Renowned futurist Thomas Frey is quoted as saying, “If you change your vision of the future, you will also change the way you make decisions today.” Frey, whose insights into the field of futurology have caught the attention of global companies like Google, IBM and AT&T, shared a similar sentiment last week at this year’s Innovation, Opportunity and Investment (iOi) Summit, where he discussed the future of real estate.
Organized by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the annual conference welcomed professionals from all over the country to explore the latest groundbreaking ideas in the world of PropTech.
Topics ranged widely from non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to affordable housing to insurance, with presenters that included former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, former Realtor.com CEO Ryan O’Hara and Million Dollar Listing: New York star Fredrik Eklund taking the stage to champion innovation over adaptation.
EQTY CEO Mike Shapiro, who led a discussion on correlative behaviors between asset classes and residential real estate, said one of the main takeaways from the conference was that “the real estate business is looking for an evolution to bring them forward. They’re looking for tools and efficiencies to drop costs and increase transactional volume.”
Couldn’t make it to the event? Here are three big ideas to come out of this year’s iOi Summit.
Behind the scenes, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the process by which industries gather and analyze data, and real estate is no different. Algorithms can go through millions of public documents in seconds, looking through property values, debt levels and home renovations to best match buyers with the right home and mortgage.
With the vast majority of listings living on some form of a digital platform, the work of collecting and monitoring data can become more efficient than ever, thanks to machine learning (ML).
From photos alone, automated image analysis like Amazon’s Rekognition can extract and organize information on a property, such as the presence of a fireplace, swimming pool or French doors—data that can be used to understand consumer trends or best sort the listing online. For homebuyers, this would mean more accurate and specialized searches.
In addition to data extraction, these image and video analysis services can also detect and moderate unwanted content, providing a moderating tool for online platforms. Moderation tools are handy for real estate platforms featuring user-generated content.
Mortgage processing can also be made quicker and easier with the support of AI, which can detect errors instantly and verify the information to prevent fraud.
As many agents will tell you, half the battle when closing a property is getting clients to step inside and look around for themselves. Now, with advancements in virtual reality (VR), buyers can see a property without ever having to their front door.
Fueled partly by early pandemic lockdowns and social distancing, the need for virtual replicas has remained a priority for commercial and residential developers and brokers who are just beginning to unlock this burgeoning technology’s potential.
Known as a digital twin, this immersive 3D model allows homebuyers to interact with a property, including those that have yet to be built.
While the concept is nothing new, recent advancements have been significant, with sophisticated digital twin technology now more accessible and affordable than ever.
Companies like Matterport, a 3D media startup, are bringing products to the market that will allow brokerages of all sizes to utilize this increasingly popular technology. Products include 3D scanning and 360-degree cameras as well as motorized mounts that enable 3D scanning with a mobile.
For developers, digital twins could allow for the most cost-effective and eco-friendly means of construction and early detection of previously unforeseen problems.
Real Estate Indexing
In previous and present schools of thought, real estate has often been treated as separate from other asset classes. However, some experts, such as Mike Shapiro, argue this shouldn’t be the case.
Instead, Shapiro asserted a counterpoint that, by understanding correlations between residential real estate and asset classes, such as equities, pricing could be more accurately understood and thus the market as a whole.
Just as publicly traded companies are indexed, real estate can be organized into various silos, which can then be used in investing, predicting or hedging, Shapiro shared.
For example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which reflects the 30 most prominent companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, can be compared to premier communities like Beverly Hills or Manhattan. In the same line of thinking, the heavy growth associated with stocks listed on the NASDAQ composite can be tied to markets like Austin or Nashville.
With these correlations in mind, insurance companies, appraisers, banks, and real estate agents may well have a more prescient understanding of pricing.