Technology is disrupting the real estate industry as it has done in countless other industries. For many, it’s been a long time coming.
The real estate industry is Infamous for its opacity and impenetrability, its strenuousness and reliance on manual processes. As new tech innovators and mavericks move into the space, it has been exciting to see creative solutions to these enduring problems.
If you have a vested interest in real estate, technology – or both – here are a few lessons to take away from the current technological disruption in real estate. Lessons about what consumers value, what the industry needs, and what will and will not change.
Consumers Want Transparency and Accountability
Disruptive ideas tend to mirror and address long standing grievances in the consumer experience. And real estate is no different. Real estate consumers have long felt left out of important information and essential resources – seated at the proverbial “kids table.” In the past, it was challenging to find open listings, trustworthy agent reviews, consumer-focused educational resources, etc.
Therefore, one of proptech’s central projects has been to democratize information in the real estate industry. On the bleeding edge of this movement is Nobul, a real estate digital marketplace that’s baldly pro-consumer.
According to CEO Regan McGee, “Nobul brings choice, accountability and transparency to an industry that has – for decades – been widely regarded by homebuyers as opaque and challenging.” He told Superb Crew, “Anytime you bring innovative technology to the table that can make the process easier, it will be viewed as disruptive.”
In the Complex Homebuying Process, Convenience Is Disruptive
Technological disruption thrives on dissatisfaction and complexity. One of the ways disruptors gain a foothold in an industry is by examining needlessly complicated processes and working out how to simplify them (see McGee’s quote above).
To the benefit of some disruptive innovators, the real estate industry is awash in inconveniences. The mortgage process has typically been convoluted, protracted and low-tech. Consumers were expected to take responsibility for a litany of diffuse physical documents. And independently comparing properties was once a demanding task.
In the past half-decade, several proptech companies emerged to add convenience to the complex homebuying process. Artificial intelligence and machine learning companies have revolutionized the mortgage industry by enabling fast, easy approvals (See Quicken Loans and Pine). E-signing an agreement management companies like DocuSign make organization far simpler. And several online listings companies have disrupted the old system of gate kept MLSs in real estate.
Disruptive Innovation Won’t Replace a Quality Real Estate Professional
The last important lesson to take away is that, while technological disruption is revolutionary in the real estate industry, it poses no existential threat to practitioners.
Despite strides toward convenience, real estate transactions remain inherently knotty; there are several moving parts, logistical hoops to jump and dotted lines to sign. Moreover, it’s the single largest transaction most people will make in their lives. Because those two facts remain incontestable (and probably will regardless of revolutionary proptech innovations), quality real estate agents will remain in high demand.
McGee shared that he doesn’t think agents will ever be replaced by technology, which is a concern for some in the industry. “Buyers will continue to want big, personal decisions to be facilitated by professional, knowledgeable and most importantly effective agents.”
As technological disruption grips the real estate industry, it’s important to remember that these advancements are transparent, consumer-centric and positive for quality practitioners.