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Lasting legacies and legends are not typically built during times of prosperity and calm. They are built during life’s toughest journeys, navigating overwhelming adversity and enduring uncertainty in the proverbial “fog of war.”

It’s not only been an unsettling year, but 2020 has, at times, been downright frightening!

Real estate leaders cannot control social unrest, vaccine timelines, divisive political parties nor economic instability. The bold leaders of today and tomorrow, however, have control of their destiny. Many have already begun to blaze pioneering paths within our industry. No doubt, some may fail while daring greatly, while others are in the midst of creating the legacies and legends that will be honored in coming years.

This year has been described by some as an unbelievably surreal movie. However, the resilient real estate industry is finding ways to have a leading role in the script.  Let’s take a look at how some of the plots are developing.

Lights, camera, action:

As sub-3 percent interest rates have been driven down to historic levels, progressive brokers, teams and agents wasted no time expanding their local marketshare by unleashing timely, focused marketing and communications. Their customers are responding. The U.S. is on pace for 6.85 million existing-home sales, the highest since 2006, and 950,000 new-home sales.

Pandemic Fueled Moving

Analysts are tracking some serious market movement: Migration from the inner city, millennials jumping off the fence, luxury trends, downsizing baby boomers, rent vs. buy debates, home-office seekers, etc. From Wall Street to Main Street, the $35 trillion real estate industry and billions of dollars in commissions and fees are at the center of the action.

Innovators and Improvisors

Drive-by closings, agent-led video walk-throughs, 3D virtual tours, YouTube messaging, podcasts, Instagram and RON (remote online notarization)—you name it. The agents with energy and smarts are breaking down long-standing practices that have stifled progress for years. Spoiler alert: Real estate award ceremonies will be interesting this year with many new names on the A-lists!

Real Estate Careers Are in Demand

The coronavirus unemployment roller coaster ride will likely continue into the foreseeable future. Retail, hospitality, travel and restaurant workers are facing uncertain futures. Talented business professionals are eyeing our industry. NAR is nearing 1.45 million members, an increase of more than 67,000 since last year.  “New blood” often brings highly skilled business professionals into the fold. Healthy competition raises the bar for all!


Global coaching leader Buffini & Company formed a strategic alliance with the National Association of REALTORSⓇ (NAR) to provide customized systems and training for the flood of new talent entering the industry. In parallel, the timely and relevant Brian Buffini podcast, The Brian Buffini Show, blew past old records and reached an impressive 10-million audience milestone. In-depth interviews with HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, NAR Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun, and other financial and regulatory thought leaders provided critical insights during the market turmoil.


The industry behemoth officially started hiring real estate agent employees. Considering their market cap is now three times that of RE/MAX, Realogy and Redfin combined, who didn’t see this one coming? Luv ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re not sitting still. Keep an eye out for prop-tech spin-offs Pacaso and Tomo, launched by Zillow founders and early execs.


The first to cut-and-run during the pandemic are relentlessly back in action. Investors continue to show willingness to gamble billions on a strategy yet to climb out of the red.

Settlement Services

Mortgage, title and escrow are pegging the needle on the Richter Scale. IPOs, acquisitions and strategic alliances are all the rage. Quicken, Black Knight, CoreLogic, Modus, UWM, Caliber and Amerihome have made “plays” or reportedly have them in the cue.

Deal Making

Clarity of post-election CFPB leadership and RESPA guidance is right around the corner. Bold compliant strategies are percolating to align real estate, mortgage, title and escrow pioneers to break down fragmentation and inefficiencies in the transaction process. Our customers are crying out for it! Strategic partnerships, JVs and MSAs are prime “ancillary income” models for business savvy brokers and teams.

Make no mistake, all the “stars are aligned” for a seismic shift in marketshare, innovation and consolidation within and around the real estate industry in 2021. Those who hesitate will idle at best or, at worst, die on the proverbial vine. The visionaries who execute on timely, calculated strategies will certainly have their hat in the ring to cement their legacy as a “Rainmaker” in this great and ever-evolving industry.

Mike Ryan is a partner with the Rainmakers Group, an advisory firm serving the real estate and settlement service industries with global insight, talent and technology. For more information, please visit or call 303-570-5140.