SAN FRANCSICO — Real estate agents see a bright future for the business, despite some worries about the prospects for increased government regulation, a possible erosion of industry standards, and a data free-for-all.
Most of the 929 agents recently surveyed by Inman News (74 percent) felt their business would be bigger in five years, and 65 percent thought their broker’s business would be more substantial in the same time period.
While 14 percent expected that their own business would be "about the same" in five years, twice as many expected their broker would see flat growth. But only 4 percent think they or their broker will be doing less business in five years.
"The biggest thing we saw is that agents are thinking about the long term," said Katie Lance, social media director of Inman News, who presented the survey results at the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco with Inman News chief evangelist Chris Smith.
Social media usage was prevalent among the respondents. More than 93 percent had a Facebook page, 75 percent had a Facebook business page and 60 percent were on Twitter.
Nearly half of agents surveyed (49 percent) thought the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will be about the same size at is now five years from now, while 36 percent see the trade association becoming "bigger and stronger than ever." Only 13 percent expect NAR membership to shrink.
Respondents said that NAR could help them by empowering them through education and by staying vigilant on housing-focused political lobbying, said Lance and Smith.
The 14-question survey also included three open-ended questions asking agents about their fears for the future of the industry, opportunities. and how NAR should be involved.
Agents cited a worry over increased government involvement in real estate, which could possibly mitigate the need for an agent’s services, said Lance and Smith. "No need for Realtors because the government is working through banks to sell homes, click to buy," one respondent said.
Another fear had to do with increasing lack of control agents have over listing data. "Realtors getting more squeezed out, while fringe operators have industry penetration field days," read another survey-representative quote presented by Lance and Smith.
However, these fears were balanced by the opportunities agents found in them, Lance said. The survey revealed agents are focusing on service, embracing digital technology and focusing on adaptation, she said. They’re also looking beyond the immediate future.
Among those surveyed, 58 percent were female, 42 percent male, and nearly 80 percent were above the age of 45. Most (53 percent) had five to 15 years of experience, with five to 10 years of experience the most often cited (35 percent) followed by 11 to 15 years (18 percent). Only 12 percent had less than five years of experience.
Most often (46 percent of the time), respondents said they grossed less than $50,000 in 2011, with 30 percent reporting between $50,000 and $100,000 in gross income and 25 percent making more than $100,000.