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Meet the 30 rising stars of real estate, young visionaries who are shaking up how homes are sold.

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

From left, four rising stars of real estate: Jona Flores, Naveed Tejany, Lina Khan, and Kyle Footman. Courtesy of Jona Flores, Naveed Tejany, Lina Khan, Kyle Footman; Insider

Al Yoon , Daniel Geiger , Kelsey Neubauer , James Rodriguez , Taylor Borden , Alex Nicoll , and Hana R. Alberts Dec 17, 2021, 3:30 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic turbocharged residential real-estate markets and threw commercial ones into a tizzy as Americans reassessed their home and work lives. This year, some of the most disruptive reactions — from Zoom-town booms to retail-store reimagining — became longer-term trends.

Companies, policymakers, and advocates have responded to the persistent demand for housing at the affordable and luxury levels. Winners and losers have emerged from the battle between office barons and work-from-home defenders. Real-estate investing has expanded to the meme-stock crowd, which believes anyone can become a landlord.

Propelling these developments through the morass is a slate of visionary young industry leaders. Insider has tried to capture the brightest of the bunch in our second-annual "Rising Stars of Real Estate" list.

Our inbox was flooded with nominations for brokers who blasted through sales records, thanks to increased mobility of homeowners and renters, as well as a second year of soaring prices. As technology plays an ever-growing role in transactions and property management, scores of young executives behind property-technology, or proptech, startups emerged as formidable contenders. You'll see some of the most ambitious and creative on the list below.

But real estate isn't all about making money. The acceleration of housing demand at a time of economic uncertainty has also put a spotlight on people disadvantaged by the trend, and some of our rising stars are fighting to fix what's wrong with the system.

We asked that nominees for the list be no older than 35 as of November, work in the US, and stand out from their peers. Out of the scores of outstanding young people leading the next generation, we've highlighted 30 to watch.

Presented in alphabetical order by first name, here are the rising stars of real estate for 2021.

Adam Pollack,

Adam Pollack

When Pollack was a senior in high school, he made two promises to his family: He would finish college on time, and he would never go into real estate.

Pollack's father was a mortgage attorney in New York, and Pollack grew up immersed in the industry. But when the housing market collapsed in 2008, he witnessed firsthand the financial havoc it wreaked on his family. They weathered the storm, but Pollack swore off the industry.

Pollack broke both his promises in 2016, when he and his friend Nick Friedman dropped out of Harvard to cofound the company that would become, a digital lender that enables homebuyers to make all-cash offers on homes.

Typical mortgages can take a month or more to close, which is why sellers often prefer the ease and speed of all-cash deals. In the view of Pollack, who is now 26, the ability to buy homes with cash isn't merely an advantage — it's a "superpower" for any homebuyer.
The Denver-based company buys homes on behalf of approved customers with cash, then sells the homes back to the customer for the same price, once their mortgage closes. It makes money off the mortgage as well as title services, which it says costs homebuyers no more than the traditional process. has so far enabled nearly $300 million worth of all-cash home purchases, said Pollack, who serves as CEO. In July, the company announced it raised $90 million to help grow the team and expand into new markets.

Alex DiStefano, Avenue One