4 Emerging Technologies to Watch

These advances could shake up the real estate market.
Artificial intelligence

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High-speed connections, virtual realities and transactions, and smarter data are among the hot technology trends to watch now and in the near future. Dan Weisman and Dave Conroy, directors of emerging technology for the National Association of REALTORS®, provide a snapshot of the tech to watch.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Computer software that analyzes data to help solve problems and view items in new contexts.

What It Could Bring

  • Predictive analytics. With AI, you could predict future home values and rents in an area and prioritize your marketing efforts by targeting prospects with the greatest likelihood—and readiness—to buy or sell.
  • Automation. AI already automates property valuations and allows brokers and agents to offer chatbot support services on their website 24/7.
  • Computer vision: Use cameras and AI to recognize and label images, like identifying elements in a photographs of a property listing and making those features searchable by viewers, without relying on written descriptions.

Sample Tools

  • Plunk, uses AI to forecast home valuation and remodeling projects in real time.
  • Landis uses AI to create a snapshot of mortgage readiness, assessing whether renters could have the future financial means to purchase a home. Landis will buy a home, rent it out, and team with a real estate professional to provide the renter a path to ownership.

2. Blockchain

A decentralized ledger of transactions that allows for digital currency, or cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, to be exchanged.

What It Could Bring

  • Cryptocurrency-based transactions. A few real estate developers and homeowners are already accepting crypto, as many call it, for properties. In 2021, Miami developer Alex Sapir sold a $22.5 million apartment that was purchased with cryptocurrency. Developer PMG is reportedly the first real estate developer to accept preconstruction down payments in crypto on condos in Miami, partnering with FTX US, a cryptocurrency exchange.
  • A new class of investor. Newly minted crypto millionaires and billionaires are cashing in and using their fortunes on real estate, having spurred some of the highest-priced real estate deals over the past year.
  • Nonfungible tokens in real estate. An NFT is a cryptographic token, or code, that represents something unique and certifies ownership digitally. It represents the “real” version of a file rather than a copy, and could allow for a new way for properties to be provably owned. In February, Propy sold the first NFT-backed property in the U.S., a $653,000 home in Gulfport, Fla.

Sample Tools

  • Propy, a member of NAR’s REACH Class of 2019, uses blockchain to record real estate transactions.
  • Milo offers crypto-backed mortgages that allow a buyer to leverage their crypto to invest in real estate.
  • Addy invests in properties using NFTs and then offers investments in them. It issues a limited number of tokens, which could sell for as little as $1.
  • ShelterZoom is a blockchain-based transaction platform.

3. The Metaverse

A virtual world where people can play, work, learn, and build.

What It Could Bring

  • Two houses in one. A mansion under construction in Miami is being sold as two properties—a real-world, 11,000-square-foot home and an identical virtual one in the metaverse platform The Sandbox. One Sotheby’s International Realty is partnering with Voxel Architects, along with Gabe Sierra, a collector of NFTs, to launch the “MetaReal” mansion, dubbed the first home sale of its kind.
  • Immersive 3D tours. Augmented reality—delivered through virtual reality headsets—could provide a new way for people to view, buy, or sell homes. One day, the metaverse could offer digital map renderings and allow for immersive virtual property tours.
  • Advertising or virtual storefronts. Location matters as more people congregate in the metaverse. Marketing opportunities will open up as users hold meetings and events, set up storefronts, and advertise in these digital worlds.

Sample Tools

  • Metaverse platforms include The Sandbox, Decentraland, Somnium, Cryptovoxels, Upland, and Second Life.
  • Real estate company eXp has been operating in both real life and the metaverse world of Virbela since 2009.

4. 5G Cellular Technology

Touted as being 200 times faster than current 4G cellular networks.

What It Could Bring

  • Smarter homes and buildings. 5G will allow more devices, such as thermostats, security monitors, and lightbulbs, to be connected in homes. The network’s speed can reduce latency or overload issues common with 4G or Wi-Fi networks as more devices get added into homes.
  • Tech advancements. Telehealth, autonomous vehicles, AI, augmented reality, and more will benefit from faster connection speeds.
  • Smart cities. Amazon’s HQ2, under construction in Northern Virginia, is touted as a “smart city” powered by 5G. The development has teamed with AT&T to build a 5G network within a four-mile zone that includes offices, homes, and retail spaces. It will serve as a testing area that includes sensors, AI, self-driving cars, robotics for health care, and more.

Sample Tools

  • Private 5G networks. Cellular carriers are offering private networks that run on 5G connectivity for businesses and homes. For example, Verizon’s 5G Home (verizon.com/5g/home) showcases a new home broadband option that uses a 5G wireless signal to power the Wi-fi connection inside with the network’s improved speeds.

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