Tamir Poleg is the founder and CEO of Real.
Are you optimistic about 2015? The economy?
The U.S. economy is probably the most attractive among the largest economies in the world at the moment . Overall, we are looking good on all parameters, and I think the strong indicators will remain throughout 2015.
The housing market?
The housing market is experiencing an impressive recovery since the lows we have seen three or four years ago. The job market is strengthening, and that has a direct impact on housing. Combined with the unfreezing of lending, and increasing consumer confidence, 2015 is poised to be a great year for the housing market.
2015 has all the ingredients for being a very successful year for Real. Our team is growing rapidly and we have many technological developments scheduled to launch throughout the year for the benefit of our agents. We are very bullish and confident at this point.
What are you worried about?
We are concerned about the fact that many agents are still struggling to make it through the month, due to various reasons, starting with lack of guidance and assistance and ending with high commission splits paid to their brokers. We think that more agents should enjoy this upturn in the real estate market, and we do our best to make it happen for them.
How much do you fret about global events?
In a way, the U.S. economy is isolated and protected from the rest of the world. We see the Chinese economy coughing, Russia entering into a financial crisis, the Euro zone in a deep depression, and still our economy gains strength. If anything, I think that the U.S. will strengthen its position as the worlds financial leader due to global economic events.
Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?
Mortgage rates are directly connected to various factors, and it is difficult to predict. If the economy continues to strengthen, I would predict that there are good chances that mortgage rates will increase in the second half of 2015.
Will home prices appreciate next year?
It is quite safe to say with a great amount of confidence that overall, home prices will continue to appreciate in 2015. This is a local question, but on a national level (and in the vast majority of markets), 2015 will be a good year for home prices and home owners.
Will agents be more productive next year?
They will have to. The market is increasingly competitive, and agents who will not stay on top of technology (which drives them to be more productive and responsive) will gradually move out of the game. We are working very hard to provide our agents the competitive edge to be ahead of all others.
Why? Or why not?
2015 will be a year of choices for agents. Brokers who will not provide clear value and competitive tools to agents will see their agents moving to brokers who specialize in technology and offer better terms. Agents have more choices than they had before when it comes to choosing a broker.
Will the portals play a bigger role in real estate next year?
Portals are enjoying massive consumer traffic and are far from exhausting their advertising potential with agents and brokers. As long as they have consumers searching for listings, they will continue to make money and as more consumers turn online, portals will continue to grow.
What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?
Referrals and personal networking will continue to dominate. Online leads will take an increasing part in an agent’s overall lead generation. Most agents and brokers rely on the large portals as well as social media as online lead sources, but there are many other ways to generate leads online.
Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?
We have a very aggressive plan for 2015, and based on our expansion in 2014, next year will be great for Real. Our budget allocates massive amounts of money to software development and agent support, and we plan on adding more agents to our great team. In terms of geography, we plan to expand to Colorado, Georgia and Florida in the first quarter of 2015, and we plan on covering more areas as the year progresses.
What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?
Most deals and wealth created by real estate commissions is still shared by a small number of agents and brokers and I think that more agents should enjoy more closings moving forward. Our industry is huge and more agents should enjoy a piece of the action. We plan on helping our agents get better access to more buyers and sellers, while increasing their closing ratios.