Gone are the days of realtors serving as the exclusive intermediaries between buyers and their properties through extensive, in-person interactions. Technology has altered the way real estate is being marketed, pursued, and purchased, and the consequences are manifold for all parties involved. Below are some of the current technological trends that are informing the real estate market.
Real Estate Tech Startups
The multibillion-dollar real estate industry is now seeing a giant upswing in tech startups for property viewing, property management, investment management, etc. This global trend logically coincides with the massive influx of millennials purchasing their first homes, and the trend will absolutely continue. Zillow, for example, is one of the most common and widely used property listing services, through which properties can be listed and viewed, but other, newer startups such as Home61 in Miami, Florida and Access Chicago Realty in Chicago, Illinois offer a plethora of comprehensive services and features such as comparative market analysis, booking calendars, sales and listing alerts, and convenient documentation filing systems. The startup industry is responsible for the lightning speed at which real estate transactions are now being processed, driving competition amongst brokers, buyers, and renters alike. With greater accessibility to and transparency in the process of buying and selling, comes the necessity to make informed decisions much more quickly.
Virtual Tours and Virtual Reality
It is common knowledge that beautifully staged houses sell better than empty ones, and that real estate listings with attractive online galleries generate more interest than those without. The newest trend in real estate photography and marketing plays to both of these truths by providing virtual tours online to prospective buyers. These three-dimensional tours allow viewers to virtually “walk through” houses and apartments, gaining better perspective on layouts, floor plans, and multiple points of view. While virtual tours result in less in-person showings overall, they help ensure that those who do request them are more serious buyers. However, virtual tours of occupied home are sometimes frowned upon for security reasons, as tenants’ homes and belongings are made public and vulnerable.
Perhaps an even more striking trend in the world of virtual real estate is the manipulation of listings through “virtual staging,” which involves photographers shooting an empty property and then adding in virtual furniture later in a design lab. This allows for a nearly perfect presentation of a listing, but it can also be misleading or off-putting for prospective buyers when they actually view the listing in person.
On top of the popularity of real estate-specific sites and apps, social media is an increasingly popular way for realtors to share property listings, open house information, etc. For example, plenty of realtors use both personal and professional Facebook pages and/or Pinterest pages to post listing photos and to drum up interest in specific properties. Additionally, they can post articles about real estate trends, specific neighborhoods, etc. Realtors and prospective buyers can now also communicate through messenger services and video chat instead of only in-person, which expedites the process significantly.
The utilization of technology in the world of real estate, perhaps surprisingly, has not eliminated the need for good, solid relationships between realtors and customers. Rather, it has changed the nature and pace of the relationship. Now that many logistics can be taken care of online, realtors have more time to spend helping clients navigate the intricacies of paperwork and contract details. Ultimately, technology offers a leg-up to all parties in order to optimize the quality of the time spent working together.