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Five real estate technology trends to watch in 2018

As the technology revolution continues, no industry it seems is left untouched and the real estate sector is no exception. All players in this industry, from agents to developers to investors and even property managers are updating and optimising their processes to incorporate new technologies and leverage the dramatic benefits they bring. Here are five key real estate technologies to keep an eye on in 2018:

1. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

Few industries have been as quick to adopt Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology as the property sector. The ability to visually display a new building, home or interior before any work has been completed is beneficial both as a sales tool and also as a way of reducing risk and errors in the development phase more efficiently.

Many real estate agents are already adopting VR as a way of selling to early investors, whilst construction and development companies are looking at more at AR as a means of visualising project work in order to anticipate and avoid potential errors. The ability for both AR and VR to automatically capture crucial measurements and data as it scans an area, and then display an accurate visual output, means developers will be able to assess work in a fraction of the time, cut out errors and probably enjoy the projects they work on more.

2. Blockchain

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Simply put, blockchain technology is a digital ledger or record of economic transactions that can retain not just financial transactions, but virtually everything of value including shared agreements and contracts. It is maintained by a global network of computers making it publicly verifiable and impossible to compromise.

For the real estate sector, the possibilities of this technology are virtually limitless. The potential for middlemen to be cut out of property sales is both an opportunity and a threat to many players in the industry and if the technology goes mainstream as a payment method, it could very well revolutionise the global financial system. In the short term, it is possible we will see niche coins and tokens that facilitate real estate agreements and contracts and speed up transaction times.

With many governments and major banks announcing plans to develop and implement the technology, it seems clear that blockchain is here to stay, and is certainly a technology we recommend keeping an eye on.

3. Big Data, AI & Machine Learning

Working best in combination with each other, these three technologies are already revolutionising many industries from politics to advertising and even entertainment. The real estate sector is also set for a big data shake up as startups and tech companies are now working on technology that can accurately identify trends that affect house prices far in advance. From analysing historical data to scanning digital and social media, the technology will have inside knowledge on factors like students flooding an area, as well as the likely impact this will have on property prices.

This intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the real estate sector moving forward. A more holistic view of the housing market means that all players involved will be able to react more accurately to what happens without having to rely on gut feel.

4. Chatbots

Another technology powered by artificial intelligence, chatbots are rapidly being adopted by many industries as a way of engaging and assisting customers without the need for human intervention. They are more efficient than people and work round the clock without tiring, meaning they can process customer enquiries out of hours.

In the real estate sector, chatbots are being adopted more by estate agents than developers however it is possible we will see niche variations of the technology trialled by larger development companies as a way of engaging potential investors.

5. Property Development Software

By connecting teams and centralising all aspects of a development project, property development software adds tremendous value to development companies. By storing all activity and files in the cloud, project teams can work and collaborate remotely, greatly speeding up project delivery and improving team morale.

As the technology has progressed, so too has the ability for it to automate administrative jobs like task assignment, gantt chart visualisation, reporting and resource management. In addition, a good platform will normally integrate with an accountancy package, making finance management both efficient and accurate. Unlike the other technologies on this list, property development software is very quick to get started with, and it’s benefits are nearly immediate. The technology is effectively revolutionising the real estate sector, and developers that are looking to leverage the benefits of technology usually start by moving to purpose-built software.

So how do we make sense of all this change?

No industry is immune to technology, and as has always been the case, companies that embrace this innovation will be able to leverage the vast benefits that technology brings. This doesn’t mean signing up to anything and everything. On the contrary, the opportunities are there for companies that invest time in researching both the technology that is on the horizon and thinking through what their requirements demand. We are going through a time of rapid innovation, and companies that view technology as an opportunity to enhance, or even revolutionise, their existing processes will more than likely emerge with competitive advantage.