The disruption ahead is often positioned as something to fear, or worse, dismiss. But these changes are actually loaded with lucrative choices and map to the variety of professionals in the industry. They can be roughly divided into three models, or doorways, for the future of real estate.

My parents were big on preaching “create choices in your life.” In other words, study and get good grades so you have more choices later on. Work hard, earn more, so you have more choices. Save money so you have more choices when you need it. On and on and on.

My mother would take us to this amazing candy store that stocked every imaginable sweet. She would often say, “life is a candy store, if you give yourself choices.”

Corny, old school 1950s-1960s parenting advice? Yes, but very sensible, even today, if you believe in ambition. At the heart of her encouragement was the simple belief that human beings should always be growing, anything less was not enough.

Fast forward 50+ years, and that is what Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck contends in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. 

I am not a self-help sort of guy, but this is a worthwhile read.

With extensive research behind her claims, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities and how we create choices for ourselves.

People with a fixed mindset, those who believe that their abilities and the world are static with few choices, are less likely to flourish than those who create opportunities and believe their abilities can be developed.

All of this is so relevant today for the real estate industry in this rapidly changing environment.

Never have smart and hard-working real estate people had so many choices. And many see these times as an opportunity, not as a threat that must be guarded against. A fixed mindset will not work at this moment in time.

I cringe when I hear people say, “I am going to just keep doing what I am doing”

The disruption ahead is often positioned as something to fear, or worse, dismiss. But these changes are actually loaded with lucrative choices and map to the variety of professionals in the industry.  And nothing is happening all at once, so savvy agents can experiment, here and there.

Imagine with me, three models, or doorways, for the future of real estate:

1. Pure digital options

Some agents are suited to provide repetitive services for digital transactions, like assisting iBuyers with commoditized deals. That is one choice.

Some agents are inserting themselves into the digital transaction by participating in iBuyer platforms like Zillow or testing the Cloud CMA investor program.

Others are experimenting with a iBuying version of their own like broker owner Mark Spain who recently launched his program in Atlanta, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Nashville markets. 

2. Digital with human handholding

Other agents are choosing to work as employees of tech brokerages such as Redfin and PurpleBricks that provide digital assisted transactions. One path to professional growth is to join and learn from within fast growing tech firms. Getting in on the ground floor of new enterprises can create exciting choices later.

3. High-touch, relationship-driven 

Most agents will focus on the high-touch, relationship-driven real estate services business.

In a recent Twitter string on this topic, Austin broker owner Jonathan Boatwright said the choices the industry face are pretty obvious, which is why “Realty Austin is doubling down to own [the high-touch side of the business] in our market.” That is a choice.

For agents, high-touch opportunities are boundless.

Fast-growing companies like Compass and eXp Realty are offering new technology and lucrative compensation packages. Keller Williams, the Realogy brands and Re/Max still dominate market share, but now must invest in tech platforms and data machines to keep up with the newcomers. Some of them are also rethinking their agent compensation packages.

The tables have turned on all of these companies. In the first two decades of Internet innovation, sales agents paid billions of dollars — mostly in digital marketing — creating huge valuations for companies like Zillow and Realtor.com and funding the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry. Franchises and many broker-owners made minimal tech investments.

In phase two of the real estate information age, companies are being forced to invest big time in technology if they hope to recruit and retain the best agents.

For sales professionals, this trend creates all sorts of choices but requires smart decisions. Who has a digital platform that is building an end-to-end solution that consumers will expect? Who is best suited for your skill set and your brand? Who is built for the future?

The industry has choices, but first it must get rid of its fixed mindset that not much will change, disruptors will go away and that you don’t need to grow and create new choices for yourself.

Like happiness, success is a choice.

Email Brad Inman

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