When you sit back and try to imagine what will inspire the next phase in the evolution of mankind, the first thing that comes to mind is technology. Technology has been changing the way we communicate since the 19th century, and up until now, it looks as though there are milestones to cover.
It’s also been an enormous influence in the medical industry, as well as the finance sector, among others. The list is long, so it’s better to say that technology is everywhere. Even in areas that you wouldn’t normally think of, such as real estate.
How so? You may ask. Well, ideally, people want to put everything inside a computer, including property. Welcome to the information age.
Forget Virtual Reality, Meet Virtual Realtors
Does Zillow ring a bell? Or are you more familiar with Trulia? It could be that you prefer Realtor.com instead, but these three form what is beginning to look like just the tip of the iceberg. At least that is what one of the biggest real estate website designers OWDT believes to be the case.
According to OWDT, a leading website developer based in Houston, Texas, the services provided by the likes of Zillow and Trulia have opened new opportunities in the 'virtual' real estate market. The amount and the quality of data that third party real estate platforms can obtain from Zillow helps them to customize information on their websites to match the interests of their users.
Currently, any real estate agent setting up a website will ask their developers to consider various data sharing features such as API (Application Program Interface) to enable them to utilize the data provided with ease. This means that even the smallest real estate agency out there can now provide customized services to its clients.
Here we are talking about things like online deal placement, agreement, and closing. Cloud services such as Dropbox and Evernote allow people to easily upload and share documents in seconds. And with nearly all information about properties available on the web, the real estate market is slowly becoming a major segment of the technology industry.
Isn’t this how fintech, now one of the most rapidly growing segments of the finance and technology sectors started off? Some footprints detected.
Either way, as the number of players in this tech-rich segment of the real estate market continues to increase, comparisons will grow.
There are several platforms now providing real estate information that have no direct ties to the industry—and Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com have played a huge part in what has been branded as a startup binge in 'virtual' real estate. Technology and real estate are inspiring innovation.
Now off the web, what’s happening on the ground?
Is the intersection of technology, innovation and real estate limited to web platforms? That would appear to be the case from the onset, but when you investigate deeper, you will realize that it cuts across all levels, especially in commercial real estate.
Due to the ease of securing office space via online booking, the demand for co-working spaces has increased tremendously. Today, you can easily rent an office space for a day or even a few hours without complaints from the realtor. The flexibility created by using online platforms to book and pay for office space means that realtors can easily allocate various time frames for different clients.
As such, more real estate dealers are now ensuring that a significant percentage of their commercial real estate includes co-working space. This new segment of the commercial real estate market has attracted the interest of all types of customers including small tech startups, freelance consultants, and large companies such as KPGM, Microsoft, HSBC, Cisco, and Menlo Innovation, reports the London Office Space Blog.
This means that realtors and tenants are all willing to embrace the unstoppable change that is now shaping the real estate market. This idea of sharing space is also what inspired the creation of popular online marketplace and hospitality services App, Airbnb. It has since grown to become one of the biggest companies in the hospitality industry.
Not all changes are positive, or are they?
Just like technology has done to every other industry it has had an influence on, many people have lost their jobs in the real estate market as companies adopt automation.
In addition, even as the real estate market continues to grow, some realtors are losing business as companies and various tenants look to reduce their rents.
Telecommuting is one of the most popular terms in the business environment. And while it has its risks, many companies are beginning to accept it. In fact, some of them have already reported massive cost cuts on rent and other related overheads attached to in-office employees.
For instance, this article published on the World Economic Forum reports that Health insurer Aetna, which has used remote work as an employee retention tool for more than 20 years has managed to reduce office space by more than 2 million square feet, resulting in annual savings of about $78 million.
Many other companies have employed the same measures of telecommuting, especially those operating in the cloud computing market such as Oracle, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce. Applications such as Skype have also facilitated the implementation of overseas conferencing thereby helping companies to grow globally without incurring excessive costs associated with office rental.
Educational institutions do not have to build extra teaching blocks to accommodate all qualifying international students. They can save property costs by utilizing various technologies to provide online courses via virtual tutoring.
In the end, it looks like while some might not be happy with all the changes that technology is making to the real estate market, there is always someone smiling on the other side. That is the case of Realtors and companies looking to cut costs through telecommuting.
There is an old saying that necessity is the mother of invention. In the modern world, technology is the mother of innovation. It looks as if every sector is trying to explore ways of leveraging advances in technology to bring efficiency to the market. The Real Estate market may not have been among the early adopters of this paradigm shift, but based on recent developments, it is catching up fast.