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ERA Real Estate has released its assessment of the Top 40 real estate milestones in the 21st century, providing a summary of the biggest changes to the U.S. housing industry in the last 12 years. In 2000, ERA notes the biggest change was shifting to an entirely paperless online transaction management system in some markets. The advent of Facebook in 2004 also had an impact, providing a new forum for building business relationships. It was also the year the “man cave” made its appearance, repurposing basements across the country. In 2011, ERA says the Apple app store revolutionized the way consumers shop for homes. For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet.

A real estate firm is out with a list of the top events in the real estate and housing industry. Here's why YouTube and the "man cave," among other milestones, make the cut.

The company -- Parsippany, N.J.-based ERA Real Estate -- actually released a list of the "Top 40" real estate milestones in history. That list goes back to 1863, when the first subway opened in London, and includes the passing of the Federal Highway Act in 1921 and the turning point in 1950 when more Americans lived in the suburbs than in the city.

So what innovations mark the first decade and change of the 21st century? ERA has some thoughts on that, too. In fact, here are six of the seminal events that have marked the real estate market since 2000:

2000: ERA points to paperless transactions as the first big trend in real estate as the new decade dawned. "What started with the simple act of directly depositing a paycheck into a bank account has evolved into completely online transaction management for real estate," ERA says.

2004: The Facebook revolution rolled out in 2004, and that's made life a lot easier for homebuyers and real estate agents. "While it originally appeals to a college audience, the platform soon expands and becomes a major avenue for building business relationships between realtors and consumers," ERA says.

2004: The same year also saw "man caves" hit the real estate scene. That drew more men into the housing mix, and gave them some leverage in "doing their own thing" when buying a home, ERA says.

2005: YouTube hit the Internet like a sledgehammer in 2005, and the real estate market has never been the same. As ERA puts it, "While many deem it only an avenue for watching the more than 100,000 cat videos that exist on the site, the channel is also a valuable tool for businesses looking to share their story online."

2005: Smart Grids were first introduced in Italy in 2005, allowing homeowners to better manage their home utilities. "Consumers are able to purchase smart thermostats and appliances and even control lights from their mobile phone or tablet," says ERA.

2011: The iPhone App Store changed the way that consumers shopped for homes, putting a blend of visual and financial tools into one easy-to-use device. So much so that the Sunday classifieds could soon be a thing of the past.

There you have it -- six genuine real estate game changers introduced in just more than a decade. Makes you wonder what the next decade will bring.

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.