Selling Real Estate With Gadgets

By Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang
July 11, 2014 Updated: July 8, 2014

The real estate industry has long been a word-of-mouth driven hub of activity where brokers guarded all the information. The power of a referral is still uncontested, but now information is expected to be free, quick, and abundant.

Slow on the upswing to embrace even real-time listing information, in recent years real estate has finally moved toward making use of technology to appeal to clients. Now it’s not uncommon for the entire process of a deal—from the property tour to signing the contract—to be done through a mobile device.

Using Drones to Sell Views

The technology that has allowed for the construction of super-tall, super-skinny luxury high-rises has propelled a frenzy of competition in selling views this past year.

In cities where luxury listings tend to be houses, realtors can take high quality videos of the property and all the outdoor space that comes along with it. In the city, marketers and developers have been using drones to show buyers what their views would be.

It’s become increasingly popular, causing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to warn realtors and developers to stop using drones. FAA has cited commercial usage as illegal (realtors could face a fine of $10,000), though aerial photography of listings has long been in practice through more traditional methods.

3-D Imaging and Virtual Reality

And if you don’t just want to see a panoramic video from the top of one of 57th Street’s high-rises but you do want to experience it, companies like New York-based Floored create immersive virtual spaces for people to explore.

Sales rooms now typically have at least full-scale mockups. Along with rooms to show the finishes and scale of what you could buy, or projections of panoramic views that you might see from your window

Architecture and historic preservation has also been aided by 3-D imaging. Lasers can scan and create an exact replica of any building, which also has been used for studying and preserving monuments.

Steve Burrows, USA director of buildings at the WSP Group, told Real Estate Weekly that 3-D imaging has tremendous potential to change the way architects and developers model buildings.

And Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, has been popular with game development, but could very well be used for selling real estate. Real estate broker Town Residential recently partnered with Oculus but has yet to announce plans for usage.

Monitoring and Training Agents

What makes a good agent? Brooklyn-based Ideal Properties Group wants to monitor its agents with Google Glass to make sure they don’t stumble into any pitfalls with clients.

Through four pairs of Google Glass, live video feeds will be sent back to the brokerage’s offices.

Managers will be able to monitor agents in real time and guide and nudge them in their interactions with clients. Footage can also be shared afterward for feedback.

Town also recently announced a partnership with Grovo, a cloud-based video platform, to train its 600 employees. The goal of these 130 short videos is to give agents actionable techniques and marketing tools.

Apps and Data

The abundance of data leads buyers (and sellers) to start their searches on the Internet, educating themselves in at least the generalities of what they want, where they want to buy, and what they can afford before they meet with a broker.

Multiple listing sites like Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, and all have free mobile apps with up-to-date information. Many of these sites also offer mortgage and loan calculator apps.

Homesnap does a similar thing but will identify a home for you if you snap a picture of it.

There are even apps for laundry, in case you find the perfect place to rent sans a nearby laundromat. Cleany, Hamperville, and FlyCleaners offer different laundry delivery services in certain neighborhoods of the city.

Then there are sites connecting you directly to other renters like Craigslist and RentHackr—where renters post information on when their leases expire so you can look for upcoming vacancies without going through the management company.

The Listings Project sends weekly emails with apartments you can sublet through the end of their lease to try to secure a no-fee deal. Recently launched building review-site Swapt gives you the scoop on apartment buildings through before you move in.

Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang