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Where is the Real Estate Industry Headed?

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A Perfect Storm?

Although most of us have weathered the recent housing market shift, it remains to be fully seen if the industry as a whole will as well.  The public’s overall low trust level and perception of Real Estate Professionals combined with easier access to information and economical ways to market homes to the public may give them more reasons in coming years to go about real estate needs on their own or at least rethink what role an agent/broker plays in the process.

An Industry Trend

Recent articles have predicted an increase in real estate licensees in the next ten year.  However, I have yet to see projection from industry trade groups (REALTOR® Associations) with as positive of an outlook regarding their membership numbers.  This starts the notion that although we should see more real estate salespeople and brokers, less of them may decide to join and pay to be part of industry trade organizations.

United We Stand?

As an independent broker I do believe in having a say in how I run my business and in what way (within reason) I can assist customers who choose to employ my services. That being said, we are an industry that survives on cooperation.  If our industry starts forming multiple groups this could further complicate assisting the public and further deepen the ill feeling they have towards us.

The Next Step…

The root of the possible issues I described come down to money and value proposition.  The National Association of REALTORS® has taken large strides recently to try and connect with a wide base of members and needs to continue to do so in the interest of the public.  Real Estate Professionals need to take more responsibility and learn that their Local, State, and National Association(s) are of use for them and not just a an annual bill.

Matt is an Real Estate Broker and Consultant from Northern Virginia. He is always looking for new ways to make the industry more efficient and consumer-oriented. Matt is a social networking junkie who can be readily found on Twitter and Facebook.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    June 30, 2009 at 9:57 am

    @mattwilkins here are my thoughts:

    1. It seems like maybe licensees should be required to earn hours learning about how associations work from the local to national levels. This way the “I didn’t know” excuse (which is common AND acceptable as it stands) is eliminated and associations have more volunteers (and more informed members)?

    2. Do you think that local and state associations should take a more forward facing stance like HAR (Houston Assn of Realtors), VAR (Virginia Assn) and NAR have taken? Would this advance the industry?

    3. What are your thoughts on the agents who do not embrace technology? Should there still be a requirement for continuing ed for all members to attend a bi-annual tech update conference or course not to convince them to use it but to make them more informed of what is out there so they don’t look like deer caught in headlights when someone says “but Zillow says my house is worth $245,000 and you say $199,000” to which the agent says “umm is Zillow your kitty’s name?”

    Continuing ed may be a poor way to do it, perhaps associations could be charged with annual tech update reports for their members? I’m not in a creative mode but I’m sure you can help this thought process, right Matt?

  2. Matt Wilkins

    June 30, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Lani:

    1. that points makes sense except the fact that technically joining association is optional for real estate licensees. There are many areas of the country where Real Estate Firms and their agents/brokers are NOT members of REALTOR associations

    2. I think the more forward thinking associations are starting to be noticed and having an impact. the issue is the number of members in these places is still a relatively small portion of the overall membership and have to fight the uphill battle against existing politics.

    3. I don’t agree with shoving technology down people’s throats. I hate to say it but there are customers/clients out there who don’t care about an agent’s tech skills. That can be seen in many markets. Required CE credit or an update on tech may be a good thing just make it a “here it is I told you so” thing and lt them choose. he ones who don’t embace it will see the effects down the road.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Matt,

    NAR has always provided services, its only now that members are starting to find them. Yes, they are engaging Social Media, but it’s still far from a large membership base, it’s just an active one.

    The tools have always been there, it’s just that they’ve been moved online making them easier to use and more accessible to an emerging group of savvy agents.

    Lani,

    I love the ideas you have. However, I’ve been really struggling as of late. If the agents aren’t taking initiative to engage learning, specifically about technology than forcing them to do so isn’t going to work. We’ve had agents try to read romance novel in CE classes and had to ask them to leave. Of course when you deal with these folks later they’re idiots – but what do you expect?!?!

    No, I am spending me efforts and energies on those who freely and willing engage knowledge – everything else is a waste of time.

  4. Fred Romano

    June 30, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Although my business model is primarily flat fee, I do appreciate all different types of service models. The public perception of agents is poor because most agents have no real “value proposition” as someone else mentioned. If sellers see value they will buy, if not, they will choose a service that does.

    What’s interesting is that I actually provide MORE technology and marketing now than I did when I was doing the traditional RE model.

    I am not sure where we are headed and I hope in 5-10 years we are still here. We all have to make a living right?

