At one time, buying a home looked pretty much the same wherever you were in North America. Whether you found yourself buying a sprawling estate in Southern California or a studio flat in New York’s Upper West side, you could count on a standardized process.
There was only one problem: it wasn’t necessarily a process that favored the consumer. Defined by inconveniences, opacity and costly third parties, the old way of buying and selling real estate was monolithic and manual.
Real Estate Technology
Thankfully, that’s changing now – at least in certain markets. The meteoric rise of real estate technology (“proptech,” for those in the business) has fundamentally reshaped how certain markets approach real estate transactions.
This article charts the rise of real estate technology, revealing its demographic trends and geographical adoption. If you don’t count yourself among the consumers living in one of the markets listed below, don’t worry; odds are, these industry-disrupting innovations will become the norm, regardless of location, in the decades to come.
The Real Estate Tech Boom
For roughly two decades, the real estate industry has been adopting technological elements, concepts and tools – slowly, sometimes begrudgingly. However, in the last few years, the momentum and influence proptech has gained has been significant. Real estate technology is currently experiencing a meteoric rise in both popularity and sheer innovative strength.
Real estate digital marketplaces, AR/VR property touring, blockchain transactions with smart contracts, proptech mortgage lending, rent-to-own digital platforms, and many more innovations are sweeping across North American markets, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.
Embracing Real Estate Technology – along Demographic Lines
Proptech pops up everywhere in North America, and its proponents belong to no homogeneous demographic group. Nevertheless, some experts are seeing trends in who uses real estate technology.
Regan McGee, the founder and CEO of real estate digital marketplace Nobul, acknowledges that “millennial first-time home buyers are our target demographic.” He adds in his interview with Yahoo! Finance that “first-time millennials are going to generally tell their parents about it.”
Vice President of Realtor.ca, Patrick Pichette, is similarly focused on how millennials use technology. He tells Real Estate Magazine that “there’s a difference in how these demographic approaches buying and selling – they’re starting their research earlier. They’re hungry for information and looking at the process for buying real estate.”
Other sources suggest that proptech adoption is happening – or likely to happen – across demographic lines. This Forbes article contends that “proptech isn’t just a fad, but instead, an industry staple — regardless of the generation.”
Embracing Real Estate Technology – A Geographical Breakdown
It’s tempting to believe that all millennials – indeed all generations of homeowners – embrace value-driven technology at the same rate. However, that’s simply never been the case. Historically, large cities, coastal areas and (for lack of a better term) technologically progressive markets tend to be more open-minded and adoptive to new tech.
Here’s a quick geographical breakdown of some North American hotspots for real estate technology.
● Toronto: Home to the corporate headquarters of Nobul (mentioned above) and a bevy of other proptech companies, Toronto’s diverse, tech-forward population has been quick to adopt real estate innovations.
● San Francisco: The Bay Area is infamous for its adoption of all thing’s tech, and proptech is no different. As you might have guessed, Silicon Valley is a dominant seat of real estate tech in North America.
● Miami: The Southern Florida city embraces the real estate digital marketplace, AR/VR tools and blockchain technology with impressive ease and frequency.
● Austin: It isn’t just coastal American cities adopting proptech; the tech-progressive Texas city is home to Homeward, Ojo, Orchard and many more companies.
● Seattle: Silicon Valley’s sister to the North, Seattle is similarly enthusiastic about technological innovation. Notably, the city is home to online property reseller Flyhome.
These are just a few of the geographic markets quick to adopt real estate technology. As mentioned in the introduction, expect to see proptech extend its influence in the following decade.