Technology is changing the face of the real estate industry. From virtual reality to chatbots, innovation is driving sales and creating a better experience for homebuyers. These technological advancements also make real estate agents’ jobs easier and more efficient, thus allowing them to serve more clients than ever before.

Agents must keep up with the times and stay informed about the latest technology trends to stay competitive in a quickly changing industry. Here are five technologies to watch.

1. PropTech

While this term doesn’t refer to a specific technology, PropTech is still a buzzword to know if you want to stay current in the real estate industry. In general, property technology describes the application of innovations that aid in buying, selling and managing properties.

Although the industry was slow to embrace new developments in previous years, many agencies are now adopting and investing in this technology. Venture investments in real estate tech startups totaled $12.9 billion in the first half of 2019.

This shift has provided consumers with more accessible information than ever before, which is changing agents’ job descriptions. Instead of being the gatekeepers, they’re more like advisers to clients.

This transition has occurred rapidly, disrupting the way agents have done business for decades. So, real estate agents must understand and stay up to date on the latest property technology to ensure they’re giving the best advice to buyers.

2. Big Data and Predictive Analytics

If you want to beat the competition, incorporating data and analytics is an excellent place to start. How many times have you shown clients a house that checks all their boxes, yet they still don’t seem to like it? Often, buyers don’t know what they want until they see it.

That’s where big data and predictive analytics come into play. Since nearly everyone uses technology, there is a massive amount of information being generated and collected every day. Agents can use this data to help match houses with buyers, predict market and price trends and otherwise get a better read on the state of local real estate.

By gathering past and present data, they can anticipate consumer behavior and narrow down options, keeping you one step ahead of the competition.

3. VR and AR

Virtual and augmented reality are improving client experience across the real estate industry. This relatively new technology allows clients to virtually tour listings, giving them a 360-degree view of a home’s interior and exterior. So, the number of homes they can tour is nearly endless.

This tech may make your job slightly more challenging, since buyers may come to you with a plethora of ideas and criteria that aren’t exactly realistic. In most cases, however, this technology has the potential to make your life easier.

Have you ever tried to sell a home with a 1960s oven? Up until now, the solution was to stage the home, adding furniture and replacing old appliances. However, AR and VR are much more cost-effective and allow you to virtually stage listings. Clients can even place their furniture in a home, helping 64.4% of buyers feel the real size and volume of each room.

4. AI and Chatbots

Once a client expresses interest in a property, you’ll want to respond quickly. But it’s unrealistic for you to be online all the time, responding to a never-ending influx of inquiries. Luckily, with the help of artificial intelligence, you don’t have to.

Chatbots and virtual assistants can answer questions in your absence or automatically alert clients of updates. So, customers have the necessary information to make a decision whenever they’re ready, day or night.

This tech also allows you to get to know your customers before you even meet them. With AI, you can gain insight into their thought processes and preferences by reading through previous messages. Thus, you can plan and research potential listings before responding personally. When you do speak with them, you’ll be able to cater to their specific needs and interests immediately.

5. Blockchain

After buyers make their offer, another technology comes into play. Blockchain offers a new way to complete transactions and make buyers official homeowners.

This technology allows clients to make payments securely and without a middleman. Real estate professionals can also create smart contracts through blockchain by digitizing information and storing it in a database. Buyers can both pay and sign for their new home remotely online.

Blockchain, therefore, increases the speed and lowers the cost of closing a deal. Agents and clients can change or send the document in a matter of seconds. And the technology behind blockchain is more cost-effective than traditional methods. Moreover, agencies don’t have to pay a middleman to close the deal.

Turning Disruption into Opportunity

At the turn of the 21st century, technology began to impact the real estate industry. Agencies had to decide whether to adopt these new methods and innovations or maintain the status quo. Many took a leap of faith and chanced a major disruption, embracing new technology as it arose.

Through the availability of new, reliable data, real estate agents could predict and analyze price points, buying patterns and even expedite deals. And, as technology continues to improve, these opportunities will only grow more frequent, allowing agencies even better insight into the industry.