Poised for a Sea Change
If the real estate industry expects to have a bright future, agents must
come into the business armed with technological savvy.
If it’s not entirely obvious why a new generation of tech-savvy practitioners is necessary for the health of the real
estate industry, the National Association
of REALTORS®’ 2013 Member Profile
should make it clearer.
In this latest Profile, which offers
insight into the demographics, business
practices, and day-to-day activities of
active REALTORS®, a picture emerges of
an aging professional struggling to make
sense of new tools and technologies
amidst a sea of contradictory messages
from colleagues and clients. Perhaps the
most widely discussed takeaway from
the profile is the increasing median age
of the U.S. REALTOR®. The median age
has risen from 51 to 57 since 2007. That
means practitioners are staying in the
field longer, while fewer have entered the
business in the past six years.
According to the Profile, nearly half of
members rarely or never use transaction
management software, a CRM system,
loan analysis software, or social media
management tools. Only 5 percent use
blogs daily, 4 percent use RSS feeds, and
1 percent use podcasts.
Technology Use Isn’t a Choice
These aren’t agents who haven’t caught
up with technology trends. They’re
agents who believe they will exit the busi-
ness before their lack of familiarity with
these tools becomes a prohibitive disad-
vantage. As younger people come into
the business, we will see a tipping point
where smart use of modern technologies
becomes an expected competence for all
agents, not a novelty for a select few.
I often have the opportunity to speak
with real estate professionals about technology, and it’s amazing to me how many
of them—even in 2013—maintain that
experience is more important than use of
modern technologies. They act as if using
these technologies is a choice.
The relationship between technology
and experience is not competition but
collaboration. In my view, if you’ve chosen
a side, you’ve already lost. Success in
2014 and beyond depends upon smart
deployment of modern technology in
the service of time-tested sales and
Attracting a Younger Crowd
The encouraging news is that the stage is
set to attract more younger professionals in 2014. In a recent survey of 5,138
new-agent leads—or potential hires—that
we generated for 368 Keller Williams
market centers in 43 states, more than
68 percent were under the age of 35.
Keller Williams team leaders tell us they
are seeing the same thing in their own
recruiting efforts: About two-thirds of
potential recruits are 35 and under.
As the head of a company that is re-
sponsible for generating new-agent leads
for residential real estate brokerages, I
am as interested in the motivations for
new agents entering the business as I am
the demographics of these new agents.
And it’s in this area that I see the poten-
tial for an abrupt shift among the young,
According to the 2013 Member Profile,
the median income of REALTORS®
surged from $34,900 in 2011 to $43,500
in 2012. Meanwhile, according to the
National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2013 Salary Survey, the average
starting income for a college graduate
is $45,327. Although less-experienced
practitioners typically earn much less
than the median, the surge means a
career in real estate sales will now look
more appealing to recent college grads
who are attracted to the unlimited earning potential of the business.
Real estate is an industry with a host
of favorable conditions: technological
resources, substantial revenue opportunities, and stabilizing market forces.
In 2014, expect to see an increasingly
educated, tech-savvy base of professionals leading the charge for disruptive
innovation throughout the industry.
Casey Wright is cofounder
and CEO of Wright Brothers
Inc., a real estate marketing
technology company that
specializes in lead-generating
websites for real estate agents and brokerages.
Note: Opinions expressed in “Commentary” do not necessarily reflect the position of the National Association of REALTORS® or REALTOR® Magazine.
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