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Three disruptive tech trends in real estate in 2014

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To say technology is disruptive is a misnomer, former Intel CEO Andy Grove was once quoted saying by tech investor and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Solution. Grove quipped, "What it is, is trivial technology that screws up your business model."

Many real estate technology companies would probably agree. Disruptive technology has a way of changing your company’s business or revenue model, and by the time you know it, you’re either in the red or sitting on tons of cold cash. So, which way would you rather go?

Here are the top three disruptive tech trends that real estate professionals and firms could take advantage of.

1.	Internet of Things (IoT)
1. Internet of Things (IoT) Stephen Lam/Getty Images

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (loT) used to be the stuff of science fiction. Due to the prevalence of mobile devices, however, it will not be long until it becomes a crucial part of business development, not to mention, our daily lives.

“While we’re still in the early stages of IoT, today it’s looking like more of a reality, with a number of implementations in the works. And while many issues still need to be sorted out—data security and privacy for one—a growing number of companies are exploring how they can leverage IoT-related technologies,” Bob Violino of Network World said in an article.

Initially though, in its early phase, IoT will find use in real estate as a data aggregator. Sandy Apgar, Urban Land Institute Foundation governor, noted that loT will serve primarily as a tool to identify factors that influence consumers’ “buying patterns and preferences.”

IoT, he added, is a “breakthrough capability” that would greatly benefit designers, architects and developers in building new structures for corporations and communities.

The real estate brokerage industry has already started employing IoT in the form of QR codes. Home buyers just have to scan a QR code on a For Sale sign or a real estate professional’s web site to learn more about a particular property. Realtor’s QR Mobile and QFuse are two web sites that offer QR code creation for real estate agents.  

2.	Mobile Video
2. Mobile Video Sean Gallup/Getty Images

2. Mobile Video

Mobile video is now an indispensable tool that real estate professionals use to flip those “for sale” signs to “sold.” Mobile video accounts for 53 percent of global internet traffic as data from Cisco has shown.

It is only about to get bigger. Cisco noted that 526 million devices and connections were added in 2013, with smartphones accounting for 77 percent of the total growth.  

Moreover, mobile video is one of the most flexible technologies today, saving both home owners and real estate agents time and effort in searching for prospects and the right property.

“Reading is just harder to do when you are on the go, and this is a large value proposition for full-motion video and auto-created animations for listings,” said WellcomeMat founder Christian Sterner in an interview with Inman.

“There is something to be said for the flexibility of video — viewers can listen to the audio and/or watch the videos you provide. They do not have to consume their eyes and brains focusing on text, and for those reasons we think mobile video is going to win the day in real estate,” he explained.  

Mobile video is also free, and should agents need to pay premium for subscriptions to geo-targeted or location-based video marketing programs, it wouldn’t put a dent on their wallets. It could definitely bring costs down for real estate agents, as it eliminates the need for face-to-face marketing. Agents no longer have to shell out cash every time they have to show people around a property.

For example, RealBiz Media, Inc. (OTCQB: RBIZ), a real estate technology leader, offers one of the lowest rates in the industry for hosting targeted local video listings for real estate agents and brokers.

One of its offerings, the Microvid App program, which syndicates video posts on top-ranking real estate sites like Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) and Realtor.com (NASDAQ: MOVE), costs only $10 monthly, allowing agents to widen their reach at an affordable cost. Compared with agents’ average marketing spend of $36,000, this definitely saves real estate agents a lot of money.  

3.	Drones
3. Drones Handout/Getty Images

3. Drones

Another technology that is certainly going to cut the physical costs of real estate marketing are drones. The use of drones will definitely be a game-changer in the real estate industry once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives its green light sometime next year. As the industry awaits the FAA’s nod and list of guidelines for the use of drones, tech companies are launching new innovations in the space, Realtor Mag reported.

One company that is making progress with its inventions is Parrot, Realtor Mag noted. At the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the company unveiled its MiniDrone, a device that can record videos and take photos while flying at 160-feet altitudes. The drone also has wheels that allow it to climb walls, and can be controlled via mobile devices. Experts estimate it to sell lower than the company’s 300-dollar A.R. Drone.

Some real estate professionals, however, are already using existing drone technologies. Minnesota real estate agent Brandon Boyle told Realtor Mag that he has been using a DJI 550 drone since October 2012 to give clients a much detailed look at high-acreage properties. “It’s very difficult to show what 40 acres looks like in a photo, but with a drone, you can get a feel for the topography and where the boundaries are on a property,” he said.

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