Dottie Herman is the president and CEO of Douglas Elliman.
Are you optimistic about 2015?
I’m both excited and relieved about the direction of the housing market in 2015. A year ago, the market rose rapidly at a rate that wasn’t sustainable. Now, we are seeing modest growth in both housing sales and prices that are more reasonable, which means that the residential market is on a steady track. I see the economy improving slowly and think that mortgage rates will continue to remain low. Our company has seen incredible growth in 2013 and 2014 with expansion markets and brand awareness nationwide and globally. We fully expect that our growth will continue.
What are you worried about?
I’m not worried about a lot right now. With mortgage rates remaining low and a gradually improving economy, Elliman’s growth is going in the right direction.
How much do you fret about global events?
I wouldn’t say that I fret about global events; rather, I watch what is going on around the world and adjust accordingly businesswise. I have to say that New York is a wonderful place for foreigners to invest in — we are lucky to be here — and I don’t see that attitude changing. Foreigners will continue to want homes in New York and see it as a strong place to invest.
Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?
I don’t think mortgage rates will change that much, given how slowly the economy is improving.
Will home prices appreciate next year?
Prices across the United States vary significantly, market to market. We know every region is different, so it’s a tough question to answer. Though difficult to generalize, we do expect modest appreciation in pricing in markets we cover.
Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?
I do think that with new tech resources, tools and access to information, agents will be more productive in the new year. Elliman is advancing our technology and broker resources very rapidly. For instance, the introduction of our new digital app, Elli, will greatly help our agents expand their productivity as it streamlines communication with their clients and is very effective in gathering in-depth information quickly. We’re putting this technology to use in ways that no other brokerage has done before, and we’re excited to see the results. In terms of productivity in transactions, I believe that will stay consistent.
Will the portals play a bigger role in real estate next year?
There is a lot of room for expansion with the portals, and they will continue to play a bigger role next year, especially with the finalization of merger of Trulia and Zillow, and the Murdoch acquisition of Move and its portal realtor.com.
Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?
In this market, who would be making plans to contract? Elliman’s biggest growth has been in its number of agents and regions covered, and we’re thriving on both the brokerage side and in new developments. We are committed to continuing our expansion and pursuing new opportunities. The real estate market still isn’t at full recovery, and there are still challenges, but it’s continuing to improve, and we find this provides significant opportunities.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Dottie Herman is the president and CEO of Douglas Elliman, not Prudential Douglas Elliman.