With all its ups and downs, 2017 was a year of significant change — in politics, pop culture, science, technology and more. In tech, advancements in areas like AI and Bitcoin had far-reaching implications across industries. What were once cutting-edge technologies have made their way further into the “real world” and are poised to have a profound impact on the way business is done in 2018.
For evidence of this trend, look no further than the real estate sector, where a range of technologies are opening up the horizon and changing the rules, giving real estate professionals new opportunities to thrive. Here are five predictions about tech is leading the real estate industry in 2018.
IDC predicts (download required) that 75% of developer teams will use AI technology for at least one business application or service in 2018. This will certainly hold true in real estate, in which success hinges on an agent’s ability to nurture existing and new client relationships. In buying or selling a home, people are making one of the biggest decisions of their lives and the process can be overwhelming, not to mention confusing. It’s important that real estate agents answer questions in a timely manner, but that’s extremely time-consuming.
Chatbots, powered by AI, represent a solution. Agents can utilize virtual customer service agents and chatbots to help field questions and automate discussions with clients, freeing up human time to address more complex issues. AI “employees” enable economies of scale opportunities, meaning agents can provide attentive, hands-on, high-quality customized customer care at very little cost.
According to IMB, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. This data holds vast troves of value for real estate agents who can use it to gain insight into customers, understand market trends and improve efficiency. In 2018, big data will transform the real estate industry by making it more transparent. Home evaluation reports, sale prices and demographic data are now in the cloud and can be analyzed to provide more objective appraisals. Heightened transparency will promote better decision making and streamline the sales process so it’s more efficient. In addition, agents can use big data technologies to turn customer data from sources like social media into targeted marketing that delivers the right message to the right customer at the right time.
Drones stand to be one of the most important new technologies to enter real estate marketing since the internet. To start, drones enable agents to integrate dramatic camera photography and video tours into online listings. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 90% of home buyers rely on the internet as one of their primary research sources, and for over half, the web is their first step. Capturing their attention requires impressive, detailed visuals, and the agents who pull ahead will be those whose photos and videos stand out. Drones can essentially be used as flying cameras for photos and videos. Real estate photographers can use the technology to produce sweeping shots of the landscapes around homes and 360-degree views of home exteriors.
Drones will also enable agents to conduct virtual open houses. Fewer than one in five buyers makes an offer without first seeing a house in person, according to a Redfin survey, but open houses aren’t exactly convenient for anyone involved. Drones allow agents to give virtual tours, saving buyers, sellers and agents time, as well as opening the door to buyers who don’t live in the area.
For all the talk about how millennials aren’t buying houses, NAR has found over the last four years that millennials and Generation Y make up the largest group of homebuyers. In 2018, the real estate industry will continue to evolve to be more millennial-friendly, which means more mobile-friendly. Millennials spend more time on their phones than any other age group and rely on their mobile devices to do just about everything. The agents who succeed will be those who enable prospects and clients to access all the information they need, including listings and documents, from their mobile devices. Mobile-first will soon become the norm.
Bitcoin captured headlines in 2017 as the value of the cryptocurrency soared to unforetold heights. The impact of Bitcoin extends far beyond asset trading, however. The technology is redefining how money is exchanged and this is having a big impact on real estate. More buyers are interested in paying with cryptocurrency, which is leading some building owners to accept bitcoin as a way to gain a competitive edge. There are also emerging services that provide landlords and tenants a way to pay and receive rent in Bitcoin.
Beyond Bitcoin itself, block chain technology is driving the real estate industry forward in other ways. It could enable multiple listing service (MLS) companies, or even agents, to improve the way property data is shared between agents and consumers, leading to the creation of a national MLS that grants real-time access to updated property information. Blockchain tech could also provide a central database for historical title records. Finally, block chain technology could provide a new way to verify identities in real estate transactions, speeding up the process and minimizing the risk of fraud.