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Technology trend vital to real estate industry future

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Real estate practitioners must study the forces driving change in the $1.4 trillion real estate industry and adapt their business strategies to meet the challenges of the next century, according to a National Association of Realtors news release.

NAR President Sharon A. Millett outlined industry trends and prospects for the future at the association's annual convention in November.

Current trends in the business world are creating an adaptive challenge for the real estate industry, according to Millett. "It's clear that the explosive growth of the Internet, the type and scope of services consumers want, and major shifts in demographics will change the way homes are bought and sold," Millett said. "Our market is literally changing overnight. We must be able to anticipate these changes and have a plan in place that takes full advantage of technology advancements and adapts to the varying needs of our clients and customers."

According to NAR research, the Realtor services most sought by home sellers are: finding a qualified buyer, offering assistance in pricing the home competitively and selling a home within the desired time frame.

"In light of the our changing marketplace, we must keep our services valuable," Millett said.

The success of the association's own Web site, realtor.com, was cited as evidence of the influence of technology. "In a year's time, online traffic to realtor.com has grown more than 500 percent," Millett said.

"We're not the only real estate site on the Internet, but our enormous resources and depth of knowledge make us the online favorite. That's a position we intend to keep."

Real estate will be a leading sector in the expansion of electronic commerce, she said, noting that real estate professionals must act decisively to better serve consumers.

"A wide range of suppliers of goods and services view the real estate transaction as a key opportunity to offer whatever they are selling, and they are willing to invest heavily to try to dominate the information flow," Millett said.

A growing number of free Internet services is creating expectations in the minds of consumers, according to Millett. Job placement and relocation services are two popular services, while online financial services, including mortgage origination sites, also are enabling consumers to save time and money.

Industry analysts estimate that as many as 30 percent of mortgage loan applications will be originated over the Internet by the year 2005, she said.

Another factor changing the industry is the "quiet revolution" of firm consolidations, Millett said.

Changing demographics are affecting the industry as much as technology, she said, pointing out that real estate professionals will be working with a more diverse marketplace, including more multicultural communities, in the next century. For instance, Fannie Mae research indicates that the U.S. immigrant population is expected to rise by 45 percent by the year 2010.

"The aspirations of U.S. citizenship and homeownership complete the immigrants' picture of the American Dream. As an association looking to work successfully with these new Americans, we are emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity training for our members," Millett said.

Real estate professionals are also looking beyond borders as opportunities are created to work in the global marketplace. "Technology is working to integrate our various national economies," Millett said. [[In-content Ad]]

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