There are currently an estimated 1.4M – 2M real estate agents in the US, depending upon which organization, association, entity is doing the counting. Will that number hold, increase or decrease over the next 5 to 10 years? Will less productive real estate agents be pushed out of the business or not granted access to essential information as Zillow is now doing among its less prolific Premiere Agents?

Just take a look at the roster of featured speakers at Inman’s upcoming Connect conference in Las Vegas to get a feel for who Inman News thinks is important in today’s housing market as well as a feel for the types of business models Inman sees as the most valuable:

Molly Bloom – entrepreneur and author

Josh Team – Keller Williams

Eric Wu – OpenDoor

Glenn Kelman – Redfin

Ryan Gorman – NRT

Mike DelPrate – real estate technologist and advisor

Glenn Sanford – eXp World Holdings

Dr. Carmen Simon – MEMSY

Speakers at Inman’s last conference speculated about what the future may hold for real estate agents in this ever more disruptive real estate industry.

Paul Boomsma, the president of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, said he thought the number of generalist real estate agents would drop by at least 33% in the near future. Boomsma add that the number of agents who specialize in high-end properties could drop by as much as 70% in the near future. His one shred of optimism was that “the agents that remain (in the business) will be really well educated.”

Katie Smithson, the director of enterprise services with the real estate software company W & R Studios, had a sense from conference attendees that agents will face a “survival of the fittest” scenario. “Long term,” said Smithson, “what you’ll see happen is maybe some of the lower producing agents will go away.”

Brian Boero, president of the real estate marketing company 1000Watt, said, “…hundreds of thousands of agents…tens of thousands of brokers who are struggling to survive…are all feeding from the same trough in real estate and sooner or later there (will) not be enough food to go around.” Boero asked, “How much longer can we carry the water (for the people) who should be moved out of the industry?”

RE/MAX’s CEO Adam Contos said that he sensed that all agents need to “raise the bar” and that those who are unable to do so might choose to leave the industry.

Knowing from research done by the National Association of REALTORS® that 85% of new real estate agents wash out of the business within 5 years, Zillow’s research pointing to a coming recession makes all of these discussions and comments more anxiety producing for many agents.

Will the real estate industry continue to be, as Brian Boero called it, “a big tent” industry with room for “traditional” real estate agents, iBuyers and teams alike? Is everyone going “to continue to co-exist?” Will there continue to be “room for everybody?”

Hard to say without having a crystal ball but one thing that makes sense in any future scenario is that agents with the most expansive and the most finely honed skillsets will be the ones defining their own futures within the real estate industry. Those without such skillsets and expertise may have their futures defined by other people and other disruptive technologies.



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