PropTech (short for property technology) is revolutionizing the real estate industry. There are now technological solutions for nearly every systematic issue real estate agents face. And when you know how to leverage PropTech, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and grow your real estate business.
In a recent survey, 81% of agents agreed that PropTech has made their job easier.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, PropTech helped keep the real estate industry afloat by facilitating virtual showings, accommodating face-to-face meetings between agents and their clients, and allowing remote online notaries to approve digital signatures.
Do you have the PropTech tools you need to grow your business? And are you familiar with the PropTech platforms and companies that are innovating in the 2020s?
Here are the top PropTech tools, platforms, and companies for real estate professionals.
“PropTech tools” is a broad category. Even your smartphone can correctly be considered a PropTech tool because of the many property-related functions it performs: facilitating video tours with buyers, advertising listings on social media, setting appointments with clients, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed everyone to get more comfortable using PropTech tools. 79% of home buyers and sellers said that living through the pandemic made them more receptive to using new technology in their real estate transactions. And real estate agents agree. An impressive 96% of agents agreed that PropTech was essential to keeping their businesses afloat through the pandemic.
Here are five PropTech tools real estate agents are using today.
Drone technology was once so expensive that real estate agents only used it for photos and videos of sprawling luxury estates. But as the tech has become less expensive, it’s become more accessible to mid-market real estate agents.
Drones can capture images and videos of a home that you just can’t get from ground level. A view from a higher vantage point allows you to get an overview of the property, including the surrounding yard and even the neighborhood. And with the mass migration to areas like Texas and Florida, out-of-area buyers are interested in learning more about the neighborhoods from afar. 81% of survey respondents are interested in using a drone to tour a neighborhood.
2. Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality (VR) allows you to tour a digital space, while augmented reality (AR) enhances real-world spaces with digital elements.
Take listing photos for example. Those gorgeous sunsets that serve as backdrops for the main exterior shot are augmented reality. The sky from the unfiltered photo of the home is digitally replaced with a more visually appealing sky.
Or consider virtual staging. 48% of agents surveyed said they used virtual or augmented reality house staging applications, adding digital furniture and accessories to shots of the house. Naturally, it’s a lot less expensive to digitally stage a home than to physically stage one. Real estate agents estimate saving their brokerage an average of $12,857 per listing thanks to augmented reality staging.
3. Smart Home Tech
Smart home tech (also called Internet of Things (IoT) tech) allows a homeowner to control things like locks, thermostats, security cameras, and lights directly from their smartphone.
75% of homeowners have plans to invest in additional smart home tech features for their homes. For real estate agents, this means promoting the smart home tech features in your listings and advising sellers on this major buyer-interest trend.
4. AI Chatbots
Artificial Intelligence (AI) uses machine learning to continually improve the quality of interactions with bots. And AI chatbots are a useful tool for real estate agents who are expected to be available to clients round-the-clock but naturally have other obligations.
With chatbots, your prospects and clients can get an immediate response to their inquiries, even when you’re unavailable. The chatbots can reply to your incoming messages with information about your available appointments, information about your listings, or any other information they are programmed to provide. The more chatbots are used, the more they learn, and the better they can serve your clients.
5. Big Data and Predictive Analytics
MLS systems have been tracking local market data for decades. But with so much information now available online, big data has consolidated the information to make local real estate data and analysis available to anyone who cares to look.
From getting insights on national value trends and potential market shifts to drilling down on the details of a single home, big data is educating buyers and sellers so they can make properly informed real estate decisions. And educated clients are real estate agents’ best friends.
PropTech platforms are programs or applications that allow users to digitally access some type of PropTech. From managing your client database to getting an automated analysis of the real estate market, here are five of today’s top PropTech platforms.
We all know Zillow to be the big data giant of the real estate world. But Redfin has come along to provide a better analysis of the data for more useful market insights. With valuable metrics like sales prices, days on the market, and sale-to-list prices, you can determine the strength of any market by zip code, city, or state.
You can even use Redfin’s Compete Score to assess the level of buyer competition in any market, which can guide your buying and selling decisions as well as your negotiation strategy.
HomeLight is a referral engine that matches sellers to suitable real estate agents. Unlike Zillow, which charges monthly fees for real estate agents to advertise on their platform, Homelight only charges a commission once your referred clients close on the sale of their home.
HomeLight’s AI algorithm analyzes real estate agent’s transactions and reviews to provide recommendations for sellers. The better your track record, the more likely Homelight is to send leads your way. You’ll pay a 25% commission to HomeLight, which is comparable to a standard referral fee.
LionDesk is the top-rated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform in the real estate industry. Not only can you keep your clients and prospects organized, but you can also automate your client communication and track your transaction through escrow to a successful closing.
And with a free 30-day trial, you have nothing to lose by trying this PropTech platform for your real estate business.
PropStream is taking big data and predictive analytics to the next level. In addition to all the standard property data you can get from the MLS, PropStream pulls data from sources like county court systems and mortgage lenders to help real estate agents find motivated sellers before they start shopping for listing agents.
