Real Estate News

5 tech-driven real estate trends on the horizon

Published: 31 Mar 2017

Businesses seem to be working hard to bring real estate up to date, at least when it comes to technology. From innovations that connect more buyers to better digital presentation, the increases in available tools are targeting areas like sales and customer engagement. This could be important areas of focus as the need to raise sales becomes more essential

Whether or not they lead to success, these are all options which could gain more energy and become popular.

1. Visual sorting for real estate
Many times, industries look to popular existing services to base their own new offerings off of, and real estate tech doesn't seem to be an exception. The Real Deal reported on some recent sites that could attract buyers through easy-to-understand features. These include StreetEasy, which could enable access to agents easily, and Compass, which wants to model a "collections" feature off of the popular visual social site Pinterest.

The article said that  "Collections" would let both buyers and brokers look at different properties dynamically through a live website. The supposed "mood board" style is also supposed to leave the interested buyer in control, with an accessible interface that appeals to the casual user. In any case, the explicit similarity to a popular sharing site is part of what makes this worth watching, in case it starts a similar trend with other services for this sector.

2. Virtual Reality
VR is sometimes mentioned as a source of disruption for various industries. In real estate, the thought is that it could continue to bridge the gap for potential buyers who want to see properties from afar. As a Forbes piece on this possible trend said, agents could save time by hosting virtual open houses instead of live ones that require the interested buyers to be there in person or only show parts of the home.

The implications get more significant in the possible big picture. The article said that the VR experience could expand into "virtual commerce" as more features arise within the virtual visit itself. Likewise, the amount of time saved because of this technology could eventually be a significant boon to agents, and leave buyers with higher satisfaction, even more as the technology to conduct these VR visits becomes widely available. 

This seems to be a relatively achievable tech goal, since VR already comes with strong economic figures. In a recent press release from ABI Research, the company's Principal Analyst, Michael Inouye, said that the housing market could be one of many that benefit from the rise of virtual systems. Within the next four years, the source said, the market for VR could expand to more than $60 billion.

"While most companies engaging with VR live in the entertainment realm, other segments like real-estate/construction/architecture, marketing/sponsorships, healthcare, and training also represent huge opportunity in these early years," said Inouye.

3. Blockchain
In business, this refers to the idea of a dispersed property that more than one person has equal access to. It has possible applications in many fields, and in real estate, the model could divide available properties into smaller digital pieces for several different owners, Bitcoin Magazine noted.

Bitcoin is the name most associated with blockchain, and the article said that this approach to stake ownership could add more flexibility to the industry, with possible buyers obtaining a special token to signify the purchase.

To give an example, the magazine cited the company REIDAO, which is already using this kind of method to try and build a name for itself. The company's CEO, Darvin Kurniawan, said investors could use this system to mitigate real estate risk, mixing and matching only those tokens that reflect their current interest.

As a possible backbone for a new real estate economy, this style of buying could further blockchain's presence. Other instances of strong blockchain models could also draw attention to real estate as just part of a bigger shift across all industries.

4. Specialized real estate apps
Buyers may be able to look for increasingly focused tools. This is one of the themes running through the several entries in a Forbes list of real estate startups capable of serious disruption. Airbnb and other apps have already helped solve temporary rooming needs, and there are companies specializing in everything from construction to amenities to subleases, bringing the same level of scrutiny to these different elements of the grander process.

With startups adding more apps for managed sales, there could be a hyperlocal system that encourages buyers to look for properties near them through specific services.