“Sometimes over the years, I have been [a] Debbie Downer,” Inman founder Brad Inman said during his annual keynote speech at Inman Connect New York. “Not today, gang. Today I’ve never been more excited and enthusiastic about the industry.”
According to Inman, the industry is ripe for explosive growth and drastic transformation as an expanding economy, robust housing market and a second wave of technology innovation pushes industry members and consumers to adopt new modes of homebuying and selling.
“This may not happen again, gang,” Inman said. “This is a moment that you need to own.”
A healthy and expanding economy
Despite past worries about an impending recession, Inman said the economy is healthy and expanding — 120 million Americans have jobs, unemployment has dropped to historical lows, Americans’ average net worth is growing, and 150,000 to 200,000 jobs are being created each month.
Furthermore, Inman said there is more being done to support lower-and middle-class Americans with 20 states increasing the minimum wage and the federal government raising the threshold of who qualifies for paid overtime.
“Nothing is perfect. Not everything about it is great,” he noted. “But when there’s prosperity, we have an opportunity to do the right thing.”
Inman pointed to former New York City Mayor Micheal Bloomberg’s presidential plan for a housing and earned income tax credit, Microsoft founder Bill Gates crusade to raise taxes on the ultra-rich, and Newsday’s report that revealed widespread housing discrimination as examples of what can be done to improve housing access and equality.
A robust housing market
Although home sales were on a rollercoaster last year, Inman said 2020 will be more steady with sales expected to increase from 5.34 million in 2019 to 5.5 million by year’s end. In addition to bolstered home sales, the total value of the residential housing market will continue to rise, he said.
“The total value of the residential housing market is $33 trillion dollars, and only $10 trillion of that is encumbered by debt,” he said. “That means homeowners whose equity is climbing is contributing to an [overall] higher net worth.”
As homeowners continue to prosper, Inman said homebuyers will catch a break as homebuilders finally begin adjusting their strategies to include much-needed, entry-level housing.
Inman lauded cities and states that passed sweeping rezoning laws to provide greater and faster access to affordable housing.
”People are finally standing up to the NIMBYs that for 40 years have denied the production of affordable housing,” he rejoiced while singling out California for working to pass SB50, an upzoning law that could solve the state’s 3.5 million-unit housing shortage.
“Some of you out there may be cynical, but we’ve done it before,” Inman added before sharing stories of how New York City and New Jersey built hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units in the 70s and 80s.
“It’s in us to do these things, and I feel it now.”
A second wave of tech innovation
“For 25 years, the technology boom in real estate centered around the marketplace of the MLS and broker compact and building productivity tools,” Inman said. “That was phase one, and we’re moving into phase two, and what I would argue is that we’re creating a second marketplace. What do I call that? The iMarketplace.”
“This isn’t being pro or anti iBuying — it’s just stating the facts,” he said. “There’s more opportunity for you and more options for the consumer.”
“When consumers have more options, they need help, and now, more than ever, they need that help,” he added. “The new marketplace will overlap in a beautiful way.”
Inman said consumers are embracing iBuying, iFunding and iClosing platforms, and that industry mainstays, such as the MLSs, must seize the opportunity to partner with these new, internet-based platforms.
“This second marketplace needs the MLSs,” he said. “MLSs that have their heads in the sand or the quicksand, you will be left behind.”
Beyond MLSs and brokerages embracing the iBuying wave, Inman advised agents to become the “middle man” in these transactions as all kinds of buyers and sellers — not just ones who need a quick sale — are warming up to this new transaction model.
“You’re all invited to this party,” he concluded. “It’s your choice if you want to dress up, suit up and go to the party.”