By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Yesterday morning, a panel of real estate experts that talked about the notion of “game changers” — that is, disruptive ideas that will completely change the way things work in the industry — at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 2009 Leadership Summit in Chicago. With NAR CEO Dale Stinton moderating the session, each speaker offered a brief take on what trends might be game changers in real estate.
John Tuccillo, a business and economic consultant and a former chief economist for NAR, kicked off the discussion with advice to “change the game before the game changes you.” He cited Sony’s release of the Walkman in the early 1980s, around the same time that running as a form of exercise started to catch on, as an example of a game changer. This transformed the music industry by emphasizing portability and transferability, which ultimately led to Napster and iPods in this decade. Sony managed this sea change because it hit two sweet spots:
Demographics – young baby boomers, many of whom were into active, healthy lifestyles.
Technology – cassette tapes, which were small enough to be played in a device that could be carried around easily, but also could work in a home stereo system or car.
Tuccillo added that the two main game-changing factors during the next few years would be the replacement of baby boomers with Generations X and Y in the workforce, and the social Web. The key, he said, is to be at the nexus of those two trends.
Stefan Swanepoel, CEO of RealtyU Group, agreed that social media had the potential to completely change the game in real estate. He also noted that if the past is prologue, we can expect that transformation to come rapidly, perhaps in just a year or two. The three most important elements of the social Web are communication, collaboration, and multimedia, he explained.
Finally, Jeremy Conaway, founder of RECON Intelligence Services, a consultancy for real estate brokerages and REALTOR® associations, warned attendees not to wait for the economy to improve to start improving their business or area association. Changes in the real estate industry are coming whether we see a recovery in the next couple of years or not, he said. Consequently, you should be learning and developing your organization right now (even if it’s an organization of one) so you can be prepared for the upswing whenever it comes.
What do you see as something that could change the game in real estate in the coming years? What are you doing to prepare for it?