3 ways tech will transform real estate in 2018

by Kelly McCabe

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2017 was full of innovation that altered the real estate industry — from apps that boost agent safety to an even greater reliance on websites with online listings and tours — but 2018 is poised to bring about even more change. Whether serving clients or agents, there are several ways experts say technology will make an impact this year. Here are three key developments to expect:

Chatbots crank up reality

Mobile messaging is the most popular method of communication around the world. In fact, a 2016 survey of 6,000 consumers around the world revealed that 9 of 10 respondents want to use messaging to communicate with brands, and real estate is finally embracing the use of chatbots as a method to increase lead generation and improve customer service.

For some clients, making a call to an agent or brokerage is too much effort and sending an email seems like a fruitless option, as the correspondence may just fall through the digital cracks. By engaging with consumers as soon as they land on an agent’s or company’s homepage, chatbots can help reel them in and lay the groundwork before the client potentially loses interest and takes their business elsewhere.

Bitcoin, Blockchain to get a boost

Homebuyers, sellers and agents surely have been taking notice of the increasing prevalence of Bitcoin as a means to make big purchases, but so far, its use in real estate has been limited. But as more sellers and buyers are willing to use and accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment, the more others may be interested in trying their hand at it.

Also due for a surge in awareness this year is blockchain, which is, as described by The Economist, “… a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement.”

Bitcoin uses a blockchain ledger to track transactions to prevent double payments since the currency doesn’t have a central bank.

Artificial intelligence to morph industry

Artificial intelligence may conjure up images of robots and stereotypical advanced technology, but in reality — and in real estate — it has a number of applications. Perhaps one of its most common uses in real estate today is matching potential buyers to units that best suit them after learning their preferences, much how Netflix recommends programming based on viewing patterns.

Some bots and AI apps also are able to answer users’ queries about homes and transfer them to a human agent if it’s asked some questions it cannot answer.

While tech trends aren’t always easy to predict, especially in an industry that itself is notoriously hard to predict, it has ample potential to affect great change in the real estate industry: the only question is how agents will use it to their advantage.


Read more about what is coming in 2018

Cover story: New real estate laws for 2018: What agents should expect

Consumer bureau rolls back expected HMDA regulations for 2018

Agents share their goals for 2018

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