in comparison to someone who can talk intelligently about the market and act as a true advisor.

        Where I agree these are all great mediums for getting the message out, unless you can consider yourself knowledgeable about the material, you’re a poser in the truest sense of the word.

        In a nutshell – Agents need to figure out what the hell their job REALLY is as a real estate agent and do it.

        (Hint – social media doesn’t come into it as much as we think!)

        • Lani Rosales

          December 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm

          BRAVO, soooo well said… I couldn’t agree with you more!!!!

  5. Agent for Movoto

    December 14, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I’m most curious to see how #19 will go.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 19, 2010 at 12:21 am

      Well if I was in charge of it, I’d use Facebook authentication to give an added credibility of those rating agents. Zillow has a mechanism many other ratings sites don’t and that is that those rating have to provide their address (although Z doesn’t disclose this to anyone) and manually reviews all reviews (that’s redundant sounding, huh?!). I think others will follow Z’s lead and hopefully add even better transparency around their systems.

  6. Matt Thomson

    December 15, 2010 at 12:40 am

    #7 is interesting. So many people think there are better or easier ways to broadcast than blogging. True, but where is their landing page. As long as blogging continues to be misunderstood, those who have solid blogs will maintain a stronghold on their community.

    #13…sad. If you can’t afford $500 to be in business, probably shouldn’t be in business. OR, if you can’t find $500 worth of value in NAR, you should probably look a little harder or (gasp) actually get involved.

    #14 is very true, but short sighted. Discount brokerages, no-fee companies, work from home companies may be attractive while agents are trying to cut costs, but again, if you can’t afford the basic expenses, is this the right career for you? There is so much value from an office with energy, sharing of ideas, etc. I don’t buy the theory that people can get that synergy from online communities. If you don’t meet clients in person, only on line, how is that working for your business? I feel the same about brokerages. Agents are most successful, I believe, when surrounded daily by other successful agents.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

      #7- perfectly put.

      #13- I don’t think it’s the ability to afford dues or the value people put on NAR, it’s the inability to avoid getting a full time desk job, thus letting the real estate career go.

      #14- I don’t believe that to be true of all personalities, some actually thrive in an independent setting. It used to be a rare personality type in the industry, but I believe it to be more common. Many Realtors are former or current entrepreneurs, especially in the tech sector, so I find it to be the same mentality given to their chosen brokerage. I agree with you, however, that it is IDEAL to be surrounded by the energy of successful people!

  7. Joe Loomer

    December 15, 2010 at 6:55 am

    13.The number of Realtors will dip. NAR membership has dropped considerably over the last two years and we anticipate this decline will continue given a down market.

    There are about 1,400 member in our board/MLS (one and the same) – of them only 913 have had a sale year-to-date in 2010 (from about #800 on, the volume was less than $150K), and every agent after #231 made less than $50K GCI. Board dues of over $300 are due in January. I anticipate a significant dip in agent count for our area – while also viewing this as a huge recruiting opportunity.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Lani Rosales

      December 19, 2010 at 12:28 am

      I love that you’ve found a positive in this negative. Here in Austin, membership is alive and well, but that’s not the case in all areas.

  8. danschuman

    December 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Nice list here, Lani. Here are my thoughts:

    #3 – I certainly hope we’ve hit bottom here in our market, but as they say, we will never know when we’ve actually hit bottom until 6 months afterwards.

    #7 – While there are a lot of us that blog, and as a result, keep ahead of the pack, there will no doubt be some agents who start one next year. However, since a lot of people quit blogging when they don’t get immediate results, I still don’t see a ton of saturation here, especially since such a small percentage of agents actually blog. Those that continue to provide great content and do so consistently will continue to be rewarded.

    #8 – I’m still not sold on QR codes yet, so plan to stay on the sideline to see how it goes.

    Thanks for the list.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 19, 2010 at 12:32 am

      Dan, thanks for the compliments!

      #3- that’s true, but I believe there are a handful of indicators that are helpful in current snapshots- S&P, housing starts, permits, and home sales being a few. I wish FOREsight was 20/20! 🙂

      #7- I agree that saturation is low, but Google still indexes those blogs for a specific period of time, even if the info is outdated and it caused search confusion for consumers that go to an endless sea of dead blogs forgotten by Realtors. So you’re right- bloggers who stick with it will ultimately be rewarded, but consumers will get the short end of the stick here.

      #8- stay tuned, we’ll be revealing why we aren’t investing much time or attention to QR codes (the hint is in the actual point in the story). 🙂

      Thank you for your feedback!!

  9. Fred Griffin

    December 16, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Lani, really really good “predictions” for 2011. Thanks for a great Blog.

