How Tech Has Reshaped the World of Real Estate
By Anna Johansson
 

Most industries have undergone radical transformations in the past decade, thanks to the rapid development of new technology. But few industries have been changed as significantly as the real estate industry. Real estate agents, homebuyers, and current homeowners have all had to adapt to the new changes—and more changes are already on their way.

Let’s look at some of the biggest tech breakthroughs that have redefined this industry, and what the future of real estate could hold.

Online Listings

First and foremost, there’s the availability and increasing prevalence of online listings. Before the turn of the century, online listings were pretty much nonexistent; you’d have to drive through neighborhoods, view printed ads, and talk to real estate agents directly if you wanted to see which houses were available, and how much those houses were going for. These days, you can head to a major platform like Zillow or Trulia, and immediately see what prices homes are trending at in a particular neighborhood. Real estate agents are increasingly relying on these highly popular platforms to spread the word about their hottest listings, and some existing homeowners are trying to list their properties using these platforms on their own.

Overall, this has had several secondary effects. Homeowners and prospective home buyers feel more empowered than ever before, with thousands of data points at their fingertips. Real estate agents have more information they can use to accurately price and market their listings. And there’s more transparency in the buying and selling process, which is leading to faster and simpler negotiations.

Real Estate Licensing

It’s also now possible to get all the education and licensing you need to become a real estate agent online. Real estate licensing rules vary from state to state, but usually follow the same basic formula. It takes hundreds of hours of work, taking classes, studying the proper materials, and taking the exam to become a licensed real estate agent. But thanks to online accessibility, it’s now possible to complete that work from the comfort of your own home, on your own time. It’s leading to more people seeking real estate as a long-term career option—and thanks to the prevalence of online listings, it’s more viable than ever.

Virtual Tours

Though the technology is still in its infancy, a combination of devices and software can now facilitate virtual tours for most properties—including homes that haven’t even been built yet. Using 360-degree video and photography, interested buyers can “tour” a home across the country without leaving their home. They can also walk through a hypothetical design for a house that hasn’t been built yet. This greatly increases the accessibility and interest level for properties that might otherwise struggle to be sold. It also increases the buying potential of every interested buyer, since in-person tours aren’t always possible; this is the next-best thing.

Real Estate Flexibility

The availability of technology is also allowing property owners to use their properties in more innovative, interesting, and profitable ways. For example, thanks to platforms like Airbnb, it’s possible to rent out one of your spare rooms to people visiting your town temporarily, on vacation or for a major event. Thanks to the increasing prevalence of working from home, more people are looking for coworking spaces, and other areas where they can work remotely. If you’re interested in getting more money out of your property, there are far more options today than there were even a decade ago—and those options are only going to get more diverse from here.

Data Analytics and Customization

Real estate listing companies and real estate agencies are both working hard to gather more data for the industry overall, and thanks to the power of big data, it’s easier than ever. Companies can collect billions of data points on millions of people, studying their demographics, previous purchasing habits, and overall disposition, as well as the selling prices, marketability, and other factors associated with the properties in a given neighborhood. With the right software and the right data analysts, it’s possible to make intelligent predictions about consumer preferences, and come up with a strategy to sell them the best possible house, or help them sell their house to the best possible purchaser at the best possible price.

Toward the Future

Technology keeps advancing, thanks to the best efforts of engineers and innovators, and constant pushing from people within the industry. In another decade, we may look back at today’s tools and wonder how we managed with them. Overall, it’s likely that there will be more options to make use of real estate, more convenient channels for buyers and sellers, and more opportunities to get involved in the industry. Our need for property isn’t going anywhere, so technology could evolve indefinitely to improve its accessibility.