Real estate agents who expect to remain competitive, let alone maintain an edge on their biggest rivals, must recognize the evolving capabilities of technology. You must embrace the changes it has already brought to the table and the many improvements that will undoubtedly occur in the months to come.
This year, we’re looking at some pretty impressive tech trends that will boost the experience for both the agent and the client. Here are four trends that are especially worth watching as we close in on the new year.
1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
A very popular home trend among buyers is the ability to tour a potential home virtually through online 3D representations. Interested parties may click through an interactive photo platform that shows off the residence from every angle: up, down, left, right, and diagonally.
There’s also an emerging trend of using virtual reality goggles from Samsung or Oculus Rift that give the viewer a fully immersive experience. As the wearer leans forward or shifts directions, you can feel as if you’re actually walking through and exploring the space without leaving the realtor’s office.
2. 3D Printing
3D printing brings the concept of manufactured homes to a brand-new, unprecedented level. There has been much talk about using 3D printers to print homes after natural disasters for immediate relief aid.
The printed homes would be very simple but offer enough insulation to protect residents from the elements until they could move into a real home.
A Chinese manufacturer WinSun claims it can print real, secure homes for people to live in permanently. In 2014, WinSun claimed to have printed 10 fully functional homes in just 24 hours, which is a clear record.
In January of this year, the firm also claimed to have printed a six-story apartment complex with one of its machines.
It’s unlikely these structures will make WinSun wealthy just as they are. In no way do these buildings qualify as luxury residences, and they lack some of the comforts of a modern home.
But this technology has opened a door that will be increasingly hard to close as manufacturers devise ways to build bona fide residences in a fraction of the time it takes to build a home today.
3. Big Data
With the help of big data, an ambiguous term used to describe the copious amounts of information generated from online interactions in any given industry, agents can better understand the clients they’re working with. Such data can be analyzed to determine likes and dislikes, and even help with the screening process for potential buyers or tenants.
Data is also used in marketing and online selling processes. It gathers information that clarifies how an agent should proceed with the sale of a home. The information continues to grow, and real estate professionals must constantly learn how to use the information if they want to stay competitive.
4. The Internet of Things (IoT)
Big data and the IoT are intertwined concepts that have altered everything from marketing homes to making them more comfortable. The IoT connects the details of people’s daily lifestyle to the internet, which generates information that’s useful for marketing, sales, and tenant interactions.
The IoT is also the basis for smart homes. Furniture and appliances can 'talk' to the owner and perform simple automated tasks for convenience. Applications within the home can be easily integrated with one another, smart thermostats can lower utility bills, smartphones can be used to turn off water and lock doors remotely, and people may unlock their house simply by waving the phone in front of the lock.
These trends are spreading more rapidly than many realtors know. Professionals who ignore the potential of technology will find themselves outdated and overmatched in the future by people who carefully watched and embraced all the trends as they came up.