In my talks I often preach that real innovation comes when we have the ingredients that got us to the moon: money, brains and passion.

In real estate today, these fundamentals are in place.

A new generation of passionate leaders is taking over — younger and better-educated agents, a new crop of innovative and fearless  brokers, and a slew of startup whiz kids. A recovering housing market and successful IPOs such as Zillow and Trulia are attracting supersmart professionals who want in on the largess.

Oscar Wilde said, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.”

Indeed, capital has returned to the industry and that is a good thing. The largest real estate company, Realogy Holdings Corp. ($6.16 billion market cap), has put a big dent in its debt and gone public with a fresh dose of capital (raised $1 billion with its IPO).

Re/Max has capital to invest after raising $225 million with its successful IPO this fall. One of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, is doubling down on real estate services with his Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchise. Can Keller Williams be far behind, capitalizing its rapidly growing enterprise?

Then, there are the awe-inspiring IPOs of Zillow ($2.85 billion market cap) and Trulia ($1.25 billion market cap). These two alone have a staggering amount of capital to invest in innovation, and stock prices that are perfectly poised for a slew of acquisitions. operator Move Inc. ($630 million market cap) will also rely on acquisitions as part of its strategy for growth.

There’s also the ripple effect. These success stories have spawned dozens of new venture-backed companies. I get a call a week from VCs asking about this or that real estate startup.

So, how does this play out?

1. New and better products will be created. The sky is the limit on innovation. Let your imagination go berserk.

2. Smaller tech companies will be  gobbled up, as, Trulia and Zillow square off in heated battle.

3. Brokers who don’t innovate or partner will be left in the dust. Old ways are most threatened at times like this.

4. Agents will be offered more and more products and better ways to do their job. Their growing independence will be even more emboldened.

5. New business models will be tried, further challenging the old guard to innovate.

Finally, and most importantly, the consumer will enjoy a better experience, buying, selling and renting homes.


Brad Inman is the founder and publisher of Inman News.

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