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Over the last two decades, the real estate industry has experienced significant changes. These changes are due to the influx of new technologies and advancements that benefit many stakeholders, including agents, brokers, developers, property managers, investors, homeowners and entrepreneurs. The name that we give collectively to the synergy between technology and real estate is proptech.
Below are the four most significant ways in which this innovative technology has disrupted the real estate industry.
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The lack of transparency and sometimes accountability has been a long-standing problem in the real estate market, with no easy solution. At the same time, solving this challenge is of utmost importance as real estate concerns everyone. All of us need places to live in, work at and so on.
However, the root of this problem lies in the very nature of real estate. As such a large market (currently valued at $3.69 trillion), real estate has sizable capital requirements that few can traditionally afford. In addition, although it may not look this way from the outside, the real estate space is rather limited and only accessible to a relatively small number of professionals. For the average person, real estate processes and deals have always been notoriously convoluted and obscure.
Thanks to the changes it’s been bringing to the residential and commercial real estate market, proptech has made major advancements in this regard. The accelerated access to data, widespread use of technology tools and enhanced feasibility of fractional property ownership have largely contributed to growing transparency and accountability in the industry. Real estate trends, analyses, deals and operations are now much more transparent than just a few short years ago.
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Providing real estate access to just about anyone
Proptech’s contribution resulted in another major disruption in real estate. By enabling data, analysis and investment access to the average person, proptech has opened the door for just about anyone to enter and participate in the industry.
With the help of tech-based tools, even those with limited knowledge and experience can take part in real estate transactions. For example, the advancement of CRM, analysis, virtual reality and deal-closing online platforms has lowered the barriers to entry for real estate agents and brokers. As a result, the number of licensed realtors in the U.S. alone increased from 1 million in 2011 to 1.56 million in 2021. This is a growth of more than 50% over the course of only ten years.
Similarly, while investing in real estate has always been a tempting idea for millions of Americans, many were left out of this profitable strategy due to a lack of sufficient financial resources, market knowledge, data access or even time. In the last decade, we have seen a surge in the number of technology tools that address each of these challenges and more. Therefore, we can expect the number of small-scale, beginner real estate investors to grow exponentially in the coming years.
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Breaking the monopoly of big players
On the flip side, another way that this innovative technology is changing the face of real estate is by putting an end to the monopoly of big players. Traditionally, real estate has been dominated by a few large corporations and moguls that control each aspect of the industry such as development, brokerage, investing, market analysis or property management. The reason is simple — very large barriers to entry that only some could cross.
As smaller players are now able to participate across the different segments of real estate, this is inevitably challenging the dominance of the traditional major stakeholders. While they might understandably feel threatened by this flipping reality, it will be beneficial for everyone if the industry becomes more accessible, transparent and democratic. The entry of new players will inevitably lead to accelerated growth within the industry, thus opening more opportunities for everyone involved.
Boosting productivity and profitability
Last but not least, proptech has forever transformed the way of doing business in real estate by raising productivity and profitability. This is arguably the most significant advantage that disruptive technology has brought to real estate professionals.
Investors, for instance, formerly needed months of research, data collection and analysis in order to find a single profitable deal. Now with the help of certain real estate tech tools based on big data and AI, they can locate good deals within a few minutes — whether they are interested in residential or commercial properties, the ownership of entire buildings or parts of properties.
Similarly, being a landlord and short-term rental property host used to resemble a full-time job between writing contracts, dealing with tenants, setting up rental rates, collecting rent, managing finances and all of the other tasks. Now, there are dozens of platforms that help automate and streamline the rental property management process.
The day-to-day work of agents, brokers, property managers, lenders and others has also been expedited and facilitated in a similar manner. The end result is that real estate professionals — as well as amateurs — can complete their duties much faster and more efficiently, all while making more profitable decisions about how to operate their businesses.
As a firm believer in the importance of technology across the board (but especially in real estate), I am confident that we are far from reaching the full potential of disruption in this industry. I expect these four proptech trends to continue developing in the coming years. , And, new disruptions will continue to emerge as so many entrepreneurs are eager to carry on with the democratization of real estate.