The real estate industry didn’t change appreciably throughout the 20th Century and early decades of the 21st. They didn’t need to; practitioners had a fairly secure stronghold on the process, and consumers had come to – if not enjoy – at least expect a high degree of complexity, opacity and inconvenience throughout the process.
But no industry, no matter how firmly entrenched or invested in the status quo, can outrun technology forever. At a certain point, innovative and disruptive technologies will emerge to accommodate new demographics, address longstanding issues, and place the power where it ultimately ought to reside: with consumers.
That’s the moment we’re living in right now in real estate. As Regan McGee – CEO of the disruptive digital marketplace, Nobul – puts it, “recent regulatory changes, longstanding demand for industry advancement and an embrace of digital technologies have become too prevalent to ignore.”
Practitioners can either embrace real estate technology or ignore it. This article makes a case for why now is the time to embrace it.
Shifting Demographics, Priorities in Real Estate
According to data from the National Association of Realtors, millennials now make up the largest share of homebuyers in the country. And they bring with them a preference for convenience, simplicity, transparency and tech-enabled solutions. The generation of “digital natives,” who grew up alongside the internet, increasingly turn to technology when they buy and sell real estate. Gen Z, following closely behind, is even more attached to technological solutions.
It’s safe to say the industry will never return to its bygone era of manual processes and physical MLS listings. Therefore, it’s safer to embrace technology now than wait until you must.
Addressing Long-Held Grievances and Industry Issues
Real estate technology is not “tech for tech’s sake.” It serves a distinct purpose – namely, to address long-held issues consumers have with the real estate transaction process. Consumers want an easier way to search for homes, search for realtors, sign agreements, organize documents, procure financing, etc. If technology can address those issues (as it has recently), it will continue to rise in popularity.
Here again is Regan McGee, speaking with Superb Crew: “Anytime you bring innovative technology to the table that can make the process easier, it will be viewed as disruptive.”
“The Growing Power of Consumers”
The points above are ultimately contingent on one thing: empowered consumers. If consumers are disenfranchised or possess weak bargaining power, then their grievances, issues, demographic makeup – all of it is moot.
But that’s not the case. According to a recent Deloitte research paper, industries across the board are witnessing “the growing power of consumers.” The research concludes that consumers, “empowered by social media and digital devices… are increasingly dictating when, where and how they engage” with companies and industry professionals, “demanding a more personalized service and expecting to be given the opportunity to shape the products and services they consume.”
It is a crystal-clear explanation of modern consumerism and a pertinent takeaway for the real estate industry. Incidentally, it’s also a fantastic note with which to conclude. Consumers are enjoying more power; new technology companies are emerging to address their issues and simplify their experiences; and the entire dynamic is underlined by a seismic generational shift in attitude. Now is the time to get on board. Now is the time to embrace real estate technology.
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