Staying on top of technology trends will always be essential to succeed in the real estate industry. Society’s relationship with technology plays out in workplaces and homes, where individuals usually encounter and embrace new tech. As driving forces in helping individuals find those workplaces and homes, real estate agents must understand the role technology plays in modern life more than most. A more immediate concern for agents, however, might be the fact that technology gives them a competitive edge against their fellow agents.
Some technologies are temporary fads, but some are essential for real estate agents, home buyers, home sellers, and anyone else involved in the industry. Here are some technologies likely to play a pivotal role in the future of real estate:
As it has in countless other industries, AI has a rapidly growing presence in the real estate sphere. AI tools–when used correctly–can help real estate agents react quickly to market changes and more effectively to meet clients’ needs. Proportunity, for example, uses an AI algorithm to forecast property valuation increases, while AddressReport helps agents predict newsletter subscribers’ interests and concerns in the real estate industry as well as send out targeted marketing materials. Other AI tools could replace agents altogether; sellers and buyers working with REX Real Estate Exchange don’t work with agents. Instead, the company’s computer algorithms analyze thousands of data points in a continually refined machine-learning process to find appropriate sellers or buyers to meet their needs.
Gartner estimates that there will be over 20 billion IoT devices in use globally by 2020. The more IoT use grows, the more property buyers and sellers will see it as part of their homes rather than stand-alone consumer products. Smart home features could become as significant a part of a home’s value as its number of bathrooms or the quality of local schools, affecting not only residents’ quality of life, but their energy bills or maintenance schedules too.
Blockchain’s distributed, universally accessible ledger is an ideal tool for a wide range of real estate processes, and companies are unrolling blockchain solutions accordingly. Propy uses blockchain smart contracts to transfer property titles. Because blockchain ledgers are a nearly tamper-proof source of shared truth, they can record and even automize portions of these complex legal and financial transactions, drastically reducing processing times, administrative costs, and reconciliation errors.
Deedcoin uses a blockchain-based distributed ledger to manage access–via token ownership–to a network of pre-screened agents who accept tokens in place of most of their cash commissions.
Green energy is hardly a new concept, but it is a field that undergoes near-continuous technological improvement. And in some markets, green energies capabilities are becoming ubiquitous features of the real estate market–Hawaii’s property market includes over 80,000 private rooftop solar installations. A study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that solar panel installations consistently increase a home’s sale value. For both economic and environmental reasons, many property buyers are willing to pay more for real estate that utilizes advanced green energy technology. The same principle applies to energy efficiency, in Los Angeles, homes that feature energy efficiency upgrades experience a 6% increase in value.
Thanks in large part to video games, augmented and virtual reality are now mainstream affordable technologies. But both AR and VR have applications beyond video games in a variety of industries, including real estate. Sotheby’s Curate AR app lets users walk through properties and add furniture, decorations, and interior design choices after a smartphone scan of the room to help them “stage” the room to their tastes and help them imagine living there. VR has proven a vital tool for agents who work with international clients too. Buyers can use VR walkthroughs to experience property tours no matter where they are located in the world.
Real estate isn’t just about cold financial figures. Members of the real estate industry help people find the physical locations that shape every element of their life, from how they get their work done to how much time they spend with their families. Technology is a shaping force in modern life, and real estate agents need to understand its power and constant evolution if they want to thrive in this dynamic field.