    Some thoughts:

    3. Bottom? Not in most areas. Some areas are going to drop another 25% or more.

    7. Blogging – will become more important for SEO, and driving Traffic.

    8. QR will go the way of “Text to 12345” on Sign Riders. Separate URLs for each Listing will become the Norm.

    11. Websites that are not “Viewable” on iPad, Blackberry Playbook, Droid, etc. will be worthless.

    12. “Green” will be recognized for the BS Over-Priced Propaganda that it is. Except, more Government Agencies will mandate Green Requirements.

    13. Out of 40,000 Mortgage Brokers in Florida, 30,000 have not applied for 2011 (!) . That is of course intentional, new Fed Requirements etc. But a “Dip” in NAR? I’m thinking Crash and Burn, with various Realtor Associations and Boards calling emergency meetings for the huge dip in Membership Revenue that is heading their way.

    14. Right on. Traditional Real Estate Brokerage is DEAD. Brick and Mortar Offices, Print Media, 4-Way Splits that cost Sellers way too much – it’s over, folks. Adapt or Die.

    15. Maybe. But if by any remote chance there is a “Principal Reduction Bill” passed by Congress and signed by obama, that could change (not likely, since Investors in Mortgage Backed Securities would have an All-Out Hissy Fit).

    17. Pocket Listings are a violation of many MLS Rules. They defy the idea of Marketing to the World. I don’t see it.

    18. Fannie Freddie will undergo some cosmetic change, but the song will remain the same. Screw Barney Frank. Oh, you’re a girl – never mind.

    19. Realtor Ratings. Good timing, Zillow. With Yelp and Better Business Bureau facing Class Action Lawsuits and Criminal Investigations for Ratings Extortion.

    20. Web Ad Spending? Not on Featured Listings or Skyscraper and Banner Ads. Ain’t gonna happen.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 19, 2010 at 1:14 am

      Hi Fred, thanks for taking so much time to add your thoughts! Here’s what I’m thinking…

      3. Nationally, yes. We are about to hit the bottom, most indicators point to this, and 2011 might even see a dead cat bounce. Any national stat can be answered with “not in all parts,” pretty generically at any point in history, so it may be true that some areas will continue to decline, but the residential real estate sector in general is not in for a recovery OR a massive decline next year. We may agree to disagree on this one. 🙂

      7. Agreed. Because Google has already rolled out social reactions and Facebook is the next Google (by 2012) for search, blogging gives agents a way to point all of their social networking efforts back to their OWN property (their blog) and help their own SEO instead of simply funneling their efforts and building the SEO of social networks.

      8. Perfect.

      11. Oh I couldn’t agree more (although this being the norm in 2011 is a little ambitious, this is likely to be true in 2012 when adoption is truly mainstream).

      12. I agree with you and believe “green” to be the biggest Scam word of 2011, but I maintain that consumers’ social awareness will continue to rise and they may not know exactly what features they want, but they’ll be asking.

      13. I think our views are different because we’re in different locations. We’re headquartered in Austin where membership has fallen a bit, but lower than expected and still at a pretty high number. Many agents locally recovered in 2010 and are mostly optimistic about 2011 (we survived many bubbles that most other states didn’t and our economy is extremely diverse and strong). That said, Austin isn’t alone and there are enough people nationally doing well to keep NAR strong, but membership will dip because of areas such as you’ve described while areas like Austin prop up the National Association.

      14. I don’t think the traditional model will be completely dead in 2011, but they’ll be forced to rethink their strategy (as many already are). I hope they succeed though because the more models compete against each other, the better for consumers.

      15. Great point.

      17. The sites I’m familiar with work in conjunction to local MLS systems and are typically run by brokers and it’s simply an old concept that is being made new with the web. Pocket listings have been around forever- some sellers are famous and don’t want their home made public, others just want to test the market (pre-sale), while others don’t want to impact their days on market and want exposure but aren’t ready to be on the MLS.

      18. Easy, buddy! But yeah, you can call it what you want but it’ll still be ol’ Fannie and Freddie!

      19. As I’ve commented above, there has to be a layer of accountability for a ratings system to really be of any value. Yelp and BBB will squeak through the lawsuits, this isn’t the first round of them.

      20. Web ad spending isn’t just featured listings- what will rise is banner ads on niche sites, Facebook ads, PPC campaigns, etc. in an effort to effectively compete. I don’t believe featured listings will decline, I believe it might actually increase as agents stress to compete.

      I look forward to bantering more with you, Fred!

    • joy siegel

      December 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

      I like your comments to the predictions of 2011; good thoughts.

      • Lani Rosales

        December 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

        Thanks, Joy! May your 2011 be the best!

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