Real estate tech is an emerging industry that has seen a rise in investment, innovation and demand in recent years. CB Insights — a venture capital database — shows that funding in real estate tech businesses jumped from $300 million in 2012 to $1.5 billion in 2015. That’s more than a 350 per cent increase in a field that’s been dominated by in-person relationships.
This money is being sunk into real estate tech companies that are changing the experience of buying a home, from listing services to virtual viewings to property management software.
This could be a good thing. Startups are leading the charge in real estate innovation by reshaping how properties are bought, managed and sold. Apps like Casalova, Canada’s first end-to-end real estate rental platform, guides tenants to their next rental home and matches them to potential neighbourhoods — allowing them to search for listings, secure a unit and pay for rent, all online. More recently, the company has expanded into the selling market, allowing customers to find a property they like, book a viewing, and make an offer — also all online.
These innovations in real estate are pushing agents to be more accountable – agents are shifting from being salespeople to feeling a need to be experts in their field. Platforms are being designed with the agent in mind, especially one looking to develop new business and clients. Buyer trends and emerging tech make it necessary for agents and landlords to adapt if they intend on closing new clients or managing rentals and bookings on the go.
Due to the current private state of the multiple listing service (MLS) — a suite of services used by brokers to share property information with other agents who may represent potential buyers — the model for buying a property is the same as 50 years ago: you work with a certified professional who supplies listings that meet your criteria, gives you access to a property, shows you around and provides an educated opinion.
It’s an industry ripe for change, and many startups are finding loopholes to capitalize on the opportunity. Tech platforms that allow users to feel more empowered about the decisions they’re making are sealing deals and gaining traction at record levels.
With increased access to data, homebuyers now have all the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision. This forces real estate professionals to reinvent their role. Agents won’t become obsolete, but being the sole proprietor of information is no longer a competitive advantage. As selling and buying will always hinge on emotional factors and in-person relationships, agents have the opportunity to become better facilitators by adopting new tech platforms in order to remain relevant in the marketplace. More than ever, high level marketing and negotiating skills have become essentials in the realtor’s value proposition.
The real estate industry is building platforms that lead consumers online for property searches, keeping them there for essential post sale services. The industry is focused on algorithms and A I, building smart systems intended to replace the face to face experience and emotion of a home sale or purchase. Will the real estate industry go too far with tech and hurt itself in the process, or will relationships prevail?
Are we forgetting the art of developing, maintaining and nurturing relationships? Are we missing out on the value of human skill, compassion, experience and emotion?!
Let’s invest in the existing relationships with our clients. Let’s support them, nurture them, respect them and develop them into a continuous cycle of loyal clients. Let’s provide them with service that exceeds expectations, let’s understand and preempt their needs and provide them with everything they and a relationship relies on, in order to thrive.
- If I am to believe that technology and AI will and is replacing face to face, person to person interaction, and the exceptional delivery and reward of a customer service experience, then I will be retracting from and betraying a 25 year career that has proven otherwise.