At the start of the decade few people even had a smartphone. Now you can complete most of the homebuying process on one.

Ten years is a long time. So much of what team members and real estate agents use today, Instagram, Snapchat, targeted advertising and more didn’t exist a decade ago. But it’s more than just what’s on our phones that changed the job, the phones changed, the technology improved and most importantly, we changed. 

Below, let’s take a look at seven things that changed and impacted agents in the past decade. 

1. The digital signature. The amount of time saved by agents and team members by digital signatures, such as DocuSign and other eSign companies, was so impactful because nothing is more valuable than our time. While this meant less face-to-face interaction, few things made an agent’s job easier in the last 10 years than the digital signature. 

2. Consumer data. Trying to figure out what clients want has always been on the mind of realtors, but the ever-increasing availability of consumer data online has made finding and using that information game-changing. Seeing what buyers are viewing on Facebook to using data to construct targeted ads has made selling properties less of a guessing game and has given immense leverage to agents. 

3. Agent growth. Agent counts have climbed faster than home sales, which has lead to the softening of the realtor brand and increased competition. In this industry, associations and brokers benefit the most from the abundance of new agents. The U.S. now has more agents than doctors or lawyers.

4. The rise of the teams. Brokers, unfortunately, focused on growing agent counts instead of training agents beyond the basics in the past 10 years. This misstep led to the rise of teams, which focused on both selling houses and training agents. Now team brands have replaced broker brands on a local level. Teams control the living room real estate decisions and partnerships with emerging real estate brands. Brands like Quicken, Zillow, Opendoor, HomeLight look to partner with the best of the best teams, not brokers anymore.

5. Internet delivery. Agents and Brokers lost control of the buying process in the previous decade. We gave away the keys to the castle and now the internet delivers the data to consumers who can access listings, prices, open house times and more, instantly. The clear winner here is Zillow, as it is putting the consumer first and offering services for free.

6. Fewer new builds. In the last 10 years, the U.S. population rose by 20 million people, but the number of homes built and sold during that period was less than 5 million, according to Statista. This is due to many reasons, but a significant factor is the rise in the profitability of rentals. Clients are choosing to rent over buying at a staggering rate as inventory remains low, especially in lower-price areas.

7. IBuying. iBuyers have altered everything. The moment an algorithm and data made buying a home, in many cases without even seeing it, just a few clicks away, it changed the game. Agent and team members have to figure out how to work within this system because it’s not going away anytime soon.  

The speed of change continues and it’s building at a feverish pace. With talk of another housing bubble, many are anxious about what’s next. What can be certain is that in the next 10 years, real estate will change again. The roles of teams and team members will likely be very different in 2030. The next housing crash will be different, too. The industry needs to stop staying in the past and acting like the goal should be to improve the gas engine and shift toward realizing that the consumer is the next electric car; the consumer is the future. This next decade is going to impact many agents and hopefully, we are ready for the ride. 

Jeff Sibbach leads The Sibbach Team at Exp Realty. He is based out of Phoenix. 

Are you ready for what the industry holds in 2020? Inman Connect New York is your key to unlocking opportunity in a changing market. At Connect you will gain insight into the future, discover new strategies and network with real estate’s best and brightest to accelerate your business. Create your 2020 success story at Inman Connect New York, January 28-31, 2019.

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