The process of buying and selling property has transformed in recent years. According to the Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019 Report by the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2018, 44% of buyers looked for properties online first. The Internet is often the first place people look when searching for a new home. Here are four technology trends shaping property portals. Gone are the days of having to browse newspaper classifieds and drive through neighborhoods to find the perfect home. Today’s property marketplaces make it easy for homebuyers and renters to search specific properties without ever stepping foot outside their homes. As property portals continue to grow in popularity, they also face changes due to industry trends. Here are four trends shaping real estate marketplaces.
1. Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to generate better search results.
Many people become overwhelmed when searching for a new home. Real estate portals recommend properties based on details such as square footage, price, number of rooms, etc. However, they often show irrelevant results and more information than potential buyers need. With AI and machine learning, property marketplaces can help consumers more accurately search for homes. Similar to how Amazon shows consumers relevant products based on their behavior, portals using AI can recommend properties that match consumers’ lifestyles, preferences, and values. For example, if a user clicks on numerous properties with quartz countertops, machine learning algorithms enable real estate marketplaces to suggest similar listings that may be of interest to them. Portals can deliver fewer, higher-quality properties based on consumers’ wants and needs.
Additionally, some property marketplaces allow users to collaborate with family and their agents to pick the houses that interest them. They can group homes that fit their unique style into specific categories, such as “five bedrooms or more” or “homes with beach access.” Instead of switching between numerous tabs and sorting through lists of links, users can keep track of properties in one place. Advancements in AI and machine learning are helping property marketplaces simplify the home search experience and deliver far better results to potential buyers.
2. Facebook could become a property portal competitor.
Zillow and Trulia are the most popular real estate portals in the world. Meanwhile, there’s the possibility that Facebook might be building its own property marketplace to become the next competitor in the industry. In early 2019, Facebook published an article on its news page that stated it was building a tool so that users could “search for and view all current housing ads in the U.S. targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown” to them. While it’s unclear precisely what the tool is, a standalone property search portal within the platform where real estate businesses where advertise directly would be a massive disruptor to traditional property portals. It would also change the way consumers search for properties online. If Facebook does roll out a property portal, it may force other marketplaces to rethink their current approach or increase their offerings to hold onto consumers.
3. Zillow adds mortgage lending services.
The most painstaking part of buying a new home can be getting a mortgage. Zillow, however, aims to streamline the process for consumers by providing its own mortgage origination service. Last year, the property portal giant announced the launch of its mortgage lending operation, Zillow Home Loans. Zillow will now compete with the third-party lenders listed on its mortgage marketplace, where homebuyers search for a mortgage through Zillow’s website. The shift towards buying and selling homes places the portal among the competitive ranks of companies like Redfin, Offerpad, and Opendoor. Zillow’s move into mortgages signals the trend of property marketplaces getting closer to the real estate transaction to create better customer experiences. While portals initially focused on property advertising, there’s a growing likelihood that they will expand across the entire real estate transaction to offer services related to mortgages, insurance, moving, and more.
4. Demand for mobile access continues to grow
Property managers have the opportunity to extend beyond property and transform into online marketplaces, which are valuable to today’s renters. According to a daVinci Payments survey, renters ages between the ages of 18 and 29 outnumber every other rental group combined, and those renters are looking at the quality of their experience. Furthermore, 71% of renters make purchases on their phones, meaning rental properties need targeted incentives designed for mobile use. Property managers that become an online marketplace can meet consumer expectations for on-demand services. According to the 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report, 81% of renters value having mobile access to their resident portal, which is an increase from 2017 when it was 77%. Additionally, renters would rather perform tasks, such as submitting maintenance requests (64%) and paying rent (58%) on a mobile device versus a desktop computer. Offering an enhanced customer experience over a mobile device will make it more likely for property managers to hold onto renters. By cutting costs from reduced turnover and increasing their efficiency, property managers can buy back equity from the banks, enabling them to increase the number of properties they hold. With less money owed to banks, they can take out loans at excellent rates and grow their portfolios faster. It’s hard to imagine buying a home before real estate portals. However, more buyers and renters are turning to the Internet to start their search for properties, fueling the rise of property marketplaces. As new trends in the industry appear, there’s no doubt that they will play a crucial role in shaping property portals – now and into the future.