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How will real estate function differently in 20 years?

As digital innovation takes hold, some wonder what the real estate practice will look like in another 20 years. It’s safe to say that opinions differ.

real estate in 20 years

How will the real estate market function in 20 years? This question was posed on Quora, where real estate industry insiders have described their visions of the market’s future.

Most predict online services and technological advancements will affect the industry, but they have differing ideas about how those changes will affect the realtor-client relationship.

Some think buyers will rely less on agents

Tony Bako, CTO at Mosaic, an online solar energy investment marketplace, envisions a residential real estate situation where buyers rely less on agents and more on advanced technology to provide instant, detailed information about all aspects of a property.

Bako describes the following scenario as a consumer on a futuristic home tour: “Prior to arriving, [my latest edition of smart] Glasses reads me a description of the house specs and features through my car’s Bluetooth connection.”

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“I’m able to ask questions about ownership history, closest school, recent sales, etc., and receive verbal responses,” he continues. “Upon arrival, as I tour the home, I take a few snapshots with my Glasses for my reference, and they are added to my tour file. I ask Glasses questions about the model of the stove I see, if the windows are single pane or double pane, if the local building code would permit renovations, etc.”

Innovation could change the industry

Ron Gin, CEO of, also foresees technology having a large impact on the real estate market over the next two decades. He lists 13 areas where digital innovation could increase market efficiency:

  1. crowd funding
  2. social networks
  3. investment analysis
  4. insurance
  5. data on physical condition of properties
  6. local advertising
  7. liquidity risk
  8. market data flow on individual properties
  9. MLS
  10. transaction processing
  11. property/investment management
  12. lead generation
  13. mortgaging

Trusted advisers will remain relevant

In spite of expanded digital real estate services, Billy Runyan, international property expert at Windermere Prestige Properties, stresses that professional, insider knowledge of a property and market will remain vitally important in a transaction as large as a house. He says sites online property data cannot replace an agent’s expertise.

“The real estate market has a lot of variables that make it resistant to what I’ll call data modeling,” Runyan says. “Just because a home is in an area with somewhat stable prices does not mean there are not a few ‘roaches’ among them.”

Runyan adds, “Without a professional expert reviewing the actual site, taking photos, comparing other properties via a physical walk through and evaluating the real cost/human value ‘issues,’ an up or down price of at least 20 percent based on actual condition is reasonable if not conservative.”

Digital won’t reduce an agent’s role

Austin, TX, realtor Shawn Rooker agrees with Runyan, saying digital services will not lessen the importance of customer service and the need for knowledgeable agents. Instead, he foresees technology strengthening the agent-client relationship.

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“An agent’s UVP (Unique Value Proposition) revolves around how they are able to reach the consumer and provide a service. Anything else is unimportant,” Rooker says. 

“Referral-based business will be even more important, assisted by social media,” he notes. “Agents who utilize technology optimally will find it easy to provide top-notch service to their clients if they stay on top of tech developments. Real estate will continue to be all about the relationship between consumer and consultant.”

What do you think?

How do you foresee the real estate industry changing over the next 20 years? How will digital innovation affect realtors’ relationships with buyers and sellers?


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Written By

Staff Writer, Hannah Anderson earned her B.A. in journalism from The University of Maryland. Her love of writing flows from her natural curiosity about the world and joy of discovering new places, products, and people.


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