Editor’s note: Inman News asked our audience to share their views on what’s in store for real estate in the year ahead, and also to list their wishes and resolutions. This is the first installment in a series. (How to participate.)  

Predictions: Shift happens:

1. Data usage: Associations will need to become more expert in data usage and syndication. Smart brokers and agents better get up to speed quickly on this topic, too.

2. Mobility will be critical. Most customers are totally mobile so real estate professionals better catch up! Everything from smart phones, iPads, netbooks, portable scanners, e-signatures and more need to be in their daily arsenal. To adapt a quote from R.H. Grant, "When you use tools that are smarter than you are, you prove that you are smarter than they are."

3. Realtor associations will need to continue to adapt their business model and services. As Realtors get busier or more afraid of the market, the availability of volunteer resources will continue to dwindle. Association staff will have to pick up the slack. This means changes in staff assignments or actual changes in staff. "The quality of the play cannot surpass the caliber of the cast."

4. Real estate professionals will need to find their area of expertise. They aren’t the only ones that know what’s for sale and they can no longer control the transaction, so they had better become the "hyperlocal expert" or the "lifestyle consultant" or some other expert. Somehow they need to know more about something than their customers do!

5. Banks will need to work together with the real estate professional. If they don’t, no one will sell anything and no one will get paid! Communicate and work things out for the benefit of everyone. Don’t keep the rules secret and don’t keep changing them."

6. The real estate market will continue to change — at an ever greater rate of speed. Real estate professionals must keep abreast of market trends and changes or they will be lost.

Wish List: Banks need to effectively work with the real estate professional to communicate and work towards an expedient sale. If they don’t, sales will continue to be slow and all parties will suffer.

Pam MacConnell
West Volusia Association of Realtors
Orange City, Fla. …CONTINUED

Predictions: If you want to know what the housing market will be like next year, ask the government. Low mortgage interest rates only exist thanks to its efforts. Government officials can also be thanked for the current lack of demand created by pulling today’s buyers into early 2010 with tax credits that have now expired.

Finally, the heavy-handed but completely inadequate government intervention into foreclosures has left us short of affordable inventory while leaving everyone wondering what’s next, given shadow inventories and robo-signing scandals. With much regret, my prediction for 2011 is that we’ll see more of the same.

Wish List: Sane housing policy at all level of governments that clearly explains how we:

1. Get back to market-supported interest rates;
2. Deal with the reality that millions of homeowners are still hopelessly underwater; and
3. Remove all fear, uncertainty and doubt recently raised about the foreclosure process and the validity of underlying mortgages.

Sean O’Toole
Founder and CEO
Discovery Bay, Calif. …CONTINUED

Predictions: I predict a rise in home sales in terms of units sold. This will be fueled by a rising number of first-time buyers as we continue to feel the effects of the huge echo boom reaching financial maturity and entering the market as first-time buyers. However, the baby boom also turns 65 in 2011, which will cause a rising number of retirement-driven listings and rising inventory.

I think the media coverage resulting from rising sales units will cause more hopeful retirees to put signs in their yards sooner, as it will appear the market is stabilizing.

However, the rising boomer inventory will continue to put downward pressure on pricing, which will keep foreclosures coming. So I see a mixed bag: rising inventory, steady foreclosures and falling prices despite rising sales.

Wish List: That the National Association of Realtors will finally conduct a comprehensive analysis of the market, based strictly on demographics and buying and selling behaviors by age — to accurately project the anticipated levels of inventory to be realized by the retiring baby boom and ultimately project the required absorption rate by each first-time buyer so that the public can be properly educated and understand the baby boom oversupply outweighs the echo boom demand. Only then can we make accurate remedial recommendations to Congress.

Resolutions: Continue to allocate marketing budgets to generate first-time buyers and encourage every one of them to buy from an owner-occupant to stimulate absorption, as opposed to being lured away by a vacant REO.

Susan Rossi
RE/MAX 2000
Crete, Ill. …CONTINUED

Predictions: A slow and steady recovery. We saw the first positive number posted from Willamette Valley Multiple Listing Service for year-over-year sales. 2005 was the last positive number that was posted. 2006-2009 were all negative numbers. November 2010 brought us the first positive number: up 0.85 percent. A very nice glimmer of hope!

Wish List: I wish for this good, core group of lenders and Realtors a prosperous year. The remaining professionals have hung on and learned a great deal about marketing over the last few years. We have an amazing group of experienced and caring business professionals who offer a great service to the people who need to buy, sell and refinance.

Rosi Green
Marketing Representative
Silverton, Ore. …CONTINUED

Predictions: I believe that the market will dip around 5 to 8 percent mostly in the mid- to upper-range markets. There is always the unknown, no matter who you are, on what the banks will really do and when, with all the shadow inventory that will take five years or so to get through. Here in Northern California, State Farm closed a branch of around 450-500 employees — that really hurts.

Kelly Dale Lyles
Creative Property Services
Santa Rosa, Calif. …CONTINUED

Predictions: A big fight over the home mortgage interest deduction. A probable attack on 1031 exchanges. Higher interest rates. More foreclosures.

Wish List: Take the banks to task for not speeding up loan mods and directed short-sale programs.

Resolutions: Be high-tech, high-touch.

Jim Snook
Broker associate
Dallas Real Estate Inc.
Flagstaff, Ariz. …CONTINUED

Wish List: My wish would be that it become a seller’s market again, but my prediction is that we’re in store for much of the same.

Molly C. Werner
Weichert Realtors
Clinton, N.J. …CONTINUED

Predictions: I anticipate that the commercial downturn that was previously expected will remain regionalized, and not as widespread as expected; much like the residential housing market. I only hope that the media can portray it as it is, without casting such a dismal net over the entire country.

I expect more foreclosures and blighted communities as people walk away from their homes, leaving them to deteriorate and suffer from deferred maintenance. I expect that sales and values will rise, but only slightly.

Wish List: I wish that lenders would stop their attempts to correct all that went wrong for years; penalizing a viable buying market. The middle of the road is always a safe place to travel. Too far in either direction only causes more problems for the masses.

This wide-ranging pendulum is likely to cause greater problems than the U.S. may be able to handle. I wish that some consumers continue, and many more begin to make wiser decisions about finances in general, and begin to live a lifestyle of global sustainability consciousness.

Resolutions: Continue to monitor what works and what doesn’t. Eliminate wasteful spending and use time most efficiently. Capitalize on the current economy to create long-term growth opportunities.

Michael Jones
Coldwell Banker King Thompson
Columbus, Ohio …CONTINUED

Predictions: Within Wisconsin, I expect continued sluggishness in the housing market with continuing short sales and foreclosures. There will be some increase in building permits, but slim. Median price has bottomed except for second-home markets. Consumer confidence will be tied to unemployment numbers.

Wish List: The certainty of governmental decisions to provide direction for the industry.

Resolutions: Continued investment in technology, and greater governmental lobbying to protect the industry.

Bill Malkasian
Wisconsin Realtors Association
Madison, Wis. …CONTINUED

Predictions: We will see fewer transactions in 2011, with the average selling prices falling 3 to 5 percent. These predictions are based on third-quarter market reports and sales pending in the fourth quarter.

Wish List: Consumer confidence is the key to a turnaround in the market. The government has to stimulate the jobs recovery and the real estate market will follow.

Resolutions: On the listing side, we are encouraging agents to obtain designations in short sales and the senior market. On the buying side, we have provided search-engine-optimized WordPress sites, with training and support, and the integration of social media in the marketing process.

Fred Doleac
Virtual Homes Real Estate
Amherst, N.H.

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