Real estate investing is all about the personal touch, so it’s not surprising that most investors are not too concerned about one of the hottest topics in tech these days: robots replacing humans in many areas of employment, even possibly realtors. However, a startup called Homie is hoping to change that at least as far as real estate agents go. The company offers to handle all the paperwork involved in selling your home virtually, using online “bots” that manage most, if not all, of the transaction.
The software developer behind the program told TechCrunch the company has “taken over the millennial market” in its target area of Utah, and predicts that it will do the same in Phoenix when it launches there. “Taking over” appears to constitute selling about 1,700 homes in the past 18 months, and the founder said he also hopes to expand to “five to 10 metro areas” in 2018, including, potentially, Las Vegas, Nevada; Dallas, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.
Going Broker- and Agent-Free
The idea of cutting out the commission that traditionally has gone to agents and brokers in a home sale is not a new concept. Homeowners marketing and selling their own properties (for sale by owners, or FSBOs), have had this idea for years. However, it becomes more realistic as the digital world becomes more ingrained in the physical world and a term like “broker-free ecosystem,” which is what CEO of the REX Real Estate Exchange, a Long Island operation charging a selling commission of two percent instead of the standard six, calls his company.
Thanks to the internet, homeowners and their representatives can market listings effectively relying solely on traditional means, and that means that more sellers may choose to bypass the conventional ways of selling. That opens the door for them to eventually embrace concepts like property-selling bots instead of humans.
4 Ways Robotics Will Change Things in Real Estate
Last January, founder and director of the Future Real Estate Institute, Victor Franz and Paul Weber authored a report for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on the topic of robotics and real estate. He specified five distinct ways that robotics could change real estate businesses in the near future:
1| Involvement in new construction
2| In maintaining properties more efficiently
3| Taking up space, necessitating more warehouses and even requiring “sensor-enabled housing, roads with charging systems, and even entire cities [to] provide space for the robots that will work for us.
4| Decentralizing work and centralizing leisure and social activitie
5| Carrying out real estate “chores” like virtual tours
Weber summed it up this way: “I would be lying if I told you that robotics will not disrupt the real estate industry…. Even though it’s impossible to forecast the exact pace of the change induced by developments in artificial intelligence as well as robotics, the odds are not looking great for many jobs that are now considered normal elements of our economy.” He added, “This isn’t anything new for real estate…. There have always been new technologies that threaten to disrupt the industry. And the successful agents and brokers are the ones who can differentiate themselves by combining a personalized customer experience with competence and digital prowess.”