Inside Blueground
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Inside Blueground

Blueground Talks Tech at Harvard Real Estate Weekend

Blueground was pleased to be a part of the fourth annual Harvard Real Estate Weekend this past March. The Harvard Real Estate Weekend is an annual conference jointly presented by the Real Estate and Development Club of the Graduate School of Design and The Real Estate Club of Harvard Business School. Zack Hughes, General Manager of Blueground in Boston and an alumnus of Harvard, was invited to participate in this exciting forum that explored topics with the potential to transform the real estate industry.

Blueground is a real estate tech company that provides fully furnished and equipped apartment rentals in some of the world’s most sought after locations. Founded in 2013, it now spans across 3 continents and 6 American cities, from Boston to Los Angeles.

Embracing technology is a key aspect of the business model. Blueground’s platform makes it dramatically easier to quickly secure an apartment in today’s hectic market, streamlining communication between all parties. The online rental and check-in processes make every step of the way seamless — even from abroad. A mobile app (developed by in-house engineers) is available for guests to download prior to entering their apartment. The app can be used to request cleaning and maintenance, get neighborhood information, and request support from the Blueground team. In addition, most apartments are outfitted with features like smart TVs, Marshall speakers, Apple TV consoles and Google Homes. Every element is influenced and enhanced by technology.

“Blueground is filling an important and underserved niche in the Boston real estate market.” said Zack Hughes, Blueground’s General Manager in Boston. “On the consumer side, both corporate and individual renters have been desperate for fully-furnished, turnkey apartments for flexible durations. And for property owners, we are taking away their vacancy risk without charging fees like a traditional management company would. So we bring innovation to both ends of the value chain, and the Boston market has responded with great enthusiasm.”

At Harvard Real Estate Weekend, Zack participated in the panel on Real Estate Technology. The panel’s conversation touched on topics including Big Data, the Internet of Things and Blockchain. Specifically, it sought to shed light on the world of real estate innovation and how the real estate industry is impacted by changes in technology.

Joining Zack were panelists from companies involved in all aspects of real estate: Andy Barkett from REX, an online-only real estate brokerage; Leila Collins from MetaProp, a real estate VC firm and accelerator; Dimitrios Pilitsis from Cadre, a platform for trading CRE investments; and Ben Pleat from Cobu, a company that creates community experiences for multifamily properties. The moderator was Nate Loewentheil of Camber Creek.

Throughout the discussion, a few common themes were brought to light. First was that technological innovation in the real estate industry is significantly outpacing the regulatory frameworks in which it operates. Brokerage licensure, short-term occupancy ordinances, and building codes affecting modular housing are just a few of the areas where legislatures needs to catch up with consumer preferences.

Secondly, technology is playing a critical role in softening the blow as skilled construction labor becomes more expensive and harder to find. The challenge of building in a timely and affordable manner drives up costs across the real estate development process.

Some cost-saving technologies help streamline the listing process, while others ensure efficiency in construction and maintenance. Rental platforms like Blueground, for example, allow people to immediately reserve a great living space without worrying about application fees or utilities.

A Blueground apartment in Boston

With housing hitting unprecedented peaks in major markets like San Francisco and Boston, Blueground provides a much-needed technological lifeline to renters who want to move in and immediately start living. Technology and connectivity can tremendously improve the rental experience and Blueground is on the leading edge of that transformation.

“The Harvard Real Estate Weekend was a fantastic event and I’m very grateful for the invitation to participate,” said Zack Hughes. “At Blueground we are always trying to stay on top of developments in the industry, and it was great to be a part of that conversation right here in our own backyard.”

The multifamily real estate business is primed to radically change over the next few years thanks in large part to tech innovations like Blueground. Evolving lifestyle preferences, globalism, increased mobility, connectivity, ownership decline, a shift toward minimalism, and an increasing desire for local experiences all continue to shape the future of the industry. When players from across the industry choose to lean into these changes and revolutionize their businesses accordingly, we all benefit.

The Harvard Real Estate Weekend was full of inquiring minds from across the industry weighing these possibilities, opportunities and challenges. When it comes to bridging the sectors of technology and real estate, the future looks very bright.

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Showcasing the team, strategy and stories behind how Blueground is changing big city living one turnkey apartment at a time.

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