  5. Joe Loomer

    June 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Survival of the fittest.

    I am not – and have never claimed to be – a tech savvy agent. I just try to take the necessary steps to remain competitive in today’s (and tomorrow’s) market. I make a choice to remain in this industry, and I think there will always be a place for me as long as I understand I can’t just roll the clock back and think the traditional way. My clients are out here, I need to be here too. I think there will be growth in the manner you imply, Matt. Namely those that are already tech-savvy (and get some sales training), or those that are sales-savvy and take the time to “get their tech on” in order to keep up.

    It’s an evolution. 10 years ago the Buyers Agent was unheard of. Now it’s standard practice. People will continue to desire representation in what for most remains the most important financial decisions they make – real estate purchases. Just because it’s easier to find a property online – doesn’t mean it’s a great deal to just up and buy it directly from the Seller.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Jessi

    June 30, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    As less people are able to get student loans for colleges or get laid off it seems obvious they would go after a real estate license. There is arguably an upswing in the housing market, but I would imagine this is just on the coasts in wealthy markets where the prices have lowered. Middle class is the majority and I don’t suppose many people are confident enough to purchase a house any time soon. What do you think about this?

  7. Andrew Mooers

    June 30, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Where is real estate heading? The consumer wants more video..live narrated about the property, the area, the local events and in the process the agent is branded. They know you before they get here. Rather than philosophize about where the industry is headed, go after the market. Make the market. Utilize the myriad of media available to list, market, sell real estate.

  8. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    July 1, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Public perception of real estate professionals is low because performance by those real estate professionals is low. I only wish I could interact with another Realtor who did not call me at 9:00pm to ask a stupid question or ask for Disclosures. Or fill out contracts completely. Or educate their clients that buying/selling real estate is not like stopping at Wal-Mart to pick up a pair of jeans.

    Until the profession requires a higher bar to entry and a higher bar to continued membership, either as a licensee or trade association member, we will continue to see the ebb and flow of membership as the business cycle ebbs and flows. Don’t you worry, when the prices start to climb again and when the inventory shrinks enough your cousin’s brother-in-law’s sister will be selling real estate.

    I don’t agree with the interpretation that we will see more licensees/practitioners and not more trade association members. There are serious financial incentives to join the trade association (MLS subscription fees, to name just one). I just think the numbers come from different data sets and are being interpreted differently.

  9. Matt Wilkins

    July 1, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Matt – again I agree with you and although associations have taken strides to connect iwth the REnet we as the REnet need to realize the vast demographic base they have to represent.

    Joe – that is very true and brings up a basic point that has ben around for years: many customers chose thier agent/broker based on trust and personlity. This is why so many can get into the busines and have short-term (and sometimes long-term) success.

    Jessi – I’ll have to ask my magic 8 ball and get back wiht you 🙂

    Andrew – I agree that you make your own destiny but in an industry that survives on us cooperating with each other straying from the heard too far could make representing your clients that much harder.

    Ken – I agree that the bar should be raised but that will be met with stiff opposition from those who feel that it would cripple our industry.

    As for associaiton membership, betwen the trend of MLSs allwoing non-association members to join (usually or a higher fee) and the increasing popularity of combo lockboxes, one could argue that being an associaiton member is not as vital as it was even ten years ago.

  10. msWoods Indianapolis Real Estate

    March 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Where are we headed? Well, in our Indianapolis, Indiana market:

    Faster search results for consumers
    Fantastic presentation of housing information
    More property videos
    More accurate sales data available to consumers on the web
    Better lead generation tools for real estate agents and brokers
    Less showings for agents before writing an agreement to purchase

    All I’ve really noticed is that we advertise our Indiana homes for sale on the internet now and not so much in Indy’s print media: Indianapolis Star Newspaper, Homes Illustrated, Homes & Land, etc. We still have control of the data and how it is presented to the public. The only company that makes me nervous about losing control of the data is Google.

    Mike Woods

  11. Zach Kinlaw

    November 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    "Faster search results for consumers
    Fantastic presentation of housing information
    More property videos
    More accurate sales data available to consumers on the web
    Better lead generation tools for real estate agents and brokers
    Less showings for agents before writing an agreement to purchase"

    I completely agree with these points…..I think the more you embrace these, the better you will be in the future.

    the realtors aka people still feed the machines like Google, Bing, etc with the information…..heck, we even feed our own MLS's…..without us collecting data, they got nothing

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