Making Housing Smarter
In the past few decades, technology has changed everything about the business world, but it’s been slow to edge its way into real estate. Partially this is due to the industry itself and its resistance to change, but also the saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it comes into play. While one could certainly make an argument for real estate being broken (this article comes to mind), technology doesn’t only serve to fix things. It also aims to improve the current workflow, and to streamline the existing process.
When most people think of real estate technology, they think of smart homes. The term has come to include all devices that feature an internet connection, the idea being that you can control your house’s major functions on your phone from anywhere. These are called IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and can include everything from refrigerators that track what’s inside to outlets you can remotely turn off.
Much has been written about our IoT future, but with big names like Amazon, Apple, and Google still duking it out to see who will come out on top of the smart speaker battle (speakers often serve as the basis of a smart home setup), nothing is set in stone. This means it’s a still rather daunting world for non tech-savvy consumers to get into, though many apartment buildings are including IoT devices in their units in an effort to stand out. Take Tribeca in St. Louis, for example, who recently installed Engrain products and includes smart locks and IoT thermostats in all of their apartments.
You may not have heard of blockchain, but you’ve undoubtedly heard of Bitcoin, the divisive new form of digital currency whose evaluation has been drastically up and down over the last few months. Blockchain is the underlying technology behind Bitcoin, and it has a lot of developers excited for its ability to create a decentralized and secure database. If blockchain takes off in the way that many imagine, it could drastically reduce the potential for fraud in real estate deals.
Exciting though the possibilities are, blockchain for now is a rather untapped resource. Once the technology is further built out, it potentially has applications in almost every industry, and could especially simplify real estate transactions by making it a lot more secure to send property and client data.
New Ways to Visualize
Thanks to rampant housing prices in major cities, homeownership is actually on the decline in much of the country. With more people looking to live in apartments, there are greater needs for those communities to set themselves apart, and the struggle starts before the building even opens. Using rendered architect images, some communities are including photo galleries on their websites to lure prospective residents. In times where a leasing agent isn’t around, large touchscreen displays can help tell the story with self-guided digital property tours. Being able to share what the community is planned to look like can be invaluable in meeting early lease-up goals.
The rise of drone technology also has huge ramifications for real estate. In this Instagram era of online activity, visuals matter more than anything, and drones offer a unique perspective since most of us can’t fly. Real estate agents are seeing huge returns with drone photography, and it’s only a matter of time before the multifamily and senior living markets decide to commit to providing a bird’s eye view of their properties.