Real estate was once the province of agents and brokers, people connecting with people to buy and sell properties. Today, it’s still about connection, but those connections are made deeper, more meaningful, with the power of technology. Though real estate has traditionally been one of the sectors with slower tech adoption, recent years have seen a major uptick in the creation of an investment in technology to help make real estate professionals’ lives easier.
Technology allows us, in record speed and with unprecedented transparency, to qualify for a home loan while sitting in our living room, buy a home with virtual money, pinpoint online homeowners in a position to sell their home, and access real estate data at a push of a button.
By expanding access and information available to both the real estate agent and the consumer, technology in the real estate space is changing the way that we see, obtain and use information. Realtors are increasingly shaking off legacy processes and looking for avenues that can streamline the sales and prospecting cycle, while making the service and follow up side of the profession easy to automate, track and preserve. Technology in the real estate industry is solving those problems, while improving the customer experience.
Mapping tools, mortgage estimators and virtual tours have been great for real estate agents to showcase properties and attract clients, and for property shoppers to browse, without having to do hours of legwork. But tools like these are not what’s behind the reshaping of the industry that is currently underway. The real driver of change in the real estate world today is the mainstream usage of data immersion through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning platforms.
In this instance, AI doesn’t mean robots giving property tours; we’re talking about sophisticated data analysis platforms that can predict market trends, pinpoint opportunities and deliver insight like never before. Real estate is a sector rife with data - property values, comparable pricing, taxes, zoning, etc. - but the data has always been siloed by providers. Now, AI-powered platforms can aggregate all that disparate data and constantly update it so that agents and consumers are armed with all the information they need to navigate a deal.
Not only that, data analytics and AI also assist real estate professionals in building their businesses by predicting properties that are likely to enter the market and allowing them to jump on hot, pre-qualified leads. Agents typically have to do a lot of marketing, whether it’s word of mouth, collateral or traditional advertising, which can mean a lot of upfront time and money invested. But AI allows them to hone in on the best opportunities for them, and to tailor their marketing efforts to specific targets. AI can even help match consumers and real estate agents according to personality and psychology, which can be just as important to a successful relationship as expertise in certain neighborhoods or property types.
So far we’ve just scratched the surface; I predict that the industry will continue to see a shift in customer prospecting through analytic insight. And not only will the face of marketing change, but all aspects of the sales cycle will continue to go digital, creating an immersive blend of easily accessible and organized content, along with service. Fueled with data and powered by integrated platforms and sophisticated algorithms, this new data-driven approach leads to smoother processes, better deals and more satisfied clients.
The other technology I’m excited about for the future is Virtual Reality (VR). While VR tech may not be mainstream in the real estate industry currently, we know that society is primed and ready to embrace this technology beyond video games and entertainment.
Take the current virtual tour model to the next level and imagine being able to have 24/7 access to a home without inconveniencing the current owner, to take a walk through a neighborhood 3,000 miles away, or compare neighborhoods and properties on opposite sides of the country, all in a matter of minutes and without leaving your chair. Agents, buyers and sellers would all benefit from adoption of VR tools, and there are already plenty of innovators exploring how to integrate them.
While widespread adoption of VR in real estate is probably a few years off, the aim of making real estate transactions more convenient and informed than ever, for all parties involved, is the driver of growth in the space. It’s easy to think about technology as cold and impersonal, but real estate is still an industry all about people and relationships, and technology like AI isn’t being implemented to replace those things, but rather to enhance them. With that goal in mind, the pace of technological innovation won’t be slowing anytime soon, so to meet the needs of today’s market, real estate professionals will have to embrace that change or get left behind.
Author: Roy Dekel, is CEO of SetSchedule.