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Top Developments in the Real Estate Industry

January 17, 2019 - By Rae Steinbach

It doesn’t take incredible insight to point out the fact that technology is a catalyst for change in the business world. That said, we are living in a time where technology is rapidly changing the way business is done.

Take, for example, on-demand apps. With the rise of services like Uber and delivery apps, customers are used to a higher degree of convenience and interactivity than ever before. While real estate may not be the most high tech industry in the world, it is no exception to this reality.

Just like businesses that operate in other industries, real estate firms need to investigate the latest tools and technologies. A failure to identify the latest advances can give an edge to competitors, and it can be difficult to catch up once you fall behind. For real estate businesses that are looking to stay current, the following are a few technologies that are changing the industry.

Cloud Computing

The closing process can be one of the most inefficient parts of a real estate transaction. Depending on the deal, you may have a variety of different certifications and approvals that need to be obtained, multiple parties that need to coordinate on the deal, and a whole host of other issues that can make the process both frustrating and time-consuming.

With applications supported by cloud computing, much of the time and hassle can be taken out of the process. Important documents can now be stored, transferred, and updated using a central online database. You can even use online resources like electronic signatures to finalize deals.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has matured to the point where it can do much more than the simple tasks it was associated with in the past. Businesses in a wide range of industries are investing in AI and it is time for real estate firms to follow suit.

One way that AI is already in use in real estate is on the property listing sites. A buyer goes to the site, they adjust filters for things like price, location and the number of bedrooms, and the site sorts through the listings to return the relevant results. This simple form of Artificial Intelligence is improving these recommendation systems, with even more advancements to come.

In the future, recommendation systems will be able to collect more data and they will use AI technologies like Machine Learning to learn from buyer interactions. With this information, a recommendation system could go far beyond sorting through listings based on a range of settings the user applies to filters. It could learn about their values, the type of living arrangement they prefer, and their changing lifestyle to recommend properties that will be more attractive to the individual.

Artificial Intelligence is also improving the marketing technologies that real estate agents use. Instead of distributing flyers and sending out your usual email drip campaigns, AI provides real estate businesses with the ability to use customer data to develop marketing content that is more personalized and more relevant.

An AI system could even be trained to identify people who are likely to move in the near future and develop a profile of what that person is most likely to want from a home. A real estate agent could then use that information to reach that person with targeted ads that contain the listings they are most likely to find attractive.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) has long been dismissed as a fringe technology. In its early days, the technology wasn’t particularly robust and the cost of equipment made it inaccessible to most consumers and businesses. That has all changed in the last few years. The technology needed to create VR experiences has advanced considerably and the equipment is much more affordable.

Now that VR is more accessible, it seems to be the perfect tool for businesses that sell real estate. Instead of just having some pictures and a sketch of the floor plan to show prospective buyers, VR can be used to preview 360 video of a property. You could even build realistic digital experiences that allow potential buyers to explore a property with a virtual tour.

With the right technology, you could go beyond the standard virtual tour to allow for customizable VR tours. Instead of having the 3D space staged with just one set of furniture, you could provide the potential buyer with a range of decorating options. This would not only give people the ability to see the home as they would choose to decorate it, but also the interactive nature of the experience will make it more engaging.

VR could also be a valuable tool for developers and real estate agents who are selling homes that are yet to be built. Instead of showing buyers models or print materials, you could build a VR experience that allows them to see a more realistic version of what the home will look like when it is done. This experience could also be customized to allow them to do things like add features and change paint colors.

Blockchain

When most people hear of blockchain being used in the real estate industry, they probably assume that it will somehow relate to cryptocurrencies. While these digital currencies certainly could be used in real estate transactions, this technology has potential to do so much more.

Most notably, it is the ways this technology can be used to protect the integrity of the information used in a deal and the fact that blockchain could be used as a tool to verify contracts. With a distributed ledger, the information is tamperproof. Furthermore, you have smart contracts that can be used to make finalizing a deal more efficient.

As it relates to smart contracts, a distributed ledger supported by blockchain could be a way to make secure real estate transactions without the need for a notary or a lawyer. With this type of distributed ledger system, the transaction is recorded by the thousands of nodes in a network. With all of the nodes synced up to show the same information, you don’t have to worry about tampering.

Even if someone could compromise one node, you have the thousands of others there to demonstrate that the compromised node has bad information. In essence, the many nodes in the network act as virtual witnesses to the transaction.

These technologies are still relatively new to the real estate industry, but some companies are already using them to lower costs and gain an edge over the competition. If a modern real estate firm wants to keep up, they are going to have to look into using technologies like VR and blockchain while also continuing to explore the tech advances that are going to make a difference in the future.

This article was authored by Rae Steinbach, freelance editor, Blue Label Labs