3 Top Real Estate Trends to Watch in 2018

by Chris Long

Thinking of buying, selling, or managing a property in 2018? Pay attention to these top three trends for the following year.

As 2017 draws to a close, real estate professionals are starting to look forward to the coming year. A volatile political environment, a housing shortage, and fear of another economic bubble will certainly make for an interesting real estate landscape next year, but new technology will increase productivity — and affordability.

Whether you’re an established realtor or a curious homebuyer, here are the top three real estate trends you should look for next year:

New Innovation in Manufacturing and Construction

From virtual reality to property management platforms, new technologies emerged in 2017 that made it easier to buy, sell, and manage real estate. The popularity of these tools will continue to grow in 2018, but not necessarily for the sake of modernization. As more millennials start shopping for their first homes, developers will need to cut costs to keep new properties in alignment with what younger buyers can afford. Therefore, the industry will turn to technologies that can increase productivity and minimize expenses during construction.

Some of this transformative tech has already wound its way into commercial construction projects. Drones and sensors keep track of progress across an entire site, feeding updates into digital workflow platforms that anyone involved with the project can access. These changes improve communication between workers on the ground and managers in the office, saving time and money across all aspects of a project.

But in 2018, new tech will begin to hit the processes of manufacturing and construction. Automated technologies like 3D printing, robotics, and componentization will appear at the fringes of the industry, creating test cases for augmented human labor and modular construction. Though a future where we build homes “out-of-the-box” may be far off, 2018 will give us valuable insight into whether such a model is sustainable.

Continued Challenges with Affordable Housing

The cost of housing has risen dramatically in recent years, with nearly every major city affected by a shortage of affordable homes. Single-family residences are becoming especially scarce as developers look to turn the valuable land they sit on into affordable — and profitable — multifamily and apartment buildings.

This trend has already crept into St. Louis — the city’s housing inventory has been consistently dropping since the Great Recession and hit a low point in March. While the local economy has improved dramatically in recent years, most homes only stay on the market a couple of days before receiving multiple offers. In the coming year, developers will need to balance the incessant demand for single-family properties with affordability and scale.

The Rise of Secondary Markets

As major coastal cities become more crowded — and expensive — homebuyers are increasingly turning to secondary markets. St. Louis has reaped some of the benefits of this trend, largely as a product of economic growth that’s attracted younger buyers to the city. Our burgeoning tech industry, combined with a low cost of living, make St. Louis a highly appealing market for investors and developers.

In 2018, millennial buyers will continue to flock to secondary markets, and those markets stand to reap the benefits. However, smaller cities like St. Louis will have to work to educate investors about potential opportunities and prove that their economic development can be sustained over time. Fortunately, the swell of tech investment into downtown St. Louis should continue to bring real estate investment our way.

St. Louis’ real estate market is in store for significant changes over the coming year, but I’m confident that we’re prepared to meet them. With all that’s on the horizon, we look forward to seeing what 2018 will bring.

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