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Are you wondering where the market is heading? You’re not alone. In the following interview, Ed Krafchow, chairman of the Board with Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate, tells us where he thinks the industry is heading, and what we can be on the lookout for.

Maria Patterson: What are some of the most important trends we’re currently seeing in real estate?
Ed Krafchow: The speed of the market is picking up. We’ll see more listings coming on the market as you start to see price appreciation and people start to come out from under water. We’ll see a very strong upper end of the market as people take advantage of low interest rates and the long-term value of real estate.

MP: How has your business model changed to remain successful?
EK: We learned a big lesson in the downturn; most large brokers had far too much lease space. Agents are becoming much more mobile and the use of lease space has to be bound to functional roots. You can walk into several of my large offices and you’ll find very few people there because everyone is so mobile. So we will continue to manage the business based on how you develop the business.

MP: What’s driving business in your area?
EK: On the West Coast and certainly in San Francisco, the markets are increasingly driven by the international market. The people in San Francisco are buying San Francisco, but there’s a lot of attractive urban space here and that’s becoming very relished by foreign national buyers. So the market is becoming both global and local.

MP: What is the current consumer mindset?
EK: There was a lot of uncertainty during the downturn and now we’re moving more toward an area of certainty. Once we get to the place where people know the rules and understand the direction, then people will make their decision based on that certainty.

MP: How are you keeping pace with technology to build business?
EK: We’re now working in an area that connects technology with telephony and the real estate agent. We opened a call center to help agents reach prospects and clients. I think this will be a very important resource in the future—the speed of getting agents to clients and the speed of information is crucial. Mobile technology will change all of this.

MP: What role will NAR play in the long-term viability of our industry?
EK: I think during the downturn, it became obvious that we needed to be better “friends” in the business. Where there had been a lot of contention between brokers and state associations, there was a pulling together for the common interest. Hopefully, we will continue down that path in a good market and continue to work toward a cooperative stance in the industry. It always comes back to supporting the real estate agents. If it helps them get their work done and it’s supportive of agents, then it’s good for the industry.

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