5th Annual Thought Leader Confidence Survey | Reveals Broker Challenges in 2018
Real estate leaders’ confidence in the 2018 U.S. economy and housing market is the strongest it has been in the last six years: An unprecedented 73% of top executives say the U.S. economy will improve or improve significantly, according to the latest Imprev Thought Leader Economy & Housing Outlook Study.
“Real estate leaders have not been this optimistic about the U.S. economy since we started the Imprev Thought Leader Survey in 2012,” says Renwick Congdon, Chief Executive Officer of Imprev, the leading provider of automated marketing services for real estate franchises and brokerages.
“With confidence levels so high, now is the time to take advantage of new opportunities to keep up with consumer and agent demands. I look forward to seeing what the industry can accomplish,” he added, noting top real estate executives’ confidence in America’s economy has more than doubled since October 2016 when 32% said the U.S. economy would improve or improve significantly. The 2016 survey was conducted immediately prior to the U.S. presidential election. The highest confidence level prior to the current study was 54% in 2012. [See Graph A]
Leaders’ belief that the housing market “will improve in the next 12 months” also shows rising optimism. Overall, half of real estate executives say the housing market will improve or improve significantly this year—a large jump from last year’s 38%. Housing confidence levels for the coming year have steadily dipped over the past three surveys [see graph B]. Survey participants’ growing confidence for 2018 is an interesting contrast to consumer confidence in the housing market, which took a slight dip in Q4 of 2017 (according to the latest National Association of REALTORS® HOME Survey).
The 220 Thought Leader Study respondents are exclusively broker-owners and top executives at leading franchises and independent brokerage firms, making the perennial Imprev study the most definitive assessment of real estate Thought Leaders. These executives represent firms that provided more than half of all U.S. residential real estate transactions last year.
The Imprev Thought Leader Study also identifies several areas of concerns for 2018 among real estate executives. For 78% of leaders, recruiting agents remains their top business challenge. It has been the number one business challenge since 2013, but its prevalence has slightly fallen since 2015 (86%) and 2016 (85%). In addition to recruiting, leaders are focused on growing the number of transactions per agent: 67% selected it as a top business challenge.
Brokerages’ third top business challenge is improving profitability, ranked at 62%. Profitability is a top challenge that study respondents feel very optimistic they can address this year. Remarkably, almost half (49%) of respondents—the highest ever in this study—say they are very confident that their brokerage will be more profitable in 2018. That number is up significantly from last year, when it was 39%.
Additional Key Findings
- Breaking the “closer to home” trend: “This is the first year that leaders were more confident in the U.S. economy (56%) than either their own local economy (49%) or their own state’s economy (40%),” notes Imprev’s Congdon.
“Since we started measuring economic confidence in 2013, real estate leader confidence in the economy has always been stronger the closer one gets to home. We’re seeing almost the opposite in 2018. While confidence levels in the local, state, and world economies follow similar trends as previous years, U.S. confidence levels bucked the trend and moved from third to first position,” Congdon adds. To demonstrate previous trends, take 2013 for example: 46% of real estate leaders were more confident in their local economy, 39% were more confident in their state economy and 21% were confident in the U.S. economy. [See Graph C]
- Confidence in world economy also hits a record high: Real estate leaders have never been very bullish on the world economy in any of the Imprev studies since 2013. That year, 14% of respondents said they were “more confident” in the world economy than they were at the beginning of the year. That number dropped significantly over the next few years. But this year, one-in-four leaders (25%) say they are “more confident” in the world economy since January 2017. [See Graph C]
The annual Imprev Thought Leader Survey, which debuted in 2012, was developed by Imprev to provide insight on key business challenges top executives face, encouraging an exchange of ideas and solutions among industry Thought Leaders.
The study was conducted from November 22 to December 8, 2017.
Five percent of participants represent firms that completed more than 20,000 sides last year, 6% completed between 10,000 and 20,000 sides, 11.5% completed between 5,000 and 10,000 sides, 53% completed between 1,000 and 5,000 sides, and 24.5% completed up to 1,000 sides.
Demographically, 70% of the participants are male, 30% are female. More than one-third (42%) are 60 years old or older, 30% are ages 50 to 59, 22% are ages 40 to 49, and 7% are ages 18 to 39.
To view the full Imprev Thought Leader Economy & Housing Outlook Study results, visit www.imprev.com/2018-outlook.
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