When he was a teenager, Ryan Gorman, incoming CEO of Coldwell Banker, found great joy in picking up the real estate section and browsing through the homes for sale in his area. He and his then-girlfriend, now wife, used to attend open houses for fun.
“I always wondered what they thought about a couple of teenagers in high school touring homes,” he reflects.
Needless to say, Gorman has had an interest in real estate for just about his entire life. His post–high school studies took him on a detour into the world of finance and insurance, but it all set a solid foundation for his entrance into real estate.
“I kind of took the back door into real estate through the title insurance business,” he says. “I figured if I actually liked title insurance—and I genuinely did like it—then I would definitely love real estate.”
He was right, and ever since, he’s been making a name for himself. He joined the world of real estate in 2004 at Realogy Corp. as the corporate senior vice president and head of strategic development. In that role, Gorman oversaw some of the company’s most profitable mergers and acquisitions. In 2012, he joined NRT, one of Realogy’s subsidiaries, and within six years, had moved up the ranks to president and CEO. Strategy, operations, and where the two intersect is Gorman’s specialty, and that’s what he plans to bring to Coldwell Banker in 2020 as CEO.
As Gorman begins his new role, here are his predictions for the industry in 2020 and beyond:
1. Return to realism. In 2019, the industry was too focused on the newest, shiniest thing, Gorman says. New technology that was thought to bring in leads or streamline the job made it easy for brokers and agents to overpromise and underdeliver. In 2020, brokerages will likely focus more on technology as a tool rather than a quick fix or magic wand.
2. Splitting in two. The industry is seeing an influx in “skinny bundle” brokerages, or brokerages that offer a DIY approach at a lower cost. Gorman predicts that these services will continue to gain traction and will cause a market split. Consumers will have the option to work with a full-service brokerage or a skinny bundle brokerage, depending on what they want and need.
3. Expectation changes. As the buying and selling markets continue to change and younger people are looking to enter the market, brokerages will need to adjust accordingly. Gorman says that means meeting customers where they are and making the process easier for them.
4. Embracing agility. The need for agility isn’t necessarily something new, but with the speed at which the industry is changing—thanks to technology and younger buyers—brokerages and agents will need to let go of what hasn’t been working for them in the past. They’ll also need to embrace speed, as customers have more options than ever to buy and sell, and the fast-paced world requires an uptick in response time and service in the real estate business.
5. Coming up with new solutions will be paramount. Right now, services like OpenDoor and firms willing to offer cash for homes are enticing, but usually, these offers are good for only a few days. Innovation will be key, Gorman says, citing a new service from Coldwell Banker as an example. The company will start offering RealSure, which will provide buyers with a cash offer and marketing package good for 45 days, rather than three to five days like other services. This gives customers the time to do market research before committing to an offer.
6. Local tax rates will make a difference in area markets. Recent changes to the tax code mean higher local taxes in some areas, which is prompting some people to relocate sooner than they normally would. This will affect the market in 2020, Gorman says, and will be something to consider in the future.
7. Strong markets will stay strong. Gorman says a huge downturn or leveling of the market is unlikely. He anticipates that strong markets will remain strong. This is because the housing markets that are doing well have strong economies in general, Gorman explains. Jobs are plentiful and opportunities are available, and he expects that to continue. Likewise, though, weaker markets will likely continue to weaken, causing people to move to new areas.
8. Communicating value instead of price. With so many options to buy and sell homes today, Gorman says brokerages and agents will have to do a really good job of selling value over price in 2020. It’s imperative that those in the real estate business are able to communicate what they bring to the table and how they’re assets to the customer’s experience.
9. Partner with the best in tech. In 2020, agents will continue to seek technology that best serves their needs. The right tech equates to less busy work for your agents and more time with clients. For example, Coldwell Banker has what it calls its CBx Technology Suite, which helps agents find sellers, win listings, and locate buyers. The suite’s three products use machine learning to deliver leads, allow agents to create stunning listing presentations, and use big data to identify likely buyers, helping agents market properties more efficiently.
10. Focusing on a tried and true formula for success. When it comes to building longtime relationships and referrals in this business, what’s worked in the past will continue to work in the future, Gorman says. A lot of time has been spent on what’s new and innovative, and there’s some need for that, but consistent follow-through, integrity, and a brokerage with agents willing to invest in themselves will always prevail, Gorman asserts.