The Future of Real Estate: 11 Game-Changing Predictions from the Biggest Names in the Biz

This summer’s been a whirlwind for real estate.

From the launch of Zillow’s Instant Offers, to Trump’s impending tax reforms, and talk of the ‘death of the real estate agent’ — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But here at Follow Up Boss, we’re all about focusing on the things you can control.

We’ve handpicked frontline insights from some of the world’s most inspiring real estate pros to help you navigate the hype, steer clear of the clickbait, and stay on track to a profitable future.

#1 – The Mega Agent Will Be Unstoppable

“A broader trend we’re seeing– and one we’re really excited about–is agents running their businesses as businesses.”

— John Davis, CEO, Keller Williams

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Source: Keller Williams

What better way to kick off our list than with the CEO of the world’s largest real estate franchise? According to John Davis, one of the most important trends in real estate is that more agents are getting down to business. Ambitious agents are modeling the behavior of mega agents and using empirical evidence to guide their decisions. In his recent interview with ESTATENVY, he stressed the importance of transforming your entrepreneurial drive into consistent daily behaviors that boost lead conversion (a man after our own hearts!).

#2 – No One Can Replace The Real Estate Agent (Not Even Zillow)

“Despite millennials’ love affair with mobile technology, the majority of millennials still work with a real estate agent to seal the deal…”

— Spencer Rascoff, CEO, Zillow

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Source: Spencer Rascoff

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, MLS sites are here to stay. But so are agents. In a candid convo with Dan Roth from LinkedIn, the Zillow CEO admits their technology has taken the game to a whole new level, but says there’s no way the agent will disappear. His advice for agents? Own your online reputation, take control of your ratings and reviews and use systems, software and teams that give you a competitive edge in today’s instant response culture. To Rascoff, the role of the broker or franchisor is one of branding, training, and mentorship to the agent — and there’s no question that the agent has more personal power over their business than ever before. So side hustlers and moonlighters beware, as Rascoff puts it, “You need to be all in to be successful.”

#3 – Your Bottom Line Will Be More Important Than Gross Commissions

“The pressure is going to be at the real estate brokerage level. And it’s the real estate brokerage that’s getting squeezed. And that’s where – that model is what’s actually getting interrupted. The old brick and mortar office.”

— Brian Buffini, Speaker, Author and Founder, Buffini & Company

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Source: Brian Buffini

In a no-holds-barred interview with Real Estate Guys Radio, master motivator and original rags-to-riches mogul, Brian Buffini echoed Rascoff’s conviction that, “the real estate agent is going nowhere.” As Brian tells it, technology like Zillow has created a huge amount of consumer interest where it really counts: millennial buyers. But millennials are more educated and demand more transparency from realtors, leading to increasing pressure on commissions. In the future, successful agents will be those who can resist the urge to focus on short-term commissions and leverage this increased interest into selling properties faster — because at the end of the day, a great bottom line is more important than a great pay day.

#4 – Cloud-Based Brokerages Will Be Business As Usual

“We find ourselves in an environment where we celebrate the successes of one another, rather than competing for them, and I think that that is a direct result of the ownership mindset and it’s a very refreshing change I think from a lot of different work environments.”

— Jason Gesing, CEO, eXp Realty

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Source: Jason Gesing

Dovetailing nicely with the above prediction is a great example of how independent brokerages can increase efficiency and profitability by going virtual. Our pal, Mitch Ribak recently closed the doors on his brick-and-mortar brokerage, Tropical Realty, to join forces with Jason Gesing’s eXp as a virtual real estate team. For Mitch, this was a great way to maintain his relationship (and commissions) with his team while eliminating the hassle of managing a brokerage. If you want to get the full story on what makes cloud-based services a solid option, check out this amazing interview between Jason Gesing and agent goal-planning guru, Brad Anderson.

#5 – 3D And VR Will Be The Next Big Thing

“Simply put, pictures just don’t do it anymore. Everyone knows that videos have begun springing up across realtors’ websites in an effort to better showcase a home. It’s obvious that videos help. However, today, a simple video just won’t cut it anymore, nor will great photos. Today, for realtors and prospective home owners to set themselves apart in the digital marketing fray, they need 3D models and showcases of their homes.”

R.L. Adams, Software Engineer, Serial Entrepreneur, and Author

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Source: Matterport

Forbes contributor and author, R.L. Adams is a big fan of tech that makes life richer. In his article, “Is This The Future Of Real Estate Marketing?” (Hint: Yes, it most definitely is), he takes Matterport’s 3D camera for a spin and finds it’s easier to use than expected. According to company’s CEO, Bill Brown, “Matterport’s mission is to give people the freedom to experience any place at any time…establishing 3D and VR models as a primary medium for experiencing, sharing, and re-imagining the world.” And for real estate, it’s not hard to see how using VR and 3D technology can give you a major advantage with today’s digital consumers.