You can search for homes that are potentially distressed by events like divorce, bankruptcy, pre-foreclosure, liens, and even pre-probate. Once you have a list of potential leads, you can contact the property owners quickly and easily with PropStream’s built-in skip-tracing feature.
PropTech isn’t just about home sales. There are excellent PropTech platforms for home and apartment rentals as well. Zumper is a database that provides rental listings and allows renters to submit digital rental applications conveniently, directly through the app. Zumper data comes from real-time feeds from landlords, brokers, and property managers. Renters can even set their preferences and receive alerts when a new suitable rental hits the market.
We’ve covered the PropTech tools and PropTech platforms that are making waves in the 2020s, and now we’re ready to discuss the notable PropTech companies of today.
Here are the top five PropTech companies for real estate agents to know.
Love it or hate it, Zillow is still the first company most people think of when they hear “PropTech.” Zillow is a pioneer of the digital age in the real estate industry, bringing big data to the masses. And it is always innovating.
Take Zillow’s iBuyer program as an example of recent innovation. Zillow is buying directly from sellers, effectively cutting real estate agents out of the process. And sellers are willing to sell to iBuyers like Zillow because of the convenience of not having to list their homes and wait. 38% of sellers surveyed in 2021 said they sold their home to an iBuyer. And another 40% said that they would be open to doing so in the future.
But this isn’t the end of real estate agents. You just need to educate your clients and prospects on the downside of iBuyers. Selling to an iBuyer might be convenient, but it means leaving money on the table. If your sellers want top dollar, they need to list with an agent on the open market.
Matterport has been making digital 3D models of homes and commercial real estate spaces since 2011. And real estate agents are taking advantage of this PropTech company to create enticing 3D home tours that generate more leads and win more listings. Matterport reports that 95% of buyers are more likely to call about properties with a 3D virtual tour and that 74% of agents using Matterport win listings by offering this unique service to their sellers.
48% of agents recently surveyed confirmed that they provided 3D walkthroughs of their new listings. If your listings don’t include a 3D tour, they’re falling behind the competition.
Structurely is the premier real estate-specific chatbot system on the market. Serving real estate agents, property managers, and mortgage brokers nationwide, Structurely uses conversational AI chatbots that respond to your leads online. In fact, these bots are smart enough to help qualify your traffic and nurture your leads while you’re out closing deals.
Use Structurely to respond to your incoming texts and emails. Structurely can even sync with your CRM and/or lead provider to make sure all incoming leads get flagged for future follow-up.
4. EXP Realty
EXP Realty might not be the first virtual brokerage established, but it is the fastest-growing virtual brokerage in 2021. Some industry professionals are put off by the business model of recruiting other agents, but many agents appreciate the ongoing revenue sharing from bringing in new recruits. Whether you agree with the recruitment model or not, there’s no denying the brokerage’s innovative use of PropTech to provide agents with everything they need to run a real estate business remotely.
Before the pandemic, 47% of agents were working from a physical office. As of 2021, only 1% of agents plan to continue working from a physical office indefinitely. EXP created the virtual office spaces that work for many agents who prefer to work from home, from their open houses, and even from their cars between showings.
We can’t end our list of PropTech companies without an entry from the “smart homes” category. Abode offers smart home products including:
Door and window locks,
And even sirens.
With Abode, homeowners have the option to self-monitor their home via their smartphone, or they can choose professional monitoring. Abode can even pair to your Google Home or Amazon Echo devices for seamless whole-home integration.
With so many buyers interested in IoT, it’s important for real estate professionals to stay up-to-date on smart home trends.
Investing in PropTech for the Future
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nine in ten real estate agents report that they have already invested in PropTech tools. And 82% of real estate agents agree that they need to incorporate PropTech into their business strategy to stay relevant going forward, even after the pandemic ends.
We are firmly in the technological age, and PropTech will only continue to grow over the coming years.
But there are agents who are worried about being displaced by PropTech. 24% of agents surveyed confessed to being worried that PropTech would render them obsolete in the future, with agents over 40 being 55% more likely to be concerned than younger agents.
The good news is that PropTech is mostly endogenous. This means that the tech is being developed by companies within the industry. These companies are focused on improving current industry systems, specifically to help existing real estate professionals.
Of all the PropTech mentioned in this article, the only one trying to cut real estate agents out of deals is iBuyers. So you know there will be some competition in that single area, and you can prepare for it. Make sure you know how to explain the iBuyer business model to your prospective sellers so they can see the value in listing their home on the open market with an agent.
Then you can embrace the remaining PropTech, knowing that it will help you rather than hinder you.
PropTech is changing the way real estate agents do business, and it’s mostly for the good of both real estate professionals and consumers.
PropTech tools like drones, VR, chatbots, and big data are helping agents leverage technology to provide better service to buyers and sellers. PropTech platforms like Redfin, HomeLight, and LionDesk are providing apps to help agents work more easily and more efficiently. And PropTech companies like Matterport and Structurallys are continually working to improve the user experience and innovate within the industry.
While technological advances are always met with some level of resistance, it’s in your best interest to embrace PropTech. Use it to better serve your clients, make your workflow more efficient, and ultimately grow your real estate business.