For obvious reasons, this blog tends to focus a lot on the opportunities in real estate technology. This is great food for thought for all the entrepreneurs out there, but I think it’s equally as important to consider the solved problems in real estate.
Since I’ve entered this world I’ve talked to and advised many real estate tech entrepreneurs, and I always feel bad when I see excited entrepreneurs tackling “problems” in real estate with solutions only a little bit better, or in some cases exactly the same, as what exists.
As the founder of a hybrid brokerage, I obviously have some bias in this, but most of the derivative ideas I’ve seen pursued exist in technology designed for traditional real estate agents. Here is the (non-exhaustive, non-ordered) list of real estate process and services that are already very well served by existing technology, but I still see entrepreneurs pursuing anyway:
FSBO: I’ve spoken with hundreds of people selling FSBO, and I have yet to meet someone who wants to try selling on their own who has been unhappy with their FSBO site of choice.
Real Estate Web Presence/Lead Gen: WordPress and Placester have made it simple and cheap for any agent to get an SEO-friendly, slick looking website.
Showings: Showing are a pain, but solutions like ShowingTime really streamline the process. The bigger opportunity is actually getting agents to adopt the tech that already exists.
Real Estate Data/Listings: It’s hard to imagine a significant enough improvement over the portals right now to overcome their brand advantage, but some startups are still trying. Many don’t even realize that they’re trying to displace Zillow and Realtor.com, and are going to be in for a rude awakening when they do.
So what area do I think are still unsolved? If I had those answers I wouldn’t be writing this post and I’d be making a ton of money. There is one area that clearly, clearly still needs some tech advances:
Closings: Brad Inman offered $25k to any company that could deliver a “closing in a box” at Inman SF in August 2015. Virgent only works with sellers, so we have it a little easier when it comes to closings, and even for us it’s a huge hassle. I’ve heard many times how much more complicated it is for buyer’s agents who are trying to coordinate lenders, appraisers, and inspectors as well as keeping their clients informed.
What other “new” products have people seen that are already well served by technology?