Foreword: Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors
The real estate industry’s resilient spirit shined bright as brokers, agents and real estate professionals navigated the coronavirus pandemic over the last year – they accelerated technology adoption and innovation, deployed forward-looking leadership, and showed even greater resolve, proving that agents are central to the real estate transaction.
No one in real estate – or in the world, for that matter – knew what to expect when the pandemic arrived last March. As lockdown orders cropped up across the country, many of us wondered about the impact it would have on the real estate industry and the hundreds of thousands of communities that rely on it as a key economic driver.
This latest Real Estate Almanac publication answers that question with a detailed overview of an industry that continues to thrive through one of the worst crises in American history. This publication presents a compendium of key industry drivers, including a ranking of the industry’s most powerful and influential leaders, the largest MLSs, local and state associations as well as the largest franchise brands and top brokerages. It also includes a listing of top technology providers cutting across 63 different functionalities, providing valuable insight into a sector that accelerated in both growth and industry adoption during the pandemic.
For generations, real estate has been a face-to-face industry. That changed with Covid-19. Technologies on the backburner for years were suddenly pushed to the forefront. Agents, mortgage professionals and other key players in the transaction scrambled to catch up on the latest innovations to keep a critical economic engine moving.
Products such as augmented reality software that allow people to see property virtually at a life-size scale helped our industry pivot, and we did — quickly. In the commercial markets, brokers rushed to get the latest space-management software that allows tenants to virtually plan workspace layout and usage. Within weeks of the pandemic’s onset, nearly every aspect of the real estate transaction went virtual, from securing a loan to showing homes to closings. And this is a trend we don’t expect to reverse course anytime soon.
All of this happened amid a backdrop of a long-overdue conversation on the state of race relations in the United States. We at NAR introduced several initiatives to increase diversity in the industry and homeownership that I’m proud of, more than one that will make the energy behind the data and analysis in this book come from the effort of a more diverse industry. Our Board of Directors took a firm stance against hate speech by adopting amendments to NAR’s Code of Ethics, and our leadership team made the brave decision of speaking out against racial inequality.
I’m optimistic about our industry’s future, even as we face societal and economic headwinds – the Almanac quantifies some of this optimism. So does the recognition of the vital roles that agents play every day in making American dreams come true despite some industry developments that appear to devalue that role. Real estate is not as simple as seeing your dream house online, selecting it and moving in. In reality, agents bring unique and unmatched capabilities through our firsthand knowledge of the communities where we live and work, our adherence to a code of ethics and the use of the pro-competitive, pro-consumer MLS system. They are the animating spirit upon which none of the stats in this book would exist.
I have long believed that fearless leaders embrace fearless ideas. In this era, I’m proud of the way agents have met disruption head-on in the form of a global pandemic and helped the industry continue to thrive. Our country is living in what I like to call the “now normal.” We will never fully return to our pre-pandemic lives. It’s on all of us to adapt as the industry changes and evolves.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Indeed, those words still ring true.