06/24/2015 10:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What a Difference a Decade Makes


Coldwell Banker is a major player in the real estate market, and they've just published results from a study of changes in buyer and seller attitudes and activities over the past ten years. They looked at their client and customer behaviors, as well as how marketing of real estate has changed. It's no surprise that there have been some significant changes in people's methods and desires when it comes to finding, buying or selling a home.

Their study results present five top areas of change in real estate. I'll give you a single statement of their summary and then add my comments. My point of view may differ from theirs due to my real estate investing focus.

1. Homeowners are getting choosier: Home sellers willing to take the first offer on their home have dropped from 59% to 46% of sellers. - Really there wasn't a lot of comment on this, other than sellers are getting pickier when evaluating offers. I see this as a logical development from the Internet and a lot more information at their disposal. They aren't just hearing what the real estate listing agent is saying.

2. Walkable communities are in demand: Both millennials and baby boomers are seeking homes or rentals in areas that are walkable to culture and entertainment. -- Interesting here is the generational cross-over. For rental property investors, whether homes or apartments, it's clear that there is opportunity in urban areas for investment. Density of population requires density in construction, so there should be economy of scale in costs that can result in better rental cash flow. In many areas, renters are willing to pay a premium for these walkable areas.

3. Online and mobile have changed the role of brokers and agents: Online has become the first stop for almost every home shopper, with agents not first on the list for information anymore. - We're all very aware of this, with the Internet a tidal wave of real estate information. People now approach an agent with a great deal of information about homes of interest, and they simply want access in most cases. I would add that real estate agents who want to prosper in this new world of information glut will make an effort to educate their customers and help them to sift through a lot of information that isn't accurate or is out of date.

4. Homes are selling faster: Technology is the reason, with almost every home listed showing up on multiple websites within hours to days. - I'll refer back to item #3, and say that not all websites in the top ten for traffic are equal. They don't all get their listing information from the same sources. When agents syndicate a listing to the Web, it's in the best interest of their clients and the agent to get the listing out there quickly. However, if action is required to remove it after the sale, it often is far less likely to happen in a hurry if at all.

5. People are more willing to rent: There's a lot more interest in renting over buying these days due to job instability, lingering fear after the market crash and tougher lender requirements with higher down payments - I agree that all of these are creating greater demand for rental properties. People just do not see owning a home as necessary to living the American Dream; at least not for now.

Change is part of life, and real estate is no exception. We'll see more change in the next few years, and the Internet will still be a major factor. Add in the growth of crowd funding in real estate and we'll probably see some exciting new trends for investors.