12 Real Estate Game Changers Of The 21st Century
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In the year 2000, who would've thought that we could view floor plans, tour homes, exit a lease, even trade and buy real estate stock—all while walking the dog? (Yes, the smartphone will do that for you.) Yet 16 years later, here we are. Let's take a look at some of the groundbreaking advancements we've seen in real estate over the past decade and a half.
Smartphones and Data Apps
At first, cellphones were devices for fancy businessmen, hanging out of a briefcase. Today the phrase "there's an app for that" has never been more adequate for the real estate industry.
With the rise of real estate tech, apps like Compstak and Fulcrum help investors make informed decisions by collecting information on properties, and letting them create interactive maps and conduct inspections.
When Google acquired Google Earth in 2004, it might not have imagined that it could set the stage for a new world of real estate. But with the launch of listing sites like StreetEasy and Zillow (coming up next), the feature proved to be a game changer. Today pros can use the 3D features of Google Earth to get an idea of what the view will be like from their building, and create cool visuals for clients or for their website.
Then, Google Maps launched in 2005, so real estate developers could scout sites, everyday homebuyers could check out the area, and brand-new New Yorkers could find their way home after walking around in a panic for an hour...not that we know anything about that.
Google maps dropped its real estate listings functionality in 2011, chalking it up to a failed experiment, but people can still use the site to look up listings, build and share custom maps, and check out the view from the street. Real estate pros can also incorporate the Google Maps API into their website, so visitors can browse listings with the map features.
Loopnet, StreetEasy and Zillow
StreetEasy's launch in 2005 sparked a new way to search (and list) properties. For starters, you no longer have to pick up that apartment guide on the way out of the grocery store to see what inventory is available. These new websites let homebuyers see what's out there, providing information like home values and neighborhood amenities, along with some comps. StreetEasy even looked out for victims in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The trend caught on, even spilling over into the commercial real estate sector with sites like LoopNet.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Smart home products, like the Nest thermostat or Amazon Echo, can do everything from adjusting the lights to turning on your favorite song. And with beacon technology, homeowners can enjoy customized settings that adjust to their needs as they walk from room to room. (Yes, we're finally getting to live like Bill Gates back in the '90s.)
The IoT is not just for the homeowner either. For instance, the Realty Beaconapp allows buyers near a home with a beacon to look up more details on the listing. Beacon technology also allows house hunters to tour a model home on their phone or tablet, and it helps retailers advertise in real time. In the future, Internet-connected devices could help buyers and realtors stay connected after the sale, so if there's ever a disaster or household issue, pros can make recommendations.
The birth of the zero net energy (ZNE) home has not only been good for the environment but for your wallet, as well. Technological advances are making this a possibility and a priority with features like PV arrays, rainwater collection, green roofs, solar thermal panels, and efficient heat recovery ventilation systems (HRV).
If we're talking about innovations in real estate, we have to give a nod to all the hotels and apartment complexes popping up that cater to a specific clientele's needs. Accommodating Fido has become just as important as meeting your needs, which is evident by the number of dog runs, dog spas and dog washes available. There are also hotels that cater to Millennials and developments that focus on health and wellness, like Deepak Chopra's building at 66 East 11th St in New York, which boasts Vitamin C-infused showers, filtered air and water, and a circadian lighting system.
We love looking at photos of beautiful listings, but what's even better is a decked out 3D model. That's where sites like Matterport come into play. 3D models let homebuyers experience the home in a whole new way (a way that is likely more persuasive than a 2D rendering). 3D and VR also allow remote construction teams to work more effectively, and check on a building's progress. It can even be used by insurance companies to survey damaged property after a disaster.
It's controversial, but that's just because it's so disruptive. Airbnb has taken the hospitality industry by storm since it launched in 2008. Now people can offer their own homes as temporary lodging, and make some money while they're at it. And while legislators are busy butting heads with the burgeoning brand, Airbnb is busy taking over the world.
Since we're already in sharing mood, what about co-working spaces? WeWork is another sharing economy staple that just keeps getting bigger. Co-founders Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann (pictured) created a company that provides flexible co-working space for startups and small businesses, so there's no need to commit to a lengthy and expensive lease. And with a brand-new $16B(!) valuation, it's just getting started.
Real Estate Crowdfunding
Thanks to startups like Fundrise and Patch of Land, you no longer have to be rolling in the dough to invest in property. The 2012 passage of the JOBS Act, and subsequent updates have opened the floodgates, allowing John and Jane Doe to access prime real assets the same way you do the stock market—and with as little as $1k to start. And, oh yeah, they can do it all right from their tablet.
It's almost like the remote control car you played with as a child got an upgrade and some wings, then your dad "borrowed" it and turned it into a productivity tool. Yes, one of the greatest innovations in real estate is a toy. Let's say you want to get an aerial view of a property or you want to check out the surrounding area and any neighborhood amenities. This advanced "toy" can get the job done efficiently, and for much less than hiring a professional with expensive equipment. Expect to see more drone photos and video once the FAA solidifies regulations.
We keep talking about the convenience of real estate info on your laptop or mobile device, but the future is wearable technology, and the future is already here. The Apple Watch can be a real estate professional's best friend, keeping you plugged in with features like instant notifications, social media management options, and speaking functions so you can answer the phone by speaking into your wrist. You'll feel like a real-life James Bond. And as a slightly sneaky bonus: you can check for updates during business meetings without appearing bored or disrespectful. But don't tell anyone you heard that from us.