Every day, new technologies are changing the way we shop, order food, and gather information. It is increasingly making its way into every industry, from retail to healthcare, to warehouses and distribution centers. Moreover, it is often replacing humans in favor of automation and AI. Think no-checkout Amazon Go stores and self-driving cars.
But how are new technologies making an impact on commercial real estate? Will robots replace brokers and agents? And what does the future look like for this industry?
Whether people like it or not, new technology is always going to push every industry to innovate, some faster than others. And smarter decision makers will look to take advantage and meet demand with new tech before others take notice.
Virtual and augmented reality devices are increasingly becoming a new tool for buyers when considering a real estate purchase. It not only gives the buyers a great way to see the property, it can also provide an interactive experience with a property still under construction.
Machine learning can turn data into patterns and insights for brokers and agents. By sorting through mountains of data, it can provide snapshot metrics in a few moments that would otherwise take an experienced broker much longer to complete. When done correctly, machine learning can indicate with better accuracy where the next up-and-coming neighborhood will be, provide valuation for properties, or predict when a system might break before any perceived failures.
Not a new tech, but the way it’s gathered is changing rapidly. With different platforms like social media, search engines, and mobile device tracking, brokers are now able to gather information to tell them who their clients are, where they are, and what they are interested in like never before.
No matter how far technology advances, there will always be the need for human interaction in real estate. Redfin’s CTO, Bridget Frey, spoke about the rise of automation in real estate.
“What we’ve seen is as we’ve automated pieces, our agents can actually spend more time providing personal service… That is the direction that our whole economy is going toward, this service economy.”
Technology has yet to replace the trust buyers have when looking at a potential property with an agent. Good agents are still needed to put the clients at ease by building relationships and giving buyers the luxury of a personalized service that machines can’t do.
Similar to the brick-and-mortar retail industry combating online shopping by providing a higher-level, more niche type of service, real estate will have to change as well.
As Frey said, real estate agents will need to shift from what homes are available to why should someone buy a specific home.
Agents in the future will dedicate more time to their client’s needs rather than filing papers and crunching numbers. The brokers and agents that use technology will have the advantage. Using tech, they can automate the process of gathering and managing data and focus more on providing a better experience for the buyer. Human interaction and the “art of selling” will be at the center, connecting the right client with the right location.