Here are my 20 predictions for 2016.
Some are obvious, some are blue-sky and some are just plain unimaginable.
What are yours? Leave your predictions in a comment at the end of the story.
1. The first Zillow television ad campaign for preferred agents will air. Then, a consolidation of agents will begin to unfold as the online portal focuses only on the best agents, giving them unique conversion, consumer ad support and closing tools — separating Zillow super-agents from the pack.
2. New York-based Douglas Elliman will acquire a substantial California broker.
3. Well-capitalized startup OpenDoor will spread its product wings and its geographic reach and begin building its brand, getting meaningful traction outside of its Arizona test market.
4. NAR will announce its new CEO when Dale Stinton announces his retirement with great fanfare, ending an important era for the powerful trade group and its long-time and respected leader.
5. Someone will snatch up HomeSnap, BoomTown, ShowingTime or Placester, or all of the above. Move will make some big acquisitions this year, here and abroad, to keep pace with Z.
6. A new financial instrument will be launched that allows homeowners to hedge (an insurance product of sorts) against swings in home values. This will begin to protect homeowners from equity erosion and help even out market swings.
7. The CFPB and federal prosecutors will take down a major real estate company because of systemic RESPA violations, shining a light on the cozy relationships between brokers, lenders and title companies.
8. With much industry hoopla, the 1.0 version of the Broker Public Portal will be launched with no meaningful market share in its first year. But a major equity investment will give the project a boost.
9. Industry bellyaching about the portals will give way to agents voting with their feet for online leads with the best ROI and for superior applications that make their lives and their clients’ lives easier.
10. A DIY home seller offer (limited-service direct to MLS) will get traction by consolidating all of the local self-serve options out there. Meager industry resistance will help the startup get up and going.
11. With industry tension dying down, innovation and adoption will begin to significantly disrupt old ways, making for a smoother transaction as companies, old and new, compete to offer the best products.
12. Upstream will be delayed as the organizing group scrambles to please its many stakeholders.
13. One hundred MLSs will be gobbled up in a crazed MLS merger-and-acquisition environment, giving the industry line of sight to a single MLS system in the coming years.
14. The luxury housing market will slow down amid growing controversy over the excesses of the rich and the famous.
15. A real estate executive will be elected US President. (This is a prediction, not a preference.)
16. Automated showings will become commonplace, as technology enables a safer solution than the traditional showing, due to authentication of buyers.
17. Uber will team up with a real estate firm to offer Uber driver showings, giving consumers access to homes for sale, instantly. (An unofficial but sanctioned Uber app and lockbox may be part of the deal.)
18. Automated offers will begin showing up more and more, as the technology makes it easy for both agents and consumer to deploy.
19. The Zillow-Move lawsuit will not be settled, as both sides rack up millions of dollars in legal bills. More dirty little secrets on these online companies will be revealed, showing how they operate and compete.
20. Blockchain technology will get traction, further streamlining the back-end and forging home buyer, seller and property authentication and syncing disparate databases, making the home sale a breeze.