The real estate industry has been slow to evolve for years but will see rapid changes and more technology in 2019 than ever before, according to Coldwell Banker CEO and President Charlie Young.
“I feel like this is the storm of change that’s happening right now,” Young explained.
Young spoke to Inman in December, laying out his vision for what changes the real estate industry might see next year, and how his company, one of the many recognizable brokerage brands owned by holdings giant Realogy, will navigate them.
Broadly, Young said he expects to see “deeper penetration” of technologies that have been percolating for years, comparing the process to watching a hurricane form and then gradually move toward land.
“We have been watching the seeds of change coming at us for 10, 15 years now,” Young said. “But we are really in it now.”
Young pointed to Coldwell Bankers’ CBx Seller Leads technology as an example. The technology began as a presentation that agents could pull up on their iPads, but has since evolved into a system that draws on big data to streamline lead generation. Young said that such technologies are going to become more widespread in 2019, and in subsequent years.
“Within five years, predictive analytics will drive this business,” he added.
Young believes there are several factors pushing the real estate industry to change more rapidly now than in years past.
For starters, consumers who are entirely comfortable with technology in other parts of their lives are “looking for those experiences in real estate.”
Agents themselves are changing as well. Increasingly, Young said, they’re seeing the benefits of technology, and they’re also younger.
“There’s been a demographic shift,” he continued. “You have more, younger, newer agents coming into the market with newer ideas.”
Economics are also driving change. Young pointed to the “sustained upswing” in the real estate market that has been happening for years, and added that the flow of cash is pushing people to innovate more quickly.
“You’ve got a lot of money flowing into this space that wasn’t flowing in five years ago,” he said.
Asked if a potential slowdown in the housing market — which many observers believe has already begun and will continue into 2019 — could impede the trend toward increased use of technology, Young speculated that in fact the opposite would be true.
In fact, agents during a slowdown may embrace technology more readily because it could make them more competitive.
However, Realtors working for large companies will have an advantage during 2019 in the event of a cooling market, Young said.
“When a market slows down, things like size and scope work to your advantage,” he continued. “I think that real estate professionals as a class are in a really good place on this spectrum of innovative change.”
Young mentioned several other projects that his company will be working on in 2019, including the NRT iBuyer program that was announced during the fall but remains in a test phase.
Other projects include real estate ads on Facebook that are tailored to users’ internet behaviors, and a voice search tool that uses Amazon’s Alexa platform. The voice search project is also still being tested.
Though Young provided few details about these projects, they offer a glimpse into fields — iBuying, social media and voice interfaces — that have become among the hottest and most competitive in the industry. Next year, then, they will continue to be battleground spaces.
And all of this will come after a year, 2018, that Young said was defined by new levels of “competitive intensity.”
“People are really fighting for their market share,” he said. “It was the year that we turned up the competitive intensity to a new level.”