The Future Landscape of Real Estate Technology
We are in a breathtaking era of technology advances and the real estate industry will be forever changed - and improved - by it.
Over these past decades I have seen a lot of change in real estate tech. I'm always excited to see which ideas take hold in our industry and really revolutionize it. Keeping an eye on progress helps you stay competitive, but it can be fun too. Over the next few years, we are likely to see technology change how agents and consumers explore listings, access market information, and improve transaction security. So, this week I want to share three technologies with you that have the potential to influence and shape the future of how we do real estate in 2023 and beyond.
We've seen a slow spread of virtual reality for years now, but I think that its cousin, augmented reality or "AR", has even greater potential to transform how we experience real estate. While virtual reality put you fully in a virtual world, AR combines computer images with what you see in the real world. If you haven't been looking for it, you might have missed that there are lots of businesses already exploring how to use AR in real estate. For example, check out the Housecraft home decorating app, how the Wayfair app can let you see virtual furniture in your home before you buy it, or Magic Plan for virtual home remodeling planning – just to name a very few!
The future of augmented reality is just as exciting. Augmented reality home staging won't save home sellers from having to tidy up their homes before an open house, but might assist potential buyers with visualizing a room's potential or allow them to see how their own furniture will fit in a room before buying. Augmented reality apps are also on the way that share visual information from the curb on properties that are for sale: from crime-rates to school performance to price appreciation history. It is already being used to help new construction buyers "see" completed rooms, even if they are only standing on a freshly poured concrete pad. As AR improves, we can expect to see some amazing things from this technology in our real estate industry.
Of course, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. Making this simple to use and accessible for everyone still has a long way to go. Not everyone can afford the fancy hardware to make it work and not every client is going to be comfortable using it yet. It needs to be easy for an open house visitor to pick-up without preparation and fiddling with a bunch of buttons.
The news has been buzzing lately with so much talk about ChatGPT and competing technologies from Microsoft, Google, and others too. It is very exciting to think about how this tech is going to impact real estate from so many directions.
Chat robots (or "bots") like ChatGPT and others have the potential to make getting information about a property easier than ever before. Rather than searching websites, consumers will be able to just ask a question. Your clients may already be using chat bots to do this! While the technology is getting better every day, clients and agents alike should be careful about the information they get. Chat bots do not actually reason their answers out, they have trouble separating opinion from fact and can provide false information with misleading confidence. You should also be aware that these bots are trained on data from a period of time - they are not up-to-date like you are and the answers they give can be based on information that is months or years old. Asking a bot for current housing market data could be all kinds of dangerous. Be prepared to talk to your clients about this by learning more about this evolving tech.
Conversation bots like ChatGPT aren't just for consumers! Need 20 subject lines for a marketing email to expired listings? A chat bot can generate that in less time than it takes to ask it. Need a quick MLS description of a property that must be 200 words or less? New chat bots can evaluate a picture and do just that - you can even ask them to mimic a certain writing style while they keep beneath that pesky word limit. Don't be surprised if some of your fellow agents are already using tools like ChatGPT to outline blog posts. Be careful – a bot is not a replacement for your own voice and expertise. If you are using content to promote your business, it is critical that it is your voice communicating your points and your own knowledge and ideas that lead the discussion.
I also expect we will soon see chat bots appear in client relationship managers (CRMs). They will make it easier for agents to avoid "canned" responses and follow-up outreach that is sent to new prospects. Again, this isn't going to replace the need for agents to personally reach out to their prospects - not if they want to be successful!
You have probably heard this word thrown around the past decade because of its relationship to another technology: crypto currency. However, blockchain is more than just a way to move digital "coins" around.
Blockchain makes transactions more verifiable, recording transactions in a way that can be secure and transparent – and we could one day see it in real estate everywhere from escrow to title to lockboxes. One day you might even be handing clients digital keys to their home with this technology.
This technology makes transactions more secure because it reduces fraud. The record of the transaction is stored in many places and every past transaction is linked to the record of the next. Every new change-of-hands automatically carries with it the entire history of the property. This makes the record of the transaction very resilient and its history easy to track.
Today we have internet connected lockboxes where we can get a one-time pin to unlock a house. Blockchain takes this a step further by storing a secure record of every time a home is accessed in a way that cannot be fraudulently changed. We have already seen home security systems that do this, and lockboxes for homes are now emerging into the property rental and sales markets too.
Words of Advice
Staying informed about new and upcoming technologies helps you remain competitive as our industry and the skills of fellow agents change. And don't assume that your target client isn't interested too. This isn't just for urban Millennials and hip Gen-Z clients. Many seniors and rural home owners are keenly interested in this topic, so keep an open mind.
Finally, be careful if you choose to buy into the "latest-and-greatest." These technologies are poised for rapid change. Like 3D-printing, smart homes, electric cars, social media, or anything else invented in the last 20-years, once the idea starts actually getting used by the public it will be forced to evolve as people discover its flaws and find new ways to use it that we haven't thought of yet.
We live in an exciting world. Have fun discovering new things!
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.