The dawn of the new decade is giving us a lot to be excited about. Of course, as a provider of residential real estate technology, it should come as no surprise that the evolving tech landscape tops our list of most promising new opportunities to come in the next year and beyond.
New and refined technology promises to make life easier for everyone involved in a real estate transaction. To see what we mean, we’ve provided a list below of a few time- and cost-saving technologies that are likely to become even more entrenched within the industry in 2020.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has been around in some capacity for decades. Yet it’s only in recent years that the technology has reached a level of sophistication that makes it suitable for consumer grade applications. As the name implies, AI is simply computer intelligence that can simulate human interaction. You’ve probably stumbled upon a chat bot popup on one of your favorite e-commerce sites that uses rudimentary AI, for example.
For real estate, the potential applications of AI are almost limitless. From helping answer client questions, to helping build long-term client relationships with AI-based customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, AI has become a popular aspect of many kinds of real estate tech. According to PwC, that’s no mere trend: it’s predicted that AI will add more than $15 trillion to the global GDP. That’s right, trillion.
In 2016, Inman held a fascinating experiment in which it pitted a bot designed to help users find a home vs. a real broker in a competition to determine which source a test user found to be most helpful. The result: the test user ended up choosing a home that was picked by the bot! That result shouldn’t be frightening, however; instead, the takeaway should be that AI is now ready to serve as a great complimentary resource for a live human. After all, we know that even the most sophisticated technology can never replace the personal touch a real estate professional provides.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
What do you envision when you first hear the words “virtual reality?” If you’re like most people of a certain age, you probably envision teenagers wearing bulky helmets as they engage in a video game that only they can see. But virtual reality’s explosion in popularity is quickly adding to the host of potential experiences VR can offer and that now includes applications that will be of great interest to the residential real estate industry.
For example, VR can now give would-be buyers a 360° view of a property, allowing for home “walkthroughs” right from the comfort of their own home. Naturally, nothing beats the experience of viewing a home in person, but VR is offering a great way for buyers to narrow down their list of prospective homes. Sellers agents who want to offer a VR experience for their clients are in luck: as technology marches on, the cost of 360° cameras have dropped considerably in the last few years, no longer consigning them to use only for luxury listings.
Augmented reality (AR) has likewise grown in popularity thanks to improving technology. AR uses a smartphone or tablet like a viewfinder, juxtaposing a real time view of whatever the smartphone camera is showing along with superimposed computer-generated imagery. Real estate agents have begun to leverage AR as a powerful tool for staging, allowing them to show an otherwise empty home as though it was full of furniture rendered at a true-to-life scale.
Like AI, VR and AR are great compliments to the service provided by real estate professionals, but it’s unlikely to ever supplant that service entirely. Clients rely on the real-life expertise that even the most complex algorithm cannot replicate.
The Automated Office
Automation has become an essential part of the office experience in most industries and nowhere is that truer than in real estate. Results from the Ultimate Software 2016 National Study on Satisfaction at Work make it plain why this is so: 92 percent of respondents said that having access to technology necessary to do their job efficiently affects their work satisfaction.
Unlike automation in many other industries, technology that automates common tasks in real estate isn’t seen as a job-stealing existential threat; rather, it’s being recognized for its role in creating new efficiencies in day-to-day operations while allowing its beneficiaries to refocus their efforts on other tasks that are better uses of their time.
You don’t have to look far to see the benefits of automation in action: the further adoption of the ShowingTime Appointment Center in 2019 along with the success of the new message taking service ShowingTime Live Connect both highlight how real estate professionals are increasingly receptive to leveraging technology to remove the burden of common tasks like showing management and call answering. Their overwhelming conclusion: automation gives them more control of their business, not less.
Technology is always evolving, so it’s easy to get lost in all the changes and flashy advertising. We find that the best way to differentiate between costly gimmicks and technology that will stand the test of time is by judging it against the same unchanging principles of good business. If the technology solves a clear issue or inefficiency, can be used with little additional training and has built a loyal following of users, it’s a safe bet that it’s tech that will endure. That’s the principle that ShowingTime has been following for more than two decades and it’s served more than 950,000 real estate professionals well during that time.
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