From the way we buy books to the way we hail a cab and do our weekly shopping, technology has altered pretty much everything in our lives… except real estate. Sure, maybe we all look online now for properties instead of at newspaper listings or in the window of a real estate agent’s office, but for the most part it’s the same as it ever was.
Well brace yourself, because change is a-coming, with property sales set to get the Uber treatment.
We’ll have to wait a decade or two for the really big disruptions (back in 2013, a study at Oxford University predicted there was a 98 per cent chance that all real estate agents will eventually be replaced by artificial intelligence…) but for now there are some interesting shake-ups already in the works.
In the US, apps already exist that cut out the middle man when it comes to looking for a property. Zillow is a good example of how you can have all the data you want when you’re buying or selling right at your fingertips. Just load the app onto your phone and drive around the neighbourhood where you want to buy. Information is then sent direct to your screen, listing what’s available to buy, what’s been sold recently (and for how much) and histories of prices in the area. You can even take virtual tours of homes that are on offer. Sellers can flip that on its head and use the information to make an educated estimate of what to ask for by price-matching their properties with similar ones in the area.
Sellers can also make use of the Opendoor site and app combination, which answers a seller’s two biggest questions up front: how long is the process going to take, and how much will I get for my home? Basically, you’re selling your home to the website. Opendoor makes you an offer on your property and if you accept it, done deal. You get your money, no waiting, and are ready to buy your next home. Meanwhile the site owns your old place and tries to sell it in its own time from a portfolio of properties buyers can view online or on self-guided tours. The whole sales process is enormously streamlined.
While both Zillow and Opendoor only operate in the US at the moment, it surely can’t be long before similar apps become available in Australia. So, while we’re still a few decades away from being shown around a new home by androids, the first steps have already been taken.