During the recent NAR Leadership Summit in Chicago, an industry panel made up of four very bright minds debated how our real estate world would change over the coming years. Much of the Summit had been devoted to so-called “disruptive forces” or “Disruptors” as they are called by the cool kids. We are talking about the Zillows, Redfins, Wall Street interests and others who are chipping away at the world established by the National Association of REALTORS® and all of us who abide by the Code of Ethics and professional standards that define our world.

On stage at the Summit were Brad Inman (Inman News), Stefan Swanepoel (The Danger Report and other Swanepoel research papers on real estate), Elizabeth Mendanhall (incoming NAR President) and Bob Goldberg (the brand-new CEO of the NAR). Four leaders with four different perspectives.  

All agreed that things are changing. All agreed that areas like MLS consolidation are inevitable and there will be new players and business plans that try to make their way into the huge real estate industry tent. How we all react to these changes is key. In my various roles over the past 24 years I’ve seen constant hand-wringing or stressing every time something new shows up……like the internet, electronic lockboxes, regional MLS’s, regulatory changes, moves from Broker-Centric to Agent-Centric and back to Broker- Centric offices, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, electronic signatures….you name it. We’ve seen tons of change.

Here’s the thing: You can either spend time and energy wringing your hands and stressing about these “Disruptors” or you can acknowledge change, pick a course of action and work smarter and harder to continue to prosper in this very prosperous field of work. There is little to nothing that can be done to stop disruption. NAR cannot simply make rules or promote legislation that puts a stop to new business plans, ideas or change. There are anti-trust laws in this country that insure against collusion or attempts to derail change agents because they don’t play by our rules.  I say, rise above the change!  Embrace the things you can, and deal with the changes that might impact your business. But, don’t spin your wheels by spending productive time worrying about the “Disruptors” or the “Change Agents.”  

We have two paths we can go by (as my rock hero’s, Led Zeppelin once stated). Both are paved with obstacles. On one path, you can acknowledge those obstacles without granting them power, and focus your energy on productivity. On the other path, you can spend time trying to knock down the obstacles, cry “no fair!” and get stuck in your tracks. I think the first path makes more sense.

We are a strong association of hard working REALTORS®, and as long as we continue to prove our value as trusted advisors to those seeking to sell and buy property of all types, we will be not only a viable force in the industry but the first source that customers seek out when selling or buying. Stay positive, stay strong and stay productive.  As Elizabeth Mendenhall likes to say, “this is your moment, OWN it!”