Trends Cover Photo 2014If you buy one book this year, make it the Swanepoel Trends Report. It is excellent. Swanepoel took a different approach to his annual report this year and its brilliant. Swanepoel outlines 10 topics and invites industry leaders to write a page or two about their impression. At the end of the chapter, he wraps it all up into a summary.

Gary Keller on Change and Innovation states that there ”is a battle over who will provide the public with their listing data….brokerages are beginning to realize that if they don’t step up and become the solution they will at some point become expendable.” Followed by Brad Inman “From the bottom, brokers are being squeezed by the growing independence of tech-savvy real estate agents….and by portals that control the consumer relationship.”

The tonality throughout the book indicated that, for all extents and purposes, the biggest sector of the real estate industry that is likely to change or become extinct is the broker. The chief reason is mostly technology and marketing. Portals, Franchises, MLSs, and even Associations of REALTORS® are providing products and marketing that make the broker less relevant.

Budge Huskey has a quote that pulls the entire Trends Report together when he says “historic swim lanes in the real estate pool are increasingly being ignored as others jump in.”

Alas, all is not lost, we hear from great leaders like Gino Blefari, Cameron Merage, Harold Crye, and Helen Hanna Casey about how brokers will lead the industry forward. Brokers must step up to serve the agent and consumer better – and they must fight back to keep people in their swim lanes – especially those entities that seek to replace the broker role using broker data. Ian Morris sums up the brokering strategy nicely by acknowledging that “brokerage companies who have chosen to provide tools for their agents…..are…providing multi-platform innovation.”

The second most obvious tone of the book is focused on the resistance of smaller Associations and MLSs to consolidate. Dale Stinton recognizes this, and articulates the problem nicely. There is also an impassioned plea of support from Bob Moline of HomeServices of America. Perhaps my favorite page in the book comes from Kevin McQueen who outlines the solution – we must detach the Association Membership from the MLS.

There are some key insights offered the role of the portal in real estate. To be sure, Zillow,, and Trulia are not going away (although I am quoted as indicating that they will need to change to become more profit-driven or they will disappear in the future). and Homefinder where not mentioned anywhere in the book, which is conspicuous. is running with the top three and Homefinder plays a dominant role in every city where they control the newspaper’s property search solution. The reality is that portals are part of our ecosystem and they are not going away anytime soon. Brokers need a portal strategy.

Dave Liniger says, “people look for homes on the internet, they don’t buy them there.” There is a lot of support for the role of the REALTOR® as a trusted advisor on page after page of the book. Clearly the REALTOR® opportunity is healthy in America today and for the foreseeable future.

Industries are people businesses. So too is real estate. Swanepoel brings the voices of our industry leaders together to discuss many more issues that I have outlined here. At the heart of any trend is change. And, change is coming to real estate faster and faster every year.  As Sherry Chris says, “The cost of not acting on something today – a trend, a new technology, a new way of thinking – is incalculable.” Follow Brian Boero’s suggestion from the book and “start thinking and acting now on a value proposition.”

Here is the link to purchase the Trends Report