NAR Explores Tech Trends Expected to Disrupt, Transform the Market in 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (November 9, 2019) – Realtors® have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on emerging technologies set to revolutionize the real estate industry over coming months – a message stressed during a Saturday morning session at the 2019 REALTORS® Conference & Expo. “NAR Talks Tech Trends to Watch in 2020” was led by National Association Realtors®’ Directors of Emerging Technology Dan Weisman and David Conroy. The duo analyzed technological developments that have the potential to dramatically alter business operations for NAR’s 1.4 million members.

Blockchain, artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality were among the topics discussed most thoroughly at the San Francisco, CA forum. Augmented reality, as Weisman and Conroy explained, adds digital elements to a live view, often with a phone or tablet. Pokémon Go, Snapchat and staging are all examples of AR.

“Augmented reality is here, and having virtual reality options for viewings of homes will continue to become more prevalent,” Weisman told the room of Realtors® on Saturday morning. “I’m not referring to a 3D dollhouse model, but rather the ability to completely immerse yourself into a house to see what it might be like if you live there. Agents should pay attention to how they can use virtual reality to market properties, and increase showings and appeal to the next generation of buyers.”

Virtual reality, in comparison, is defined by a complete immersion experience where a participant enters another world or space. Practical examples of the technology in the real estate industry include virtual walkthrough platforms like those offered by Immoviewer and Matterport. “Mixed reality,” which combines elements of both AR and VR, facilitates overlay images used for staging and remodeling depictions. Realtors® can expect the phenomena to become more common moving forward, Weisman and Conroy said.

“The benefits of decades of research in the field of artificial intelligence are now becoming available to startups and enterprises alike,” said Conroy, who spent more than a decade in technical roles assisting numerous real estate associations. “AI is powerful, affordable and will continue to enter the real estate space at a rapid pace. As an agent, you should be re-evaluating your toolkit to ensure that the products you are using are capitalizing on this new technology.”

Weisman and Conroy are part of NAR’s Strategic Business, Innovation & Technology team, which was created in 2018 to utilize innovation within the industry while cultivating the association’s business and technology relationships, all with the goal of increasing member profitability. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg, who oversaw the team’s implementation, weighed in on the future he foresees for his association’s 1.4 million members.

“About 25 years ago, the real estate industry was at a crossroads, and we as an industry had to decide if we were going to adopt these new technologies for ourselves or fight to maintain the status quo,” Goldberg said. “But we took that potential disruption and turned it into an opportunity. Through the availability of new, reliable data and technology, Realtors® are increasingly able to identify and connect with target customers, determine more appropriate price points and projections, and even expedite the process of home buying and selling.”

As part of the effort to protect Realtors® and their clients during a time of rapid technological change, Weisman and Conroy expect the popularity of blockchain technology to continue rising. Blockchain transactions – which use online platforms to facilitate an agreement between two or more people – are valuable because they allow all involved parties to receive information in a secure way. When the parties agree to terms of a transaction, a “block” is recorded that indefinitely locks an agreement in place. This ensures data cannot be altered unless all parties agree to accept future changes – thus recording a new block in the “chain.”

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.