Over the last decade, technology has changed the face of the real estate industry. While many real estate professionals appreciate how tech has made their jobs faster and more convenient, others fear what future advancement will mean for their careers.
It’s easy to understand where this fear comes from. Within minutes, buyers can now find their own listings and get preapproved for a loan. Similarly, sellers can market their own homes and connect with potential buyers. With the abundance of information and the ease of accessibility, it may seem like realtors and agents are just a hop, skip and jump away from becoming obsolete.
However, there’s no need to fret. Real estate professionals can maintain their relevance merely by keeping up with the times and staying informed about the latest technology trends within the industry. So, here’s a list of the five most important technology trends in real estate that will help you remain competitive.
While PropTech isn’t a specific technology, it’s an essential term to know if you want to stay current in the field. Like how FinTech describes the technology used within the financial services industry, PropTech (Property Technology) refers to the application of technology within the real estate industry. It’s the digital innovations that aid individuals in buying, selling, researching and managing properties.
Although the real estate industry was slow to climb on the technology bandwagon, PropTech is now moving full speed ahead. In the first half of 2019, venture capitalists invested $12.9 billion in real estate tech startups.
“Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before, which has resulted in agents shifting from gatekeepers of information to advisors,” said Ari Harkov, licensed associate real estate broker with The Harkov Lewis Team at Halstead Real Estate.
Harkov, who’s been rated one of “America’s Best Real Estate Agents” by the Wall Street Journal 5 years in a row, advised, “As a broker or salesperson, you need to constantly look to stay ahead of your customers in terms of your knowledge, and constantly seek out tools to differentiate yourself and add value with your customers.”
PropTech is changing the industry rapidly, disrupting the established ways that real estate professionals have done business for decades. So, staying relevant in the real estate industry means understanding this new term and learning to incorporate these new technologies into your business practices.
Big Data And Predictive Analytics
If you want a competitive advantage within the industry, begin incorporating data and analytics into your business. Not sure what this looks like? Have you ever wondered how Netflix always knows which shows to recommend to you or how Amazon is able to guess what products you want to buy? Well, the answer is big data and predictive analytics.
Thanks to our constant use of technology, there’s a massive amount of data that’s generated and collected. Individual data points may not tell you a whole lot, but patterns emerge when these data points are combined and analyzed. This is where predictive analytics come in. Predictive analytics allow individuals to anticipate consumer behavior based on patterns found in past and present data.
How many times have you shown buyers a home that checks all the boxes of their search criteria only to find that they don’t actually like it? Buyers don’t always know what they want until they see it, which is why relying on clients’ search criteria isn’t necessarily the most effective way to find their dream home. By using predictive analytics, realtors and agents can optimize searches so results are based on clients’ needs instead of their assumptions.
Need help generating leads? Predictive marketing can help you identify individuals who are likely to be selling or buying a home soon. Using analytics to find leads can save you time and help you reduce your marketing budget. Companies like SmartZip, RealAgile, and Revaluate cull public and private data to help you tailor your marketing campaigns to individuals who have the highest probability of selling or buying.
Artificial Intelligence And Chatbots
In the age of technology, everything is faster. Customers expect immediate answers to their inquiries, and if you want to have a competitive edge in the industry you must respond with a sense of urgency.
Worried that you can’t keep up? Don’t be. With the advances in artificial intelligence, chatbots can become your new best friend. Chatbots or virtual assistants can answer queries and ask relevant questions that will help you get to know customers (and their needs) ahead of time. By using virtual assistants, you can take the stress out of qualifying and following up with leads. In turn, this leaves you time to focus on additional important tasks for growing your business.
“Virtual assistants provide an ‘always on’ channel to respond to client questions in real time or near real time, at the pace of the client,” said Mahi de Silva, co-founder and CEO of Amplify.ai, the developer of the first enterprise-class Conversational AI platform. “Amplify.ai also utilizes popular social media and social messaging platforms including Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram to amplify engagement, visibility and social sharing.”
And since chatbots respond instantly 24/7, you no longer have to worry about missing those late-night messages after you go to bed.
“It is important that chatbots respond to inquiries at all hours because many of our clients are business owners who oftentimes are working inthe business during operating hours and ontheir business in the late evening,” said Bethany Babcock, co-owner of Foresite Commercial Real Estate. She further explained that chatbots ensure clients “are able to get answers to their questions while they are ready to make a decision.”
Virtual And Augmented Reality
Even if you generate leads and respond to inquiries in a timely fashion, you’re not going to close that deal unless you ensure that potential buyers have a positive experience viewing your listing. Now that virtual and augmented reality technologies go beyond the world of video games, you can use them to help buyers better envision your listings. Apps and websites like magicplan, Home Design 3D and IKEA Place are changing the way buyers interact with properties.
Have you ever had a foreign buyer or one who just couldn’t make it to a physical showing? It can be challenging to motivate a buyer to make an offer when they haven’t seen the property in person. But through virtual reality, realtors and agents can now provide virtual tours that offer 360-degree views of both the exteriors and interiors of properties. This technology allows buyers to get the feeling of walking through your listing from the convenience of their mobile device or computer
Have you ever had difficulty selling an empty home or one with outdated furnishings? Even if properties match buyers’ search criteria perfectly, they still may not pull the trigger because the spaces require them to use too much of their imagination. Before now, the way around this issue was staging. By adding furniture to a bare room or replacing the old furniture with updated pieces, realtors and agents had more luck selling properties.
But the problem is that staging come with hefty price tags. And even if you find the best designers, the furnishings you choose may not be to every buyer’s liking. The answer: augmented reality (AR). AR technology can allow you to virtually stage listings so you can make changes to the look and feel of a home on the spot. With AR, computer-generated images are superimposed on a virtual simulation of the space. This way, buyers can change the décor with a click of a button and see how the property can work for their lifestyle.
After an offer has been made, you know your work still isn’t done. Having to go through intermediaries can make transactions costly and time-consuming. And with all the cybersecurity breaches in the news, many buyers and sellers are nervous about their personal information floating around. But the way the industry currently makes transactions is also changing.
Blockchain technology now allows transactions to be made securely, transparently and without a middleman. Blockchain also allows real estate professionals to create smart contracts by digitizing information (i.e., the “block”) and storing it in a database (i.e., the “chain) that’s public but 100% encrypted.
Instead of having an intermediary verify the legitimacy of the transaction, the process is completed by a network of thousands of computers scattered across the globe. After the details of the deal have been confirmed by the network, the information and digital signatures of the participants are recorded, given an identification code and stored across all the computers in the network.
Since each of the thousands of computers has its own copy of the transaction, the information is nearly impossible to hack. Furthermore, the transaction is recorded without the personal information of the participants. So while others can see their digital signature or username, there’s no real way to identify them. To close all of your future deals online, check out companies like Propy and DocuSign.
PropTech is changing the real estate industry, but there’s no reason you can’t change with it. If you’ve already tried out some of these tech trends, share tips in the comments below!
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