Top 5 real estate tech trends to watch for in 2014

Tech changes every year, as does the real estate market.  Here are some trends and predictions which may come into play this year:


5. BYOD (bring your own device)

As I mentioned in “The pros and cons of a ‘bring your own device’ brokerage office,” the launch of the iPhone forever changed mobile computing and ignited the BYOD revolution. Information technology (IT) departments are now expected to seamlessly support a plethora of devices brought into the workplace by employees. While not as sexy as other tech items on this list, the bring-your-own-device culture will nevertheless continue to grow in 2014, and wearable technology will be thrown into the mix.

4. Mobile video

Every year I find myself writing, “This will be the year video tips in real estate.” Not this year. I believe it’s already tipped. In 2014, mobile video makes a big dent and the technology positions itself as an effective mobile marketing strategy.

I touched base with Christian Sterner, founder of WellcomeMat, to get his thoughts on mobile video. “Mobile video is interesting for so many reasons, but a theory that WellcomeMat is acting on is that mobile users need to have access to ‘lean-back content’ just to continue navigating their daily missions,” Sterner said.

“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. 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.”

3. Drones

Earlier this year, I purchased a DJI Phantom Quadcopter and mounted my GoPro camera to the device. Needless to say, it was a learning experience. Drones and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are a polarizing topic. However, the positive attributes they present will have an impact on the real estate industry.

Matt Murphy, founder and president of Boston Virtual Imaging, suggests that the public perception of drones has been influenced by media reports about how this technology has been used in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones.

“The term drone tends to conjure up thoughts of these machines being used for military purposes,” says Murphy. “The truth is that model aircraft and remote-controlled aircraft have been used for decades in this country by communities of hobbyists with good intentions.”

How will drones be used in real estate in 2014? Murphy believes the most immediate positive result for the real estate industry is that camera-equipped UAVs will allow people to tell stories about listings in ways that they could not previously do.

There is a lot of gray area in terms of the commercial use of drones. In fact, Congress has issued a deadline to the FAA requiring that the agency issue regulations and guidelines by 2015 to allow for integration of commercial UAVs into the national airspace system.

There’s no doubt drones will continue to be a hot topic in 2014. Want to learn more about drone technology, the legalities and FAA policy? Be sure to check out Matt Murphy’s drone workshop at Real Estate Connect New York City in January.

2. Wearable technology

I have to admit, wearable technology hasn’t had the smoothest entry into the marketplace. Products such as Google Glass have drawn criticism and have been the brunt of many late-night TV show jokes. Not to mention, incredibly awkward advertising hasn’t helped matters.

However, new tech products are often met with apprehension. Wearable tech (Pebble, Fitbit, Galaxy Gear) will continue to gain momentum in 2014 and will most definitely find its way into the office, further challenging the IT infrastructure of a BYOD work culture.

1. Big data

Big data is a nebulous term to many real estate pros. It is simply a term utilized to describe various data sets that can be accessed quickly and efficiently — for example, housing trends, census data or demographic information.

Big data is going to have a significant impact on technology in 2014, particularly in the real estate industry. NAR recently hired Todd Carpenter to build a new predictive analytics department.

Carpenter said NAR hired him to create a new department that focuses on listening to members and consumers.

“Instead of listening to words, we’re listening to actions. Our goal is to find patterns in those actions that will help us make business decisions to better serve our members,” said Carpenter.

How will NAR leverage big data in 2014?

“2014 will be focused largely on getting the most out of the data we already have,” he said. “That means an increased level of collaboration between the association’s departments. Then, looking for opportunities to personalize our communications, marketing and services to better serve each individual member.”


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