We are so used to information technologies being widely applied in all sorts of business today, that a couple of new services for file or data flow management won’t impress anyone. However, it seems like there is one huge industry in need of innovative automation solutions – real estate. Do you know that most real estate agents still use a pen, paper, or sometimes grow up to simple Excel spreadsheets for their workflow automation? Isn’t it too “old-fashioned” for the 21st century? Those who noticed that problem already came up with several specific solutions providing real estate companies’ employees with better tools integrated into special information systems or software. But of course, those startups appeared in the Silicon Valley first. So why not think of the real estate as a new market niche for startups in the CEE region?
Real estate has always been considered to be a relationship business based on the network of human connections, which is absolutely true. But today this business has a lot to do with information too: transactions are very much dependent on timely access to data, provided by sellers, buyers and brokers of course. Why not design specific platforms for real estate business, which would offer more accurate data and also online collaboration?
Fortunately, things are changing thanks to startups, in the US at least. There are several platforms providing online information about homes and apartments for individual customers (Zillow, Trulia, Rent.com), commercial real estate information and analytics in B2B sector (CoStar, RealPage, LoopNet). All these services are mostly about pulling real estate data online. The next-generation trend should deal with special software platforms, allowing agents and brokers run their business more efficiently. Such software will provide real-time information in cloud-hosted databases, will give an opportunity of collaboration with colleagues within a common system of records, plus the chance to avoid the need for completing repetitive tasks manually.
Venture capitalists also notice this new promising trend and invest in real estate tech startups with growing pace. In 2015, real estate startups have managed to raise around $1.5 million so far and sell their software products to the leading real estate companies.
There have been 3 perspective development trends noticed:
1. CRM to settle in commercial real estate business in order to make workflow management more efficient for such expensive assets
2. Real estate data analytics platforms to automate apartment units’ frequent rental deals (existing example – Rentlytics service) and help agents maintain high occupancy rates
3. Mobile apps for realtors as very necessary tools for those who are always ‘on-the-go’. Existing startup examples: DotLoop (automation of sale deals through bringing all the constituents together, uploading important documents and getting bank-approves signatures), Homesnap and Agentdesks (communication with existing clients), Zurple and RealScout (marketing and new customer engagement).
Experts say that benefits, created by the latest explosion in real estate tech startups, will definitely outweigh the costs. For sure, everyone will gain from high speed and accuracy that vital information will be characterized by. Eventually, smartphones will integrate with corporate information systems, which will make it easier to target concrete buyers and lenders via mobile marketing tools. Virtual reality might make home and office tours unnecessary at all! Startups should change the whole real estate business principle.
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