More than ever before, the power to change your world is in your hands. Just slide the unlock bar of any smartphone and the universe is essentially at your fingertips. As the app economy grows, food delivery and social media are rapidly becoming the least exciting innovations. Like in other economic sectors, new technologies in real estate are creating unprecedented opportunities to save or make money when buying a property or investing in the real estate market.
Zillow and Trulia, the biggest digital real estate portals in the U.S., allow consumers to search over 110 million property listings. Though the two companies merged in 2015, each site and family of mobile apps retains its distinct flavor. Zillow provides information that is specifically tailored to home buying while Trulia helps people figure out the best place to live by furnishing data on schools, crime rates, and the overall neighborhood. Zillow also helps consumers obtain financing and connects them with brokers—and even offers helpful links for interior design.
For a buyer looking to spruce up her own home or flip one to make money, a service called Houzz takes Zillow’s design guide to the next level. Connecting people with over 10 million interior design ideas, contractors, and home décor retailers, Houzz can help address any design need. But its services do not end there. The site also features a search engine for local architects and building designers, allowing someone the opportunity to start building a home from scratch without setting foot outside his living room.
Technology also helps people invest in real estate without purchasing any property at all. Online crowdfunding platforms, companies that invest money into mortgages or directly into properties in order to generate returns, open people to a whole new world of investing outside of the stock market. Though past success is not guaranteed to yield the same results in the future, crowd funders have reportedly achieved returns of 10-13%. One such platform, Fundrise, requires only a $1,000 investment to get started, making investing in real estate convenient and accessible.
Digital investing in mortgages is not limited to individuals either. Created by the Kushner brothers, members of one of New York’s real estate dynasties, Cadre is a digital platform intended to help a select group of clients such as family offices and endowments make the best real estate investment decisions. Cadre’s employees use their expertise and training to prescreen opportunities. Clients may then view recommendations on the company’s virtual gateway.
The power of technology gives people unprecedented flexibility and freedom in their real estate search, but technology does not offer all the answers. Despite Zillow’s powerful search tools, certain insights cannot be found on any engine, even Google. Regardless of how technology is merged with real estate, real estate professionals are still the best protection and defense for purchasing property.