The secret to understanding the next big thing that will change how business is done in any sector is to look at what is happening on the fringes of technology. We took a look at four pieces of fringe tech that are starting to have an impact on real estate now and we tell you about blockchain.
Kevin: What are the emerging trends that we as consumers will notice if you’re dealing with a real estate agent? Let’s find out. Kylie Davis is the head of Property Marketing with Core Logic.
Kylie, tell us about some of the things that agents are currently talking about in terms of technology.
Kylie: Probably the most common one that everyone is talking about is virtual reality. What that lets you or what it can let you do in a real estate sense is for buying off the plan or buying in another country or in another state where you can’t get to the property, it lets you walk through the property virtually, sort of see it, feel it and then change the color scheme or change the furniture even though you’re not able to physically go there or even if the property hasn’t been physically built.
Kevin: Is this another step from virtual tours?
Kevin: Virtual tours have been around for quite a few years, but this is actually a lot more detail, isn’t it? This makes you feel like you’re actually in there. Is this the one where you wear glasses?
Kylie: Yes, or you can put your phone into the cardboard glasses and put them over your eyes, and it gives you that whole 3-D experience. A virtual tour is more of a guided tour where you have someone showing you the things that they want to show you, whereas virtual reality is actually you being able to feel like you’re immersed in the property and go and explore the parts of the property that you want to explore.
Kevin: Kylie, do you think that consumers will be happy to buy from just watching something in virtual reality, or will they really want to go and see it and feel it?
Kylie: Have a look at what we’re doing already. We buy off the plan having only seen a model home, which may or may not look like the changes or the corrections or the differences in the plan that you’ve requested especially if you’re in a unit. If you’re buying in a unit block, you often only get shown one or two different types, but then you modify it maybe according to what can be incorporated into that, but you never really see that; you only see drawings or pictures of it. This is an opportunity to experience that before you pay the final amount.
Kevin: Something else that I notice agents talking about is push technology. The difference between push and pull technology – tell me where that’s headed.
Kylie: Push technology is about once you’ve registered your interest in something, then it starts to kind of follow you and let you know when updates have happened. We’re seeing this already in real estate with some fringe apps that are out there.
Domain is using push technology with its Check-in Homepass app, which lets you check in really quickly into a new open for inspection rather than having to stand with an agent and give your details every time you go into one.
We’re also seeing it in the use of iBeacon technology. iBeacon’s most gimmicky stuff are the little discs that you can put on your key ring to find your keys or on your phone, but you can also attach them to sign boards.
Then once you’ve logged in to the portal and said, “I’m really interested in four bedroom homes with two bathrooms in this area,” then the properties that at the moment, you would go onto the portal and you would put that as your criteria and then it would look it up for you, but once you’ve told the technology once that that’s what you’re looking for, every time something new pops up, it starts to alert you.
Even out in the real world when you’re driving through the suburb that you’re interested in, your phone beeps to say that there’s a property around the corner from where you are that fits your criteria.
We’re seeing apps like Followit starting to use that kind of technology to push information to you once you’ve expressed an initial interest without you having to necessarily go through an agent but to help you then engage with the agents that you want to speak to.
Kevin: These apps – you mentioned Followit – are they available now?
Kylie: Followit is still in, I think, preliminary trial stage, although it’s expanding. It has some trials happening in the northern beaches, and I think it might be starting to go into its next stages. Homepass is being used, and I know Ray White has invested in that.
There are quite a few of these things that have not been universally adopted yet but are doing some really interesting trials that are showing some really fascinating results.
Kevin: We’ll keep an eye on that. Tell me about Blockchain. What is that?
Kylie: Blockchain is a little bit fringe for real estate, but what Blockchain is is a way of creating a banking system without having to build a bank or a banking payment system. The banking system globally at the moment requires extraordinary amounts of capital and infrastructure in order to keep the money safe.
What Blockchain does is it’s a way of dividing the transaction of a loan or a payment into multiple different what they call blocks. They break it into lots of different bits, and it gets processed in those bits. It gets pulled apart and processed in all sorts of different places and then put back together. It’s using the speed of the Cloud and the Internet and technology to disassociate transactions from each other and then put them back together to create the security.
This sounds a bit geeky, but the reason it’s important – it could affect real estate agents – is that at the moment, there are a lot of agents who offer the ability to organize finance through the agency. They have a finance system, but they’re always underwritten or supported by a full-on banking system.
What Blockchain is going to do is disintermediate banking down the track, so it will make it easier for people to share credit with each other and support each other’s credit goals without the risk of it being an exposed transaction. It means that not only could you go and find a real estate agent and find the property that you like, but he could not just help you organize the finance for that property but possibly even underwrite the finance for that property.
Kevin: A real estate agent can do all of this?
Kylie: Blockchain is still very nascent, and this is the way that we see that it’s heading and the impact that it is likely to have on the real estate industry.
Kevin: Where can I read more about that? That’s totally new to me, I have to say.
Kylie: There’s been a lot about it in the commercial press even over the last couple of weeks. Blockchain is the technology that sits behind Bitcoin and it’s what’s enabling all of these virtual currencies.
Kevin: It’s called Blockchain. Go and check it out. I am certainly going to do that.
Kylie, thank you so much for joining us and bringing me up to speed on some of this technology. It’s just fascinating. Thank you.
Kylie: No worries. Nice talking again.
Kevin: Kylie Davis is from Core Logic.