The Experts

Real estate of the future: the shift towards digital

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Since the advent of internet marketing and mobile technology in the 1990s, the nature of buying and selling has been turned on its head.

A huge range of digital platforms continue to change the method and pace of real estate transactions, with buyers and sellers more informed and better prepared than ever before and the best agents harnessing innovation to improve their marketing power and service style.  Specialised apps, price predictors, social media, free market research and cheap independent property reports available for purchase online have all worked to benefit the consumer.

Email, SMS, database marketing and big data has enabled agents to better engage with buyers and global property portals have expanded the audience for their listings. A raft of business software and bluetooth gadgetry has increased agents’ efficiency and shortened response times to enquiries.

As discussed in our 2017 McGrath Report, real estate technology began with search and has now extended to service. Consumers want a less stressful experience and are intolerant of agents who can’t provide it.

For example, the experience of opens is changing, with names and numbers still taken at the door but on an iPad that syncs with the agent’s phone and database for more effective follow-up.

Buyers can use apps to pre-register their attendance and skip the queue; and can request and receive a contract via email before they have even left the property.

Scores of small innovations are often quickly superseded. The evolution of the signboard provides an example – once a simple board, it was then given an overhead light, a QR code, then full background lighting and now touch screen.

Photos on a webpage are no longer enough, with 360-degree photography and fly-through technology providing a more complete perspective and the opportunity to inspect every part of a room.

Location analytics are helping buyers purchase in unfamiliar locations with greater confidence. Buyers can discover an area’s demographics, traffic data, property developments, points of interest, drive times, walk times and street and aerial views with ease.

And there is so much more to come.

According to CoreLogic’s Future of Real Estate Report*, push technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchains will be the next big tech trends in real estate.

Push technology will alert home hunters to nearby properties for sale and unlock special content to heighten their engagement. Virtual reality will provide an on-site experience for off-site clientele. VR stations in real estate offices will make open inspections an everyday convenience for buyers.

Artificial intelligence will use algorithms to help buyers search, all the while learning from each interaction to understand what the user really wants in their next home.

Blockchain technology and smart contracts will simplify the transaction process and automate procedures traditionally undertaken by intermediaries like banks and inspectors.

Platforms allowing customers to send a single loan request to a multitude of lenders will result in more competition and a better deal on finance for borrowers.

Technology will undoubtedly continue to raise clients’ expectations and the best agents are meeting this challenge through a more holistic approach, including building long term relationships with their clients and focusing more on ‘outcomes’ over simple sales transactions.

* Future of Real Estate and Property Finance Industries Report, CoreLogic, published April 13, 2016

^ Google Mobile Forum, 2016

# realestate.com.au Strategy Forum, 2016

** realestate.com.au Momentum, 2016

Published: Friday, January 27, 2017

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