Trends Come To Fruition

a hand holding a crystal ball up to the sun


Future trends shared at the Gathering of Eagles over 10 years ago are now business as usual.

Many years ago, we had the pleasure of having Rich Barton, then and now CEO of Zillow, and Channing Dawson, co-founder of HGTV, present to our guests at the Gathering of Eagles. We thought so much of what they shared, that we had them back two years later.

Among the many insights, Barton shared was that “information wants to be free to all, accessible and available.” He said that those who attempt to stand in the way of this trend were fated to be left behind. He didn’t share this with arrogance but rather with a sense of inevitability.

Dawson shared two key points that, on the one hand, left everyone scratching their heads and on the other, laughing about their own experiences.

In the first instance, he said there was an entirely new world headed our way. He said that there would be a new universe where people lived, worked, shared, and commented—where people’s attention would be drawn beyond anything we had seen before.

He shared that one such firm, Facebook, was one to watch but that it could be them or others—or multiple others.

Dawson also shared that, while it was important that brokerage firms should have young marketing and technology talent around them to interpret these new trends, it was just as important that someone with gray hair also be in the loop—to keep an eye on the youngsters.

I also recall that at a dinner with Rich and Channing with five brokerage CEOs, it was clear that while Rich and Channing felt strongly about what was coming, those of us with longtime ties to brokerage didn’t fully understand its implications. We’re starting to now.

The Age Of The Intelligent Brokerage And Agent

We had the opportunity this spring to hear about the plans of each of the largest national real estate organizations as to their current and future technology and data investments and plans. In some cases, we reviewed the presentation of what was already built and what will be coming. We’ve also looked into non-brokerage firms, such as Zillow and, Lone Wolf and CoreLogic and the direction of their technology and data developments both from public statements, deployed services and personal interviews.

Our View

Call it the age of the intelligent brokerage and the knowledgeable agent. As with Moneyball, how big data and the application of intelligence arising from the data, changed sports at all levels forever.

Systems will combine not only listing and sales data, but community data into one platform—one aggregated site. This includes all closing and tax data; social media interaction, whether through actual social sites or through other internet searches—and not just about housing; real estate education sources, demographic data about households, spending patterns, and habits and how those relate to other data, such as equity in a home; other societal and demographic data, such as age of children, vacation plans etc., and hundreds of other data points; and information collected and from such devices as Siri, Alexa and Google Home.

Now, apply artificial intelligence (AI), or learning systems that access all of this data to discern patterns of consumer behavior as to housing, mortgage finance, investment decisions, etc. Imagine the questions one might ask such a system and the answers it could derive.

  • Who are my best candidates for purchase or sale in the next three, six and 12 months? (An easy one)
  • What are the pricing patterns expected in the next 12, 24 and 36 months in the neighborhoods where my clients live?
  • Which agents on my roster are most likely to increase their business over the next 12 months based on what their database looks like, how they’re connected to those clients and customers (based on the frequency of interactions), and what the potential turnover looks like in that database? What does this mean for potential income for the agent and the firm?
  • Who are the agents who might fit best with my brokerage? What is the profile of new people taking the real estate test and getting a real estate license, and how do I focus on those who fit best with my firm?
  • Based on the database of clients and customers, and the retention of data from internet searches, what does the next year look like for our agents and our firm?
  • What are the most effective ways to add to our databases of clients and the best ways to reach and stay in touch with them?
  • What messaging is most useful to reach sellers? Or buyers?

Imagine any questions a brokerage or agent could ask, and we are entering a time where the convergence of data and AI can search and find answers. These systems tend to get better and smarter the more they are in use.

Is it three years, five years or more before this all becomes a reality?


This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter. It is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends, Inc. Copyright © 2019. To read the rest of this issue & more, please visit our Real Trends page online.


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