With Technological Innovations in Real Estate, Trust But Verify

As with every emerging technological innovation, there are new hurdles to face.

A Redfin real estate yard sign is pictured in front of a house in Seattle, Washington. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Redfin

Given that technology is increasing at a rapid pace, it’s no surprise that many sectors of our economy are evolving alongside these innovations. One of the latest to transition in recent years is the real estate industry.

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Virtual reality technology now allows realtors to provide buyers with 360-degree views of homes before ever setting foot in them. According to The New York Times, “Only recently have developers, architects, brokers and builders started to use the technologies to save money and time in two aspects of large commercial real estate projects: leasing and construction.”

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Smart homes are also increasingly popular because they can connect devices all across your house, and the devices can then be operated through an app on your phone. From your lights to security equipment, everything can be interconnected, and its increasingly likely consumers will demand these functions more frequently.

Using apps like Zillow and Redfin has allowed consumers to search home prices in any neighborhood across the country on their phone. Before, to get home listings, real estate brokers would have to use the Multiple Listing Service, “the holy grail of data on home listings, market trends and forecasts” that came in “a thick three-ring binder.” Now, at the touch of an app, consumers have access to real-time information on home costs, amenities and even how the school district around the home is rated.

And gone are the days of auctions solely being based on foreclosures. Instead, with auction companies, you can buy luxury properties online without ever having to visit. And, according to Forbes, we are seeing a “steady increase” in homes being sold through auction platforms.

But just like with every emerging technological innovation, there are new hurdles that these technologies present.

With smart homes, according to a recent survey, people are less concerned with the cost and are more concerned with privacy. “For 40 percent of respondents, always-on devices that are constantly watching or listening to what you’re doing and saying is a major concern for consumers considering buying smart home tech,” PCMag reports. And, if past is precedent, it will take a long time for lawmakers to adequately address these concerns.

Realtors have reported that consumers using apps like Redfin and Zillow are often provided with inaccurate information regarding the properties they are looking to buy. There have also been reports of Redfin’s touring agents lacking any real information about the properties they are showing.

And Concierge Auctions, the leader in real estate auctions, has faced backlash and several lawsuits according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The Wall Street Journal explained that “five of the 10 lawsuits filed against Concierge since the start of 2014 alleged that Concierge either failed to disclose registered bidders who had proffered lowball bids, or used some kind of phony or shill bidder to lure clients to entrust their properties to the firm’s auction process.” Another suit claimed that Concierge Auctions had “fraudulently induced sellers of luxury real estate to enter auction contracts by making false promises and various misrepresentations about Concierge’s auction results, sales statistics and track records.”

Selling or buying real estate continues to be a major decision, and technology will continue to change how properties are bought and sold. While it’s good to see a technological revolution in the real estate industry, it remains critical to do your research and as with anything, trust, but verify.

Brendan Flanagan is a Democratic consultant and a veteran of Obama for America.

With Technological Innovations in Real Estate, Trust But Verify