Business transformation driven by technology continues to accelerate. Not that long ago, faxes, contracts, and voicemails were all confined to the office. Now, proptech optimizes how properties are bought, sold, researched, marketed and managed. These tools drive efficiencies well beyond how real estate professionals communicate, streamline processes and help real estate professionals succeed.
As the business of real estate and technology evolve, real estate pros will want to understand proptech, stay aware of emerging technologies and trends, and leverage technologies to build their business.
The annual NAR Technology Survey is a tool that can help real estate professionals accomplish those goals. The survey asks members of the National Association of REALTORS® how they use technologies, which tools are most impactful, and measures awareness of emerging technologies that have the power to transform how real estate professionals do business. Data from the 2023 Technology Survey contains valuable insights which can be parlayed into predictions about how proptech will transform real estate.
What’s Working for Real Estate Professionals
Numerous proptech tools have an impact on business for real estate professionals, but three stood out in the 2023 Technology Survey. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said that eSignature is very impactful, followed by lockbox/showing technology (66%), and cloud storage (48%), which offers secure remote access to files.
Social media has a significant role to play in conducting business for real estate professionals as well. Many respondents cited it as a valuable tool to promote property listings. Survey respondents indicated that 92% use Facebook in their real estate businesses, 68% use Instagram, 52% report using LinkedIn and 26% use YouTube.
Lead generation is an area in which proptech tools can be leveraged. Survey respondents said the top three tech tools that have yielded the highest number of quality leads in the past 12 months were social media (54%), customer relationship management systems (CRMs) (36%), and their local MLS (24%).
Emerging Tech to Watch
Looking ahead to emerging technologies and how those tools will be implemented in real estate, the survey measures both awareness and impact.
While blockchain technology has the potential to transform numerous real estate processes related to records, buying, leasing, payments, and contracts, the 2023 Technology Survey indicates that just more than half of respondents (52%) are not familiar with the technology. However, 32% believe blockchain will have an impact on the real estate space in three to five years.
AI already has myriad uses in real estate, including writing blog posts and newsletters, creating staging imagery, developing business plans, and writing listing descriptions. However, survey respondents indicated that only 54% are somewhat familiar with AI, though 44% believe that AI currently impacts real estate.
The Metaverse, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been hyped for their potential in offering exciting transformations in the way spaces and properties are designed and shown. For example, these technologies allow for the interactive exploration of potential designs and layouts and allow potential buyers or renters to visualize properties in more engaging ways than photos or videos can provide. But only 27% of respondents reported they are somewhat familiar with these technologies, though more than one-third (36%) said the Metaverse, AR and VR will have an impact on real estate.
Forty-one percent of respondents were somewhat familiar with sustainability technology, which can be used, for example, to maximize energy efficiency in homes or help urban planners create smart, eco-friendly neighborhoods and cities with more green space. Thirty-two percent of survey respondents believe this technology currently impacts real estate.
Predicting Transformation in Real Estate
Emerging tech often creates the feeling of disruption, but what if we look at emerging tech as an opportunity? Real estate professionals should prepare for how these disruptive technologies can be used to their advantage.
In 2024 and beyond, the use of AI will expand to finding comps, creating listings and setting prices. AI capabilities also include managing contract creation, completion and auditing; and, potentially, negotiating sales on behalf of buyers and sellers—all of which can streamline processes and gain efficiencies.
So far, the promise of blockchain in real estate use cases is failing to materialize. It remains to be seen whether it will have a substantial impact outside of the financial sector.
Right now, AR is dominating and VR remains cost prohibitive, but both tools are positioned to create the most transformation in real estate soon. AR/VR could become the primary means by which people interact with and use the internet for home searches. Clients will use AR to see home features before showings. AR will be used to record, collect and analyze property data such as dimensions, numbers of beds/baths, and finishing materials.
Where to Next
The survey findings offer a view into where technology and real estate professionals stand at this point in time and where it could be heading. The future of proptech is exciting. By tracking which proptech tools real estate professionals are using from year to year, you can sharpen your focus on the business benefits that can be leveraged and understand what’s coming. The right technologies can be market differentiators in business. In August, the 2024 Technology Survey results will be shared at the 2024 Innovation Opportunity Investment (iOi) Summit in Chicago, where real estate professionals can learn ways to identify, invest in and profit from real estate technology and innovation.