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Real estate technology has revolutionized how consumers approach their property transactions. If you don’t believe it, just look at the landscape a decade ago. Before around 2010, real estate transactions were primarily a manual, paperwork-laden process. From finding the right real estate agent to searching for a dream home, attending viewings, to managing your documents – the journey was long, arduous and replete with inefficiencies.

But then real estate got its act together, so to speak. Sensing the winds changing in other industries (like retail, healthcare, legal services, etc.), real estate practitioners could no longer deny the disruptive innovations bubbling below the industry surface. And neither could consumers, impressed by technological advancements in other facets of life.

Fast-forward to today: Real estate technology is a significant, empowering force for modern buyers and sellers. At every step in the transactional journey, a buyer or seller can leverage cutting-edge technology for a more transparent, accessible, convenient and preferential experience.

This article details a few tools, platforms and technological classes elevating the buying and selling experiences.

Real Estate Digital Marketplaces: Enforcing Agent Transparency

Let’s start at the beginning of the consumer journey: finding a real estate agent. A decade ago, it was a “shot-in-the-dark” process. You might rely on a recommendation from a colleague. You might dial up the phone number on a highway billboard or late-night TV commercial. But at no point could you verify the quality and experience of the agent in question. For that matter, you couldn’t even see their commission rates or transaction histories. With your hard-earned down payment in hand, you had to take the ultimate leap of faith.

Thankfully, the industry is more transparent now. With the advent of Nobul, the modern buyer/seller can vet their agents properly – with a complete list of stats and figures at their disposal. Nobul is the world’s first (and only) real estate digital marketplace aimed at empowering consumers. On Nobul, a buyer or seller can access actionable information on agents and use the company’s proprietary AI-driven algorithm to find agents that match their criteria. According to the company’s CEO, Regan McGee, “We are here to bring (the real estate industry) into the 21st century.”

Listings Websites and the Impact of E-Commerce

After engaging a real estate agent, it’s time to start looking for a dream home. At this point, a buyer living two decades might have ceded control to their real estate agent. They would wait for physical listings to appear in a bound portfolio, at which point they might peruse basic information on each property to reach a decision.

There were three problems with the old model. One, it was time-intensive waiting on your next meeting with the real estate agent to see if anything good was out there. Two, the listings were often sparse on details and photographs. And three, you could never be certain whether you were seeing every available property on the market or just a curated cross-section.

Unsurprisingly, this dynamic started changing around the e-commerce boom. Consumers accustomed to shopping online started demanding a similar experience with real estate shopping. They wanted their options laid out in front of them. They wanted specs, photos, and even videos. And they weren’t willing to suffer through intermediary gatekeepers like brokerages.

Now, several listing sites exist to offer a transparent survey of the market. Zillow and Redfin are the two most prominent, but others are just as good. Even end-to-end platforms like Nobul (mentioned above) incorporate listing services as part of their consumer-centric offerings.

Free Digital Resources and The Empowered Consumer

The next step in the consumer journey is self-education. What can you afford? What’s the value of your property? Are you in a seller’s or buyer’s market?

Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, these questions weren’t easy to answer before technology democratized information. A buyer or seller had to make several stops – at the bank, the appraiser’s office, their agent’s office, etc. – to even start answering them.

Now, you can find a plethora of online educational resources, including:

  •   Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) or Free Home Estimators that use sophisticated algorithms to determine the potential value of your property
  •   Mortgage Comparison Tools that help you find the best rates
  •   Affordability Calculators that let you crunch the numbers on monthly expenses so you aren’t over-leveraged or buying beyond your means
  •   Market Conditions Indicators and Buying Guides that describe the type of market you’re entering (buyer’s market, seller’s market or balanced).
  •   And More…

These resources demystify the real estate process. Used as “informational training wheels,” they help turn novice real estate consumers into educated, empowered investors.

Immersive Technology: Elevated Viewings for Remote Buyers

Previously, if you needed to buy remotely, you relied on pictures and agent reportage. As such, not many people bought sight unseen; those that did understand the significant gamble inherent.

Then COVID hit. Suddenly, remote buying was no longer a gamble but a necessity. And the real estate industry turned to immersive technologies to facilitate the process.

Technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, drone photography and 360-degree home tours simulate the home viewing experience for prospective buyers who can’t attend physically. Not only have these technologies made real estate more accessible (catering to people with mobility issues, etc.), but they’ve given all consumers a convenient way to “tour” several homes in a single afternoon. Like the technologies above, immersive tech is another way the industry is improving its transparency.

You might sense a through line in the sections above – namely, that various technologies have helped kick the real estate industry into the 21st century. Once a laborious experience, buying and selling real estate is now streamlined and transparent. Thanks to digital marketplaces, listings sites, online resources and immersive technology, the modern consumer is more empowered than ever.

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