With the many changes we’ve recently seen in real estate, we started thinking about how the industry will evolve during the next 10, or even 20, years. Below are a few interesting issues to think about when we look to the long-term future of the housing market and real estate profession.

Home Tech
A discussion of the future wouldn’t be complete without considering what’s next for technology. According to Statista, approximately 27.6 percent of U.S. households use some sort of Smart Home technology, and that number is expected to grow to more than 53 percent by 2023.

In the past five years, we’ve seen a surge in home tech, with builders starting to integrate technology like smart thermostats and doorbells into new home construction. Devices such as Alexa and Google Home are becoming commonplace, and even appliances are getting connected through mobile apps and voice controls. In the near future, these home systems and entertainment devices will be fully integrated through a single control panel or app.

 So, what’s next in home tech? The sky is the limit. Maybe you should ask your refrigerator. It can already read recipes, build grocery lists and alert you to upcoming expiration dates.

Transportation
Another way technology is rapidly changing our world is through transportation. A question that’s been circulating throughout the industry is, will self-driving cars change housing preferences? One perk of autonomous cars is the idea that it will make long commutes more bearable – and potentially more productive – leading people to move further out into the already expanding suburbs.

It’s predicted that the rise of autonomous vehicles will come first in the form of ride-share programs vs. individuals owning self-driving cars. If that’s the case, perhaps we’ll see new homes being built without a full garage or with garages converted into flex space for the home. The shift may impact the commercial sector as well with less parking space allocated to retail and office buildings.

Outside of driverless cars, declining battery costs and clean energy incentives are helping increase demand for electric vehicles. The International Energy Agency forecasts that the number of electric vehicles on the road will skyrocket to more than 120 million by 2030. As the popularity of electric cars increases, more homes and businesses will have charging stations – something that can already be seen happening throughout the country.

The Real Estate Profession
As the world continues toward an online-first mentality, the day-to-day operations of real estate professionals will shift accordingly. Vigorous websites will become even more critical for individual REALTORS® and should include things like interactive maps and virtual home tours.

Sales strategies will have a larger focus on digital and social media marketing and more transactions will happen online. That said, the future is sure to bring more tools to allow consumers and real estate professions to not only sign contracts but complete transactions electronically – zipForms® and eSign are just the beginning. It is possible we might see things like the introduction of electronic notaries as technology continues to work towards streamlining processes and increasing convenience.

The recent popularity of online real estate sites is rumored to be shaking up the industry, but it’s important to note that these types of services have been around in one form or another for many years. Digital real estate companies utilize professional REALTORS® and there hasn’t necessarily been as much transition here as one might think. Whatever technology brings us, REALTORS® will continue to find efficient ways to help home buyers and sellers navigate what is often the largest financial decision they will ever make.

Some Things Will Never Change
The world and the way we do business will continue to evolve, but there are some things that will never change. One of those things is the true value of working with a REALTOR®. Anyone can look up home listings, but with so much data at our fingertips, it’s easy to face an information overload. REALTORS® are there to help buyers and sellers through what can be a complicated process, provide invaluable local insights and be a constant advocate for their clients… no matter what the future holds.

Written by: K. Michelle Lind, chief executive officer for the Arizona REALTORS®.