The shape of things to come

For real estate, 2013 was a year of experimentation. Increased revenues combined with years of holding back led to well-deserved excursions into the unknown.

Experimentation is to be admired. But in 2014, I believe more of you will be more calculated in what you do – who you hire, what you invest in, what you build and how you market.

This year, every decision will be weighed against how it will enhance your bottom line and protect your future.

I’m not one to make sweeping predictions about the market or the industry. But based on what I know and people I talk to, I’ve come up with a few thoughts in the following categories.

Social media

It’s 2014. We’re now several years into this social media reality. Many of you have accumulated more friends and followers than you can handle.

Now it’s time to get them to do business with you. A turning point.

In 2014, social has to be about more than “being social”. It has to show some financial return.

The pundits have waxed on about how social isn’t always about business due to their inability to turn their social obsessions into financial returns. But you are not them. You are running a business – a real estate business.

You’ve been told that there is a world you can connect with through social channels. What you need to do in 2014 is sell something to that world.

If you can’t, you will move on.


2014 will be the year you realize that everything you do is marketing. This is because everything you do is witnessed, judged and edited into your story.

You will measure your success against more than clicks, open rates, traffic, retweets or even leads. Success in 2014 equates to new business and return business you derive from your marketing actions.

There will be no more throwing ideas on a wall to see what sticks. You will follow best practices and focus on the little things you do for clients that others don’t.


The market has heated up, which means fierce competition all around.

2014 is the year that we’ll see franchises and brokers get hyper-focused on strengthening their value proposition to agents.

We’ll see enhanced training, bigger investments in technology, lead generation and marketing. We’ll see more brokerages doing what the big portals cannot – building websites rife with rich local content and a user experience that says, “We live here too.”

Company culture will rank high on everyone’s list. Ironically, in the quest to attract the best agents and build culture, I believe the largest brokerages will jettison swaths of dead agent weight. The more they let go, the better it pencils in the long term.

Being the biggest brokerage in the market will pale to being the best.

I predict more boutique brokerages will emerge in 2014. They will be the new big threat to the market leaders who aren’t paying attention. Some will gain backing of major franchises, enabling them to grow at a quicker pace.


The industry moved from frivolous to fascinating in 2013, led by Floored, a company that showed us what smart innovation is through its 3D interfaces.

2014 will be a year when only products that solve real problems will win.

Some legacy vendors will buckle as more brokers demand their products do things in 2014 that became standard in 2010.

Others will invest wisely in modernizing their products, even if it means taking a strategic pause.


Five years ago, real estate was replete with content publishers. The numbers have dwindled drastically. While conventional blogging has been declared dead, thought leadership is alive and well.

Frivolous content will sink in 2014 as the gems of true insight continue to rise.


The portals will continue to flourish this year. But don’t think for a second that success will turn to complacency.

While brokerages will focus on building websites that rival and outperform the portals in local content, user experience and lead generation, the portals will be looking for more turf to innovate.

Closing thoughts

For fun, I’ve added a few closing predictions that are much more specific. Or maybe this is just wishful thinking. Either way, feel free to hold me to these come December 31:

  • Wearing Google Glass in public will become much like the bluetooth ear piece of 10 years ago – a desperate cry for attention.
  • The term “boom” will no longer be fashionable. #thankgod.
  • Finally, a hipster brokerage will emerge in 2014 named Chillax Realty. It’s slogan, “Totes.”

These are my predictions based on my sense of the world. Whatever happens, whatever you choose to do, give it 100%.

After all, YOLO!