By Toby Welch
Jason A. Stephen, president of CREA and a real estate agent with Royal LePage Atlantic in Saint John, N.B., believes the need for competent Realtors will not change anytime soon.
“With 20 years in real estate, I’ve seen many changes, especially on the technology side. As a professional organization, we’ll keep looking at trying out how best to present available properties in all the new ways consumers demand. What hasn’t changed in my time as a Realtor is the need for honest, professional advisors to guide buyers and sellers through the entire process of buying or selling a home. I’m proud to have helped many past clients achieve best results in the most efficient manner possible, something that all professional Realtors attempt to do on behalf of their clients.”
Andy Puthon, president of Coldwell Banker Canada, shares his thoughts. “With the move to online consumption, it has allowed for the globalization of real estate. Canada is an attractive destination with high levels of home ownership and investment.”
Puthon anticipates the following:
- “Expect continuously evolving business models that will fuel an expansion of choice to consumers and Realtors. ‘Disruptors’ will continue to emerge and drive the development of new business models, some of which will be direct to the online consumer.
- “The online consumer represents an important source of business in our industry, where the role of big data and advancements in technology will be increasingly applied to cultivate online consumers for real estate professionals. Technology enables consumers to not only research and review their buying and selling options online, but also to evaluate and select a real estate advisor.
- “Changes in technology and regulatory environments will all reinforce the consumer’s need to seek professional advisors for their real estate decisions. Despite the increased access to data through evolving technology, real estate will remain a business that’s all about people.
- “The changing role of data and continuously heightened regulatory requirements will continue to drive the need for professional development, as licensed Realtors adapt in a rapidly evolving marketplace. The result will be continued movement to ensure higher educational standards, which are critical to serving the needs of a consumer who will have access to more information quicker than ever before.
- “The acceleration of specialization is getting deeper. The years ahead will see a continued emergence of refined professionals in such segmentation as luxury or secondary properties, serving specialized niche markets such as condominiums, historic neighbourhoods and retiring baby boomers. To compete effectively, it is critical for real estate professionals to evolve with these specialized markets.”
Cheryl Woolley, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board and an agent with Re/Max Camosun in Victoria, also believes there will always be demand for Realtors.
“When it comes to real estate, there is no true crystal ball to accurately predict future activity. It is a complex industry, with many variables that can affect activity both positively and negatively. While it is true that technology such as third-party data providers are changing the way business is conducted, I am confident Realtors will always be needed for their expertise, including their negotiating skills and market knowledge.”
Woolley says, “In British Columbia, regulatory changes are causing our industry to rethink many of our business models and practices to ensure we continue to deliver excellent service to both buyers and sellers. The real estate sector in B.C. works closely with government to share their insights and experiences in an effort to help shape the policy environment to consumers’ best interest. By working together, we can ensure our economy will benefit from a healthier housing market in the long term.”
Mike Cartwright, broker of Main Street Realty in Newmarket, Ont., sees changes coming. “Looking at the real estate industry in the future, I see more disruptors coming into the industry like Zillow and Redfin and that will bring positive change and shake the current brokerages out of their complacent nature. Real estate is by nature a very traditional industry but these changes that are coming in technology and commission fees will force positive change in the industry.”
Gurcharan (Garry) Bhaura, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board and the broker of record of Century 21 President Realty in Toronto, has concerns about the future of the Greater Toronto Area’s housing market.
“The GTA continues to attract people to live and work in the region from all around the world. These people are attracted by the economic diversity, in terms of job opportunities in many different sectors of the economy, and cultural diversity in terms of the varying backgrounds of the population making up the region. This economic and cultural diversity will serve to attract more individuals to the region over time. All of these people will require a place to live, whether it’s in ownership housing or rental housing.”
Bhaura adds, “The supply of housing has been a major issue over the past decade and will continue to be an issue over the next decade unless policy makers at all levels of government come up with ways to get more housing built throughout the region – both ownership housing and rental housing. TREB has supported research on ways to build more mid-density housing – what has been termed the ‘missing middle.’ Both ‘missing middle’ housing and transit-oriented development would help make the cost of living more affordable for many GTA households.”