From a changing market to Keller Williams building out its tech platform to Realogy’s big moves to supercharge agents, here’s an educated guess at what the industry can expect in one of its most decisive years on record.

The economy is the outlier

In a hyper-divisive political climate, a booming economy has created jobs and opportunity for many. Experts are mixed on whether the parade is over and a recession is around the bend.

The housing market will slow but not be unforgiving

The much-awaited housing market correction will slow the pace of house sales, squeezing low-performing agents and putting pressure on broker owners stuck with excess office space to warehouse unproductive agents. Smart agents and agile broker/owners will do just fine with plenty of transactions for the fit to thrive.

Sloppily-managed real estate teams will blow up

The much-ballyhooed concept of real estate teams will be tested in a tougher market with less bounty to share among the partners. The sunshine of a slower market will shine a light on the weak team links.

Compass will continue its conquest

The New York-based VC-juiced brokerage will use the softer housing market and its financial war chest to gobble up market share. Managing hyper growth will become its biggest challenge.

Improving the transaction will drive innovation

Once the backwater of invention, the backend will take center stage as entrepreneurs scramble to work out the knots in real estate. Problems to be solved include inefficient showings, the mortgage mess, the gnarly process of contracts and offers and cumbersome title and escrow services. The consumer wins.

Real estate women on the rise

An industry of women is poorly represented in the executive suite at both tech companies and real estate firms. This year, a crew of super-qualified women real estate leaders will step in and help navigate a changing industry.

Jury out on some new business models

EXp Realty and Purplebricks are hot hot hot, capturing agent and consumer share. We will know by the end of 2019 if they are too good to be true.

iBuying will face its first market test

With squishy home prices, the number of desperate sellers will increase, creating opportunity for iBuyers. But with no inflation, iBuyers will be stuck with more inventory or face the financial consequences of declining prices.

The Fed will become less anxious to raise interest rates

A sluggish housing market, stock market volatility and erratic economic signals will precipitate caution by the Federal Reserve, which will be less eager to raise rates. It has already trimmed its forecasts for expected rate hikes next year.

Expensive housing markets (the coasts) will suffer the most

New York is already feeling the hurt from uncertain buyers and overbuilding as sales and prices slip. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston, to different degrees, will follow this path. The coasts will be humbled.

Zillow and Redfin will finish final pieces of end-to-end transaction platforms

The two tech companies that are actually building platforms with consumers at the center will become the dominant real estate marketplaces. Their industry and consumer data troves and engineering oomph give them a competitive edge.

The Keller Williams tech platform will do some things, but not everything

Gary Keller paints a compelling picture about why to build a platform. But over the last couple of years, turnover in his technology team, shifting strategies and product delays show how difficult it is for a legacy company to become a true tech enterprise. In the end, the KW platform could excel as an agent-centric solution with customer and lead management, data products and digital marketing.

Realogy will roll out its data offer to agents

The industry’s giant is scrambling to adapt to new realities. With a new management team, Realogy is expected to roll out agent products that leverage their data. CEO Ryan Schneider and his new CTO David Gordon have built similar programs in the financial services industry, so look there for a Realogy tech road map. Can they overcome the innovator’s dilemma?

The news media must get better

Inman is expanding its editorial coverage next year to keep up with the changes in the real estate industry. Never hesitate to tell us when we get it wrong. You can leave comments on stories, rant on the Facebook group Coast to Coast, find us @inmannews on Twitter or send an email to

Happy New Year!

Email Brad Inman

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