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.

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 4: What will happen in 2005? and Part 6: Inman News Readers 2005 Real Estate Forecast.)

The Inman News team is keeping an eye on 15 people we expect to shake up the industry next year. Here are our candidates for people to watch in 2005:

1. Tom Reddin, CEO of Real Estate, IAC Financial Services and Real Estate. Some time next spring, all the pieces of InteractiveCorp’s online real estate juggernaut will come together under a mega, one-stop shop known as RealEstate.com. And Reddin will be in the driver’s seat. Since IAC’s LendingTree bought the coveted domain in 2003, the company has linked arms with ServiceMagic, iNest and Domania, steadily adding pieces to its real estate portal. What will they add in 2005?

2. Alex Perriello, president and CEO, Cendant Real Estate Franchise Group. Appointed this year to CEO, Perriello now oversees Cendant’s massive residential real estate empire including the Century 21, Coldwell Banker and ERA brands. Watch this guy closely as the brands continue to spread and Cendant now enters the online lead generation game with its recent purchase of Lead Router.

3. Bret Violette, president, Weichert Lead Network. Weichert has taken the lead in offering its brokers online lead generation and management tools through its subsidiary, Weichert Lead Network. Watch closely next year as this space heats up and Violette leads his team and his technology to the forefront.

4. Marty Frame, SVP of product development, Homestore. Frame will be the one to watch for any new technology developments at Homestore. Will the company release an online lead tool for brokers next year?

5. Lockhart Steele, publisher of Curbed.com. Steele fuels the engine behind the New York City real estate Web log Curbed.com. The daily online diary looks at how people define and redefine neighborhoods, community and place, and serves as the inside track for all things real estate in this unique market.

6. Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio). The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has requested the federal government study the restrictions placed on Multiple Listing Services and their impact on home buyers. Will his questions stir up controversy and expose underlying problems with the way real estate business is conducted? No one knows, but we’ll be watching to see what he learns.

7. Michael Perry, chairman and CEO, IndyMac Bancorp. Perry radically changed the corporate structure of IndyMac from a mortgage real estate investment trust to a federally regulated depository institution. He also has led the mortgage industry in technology and Web innovations and the company is likely to continue down that path.

8. Angelo Mozilo, chairman and CEO, Countrywide Financial Corp. As a co-founder, Mozilo has helped take Countrywide from its humble beginnings in 1969 to a global leader in residential finance and related services. Under Mozilo’s leadership, the company has built its market share largely by aggressively pursuing partnerships with real estate brokerages and homebuilders. With the industry increasingly focusing on such partnerships, Mozilo is leading the pack.

9. Ian Morris, CEO, HouseValues. Even people outside of real estate will be watching Morris next year. The high-energy Harvard grad first made his mark on the real estate world about nine year’s ago when he started working for Microsoft’s online real estate business. Now he’s further cementing his role as industry pioneer by helping to take HouseValues public. A successful public offering will help the company expand its business and the importance of online marketing and lead services in the industry.

10. Van Davis, president and CEO, Foxtons North America. Davis left the top job at Century 21 Real Estate Corp. earlier this year to head up Foxtons, once known for its 2 percent commission. During his tenure so far, Davis has helped the company transform itself from a limited-service brokerage to one that offers full-service for a 3 percent total commission. The new approach will publicly debut next year. Everyone will have be watching to see how the new model performs.

Five other people we’ll be watching:

1. The new CEO for the National Association of Realtors. Will the powerhouse trade group pick an insider to lead the pack, or will it reach outside its group for the next top executive?

2. Barry Diller, chairman and CEO, InterActiveCorp. Diller’s entry last year into the real estate world excited half the industry and scared the other half. The media mogul has assured the industry that he doesn’t plan to dislodge real estate brokers and agents, but he certainly plans to shake things up and move the industry further into the online world. IAC acquired ServiceMagic earlier this year, further expanding its real estate brands.

3. Richard Sommer, CEO, HomeGain. Sommer took the reins of the online lead company and is working to expand its reach. An industry veteran, Sommer previously worked at IndyMac Bank but couldn’t turn down the chance to help grow a company. He plans to expand the company’s network of agents and brokers, provide high quality leads to them and help agents convert those leads to closed sales through increased use of technology.

4. Sherry Chris, president of RealLiving Network Services. In 2005, Chris will take the role of chairwoman of the elusive Realty Alliance, a national invitation-only networking group of some of the nation’s largest real estate brokers. This group has major market share – prospective member-companies must have closed a minimum of $500 million in residential real estate sales volume for the previous calendar year.

5. Jim Petro, Ohio Attorney General. Petro is leading the charge in class-action shareholder lawsuits against mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Accounting irregularities have been exposed at both companies, which have opened the gates for shareholder complaints. Petro has a difficult job as both companies are known for their huge influence on the nation’s housing market and tough lobbying power on the Hill.

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

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