#6 – iBuyers Will Help You Get More Leads

“This is not the antichrist…”

—Veronica Figueroa, CEO, The Figueroa Team

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Source: Veronica Figueroa

iBuyers. What a can of worms, right? In May, Zillow launched its Instant Offers program, igniting hysteria in many a real estate facebook group. Some realtors have gone full on chicken little, while others are taking it in stride. So should agents be worried about services like Open Door and Instant Offers? Not so much. As of June, no bids were accepted through Instant Offers due to a lack of compelling offers from investors. And it makes sense, right? Investors will always aim to undercut market value, and informed sellers will always sniff that out. For mega agents like Veronica Figueroa, iBuyers are just another opportunity to get more seller leads. Her goal is to woo them away from high-tech investors with value-packed CMAs and excellent customer service.

#7 – Demand For Agents Will Continue to Rise

“Disintermediation is often overrated.”

— Joe Lonsdale and Drew Oetting, Founding Partners, 8VC

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Source: 8VC

Speaking of high-tech investors, Joe Lonsdale and Drew Oetting are founding partners at venture capital firm 8VC, one of the early investors behind RealScout. According to their co-authored article on Medium, they “believe that successful real estate platforms will augment agents with data and tools to accelerate their business and serve their clients better.” With AI doing everything from writing articles for the NY Times to diagnosing rare diseases, it’s tempting to think anything we can do a machine can do better. But as Joe and Drew put it, automation can only take you so far, “Certain tasks should and will be automated, such as scheduling and paperwork. But coordinating with other agents, staying up to date on local politics, gauging sentiment, and persuading clients requires a human touch.”

#8 – Tax Reform Will Have A Major Impact

“Today the future is unknown. Real estate is a substantially tax-advantaged asset. We are facing the possibility of the largest tax reform legislation since 1986.”

— Bruce Ailion, Realtor and Attorney, The Ailion Team

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Source: The Ailion Team

Bruce Ailion isn’t just an ace Atlanta area realtor, he’s also a licensed attorney. In an expert roundup for The Future of Everything, Bruce shares his concern for what will likely be the biggest tax reform in over 30 years. According to Bruce, “Ending or limiting the mortgage interest deduction, loss of federal flood insurance, changes in depreciation and the loss of the 1031 exchange provision will profoundly change the real estate landscape.” And he’s not the only one who’s worried. President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), William Brown has been speaking out against reforms that could hurt homeowners and realtors alike. (NAR’s doing a great job of keeping an eye on this, more from them here.)

#9 – Great Content Will Reign Supreme

“The future of real estate:

– Virtual tours will expand to augmented + virtual reality tours with agents interacting with potential clients on a scalable level in interactive video form (think single player FPS video game story mode).

– Individual Agents will own niche digital social networks and media channels (think Facebook for niche population).

– Companies will lead in content creation (think Coldwell Banker becoming a news agency for a city).”

— Tim McMullen, CEO, Luxury SF Realty

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Source: Tim McMullen

Skyrise superstar and self-proclaimed “sucker for a view,” Tim McMullen boils down the future of real estate to three key trends: VR for interactive marketing, agent-owned niche social sites and not least, real estate companies as content creators. And we couldn’t agree more. As homebuyers and sellers look to agents to help them interpret the onslaught of info they’re getting from new technology, agents and franchisors will become not only trusted partners but true thought leaders on complex issues like tax regulations and market conditions.

#10 – Stellar Marketing Will Require Stellar Communication

Communication and collaboration are now king too, not just content.”

— Chris Smith, Co-founder, Curaytor

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Source: Curaytor

As a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, Chris Smith has been an evangelist for the power of great content for years. But in a recent episode of Calls, he shifts gears a little. According to Chris, the marketing funnel of the future has so many channels, so much stellar content, that what matters most is making sure you have a solid system for collaborating with your key marketing stakeholders. Whether you use Curaytor or another marketing CRM, make sure you have a great tool that makes it easy to cut through the chaos and publish great content that brings incredible value to your prospects.

#11 – Purpose-Driven Agents Will Prevail

“The fact that your heart’s in your community, makes your community stronger.”

— Dave Liniger, CEO, RE/MAX

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Source: Sue “Pinky” Benson

When Florida agent and video marketing guru, Sue “Pinky” Benson won a lunch date with Dave Liniger, she probably never imagined they’d be talking about life, death and the reason for being. In her facebook live interview with the real estate mogul, Dave talks with open heart about the unique role of an agent as ambassador and protector of the communities they serve. To Dave and Pinky, knowing why you’re in the game is what takes you to the next level. For Pinky, that means donating 10% of her commissions to Children’s Miracle Network in memory of her son, Sawyer.

As we begin the 100-day sprint to the new year, maybe now’s a good time to think about what the future looks like for you.

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