Perhaps real estate consumers saw the advantages of technology elsewhere. They saw how Uber streamlined the private transportation industry, how Airbnb democratized the hospitality industry, and how online marketplaces spurred competition and lowered consumer prices across the board.
In any case, around the mid-2010s, there was a vocal contingent of real estate consumers who were fed up with the status quo. Luckily, around this same time, several forward-thinking innovators started applying technology to solve common pain points in real estate, giving rise to (what we know today as) PropTech.
Short for “property technology,” these tools, platforms and concepts are radically reshaping a once-tech-phobic real estate industry. Below, discover how popular PropTechs are simplifying the home-buying process.
Finding an Agent in the Open Digital Marketplace
A leading light in the current PropTech landscape is Nobul, a real estate digital marketplace that recently topped Deloitte’s list of the fastest-growing tech companies.
Nobul founder Regan McGee had a simple but potent idea: give consumers the power in agent-buyer negotiations. Before Nobul, agents set the tone. They aggressively advertised, generated leads with sales-like tactics, pushed buyers toward decisions and hid pertinent information (like their transaction histories, verified reviews, etc.).
Nobul effectively disallows that by putting agents on an open digital marketplace. There, consumers can see transparent information about their realtor choice (like those sales histories and honest reviews). Nobul’s AI algorithm steers consumers toward agents that fit their criteria. And agents are then forced to compete for the buyer’s business by offering better services.
Browsing (and Viewing) Listings from the Comfort of Your Couch
The biggest shift in real estate over the past decade has been migrating MLS systems online. Before, the MLS (multiple listing services) was a physical, gate kept list of homes on the market in a given area. If a buyer wanted to see their options, they had to go through a realtor – or window shop at a nearby realtor’s office.
Online listing sites like Zillow, Redfin and Nobul (mentioned above) brought that information into the consumer’s home. Now, a buyer can peruse their exhaustive options, take virtual home tours and even book physical home viewings all from the comfort of their couch. And they can do it all before hiring an agent.
Easy Access to Educational and Empowering Resources
Real estate is a complex thing. It requires foreknowledge of several legal and administrative terms. It demands careful planning. And it favours buyers who keep a keen eye on the markets.
Before PropTech boomed, this knowledge was hard to acquire (it’s not like they teach real estate in high school). But now, PropTech companies are democratizing pivotal educational resources. A modern home buyer can find area-specific buying guides, mortgage comparison tools, affordability calculators, market conditions indicators, fast home valuation tools and much more. Using these tools, a homebuyer is better equipped to make smart, safe decisions. This is the largest purchase the average person makes, after all – it’s high time consumers found the education they sorely needed.
There are about a hundred other ways that PropTech is simplifying the home buying process: Blockchain-enabled contract storage, VR home tours, AI-powered neighbourhood hunting, e-signing platforms for better document management, etc. But the three examples listed above represent the most significant changes.