Technology changes everything, and real estate is no exception.
Since the dawn of the 21st century, the real estate world has been making huge strides in embracing the potential convenience that modern-day electronics have to offer. What previously took a calculator and a half-hour’s worth of work can now be taken care of with a single click, along with so much more. Things like reading the newspaper for real estate listings or searching a neighborhood for “for sale” sign are almost entirely a thing of the past (although you still might find that one great deal that wasn’t listed online).
Here are a few of the biggest technological game-changers in the real estate world:
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s neither. Since late 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been becoming more and more lenient on commercial-use of remote controlled unmanned aircraft, or aerial drones. While it’s not yet outright legal to use drones for commercial use, differnet states have been granting permissions to different businesses all over the country to take to the skies.
Amazon has been working on delivering packages, Dominos has been working on delivering pizzas, and the real estate world has been working on taking high-quality aerial photographs and videos of properties headed for the market. For rural or farmland properties with lots of acreage, the ability to tour a 4-acre property at your finger tips is a huge gamechanger.
Soon enough, this will become the industry standard for showing off larger properties with ease. Higher-end models of these drones able to fly stable enough for video at the proper distance can get a little pricey- but for the average user, getting a small drone able record video comparable to a modern cell phone camera quality can be done for less than $100.
Measuring houses with a tape measure is the equivalent of using a VCR in today’s age. Since the early 2000’s, laser distance measurement machines have revolutionized how long it takes not only to measure a home, but how to do it accurately.
After bouncing a laser off the wall, these machines use some sort of physics phase-shift method to tell you exactly far away what your pointing at is, and it does this in seconds- down to the 1/10th of a foot. While this may not be the biggest news today, what is noteworthy is how affordable these machines have become in the last 5 or so years.
Previously costing upwards of $300, now you can slap one of these laser measurement machines down on the counter at your local hardware store for as little as $50. Whether your a site inspector, an agent, or an appraiser, these things always seem to come in handy in real estate.
Most recently, these tools are being combined with floor plans and plat maps to create accurate, elaborate 3D models of properties to post along with online listings. Can you really shop for real estate in 3D now? Not ENTIRELY yet- but we’re well on our way there.
The biggest way real estate has been embracing the modern age no-doubt comes in the form of the tablet.
As real estate appraisers, 10 years ago we were going out to appraise houses with tape measures in our pockets and a clipboard in our hands. Now, almost the entire site-visit process is digital.
The touch-screen allows appraisers to take notes on the property and draw quick floorplans. Tablets with cameras are being used as the all-in-one appraisal device to record information in the field, all of which integrates directly into our appraisal software as soon as we send it over to a computer.
For agents, tablets have become an essential part of the business. No more folders full of paper for every property. Mobile access to a web-browser for simple tasks is obviously better than hauling a laptop around. When working with clients, tablets are perfect- they can showcase photos, floorplans, disclosures, and play videos- all on a device with instant access to every listing online in a device that can easily passed from one person to another.
Most importantly though, tablets offer the perfect solution for a paperless office- the ability to close a deal in the field. With text entry and a touch screen electronic signature, changes to agreements and contracts can be made instantly to meet a clients needs, and then they can sign right on the spot.
So… where will the real estate world be in 10 years?
No one knows. Inventions like these have revolutionized the way real estate professionals work in the field, and we haven’t even mentioned how the internet has streamlined to home-shopping process. At the rate these leaps and bounds in tech. advancements are being made, it’s difficult enough just to keep up with today.
Jonathan Montgomery Founder and President of the The Real Estate Appraisal Group. He has been a real estate professional since 1998. He’s been a broker, and investor, and now serves as an appraiser. He currently works as an appraiser, doing real estate appraisals in Washington D.C., Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia.