How Real Estate Has Changed (and How It Hasn’t)

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

RE BarCampAt the RE BarCamp hosted at NAR’s Chicago headquarters this morning, participants discussed how the real estate business has changed in the past few years, and how it would continue to transform due to technology and consumer demographics. Here’s a rundown of what your peers say is changing, and what isn’t.

What’s Different

The typical real estate practitioner is getting older, not younger.

What’s the Same

Market corrections — such as the one we just went through — usually drive young people out of the industry. Real estate can be an expensive profession, and many young practitioners don’t make enough money to live comfortably and invest back into their business. So after trying to stick it out for a couple of years, they often opt for a salary job instead. More young people may enter the real estate business when conditions improve, but for the next few years, the average age of practitioners will either stay the same or go up.

What’s Different

Consumer expectations: In the age of Groupon and the clearance sale, they’re looking for price cuts, giveaways, and other incentives to sweeten the deal.

What’s the Same

Those methods may bring in new consumers, but it’s still important to emphasize the value of your services and the results you can achieve. Above all, don’t discount your worth by giving away too much.

What’s Different

Real estate pros should redefine their value proposition to consumers. Part of that involves emphasizing a consultative approach over pure selling: While consumers may have more information on specific properties coming in than they would have, say, a couple of decades ago, practitioners can get more info on those properties. Plus, they have a better understanding of local market trends and knowledge of the transaction than consumers. Agents are their guide through the process of buying and selling real estate.

What’s the Same

Salesmanship still counts for a great deal in real estate. Charisma, persistence, and negotiation skills get transactions closed. And lead generation is still at the heart of the business.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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  1. I participated in Monday’s event as well. First off, thank you NAR for providing the space for us.

    There were many agents that attended and it was there first time participating in a platform like RE Bar Camp. I am always amazed at how many agents are so overwhelmed by the way the tools in general have changed which is common to most professions with the added impact of market conditions.

    It seemed to me that agents who have achieved success in the past but are now challenged, look to blame brokerage models for thier lack of income vs. the ability to show value to build client relationships.

    I have found events like RE Bar Camps and Agent Reboots help move forward.

    I am looking forward to Xplode in Chicago in July as well as what everybody shares online all day long day in and day out.

  2. Bobbie Chipman

    “The typical real estate practitioner is getting older, not younger.” I don’t know about getting older but the market sure is aging us!

  3. Having witnessed the market and profession over the past ten years in Florida, and now in North Carolina, it has been a rollercoaster ride. When I obtained my license in NC a few months ago, I heard so many discouraging words from people telling me I was crazy to get into this profession. The detractors made me realize that there is one thing that hasn’t changed – the inability of the “average” to work hard and “find the cheese” when the going gets tough. Before anyone complains or comments about the “bad market”, ask yourself if you truly understand what you’re talking about and whether or not you are spending more time worrying about the market than you are getting off of your ass and working hard. The fast and easy times of grocery store bag boys selling real estate, like they did in the mid 2000’s, are long gone. Good! Now we are actually part of a fraternity of working professionals that need to be educated and informed about what we do. What a novel concept. You mean not just anyone can do this and get rich? Darn! Haha. I’ll trade a 100 hour real estate work week for a 60 hour restaurant work week any time. At least I don’t have to clean fryers at midnight or deal with honory drunkards in the real estate business!

  4. I think the trick is to keep up with the technology and provide clients with innovative marketing ideas that will show your worth.

  5. In Killeen, Austin and San Antonio,Texas it seems the “average” agent is a younger person. Maybe it has to do with the type of Realtor events I attend but I’m certainly seeing a younger Realtor audience at most events.

    Thanks for the nice summary of the Chicago RE BarCamp. I’ve been to several rebarcamps which are quickly becoming my favorite real estate networking events outside of the National Conventions.