Technology is continually knocking down barriers between potential buyers and sellers. From online listings on websites such as Zillow to virtual reality tours of properties, the modern real estate agent has tools to reach buyers that previous generations could not even have imagined. However, this has been a mixed blessing, since agents use these tools to compete with each other as much as to find buyers. Real estate tech has just began to disrupt this industry.
Real Estate Industry Moving Online
One of the most significant changes in real estate has been the transition to online platforms. What began as simple listings of available properties has developed into a sophisticated tool to identify what a buyer is looking for in a home. This has reached the next step with a real estate site Forbes magazine described as the “Pinterest of real estate”.
Compass offers more than a simple list of available properties. It curates the listings based on the data profile of the buyer, then allows additional streamlining that reflects the feedback given to the agent. This tool seeks to replicate some of the personal contact previously attained when potential buyers would visit a property by extending that interaction to an online environment.
The ability to do more than just post pictures online is proving to be the key to successful online real estate marketing. Zillow keeps track of properties viewed by people browsing the site, and sends registered users suggestions based on their interests. This is just the most rudimentary use of such information. More sophisticated programs track how long the viewer spent on each image to gain a sense what is important to them.
Chatbots are the advanced version of tracking buyer interest. These automated systems allow the user to access better information about properties without the expense of an agent providing basic details. When well done chatbots replicate a human conversation and so garner additional information about tastes and preferences.
Real Estate Industry Moving Up
The use of drones in providing aerial photographs and videos is becoming more prevalent in real estate, especially for properties and markets that benefit from this vantage point. Farms and estate properties are particularly well suited to this technology, although even a modest single family home can look better from a unique perspective 35 feet off the ground.
Fortunately, the ease of drone operations has made obtaining these photographs and videos about as easy as any other materials. Drone operators can be found online so there is no need for real estate agents to develop yet another skill set. Some real estate offices have developed this capability in-house and tout it as a competitive advantage to prospective agents and sellers alike.
Helping prospective buyers see the unique value in a particular property is easier when the agent has access to some simple Augmented Reality (AR) tools. These allow the agent to show what an upgraded kitchen would look like, or what new flooring would do for a living room. Improvements like these are often incorporated into the asking price of a house, but seeing what the upgrade will do for the look of the place is another step toward closing the deal.
Helping buyers see what their backyard will look like is the purpose of the “Walk the Property Lines” feature at Homesnap., This startup is a real estate listing site similar to Zillow that is trying to differentiate itself through the use of better technology. The site also promotes real estate agents more prominently than others, a feature that recognizes the value of personal connections in residential real estate.
This recognition goes to the heart of how technology will help, and not replace, the professional real estate agent. Tech savvy professionals will use them to expand their reach and their market presence. Most importantly, these tools will help more people find the house that will become their home.