Editor’s note: The real estate industry is heading for big change in 2005. Experts once again are predicting slower home sales and easing price appreciation due to an anticipated rise in interest rates. In this Inman News forecast series, we attempt to get a clear picture of the industry next year, including what we can expect from housing numbers, who the industry should be watching and what the best and worst-case scenarios might be for housing in 2005. (See Part 1: The interest rate roller coaster ride; Part 2: Best-case scenario for housing next yearPart 3: Worst-case scenario for housing next year; Part 5: 15 people to watch in 2005; and Part 6: Inman News Readers 2005 Real Estate Forecast.)

The Inman News team likes to put together our own list of predictions every year. Here are 10 things we think will happen in 2005.

1. Homestore will start a lead generation program and quickly become one of the leaders in the space.

2. A major mortgage company will purchase a big real estate company, setting off a legal battle with the real estate industry.

3. A movement to privatize the MLS will take off like wildfire as brokers move to control their listing inventory.

4. The Justice Department will come down hard on the real estate industry for antitrust violations.

5. There will be a huge security breach at a large regional MLS, causing the National Association of Realtors to step in and create a tight data security policy that all MLSs must follow and police closely.

6. Google will beta test a special real estate search engine that crawls the Web for available home listings. The search feature will be local in nature, but will enable Web surfers to set their own search parameters and look in multiple ZIP codes.

7. NAR will end the year with fewer members than it had on Jan. 1. As the housing market eases and other sectors of the economy pick up pace, thousands of real estate newbies will exit the industry to try on other hats.

8. Interest rates will fall as President Bush takes action on the trade deficit

9. Bush will ease the pain of his tax-reform proposals, which will eliminate the deduction for property taxes, by increasing the capital gains caps on housing sales.

10. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will go private and eliminate the ceiling on home loans that they will purchase.

***

What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

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