Each year, the Inman News team puts together a list of predictions for the coming year in real estate. Here are 10 things we think will happen in 2006:
1. Google’s new Base service, which enables people to upload content to the Web – similar to a self-serve classifieds listings service – will be a big hit and completely rearrange the online listings and lead generation landscape for real estate, marketing and media companies.
2. A cooler housing market will shake tens of thousands of real estate agents out of the business. Many of those agents will move onto the next big thing: operating a retail business on eBay. Others will become full-time bloggers, using Google AdSense skills they picked up in the real estate business to make money from their daily musings.
3. The U.S. Justice Department’s case against the National Association of Realtors will reach a stalemate, pending another industry-wide lawsuit over the copyright of property listings data.
4. A few major real estate brokerage companies will pull their property listings from the traditional multiple listing service and create their own private MLS, fully equipped to capture and manage online consumer inquiries.
5. A handful of major traditional brokerage companies will open alternative, discount channels in addition to their full-service options to diversify their business and capture the whole gamut of consumers in a changing market.
6. Former Homestore executives Stuart Wolff and Peter Tafeen will settle criminal and civil lawsuits accusing them of misleading investors and causing Homestore’s financial nosedive about five years ago. The two will come out of the scandal virtually unscathed.
7. Inman News Publisher Bradley Inman will launch another company, this time focusing on cyber-dating within the real estate community. He will also launch a documentary film series, “Life and Times of Real Estate Rogues.”
8. Interest rates will steadily climb, but remain low enough that a wave of homeowners with aging adjustable-rate mortgages will refinance into long-term fixed-rate mortgages, creating another boom for the mortgage and title industries.
9. Wal-Mart will open an online home-ordering business, much like Sears’ catalog homes of the early 1900s.
10. A large existing online company will enter real estate by creating a consumer-direct portal where people can research all things real estate, read the latest headlines, browse available homes, download legal forms and chat with peers.
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