Traveling home from an industry event recently, I had the pleasure of sitting beside a graduate student from China attending a university in the U.S. On most flights, I try to avoid small talk—I’m usually busy catching up on office work or, sometimes, catching up on sleep. But when I noticed my neighbor using his smartphone to search through property listings in my Florida market, of course my interest was piqued. After all, I’m a REALTOR®.
While I didn’t land a new client (wisely, his agent had secured a buyer’s agreement), this brief conversation at 39,000 feet reminded me how incredibly far technology has come, and how quickly the industry has evolved over the last couple of decades. (Also incredible: The airplane’s Wi-Fi connection was functioning.)
As a young agent in the late 1970s anxiously awaiting the delivery of the paperback MLS books every other week, I could never have imagined that, one day, our clients would search for properties, whenever and wherever, without having to set foot inside a broker’s office.
In 1985, when the dealership installed a phone in my car’s console, I thought, now this is a game changer. Had someone told me then that in 25 years the majority of my clients would search for homes on their telephones, there is no way I would have believed them. Not a chance!
Here we are in 2016, and my mobile device seems less like a phone and more like an extension of my being. Technology has altered just about every aspect of our lives—how we communicate, how we work, how we play, how we shop. Millennials have lived their entire lives in this era of accelerated change, while preceding generations have done their best to evolve in sync.
But the National Association of REALTORS® has done better than its best. Our association has succeeded because we don’t sit on the sidelines and watch these periods of transition unfold. We instigate change, keeping disrupters at bay and creating a future for generations of REALTORS® to come.
So much of the association’s most exciting work is future-focused. REach, an NAR-backed accelerator program, introduces REALTORS® to cutting-edge solutions. CRT Labs is putting us at the center of the smart-home revolution. And the industry’s next big thing, Project Upstream, is on the horizon. Conceived by a coalition of brokerages, networks, and national franchises representing real estate companies of all sizes and business models, Project Upstream empowers brokers to manage real estate data collection and distribution from a single entry point. This initiative represents the first cross-industry effort since the formation of the MLSs. Beta testing is already in progress, and NAR is proud to be a part of the coalition leading our industry into the next chapter of our evolution. Stay tuned!