Applications such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc., have been great to educate Real Estate consumers and sellers with what is available on the market, ancillary services, and many other facets to Real Estate. Beyond these common services were you aware of the vast and constantly growing world of Real Estate applications that exist? The Real Estate industry has been slower to adopt and embrace the growth of technology and investments in it had lagged many other industries. Not anymore. In the 4th quarter of 2014 $300 Million was invested in Real Estate Technology. Some of it is happening in fast growing economies of China (Fangdd.com, 80M) and India (CommonFloor.com, 63 M), but there is also a lot of investment in United States Real Estate technology.
Some include UrbanCompass.com (Online property search in NYC and DC), Fundrise.com (Real Estate crowdfunding), Thestorefront.com (short term retail rental space), Breather.com (Work or Relaxing Hourly Rental Space) and many more just starting or on the horizon. Many of these new ventures have been spearheaded by Real Estate professionals themselves by finding solutions to common problems they say in their day to day practice.
Personally as an agent many of these innovations has increased the flow of information to and from my clients. With MRIS Homes application and online clients give me real time information about what properties they like most and which they don’t. Contracts and paper work can be signed electronically saving time and paper for having to do in person signatures. There are many other benefits and here are some of the great applications to aide in your search and ownership of Real Estate.
With Homesnap a picture taken with your phone becomes information about the subject home that can then be sent to an agent to add to a let’s see this one list or something like this, or to simply know how much your buddies home is worth. Sitegeist will provide information about school districts, demographics, and many other things. Some of the information from Sitegeist is information that Real Estate agents can’t ethically provide and thus is a place to obtain that information. Closeit! is an application that will estimate your monthly payments, closing costs, fees, and taxes for a property and even draw up an estimated HUD1. iScape will aide in landscape design by using a picture of your house and importing and moving around various soft and hardscape elements. EasyMeasure allows for one to measure a room, door, window with your phone. HomeZada is your right hand man for home projects. With this application you can plan materials needed, your budget, and time line for a home improvement project as well set reminders for home maintenance.
Of course as with anything there are downsides to the technology as well. The Real Estate search sites are not always up to date and cause people to request houses that are under contract already or not see properties that are on the market when they come on the market, causing less time to be able to put an offer on a house that will sell quickly. Also the estimating algorithms of these sites have very limited data and can be greatly over or underestimating value. Right now about 8 out of 10 listings are undervalued by these estimation tools. This can cause buyers to offer unrealistically too low prices and not get a house or when overestimated offer a higher value than the property is worth and leave money on the table. For Sellers it can cause them to list too low and make less than they could or price too high and have the property sit on the market and sell for less than it would have if priced correctly. Also online home auctions have caused many to lose money being scammed and need to be used with caution.
Other recent technology innovations are the use of drones for aerial photography and videos of properties. Virtual home staging where the home may be empty of furniture but pictures online show it with furniture, making it more appealing.
A good real estate agent can see the features and condition of your property, pull comparable properties, know the appreciation and days on market trends, know the desirability of your neighborhood, and give you a much more accurate estimate of the value of a home.
The future of Real Estate Technology is very promising! It will continue to grow and offer many advantages to the market and professionals that service it. It is important to know the upsides and downsides. The younger generations are becoming a larger portion of the market and they are very comfortable with technology, leading to even quicker adoption and increased usage. Commercial Real estate is lacking in this technology and I believe that commercial Real Estate applications will eventually hit the market that could be disruptive to the two big players of CoStar and Loopnet.
It is always best to have a good Real Estate Agent by your side to educate, assist, negotiate, share trustworthy inspectors, lenders, etc., and be your advocate and protect your interests every step of the way. Technology is a tool and very useful, use it wisely and allow it to help not hinder you! If you have any experiences, comments, questions, please share through the blog or privately by contacting me directly.