2010 TRENDS: Planning for the Future Print

Everyone seems to be watching the real estate industry to see which way it will turn. Stefan Swanepoel is a well known prognosticator of real estate trends. While we cannot predict the future with any certainty, we can all benefit from learning about the trends shaping the future of our industry, spelled out (in much greater detail) in his latest book Swanepoel Trends Report 2010.

TREND 1 Protecting Real Estate Data: In what could “very well prove to be the most significant undertaking in the history of organized real estate”, NAR is launching REALTORS Property Resource (RPR) – “a single source, desktop access for public record information such as tax assessments, comparable data, liens, zoning, permits, environmental, neighborhoods, school districts and community demographics. Its enhanced search features will allow in depth nationwide property search as well as market-to-market comparisons and referral opportunity not currently available.” RPR is for REALTOR eyes only and is not intended to become a national MLS. The success of RPR will depend largely on its ability to obtain active listing data from MLSs nationwide.

TREND 2 Tax Credit Impact: Reviews are mixed as to the impact of the tax credits on the economy. A program that largely re-shuffles houses between homeowners or from renters to buyers generates lots of activity, without helping housing fundamentals. The key to the excess housing problem is to get more Americans back to work, who can then quality for homeownership on solid financial terms.

TREND 3 Franchising Changes: It’s been almost 40 years since franchising entered the residential real estate industry. Its impact ranks with the MLS and the Internet as one of the top three game-changing strategies in real estate since World War II. Despite the slowing of the housing market, there are significantly more franchise options than ever before. Swanepoel taps the following national franchises as having the most potential for future success (in alphabetical order):
  • Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate
  • Coldwell Banker Real Estate
  • Keller Williams Realty
  • RE/MAX International
  • Sotheby’s International

TREND 4 Change by Design: The economy will continue to change as over one million Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) adjust over the next four years, 75% in 2010 and 2011. (The peak will hit in August, 2011.) According to Swanepoel, “normal is no longer normal. Your strategy has to change from a short term transactional one to a long term relational one…. The generalist will never completely go away but it will be the specialist that emerges on top.” If REALTORS wish to improve their overall image and be seen as more professional, then the following actions must be taken:

  • Improve the level of knowledge of existing agents
  • Increase entry level for new agents
  • Be willing to let consumer grade and rate the level and quality of their service
  • Utilize the new media frequented by the consumer to connect with them.

TREND 5 End of Advertising as We Know It: Daily newspapers have been losing 2-5% per year of their circulation base during the last 10 years. Only 27% of Gen Y read a newspaper. Yet 30% of all agents still use print advertising on a regular basis and nearly 80% of all agents still buy print ads just to appease their clients. REALTORS need to realign their advertising mix and include the social networking techniques that work well for branding (but not so well for client acquisition or listing promotion.)

TREND 6 Innovation: In 2009, NAR instituted the Game Changers Challenge, seeking creative ideas, programs and services from its local and state associations. From over 200 submissions, NAR selected 14 winners and provided them with almost $2 million to develop their projects. It is both a short and long-term approach to developing new programs as well as enhancing existing ones to make the overall REALTOR experience a better one.

TREND 7 Rethinking the Profession: The slumping economy and housing markets, fueled by fierce competition, are forcing many agents to rethink their career choices. Less than half of all REALTORS report that real estate is their primary source of household income. For most REALTORS, the pressures and demands of balancing two or more jobs – especially in the current economic climate – are burdens to an industry that’s trying to achieve the level of professional customer service it believes is critical. And REALTOR Associations face the challenge of meeting the needs of this growing segment of the industry.

This review of Swanepoel’s Trend Report 2010 was written by Laura Benjamin, CEO of the Roanoke Valley Association of REALTORS.