Many real estate industry folks have been discussing the always changing real estate market, and wondering what will change in the next 10 years for the industry, and for buyers and sellers. This is a great question because there have already been so many changes due to technology and companies that are trying to streamline transactions and take the human connection out of the process.
Here are my thoughts and predictions for the real estate industry heading into this next decade:
1. Human connection: One of the biggest concerns (although I do not feel it is truly a concern at all) will be whether the human connection will change in real estate transactions. Although pretty much all paperwork can be completed online (with the exception of signing loan and title documents), buying and selling real estate is still THE biggest financial decision for most people. A human connection is needed to help guide people through real estate transactions, as they are legal transactions with many ramifications. I do not think people want to give this up – I know I certainly would not if I were making such a large purchase…I would want all the help from someone experienced that I could get! The help and advice I provide my clients – both from many years of experience as an agent/broker and as an attorney – is invaluable and they know and appreciate that.
2. Streamlining the process: Following up on the preceding paragraph, I DO believe that buyers and sellers like the idea of streamlining paperwork (i.e. not having to physically sign stacks of documents like in the old days). We already have services like Docusign that allow parties to sign documents and keep electronic files to access at any time. But I think there is a limit to the streamlining; taking real estate agents out of the equation is a detriment to buyers and sellers. All of the paperwork is written in legal jargon and the average buyer and seller may not understand many points. They can either hire a lawyer to review with them, or use an experienced real estate agent (of course an agent who is not an attorney cannot explain the law, so any legal related questions would need a lawyer – OR an agent who IS a lawyer).
3. Reduction in large brokerages: There have been many large brokerages formed over the last decade plus – brokerages with many agents. I think this will change and we will see many of those close up shop. We have also seen a huge influx of smaller brokerages develop over the same period. Many clients fee these brokerages can provide more efficient service when there are fewer agents and staff in the way. As a broker/owner I agree, as I oversee all transactions and do not rely on assistants or team members to do so for me. My clients know they are getting top of the line service and will always deal with ME.
There is a not here to be said about real estate “teams,” which have increased exponentially in the last 5-10 years. Some buyers and sellers like the team idea because they are different people assigned to different jobs so the process is smooth and gets done (assuming everyone does their job correctly). But for a personal touch I fee that what I can provide as a broker/owner/attorney is much more than a team. I do not have to keep multiple parties apprised as to the status of the transaction because I am involved in all parts of it. This is personal preference but my clients love the dedication that comes from one person knowing everything that is happening during the purchase or sale.
4. Specialties/higher education of Realtors making an impact: This piggybacks on what has already been mentioned. A real estate agent with higher education (like a law degree) is like a full package – you get everything you need plus an elevated perspective from your agent. I think moving forward customers will (and SHOULD) expect that from their agents. I also think that these expectations will reduce the number of new agents entering the real estate job market.
5. Technology: Of course this is a big one for the industry. Technology continues to change and shape the way buyers buy homes and sellers sell them. The plethora of steps that can be taken to market a home by using technology has made a huge impact on the market and will continue to do so. Agents who do not embrace technology will not remain in the industry long. Many people feel that technology will eventually get rid of agents as well, and there are companies now that try eliminate the human assistance of agents (I have had some scary experiences with some of these companies, where there were major legal failures that could have lead to lawsuits). As I mentioned in previous paragraphs I feel this is not only dangerous from a legal perspective for buyers and sellers, but that people don’t want such a big decision and process to be automated. We need human emotions, empathy and assistance from other talented and experienced humans, who can help guide us through any major process.
The bottom line is that entering the real estate market involves not just a purchase or sale, but more importantly, human interaction and assistance. Saving a few dollars not having to work with an experienced real estate agent sounds great, but at what cost? Better to make sure you understand all the paperwork and legalities, as those create liabilities for MANY years to come. What do you think> I’d love to here from you.