It’s almost 2018, and that means a new look at the real estate landscape. From tech advances and new niches to building your commission advance thanks to investors, here’s what you can look forward to exploring next year.

A Shift to an Online-Based Buying Experience

Technology is always altering how we do business, and we’ll be seeing more of that in the real estate sector in 2018 as new and existing platforms show both buyers and sellers how easy it can be to shop, offer and negotiate online. From chatbots that take over the early part of client conversations to developments in cryptography that ensure signing on the digital dotted line is safer than ever before, expect colleagues to find new ways to tackle tasks using the internet.

Increased Buyer Confidence + More Sales = Bigger Commission Advances

According to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2018 report, we can expect growth to be slower but more sustainable next year. This is good news as it represents a more stable market that translates into buyer confidence. What does that mean for real estate agents? Clients are often more comfortable buying in a market that seems predictable and easier to understand. Expect to see more middle-class buyers making investments in both family homes and rental properties, though numbers may show up in unexpected places (literally).

Rising Home Prices

Increasing lumber prices are causing the cost of new builds to rise. Pair that with a lack of existing inventory and you have a classic supply-and-demand scenario that’s good for sellers and not so hot for buyers. Creative, determined agents will still be able to ferret out interesting finds for needy clients, but homes in those always-hot, always-high markets — think San Francisco, Boston, L.A., New York, Seattle, etc. — will come with some serious sticker shock.

Spotlight on New Territories

As those hot markets above continue to smolder, buyers will push out into nearby areas. Focus won’t necessarily be on tightly adjacent neighborhoods and cities but on communities a little further out that offer affordable options, room to grow and a budding list of family-friendly amenities like urban planning improvements, new schools and the introduction of big box stores.

Renters Continue to Make Waves

There are now more people renting in the United State than at any time since 1965, a trend influenced heavily by lingering fears over past real estate bubbles and ongoing debt and employment concerns. Investors know this and may well use market stability as a reason to increase their property portfolios. Smart buyers will use their resources to snap up middle-class homes in growing areas to maximize potential and longevity.

Seattle, Seattle, Seattle

You can’t so much as skim an industry report without seeing Seattle emblazoned across a bunch of pages. Emerald City has been slowly winding its way to the top of industry hot lists, but this year it finally made it, thanks to high marks for schools, an educated workforce, overall livability and the Silicon Valley-esque tech vibe. Other cities to watch include Austin, San Jose, Dallas/Fort Worth, Raleigh/Durham, Nashville, Fort Lauderdale and Salt Lake City.

More Agent Specialization (A Way to Maximize Listing Advances)

As home shoppers gain interest in smart home automation, green homes and other multifunctional and multifaceted property types, brokers are responding by niching down and focusing on specialized housing types. Green brokers are boasting specialized certifications, some agents are concentrating on volume over average price with condo sales, and others are all about luxury homes in tricked-out communities.

Have a take on what we should expect in 2018? We’d love to hear your input on how you’ll be managing market trends to help expand your sales and, ultimately, your commission advance.