Given the recent closure of 2013, which incidentally was a critical transformation year into 2014 in terms of essentially finally getting over the real estate hump, the next 12 months promise to be an encore performance at the very least. That is why, it may be declared the year of the Idiot. If the Chinese name their respective years’ by ID’ing animals, then there’s no reason not to focus on a sub-set of professionals within the real estate mortgage finance industry that make everyone’s job a bit more challenging. Hence, failure is their daily business. And to those savants, it is those real estate naysayers within that industry that will impede and facilitate some of the positive predications that may come to fruition in 2014.
More particularly, here is the punch list: access to residential home loans, user friendly home buying experiences, crowdfunding will be on the rise by financiers, more technology to execute transactions (i.e., expect Glass Google to integrate itself into real estate deals), and robo real estate brokers that will be self-securitized. All of the latter predictions and prophecy from those that have the ability to read the New York Times without moving their lips.
Better Apps for Real Estate Professionals and Consumers
According to Marty Frame, President of Realtors Property Resource, there will be “Better mobile apps for the professional. For all of the elegant, even beautiful, mobile apps for the consumer, there are very few utilities for the real estate practitioner that are anywhere nearly as nice. Our devices have capabilities that professionals need to do their jobs – really good GPS, cameras, microphones, accelerometers – and our industry has a lot of room to grow in terms of design and usability as well.”
The Monetization of Information
To be clear, the monetization of information is nothing new. In fact, it’s likely the second oldest profession in the world. Yet, for the real estate industry, an accelerated pace has occurred in monetizing information, since the advent of manipulating information more smoothly into technology is starting to reach a crescendo. A handful of real estate thought leaders are on the cutting edge of this financial windfall.
Saul Klein, an industry principal, who sells information, believes it is his mission to “Work to give every MLS and association that so desires an opportunity to have a consumer portal their brokers, agents and the public will love, and that will generate revenue for the organizations. [And to] Continue to socialize the concept of protecting, controlling and monetizing MLS data.”
As Klein sees it, the following informational categories will not only generate more income that had not existed before, but will be the hot ticket issues in 2014: Syndication/distribution of MLS data, MLS data licensing, MLS and association public search portals, Off-MLS offerings, Agent ratings, and the public display of sold data.”
Casino moguls hate them, real estate brokers love them. And just when you thought Google Glass might become even more potentially ubiquitous, expect to see the migration of this strange new technology morph its way into real estate transactions. It’s even rumored that the makers of Google Glass are trying to hardwire the spectacles with a ‘BS odometer’, in order to weed out unctuous, greed ridden/self-absorbed real estate agents that constantly Google themselves.
As Dick Greenberg, a principal with Elevation Real Estate noted, “Google Glass of course, is a computer you wear like glasses, with an optical display, a smartphone-type interface and voice commands. IBeacon is a Bluetooth Low Energy system that allows small transmitters to send push notifications to iOS or Android devices, such as Google Glass, in their vicinity.”
As Mr. Greenberg further stated “… when you think about pairing the two of these in an information-sharing environment, very powerful capabilities emerge, and the potential is enormous. As a minor example… a simple transmitter placed on a yard sign could send a video tour of the home, along with full information on the property, all appropriately formatted, to a curious wearer of Google Glass who happened by. But that’s just one tiny tip of the iceberg. I think the efforts to implement something new will be widespread and far-reaching.”
Here’s the skinny on crowdfunding. It’s a new age term that beats up on an old age maxim — that you somehow need institutional money to fund real estate investor activity. Wrong.
Crowdfunding for real estate has risen in popularity, because small, medium, to large investors have had the same type of access to capital issues that the everyday man has had. If you think you were pissed about not being able to refi your home, how do you think the owner or manager of a $5 million shopping center feels when he can’t shave $10,000 to $12,000 a month off his mortgage payment, all because Bank of America just denied his loan request.
“Crowdfunding and online finance will be an increasingly important player in real estate, both for individual investors and for investment advisers who can use crowdfunding (online) sites to get their clients into opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.” Jilliene Helman, CEO of RealtyMogul.com
In short, through crowdfunding, investors can pool money together and buy shares of real property like apartment buildings, office buildings and retail centers. From the borrowers’ perspective, they access that pooled money — which has near identical interest rates as the major banks, and refi their investment product and/or buy new product that they otherwise could not have done. With President Obama’s JOBS Act, passed in 2012, and with certain provisions clarified by the SEC in 2013 regarding real estate financing, crowdfunding is here to stay.
Real Estate Brokers Self-Securitize Themselves?
As an editorial point, one of the wildest predictions to be floated in 2014 comes from industry leader, Inman News Publisher Brad Inman, who stated, “An investment opportunity to buy equity in individual top-producing real estate agents will unfold, like what is being done with stock offerings for individual athletes. Buyer beware”.