Every part of the real estate realm is in constant flux – from housing prices to how you find your dream property and how you sell your home. This was evident during the 2019 New York Inman Conference where industry disrupters, CEOs of established brokerages, sales reps and technology leaders met to talk about what’s changing in the industry and how all players can do better.
After listening to countless thought leaders and speaking with a myriad of industry veterans and entrepreneurs, I’m convinced that the following seven truths will define the real estate industry:
1. “We are a tech company, not a brokerage.”
Brokerages must offer sales reps and their clients high-quality technology. The primacy of technology in the industry is reflected by the fact that legacy real estate brokerages in the U.S. are calling themselves “tech companies” and not “real estate companies”. Nonetheless, and despite popular belief, technology has yet to eliminate the role of the agent and it’s uncertain if it ever completely will. Technology reduces the amount of time an agent does administrative work so that the agent can do what matters – becoming their client’s trusted advisor.
2. If you don’t have great company culture, you won’t have a viable brokerage.
Simply put, productive agents aren’t attracted to a brokerage because of favourable splits and cash bonuses or because a brokerage offers the newest tech gadget. Rather, agents are looking for an accepting and flexible work environment that breeds comradery, encourages strong relationships between agents, management and staff and inspires them to succeed. A positive environment and eye towards social good are also in demand by buyers and sellers. Consumers want to work with companies that give back to society, as well as give their sales reps a positive work environment.
3. Website search functions are a commodity.
If you’re a sales rep or broker/owner, you’ll be dismayed to hear that the once highly coveted search function on your website no longer sets you apart. It’s now status quo. Just like having a website no longer makes you “ahead of the curve”, a search function doesn’t improve your brand in the eyes of buyers or sellers. In fact, some broker websites are abandoning search functions and are shifting focus to what buyers and sellers really want on the brokerage’s website – meaningful, local-specific content.
4. Just ask Jeeves.
Sales reps are no longer just in the business of sales. They’re also in the business of managing the mortgage application, smoothing out the move-out and move-in process, co-ordinating contractors, scoring tickets to their clients’ favourite show and helping their clients’ children get access to the best schools. Today’s successful sales reps are a modern-day Jeeves and not just a salesperson.
5. A new real estate niche.
The rise of Airbnb has created another market niche – short-term rentals. Sales reps are expected by consumers to understand the financial and legal difference between single-family long-term rentals and short-term rentals. Sales reps should be able to create basic proformas and have enough industry knowledge to prepare CMAs based on the revenue produced by the short-term rental.
6. It’s not just who you know or what you know, it’s about what the data says about you.
Consumers are relying less on your bench ads and more on your data to make the decision about whether to hire you. Consumers are using performance analytics, such as how long a sales rep takes to sell a home and how accurate her list price is in relation to the sale price, in order to determine a sales rep’s “worthiness”. Interestingly, consumers are also now being scrutinized; brokerages are using predictive technology to screen buyers and sellers and to anticipate a prospect’s needs and wants.
7. Less is more.
The minimalist lifestyle is no longer a trend. It’s now a way that millennials are living and will continue to live. Unlike their parents, millennials don’t want to “out do” their parents by buying sprawling mansions or even large condos. Millennials want to simplify their lives by living “minimally” and occupying smaller spaces – so long as the 400-square-foot condo is close to the office, fitness trainer, favourite doggy day care and the fastest organic vegan avocado paleo toast purveyor. Convenience and location trumps magnificence and square footage.