The entire real estate industry is changing, which is why every agent needs to start thinking like an early adopter. Here’s how to survive — and thrive — in your long-term career.

All those hoping that the pace of change in the real estate industry would slow as we enter 2019 will already be disappointed. Our multibillion dollar sector has been the target for disruptors in recent years, and there are no signs of this trend abating.

A few short weeks into 2019, and we’ve already seen new fundraising rounds, leadership reshuffles, and mergers and acquisitions by many of the key players in the industry — new players and old hands, who understand the need to change, continue to reinvent, reimagine and reposition their companies, brands and overall businesses.

A somewhat under-appreciated dimension to this disruption is the change that is taking place at the established real estate companies and franchises.

While companies including CompasseXp and Purplebricks are rightly the focus of industry attention for their innovation and growth, the changes occurring at many established companies is astounding and will shape both the consumer and agent experience for years to come.

That change can see an established regional powerhouse like Long & Foster Real Estate be acquired by Warren Buffett’s HomeServices of America, the rebranding and positioning of Century 21 or the return of Gary Keller to lead Keller Williams into a tech revolution.

The fact that this disruption is occurring throughout the entire industry is incredible and perhaps a factor that makes real estate distinct from many other disrupted sectors such as vacation rentals, taxis and retail.

The fact that so many established players are leaning into disruption suggests that when the conclusion of this story is written, the winners and losers of the great real estate industry change will include some very familiar companies.

But how should the individual agent react to this industry wide disruption?

Frankly, this systemic change creates a fascinating opportunity, or even obligation, for every real estate agent currently in business. No one can or should put their head in the sand.

Whether agents have been in business for one year or 30, they owe it to themselves, and those who rely on them, to consider carefully the following three facts and then answer one key question.

Three facts

  1.  The real estate industry has been, and will continue to be, disrupted in the coming months and years. Money, both inside and outside the sector, will drive much of that change.
  2. That disruption will see new companies rise and existing companies retool and rebrand to ensure their own viability. Established brands will look and feel like completely different companies a few years from now.
  3. The real estate company or franchise you are affiliated with in 2019 will either operate in a very different way or risk viability over the next three to four years.

One simple question

This is the question every agent must ask themselves: Is the real estate brokerage I am affiliated with in 2019 the one that will give me the best chance to ensure that I can survive and thrive in the real estate industry three to five years from now?

It’s a simple but critically important question, and I can assure my fellow agents that many of the top real estate agents in our field are seeking to answer this question for themselves.

Top agents are often early adopters in our industry, and if they do not adopt something, it is likely a purposeful decision and not simply omission or oversight.

Every real estate agent needs to think like an early adopter. It’s time to recognize that the entire industry is changing. Whether you work with an established company or a startup brokerage, you must answer the question above.

You, the individual agent, must think and act like an early adopter.

And one final piece of advice: Do not confuse the success of your company with your own individual ability to survive and thrive.

To put it in terms of another industry: Uber will be in business 10 years from now, how many of its drivers will still be earning a living there?

Raj Purohit is the associate broker with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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