LAS VEGAS — It was all about the “Internet of Things” at the 2014 International Consumer Electronic Show, which wrapped up last week in Las Vegas. More than 3,000 exhibitors showed off the latest gadgets and offered a peek into technology’s future – everything from curved-screen technology to driverless cars, smarter light bulbs, and wearable tech.
One theme that quickly emerged from this year: Your smartphone is going to increasingly become your remote-control to managing your life and your home.
Smartphones are getting smarter, allowing you to take control over everything from your home’s lighting, cars, and even allowing you to send text messages to your refrigerator to see what groceries you need.
This year’s show offered plenty of applications for your real estate business. Here’s a rundown from CES, and some of our picks for emerging technology trends.
Favorite technology debut: Curved-screens Continue reading »
Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired magazine and author of “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution” (Crown Business, 2012), who presented at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo Friday, predicts that you’ll carry a small drone in your bag, and when you’re taking on a new listing, you can turn on your drone, push a button, and it will orbit the building or home, mapping and creating a 3D model for you.
Anderson, who founded 3D Robotics, a company that makes GPS-guided aerial drones used for mapping and photography, says that in just three short years he went from being a dad messing around with his kids, Googling “autopilot” and building remote control devices, to owning and operating a multimillion-dollar aerospace company.
Anderson also discussed the changing face of industrial and warehouse real estate in light of the growing “makers movement.” Today, manufacturers are relying on robotics to create products in fields ranging from synthetic biology to furniture. Computer screens and white-collar programmers have replaced smokestacks and assembly lines.
“The reason you’re able to have 3D printers on your desktop is the components are so cheap that regular people are able to afford them,” Anderson said. “It will be regular people doing extraordinary things.”
When Michele Serro, an opera singer with a background in design, had a lackluster experience purchasing her first apartment in New York five years ago, her life mission became clear: Make home-buying human.
“I didn’t feel like there were a lot of resources for first-time home buyers,” Serro said. So she entrenched herself in all things real estate, and harnessed her design skills to create a clean, well-organized online portal that serves up information in the form of digestible articles, easy-to-follow lists, and fascinating infographics.
Whether it’s explaining common mortgage types, offering money-saving tips, or guiding visitors with an all-encompassing home-buying checklist, Doorsteps.com gives users free, step-by-step educational tools that are actually fun to read.
But what really sets Doorsteps apart from other real estate Web sites is that it makes the real estate agent the consumer’s guide.
Doorsteps works like this: The real estate pro signs up and invites an unlimited number of buyers to register at the site. It’s $25/month for the agent and free for the client. As the site walks its users through the home-buying process, member agents can see the same information their clients see and interact with them, answering their questions at each step along the way. It’s perfect for those people you meet who are interested in buying someday but aren’t quite prepared to start looking at houses.
“We designed this as an agent tool from the buyer’s point of view,” Serro explained. “Our plan is to create the best possible experience for buyers, answer all of their questions, and make dynamic content that also benefits agents.” Continue reading »
Empowerment was the name of the game for Day 1 of Inman News’ Real Estate Connect in San Francisco. Consumer empowerment; technological empowerment and access; and the broker and agent DIY ethos were all on full display.
Hear It Direct kicked off the day with a panel of buyers and sellers who talked about their buy/sell experience. The group, all California-based, consisted of a multi-state housing investor, a set of move-up buyers/sellers experiencing life-changes, and a couple of first-time buyers. The common threads: There’s an information gap during the search experience, and there’s a communications gap with agents and brokerages.
All these consumers were savvy and cynical in the ways of real estate marketing, and all were visually driven, citing their need for virtual tours and numerous listing photos. The iPhone was the top tool for all, using app geolocation to view listings and open houses within their targeted search area while physically in the area. Mobile targeting of specific homes was their segue way into local, detailed information searches about the home on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The lack of features as simple as pictures on a listing signaled a problem property or a “lazy agent,” one panelist said.
These panelists performed searches for months, and in one case over a full year, before first contact with their agent. But when ready, they acted quickly to pick an agent and act upon the work they had done in the preceding months.
When it comes to communications, the panelists wanted it on their terms, quickly. They wanted to be prepared for their experience and the market and told upfront what would be expected of them. They wanted to be partners in the transaction process but said they seldom received the information they wanted or the experience they expected.
None of this was a surprise to the brokers and agents in the industry panel that followed—but these insights should be a wake-up call to brokers who aren’t in sync with such expectations, the panelists said. The industry panel included practitioners Sue Adler, CEO of HearItDirect and leader of the Sue Adler Team, Keller Williams Realty in New Jersey; Dawn Thomas, broker-associate, Intero Real Estate Services (@SVandBeyond); Michael Williamson, executive vice president and partner, John Aaroe Group; and Joe DiRaffaele, owner, DiRaffaele Group, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty in Las Vegas. They were joined by industry consultants Michael McClure and Rob Hahn and real estate tech company reps Joelle Senter of dotloop and Nick Taylor of Zillow.
Getting in sync starts with enhanced training so agents better educate clients on the nuances of the transaction. “Don’t assume [buyers and sellers] know specifics about the transaction, because they don’t,” said Williamson, adding that client customization of broker services—having the ability “…to be all things to all people…”—will be an ongoing challenge for brokers.
Rob Hahn’s last words were poignant: “All of our industry politics and inside baseball doesn’t matter to those people [the panel].”
It all boils down to hardware, design, content, and entrepreneurship shifting into a “by the people, for the people” ideology in which consumers aren’t just the end user, they’re partners in the change, said InmanNews and Real Estate Connect Founder Brad Inman in his general session keynote.
Brad’s vision has always been on consumer-centrism and making the real estate transaction easier. At the conference this week he’s using the term “future proof” to describe the resources and tools that will take us to that vision.
Innovation is coming from all direction—and entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need venture capitalists and angel investors to acquire the capital to launch a company or product, Brad told the audience yesterday. These “misfits… rebels… and troublemakers…” as he calls them, can now crowdsource for funds by taking concepts directly to users for cash via kickstarter.com and the like.
So, are you feeling empowered?
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Being innovative doesn’t necessarily mean diving into new technologies all the time. It doesn’t mean trying to reinvent the wheel. And it certainly doesn’t mean focusing lots of your energy on something perceived to be hip or avant-garde to the detriment of the core of your business.
That was the message from Matt Dollinger, vice president of strategic development at brokerage @properties, and Eric Bryn, vice president of digital innovation at brokerage Baird & Warner, in separate presentations at the Xplode conference in Chicago last week.
Dollinger — his presentation slides are here — said he’s amazed by the amount of time real estate practitioners spend on things that aren’t bringing them business. “More people have done a transaction off of an open house than off of Twitter,” he said. “But they spend a lot more time on Twitter.”
He argued that technology won’t save your business, then quoted real estate consultant and commentator Rob Hahn: “It ain’t the technology. All technology does is make what you do more efficient. If what you do is crap, it makes crap more efficient. If what you do is valuable, then it makes that more efficient. Microsoft Word is an amazing piece of technology, but it can’t write the next Great American Novel for you.”
True innovation, especially when you lack time and resources, requires a concentrated approach rather than a try-anything-and-everything system. Thus, when it comes to being innovative, Dollinger recommends doing the following: Continue reading »