Real Estate & Tech Forum Recap
We had four speakers from Boston real estate tech startups — myself of Real Estate Chain, Eric Asquith of Escrow Mint, Brian Zitin of Reggora, and John Puma of Wizio. The event was organized by Unee Washington, Mike Sullivan, and myself. There were plenty of engaging questions from the audience composed mostly of real estate professionals, tech professionals, and students.
Here are some of the main takeaways from the event:
The Evolution of Real Estate Technology
The forum opened up with an overview of real estate innovation generally, and a walk through of the evolution of RE tech through the years. Innovative business models and technologies are the catalyst for this recent explosion that seems to be continually speeding up rather than plateauing or slowing down.
The types of real estate companies and associated technologies are not the only things evolving. In 2017, venture investors deployed over $5 billion in real estate technology, more than 150 times the $33 million invested in 2010 (Snider and Harris, 2018).
Real Estate Chain
Real Estate Chain is is a blockchain-based property intelligence network that discussed the following after setting RE tech stage.
What is blockchain?
The basics of blockchain were explained and it was emphasized that you can record not just financial transactions, but virtually everything of value or perceived value with this technology. Addressing a common public misconception.
The real estate blockchain ecosystem
New companies are emerging at a rapid pace in the expanding blockchain real estate ecosystem. Blockchain-based solutions are finding their fit in nearly every niche of the industry as displayed above.
Real estate information problems
- Real estate information is fragmented, unrefined, and controlled and gated by various groups globally with poor standards and no international information channels.
- Real estate legacy systems do not allow for custody or attribution of information.
- Because of the foundational issues above, consumer experience isn’t what what it should be in 2018.
Real Estate Chain is creating the global standard for real estate information, custody, and attribution. This network connects participants in the global real estate ecosystem to enriched, standardized information that helps them work more efficiently together, stay organized, and make more intelligent and confident decisions.
Escrow Mint provides a safe and efficient way to transfer escrow money in real estate deals.
Eric explained that a problem in the industry is how hackers target real estate on the rise. In 2017, nearly $1 billion ($969 million) was “diverted or attempted to be diverted” from real estate purchase transactions, and wired to “criminally controlled” accounts (FBI). Eric described how the current system for making real estate purchases is broken and antiquated. Depositing checks is slow, inefficient, and contain private information others can see. Alternatively, wire transfers are costly, inconvenient, and dangerous.
Escrow Mint’s solution to these issues is enabling seamless and secure digital escrow money movement through check photo capture that moves money directly from a buyer account to an escrow account.
Reggora is a cloud-based real estate appraisal software platform.
Brian discussed general real estate tech issues such as fragmentation, heavily entrenched legacy technology, and misaligned incentives among parties. This was followed by how residential appraisal currently works in the U.S. and where problems exist in the system, especially inefficiencies created by the lack of software integration.
Reggora allows appraisers to generate their reports in the same software system lendersuse to manage the appraisal process. This complete software integration between parties leads to aggregated data access for all, saving costs and time.
Wizio is all-in-one on demand virtual reality services for travel and real estate.
John gave a great overview of the evolution of real estate content from photo, to video, and now VR. He stated the impressive figures of virtual reality services being worth $2.6 billion and 77% of Americans would use VR to find a home.
Real estate use cases for VR include virtual tours, floor plans, staging, v-commerce, hotels, architecture/planning, development process, team collaboration, and safety
Wizio provides on-demand booking service, a Wizio photographer, virtual tour creation, property sharing across different marketing platforms, an API, Wizio listings, a lead generation source, and AI-assisted application handling.
There was interesting and apparent overlap between all these companies. At one point or another each presenter touched on the extreme inefficiencies they discovered and the challenge of implementing tech-driven solutions due to a Balkanized system where participants utilize their own methods, tools, and procedures with few integrations or aligned incentives. This is presents both a challenge and opportunity for real estate tech startups today and in the future.
I personally believe foundational disruption is coming in the near future and it is the responsibility of those leaders at the forefront of change to properly form a healthy and sustainable system that drives direct value to those that the industry serves.
The forum finalized with networking and discussions of when the next event would be held. Stay tuned for that information and follow along as we announce all of our events through our social channels!