“Our economy has been growing steadily for the past few years, and it is showing signs of continued growth,” said Aguilar. “A stable, growing economy is the foundation for prosperity.”

Inman is interviewing industry thought leaders to find out what’s next in 2016. Here’s Ernie Aguilar, agent at The Boutique Real Estate Group

Want to weigh in on what’s next? Take our survey.

Are you optimistic about the economy in 2016? Why?

Our economy has been growing steadily for the past few years, and it is showing signs of continued growth. A stable, growing economy is the foundation for prosperity.

However, there are other factors that historically come into play. For example, election years are typically years in which people hold off on making big decisions like buying or selling a home in order to see “where the chips fall” with respect to the election. Nonetheless, 2016 has great promise for our markets and our economy.

The housing market? Why?

The real estate market is coming out of the grips of one of the worst market crashes in recorded history. We are in a much improved situation today than we were in just a few short years ago.

Property values are appreciating; people are curious about buying. Banks (though cautious) are eager to start lending, and rates are still historically low. All of these factors give me great optimism.

Your success? Why?

I started my career as a real estate agent right when our real estate market went to hell in a hand basket (mid-2000s). In other words, when real estate agents were leaving our profession in flocks, I was sprinting toward the fire.

It was a tough time to be a real estate agent, but I survived. I was tenacious, patient, resilient and broke. But I was hungry. That hunger kept me motivated. It kept me intrigued, and I was able to find ways to navigate through those difficult times when other seasoned agents could think of nothing else other than to run from the industry.

Today, we are in a much different market than back in those days. With all the experience and tools I have acquired over the years, I am excited to see what all my hard work and 2016 add up to. I have always believed that with the right skills, knowledge and mindset, you can dictate your success. The bottom line is this: There have always been transactions to be made; all we have to do is be there to make them happen.

How much do you fret about global events?

There are things we can control, and then there are things we cannot control. I am mindful of the things that go on around us, both domestically and abroad. I control what is within my power, and I make every effort to remain optimistic about the things that remain outside of my control.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

It looks like mortgage rates could see a slight increase; however, I don’t think it will be the type of increase that will discourage a meaningful percentage of prospective buyers.

Keep in mind that experts have indicated that millennials are the biggest pool of buyers to date, and we are barely entering into their era. I am more optimistic about the promise that millennials bring in terms of purchasing power than I am concerned about a potential rate increase.

Which market are you in?

Southern California.

Will unit sales go or up or down in your market?

The plan is for unit sales to go up! That’s always the plan. The transactions are there to be made; all we have to do is plug ourselves in. If you are someone who brings value, there will always be an opportunity to plug yourself in.

Will home prices appreciate in your market next year?

Prices will continue to appreciate at a slow, conservative pace. As long as interest rates remain low, we can continue to benefit from an improving market. Drastic increases in rates can slow the market a lot faster. Increase in home values can entice sellers to sell, and low rates motivate buyers to buy.

Will agents be more productive next year? Why? Or why not?

This all depends on the individual agents. All the outside factors are in the favor of agents. Appreciating home values and low rates means more sellers and more buyers to work with and help. The tools available and the technology that’s rolled out this past year is making it easy for agents to conduct business from anywhere in the world.

As long as agents invest in themselves by furthering their education and honing their skills, next year looks to be incredibly productive. Brokers should encourage their agents to work on their skills.

Skills pay the bills. Everyone wins when agents are more productive.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

Millennials are beginning to change the way real estate leads are sourced, particularly as it pertains to buyers. Buyers nowadays are turning to the Internet for leads. When it comes to listings, however, the old-school approach is still alive and robust: Knock on those doors, and be ready when they open.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?

My plan is definitely to expand my business next year and implement more systems to improve efficiency and productivity all while providing the gold standard and world-class service.

What is your biggest challenge in the coming year?

My biggest challenge is making sure I don’t get in my own way. Sometimes you get bogged down with planning and strategizing. In the words of Nike, “Just do it!”

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