Are Traditional Real Estate Companies Bound To Fail?

traditional real estate companies

To answer this question allow us to change gears for a moment and consider what Steve Jobs had to say about Apple Computer back in 1995.

Specifically, he talked about how Apple will eventually fail.

Granted, this thought is near-blasphemy for a countless number of retail stock market investors, mutual funds, and investment gurus.

After all, the price of Apple stock recently hit an all-time high.  Warren Buffett owns nearly $45 billion of the company, and Apple accounted for an incredible 23% of the entire S&P 500’s gains in May.

How in the world could Apple possibly fail?

According to Steve Jobs, companies with a monopoly market share forget about what it means to build a great product.  There’s no difference between a good and a bad product, and no feeling in the hearts of the people who run the company about wanting to help their customers.

Other than perhaps the size of the display screen, what’s the big difference between the last several generations of iPhones . . . except for a rising price?

Eventually companies decline because of the lack of quality products and failure to adapt to the new realities of the marketplace.  Steve Job’s belief that companies must adapt or eventually die is also applicable to the real estate industry today.

Traditional real estate companies

Media as diverse as the Pew Research Center and USA Today claim that the decline in home ownership and the rise of the ‘renter class’ is due to rapidly growing home prices and an inventory shortage.  Would-be homeowners are forced to rent because they can’t find anything to buy.

But perhaps a more likely explanation for more people renting homes than buying is that consumer demand is simply changing.

As more Baby Boomers retire and sell their family homes, they are intentionally choosing to rent, or moving into assisted living or senior housing.

At the same time, the younger generation prefers to rent a home rather than own.  Factors such as the growing gig economy and 1099 employment, the lack of mobility that home ownership brings, and the rapidly growing ways to invest in real estate other than owning a home, all make home ownership much less attractive than it once was.

The traditional real estate industry still operates under a business model of new home construction and a resale market that focuses primarily on home buyers that are owner occupants.

This is in stark contrast to the changing wants and desires of the real estate consumer, and a perfect example of Steve Job’s warning to companies who focus on their own needs rather than wanting to help their customers.