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I just remembered about this article; Real Estate Australia (the national association for realtors) interviewed me about future real estate trends. You can find the original article here.

6 ways the real estate game will be different in 2045
by REA , 26 JUN 2014


If you view the current trends towards technology, private sales, and other disruptors as a threat, you are in the wrong frame of mind. Some people see a trend and consider it a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity.

Close your eyes for a minute and just imagine how modern life, and modern real estate would look like to your old boss in 1985… (That is if you had a boss in the ‘80s, or were even born…)

While this new world of connectivity makes perfect sense now, much of the way we live, and the way we buy things for example, would have seemed absurd back then. Considering we’re still living in an age of paper rental applications, the real estate industry is often a late adopter when it comes to new technology. Sure, we’ve made some fundamental reforms over the last decade, with agencies embracing online profiles, mobile apps, and online lead generation. However, the industry is expected to undergo some major shifts in coming years.

The point is, agents need to be not only keeping up with tech trends but staying ahead of them. We speak to one of the world’s most famous futurists Jim Carroll and ask what the industry should expect over the next 30 years? Prepare to suspend your disbelief and your sense of what is possible…

1. Agents in jeopardy?

When asked whether the role of the real estate agent was in jeopardy, Carroll remains non-committal. “Will more clients opt to use private means of purchasing and selling property? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the agent.” Adaptation is the name of the game, with Carroll saying: “If you view the current trends towards technology, private sales, and other disruptors as a threat, you are in the wrong frame of mind. Some people see a trend and consider it a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity. Your frame of mind on how the business is changing will define how you will reinvent yourself to turn it into opportunity.”

2. Farms in the sky?

The way future cities are developed (i.e. increasing urbanisation, higher density housing) will affect the real estate game, and Carroll brings up one of the major trends he perceives affecting real estate in the future: “Vertical Farming. My research tells me that 21st century farming infrastructure will involve towers – 25, 50, 100 storeys – that are dedicated to crop production. Why? Year-round crop production and increased productivity – 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, there are no crop failures, and it adds energy back into the grid. Already there are 800 million practicing urban agriculture called ‘city-farmers’ according to UN statistics. So yes, cities are going to change. And real estate agents should be ready to sell farming listings in the middle of a city.”

3. Your patch of dirt?

Carroll denies that property ownership will become an unaffordable fantasy for much of the middle class in 2045. “A patio, a cold beer, and kids: It’s a dream for everyone. It always will be. People aspire to space. The space may change, the method to buy it, but the fantasy won’t.”

4. Suburgatory?

What will become of suburbs – will they continue to expand, or fall into slow decline, much like many shopping malls? “I heard this question 20 years ago. People change, design changes, and right now, there is some kid in a garage somewhere defining the suburb of the future. I have no idea what that kid is thinking, other than that her mind is wired unlike mine. She’s grown up in a world with Internet 24 hours a day. They will reshape the world – and their neighborhood – in their image.”

5. Senior housing?

In residential real estate, Carroll argues senior housing will be “one of the dominant trends”. “People are living longer,” he says. “The typical baby born in western society today will live to be 100. Longevity for a part of the population is one of the challenges of our time. Society won’t be able to build all the seniors homes required; and so they will live at home. Technology will lead to “bio-connectivity. Hospitals going virtual – a doctor will be able to monitor non critical care senior patients from afar using connected medical devices.”

6. The constants?

It’s easy to look around and wonder what elements of the business will disappear or lose relevance. Will open for inspections, auctions, or cold calling go the way of the fax machine? Carroll argues that while the minutiae of the business will undoubtedly change, the core elements will remain unchanged. In other words, “People matter. People will always matter. Trust, reliance, reputation. Keep that, and you’ve got what matters. But only if you are open to the future.”

Farewell, old fax!
March 2nd, 2011

Here’s an article from my column for March’s CAMagazine.

It’s fascinating to think how many technologies can enter our lives and then one day, simply disappear!


We recently lost an old friend. Our fax machine finally packed it in. This wasn’t just any old fax machine. It was a Panafax UF-600, which my wife and I got for our home office and fledgling business in October 1990.

How many products today last 20 years? We dispose of cellphones within a year or two, if not faster, to grab the latest hot features; we go through televisions like we go through fashion. Yet this device, which had a simple, concise and singular purpose, managed to stick with us and fulfil its role for two decades, a remarkable achievement in our era of instant obsolescence.

Looking at the machine as it sits on the office floor, destined for the dustbin of technological obsolescence, I think about the many stories it could tell, providing insight into how quickly our world is changing. For example, it suffered a Y2K failure. With all the hype and hysteria that surrounded this nonevent, our poor little machine suffered a date failure, rolled back into the last century and we were never able to fix it. So for the past 10 years, as a futurist, I’ve sent the occasional fax with a date of 1910 at the top.

In the early days of my hectic speaking career, the fax machine was the “good news machine.” New contracts from speakers’ bureaus for events in far-off places would come in; the noise of the fax was a distant early signal of the success that would come with my unique career evolution.

Back in the days before BlackBerrys and iPhones and constant connections, we would come home from a two-week unplugged holiday only to discover rolls and rolls of fax messages spooled up from its thermal imaging system, each one with the details of a new contract. Yet, over time, most of these communications transitioned to the Internet and e-mail. The business success continued, but the vicarious thrill that came with the fax ringer began to disappear. We sort of miss it.

It was a window to change. My sons, who have become young men of 15 and 17, learned about the vastness of the world through the range of technologies that existed in our home office. But I’m not sure they ever understood what the fax machine was for — it became an historical curiosity to them. As the number of faxes received began to decline, the occasional arrival of one every second week always provided the spark for conversation. “Why do some people use the funny machine?” they would ask.

Perhaps the most amusing moment was when the boys were about four and six years old, and we heard the familiar ring of the fax machine during dinner one night. “Oh, there’s a fax coming into the office,” I said. The youngest quietly got up from the table and went down to the office. He came back a few moments later, commenting that he didn’t see it. After a few questions, we discovered that he thought a “fox,” not a fax, was coming into the office so he went down to take a look. I think he was disappointed. Brave, too.

Will we get a new fax machine? We’re not quite sure; we’ve come to think that this technology might have finally run its course. We scan most anything we send now; most people send documents via e-mail. The majority of faxes we received in the past year were junk. We pay a monthly bill for a unique phone number that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose.

Whatever our decision might be, it is kind of sad to see an old friend disappear.

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