Curious what the real estate industry as a whole will look like as we move into next year? While attending the National Association of Realtors (NAR) annual conference, also known as NXT, in Anaheim, California, this week, I got a good look.
So let’s take a look at the top real estate tech trends we’ve seen in 2023—and will be keeping an eye on in 2024. And, to help you focus on what you can implement in your business today to prepare for tomorrow, I’ve also included a handful of companies to watch over the next year.
5 Tech Trends From NAR NXT
1. Efficiency Through Integrated Tech Platforms
A highlight of this year’s conference was the emphasis on integrated, all-in-one solutions that give agents streamlined efficiency with their processes—from prospecting to marketing to closing deals. Some highly involved platforms, like PLACE, are even building entire central business hubs for teams to replace the traditional brokerage model.
This type of streamlined business suite allows agents to focus more on what matters: building relationships. Admin tasks are taking more and more time from agents, and tech companies have realized this. It pays in the long term to set up your processes and checklists to keep your focus on generating leads, building relationships, and selling homes—not sending countless emails.
My takeaway here is that personal connections are key. Lead generation and sales tend to be a numbers play, and there are plenty of places to buy leads. It’s about building the relationship and executing on it consistently. Building out your processes is the key to business in 2024. Need help on where to start? We’ve already built out six checklists for buyers agents.
2. Creative Ownership & Emerging Models
Finding new ways for sellers to engage in and exit homeownership is a fascinating trend popping up in residential real estate. With the current high interest rates, many homeowners who have mortgages from the good ol’ days are feeling the “golden handcuffs” of rate lock. And homebuyers are finding that today’s rates don’t allow the monthly payment they’d planned on to go nearly as far as it used to.
Therefore, there are some creative ventures popping up for sellers. For example, Flock Homes is a way for current homeowners to convert their existing equity into shares via 721 exchange—NYC agents might be familiar with this “co-op” model. This allows for sellers to still realize their equity gains while being able to move on from the home.
The short-term rental (STR) market is another place I’m seeing some interesting new models. If they hadn’t already, everybody wanted to get in on the Airbnb craze stoked by the pandemic and an expansion of the work-from-anywhere culture. However, now that the roar has quieted a bit, people are left with homes that are sitting vacant for too long and not generating income. Places like Summer are allowing people to be part of the second-home craze while putting most of the risk onto a third-party company. It will be interesting to see how the STR market will continue to adapt now that the Airbnb boom has died down.
3. Technology Continues to Focus on Empowering Teams
We’ve seen teams dominate the industry in the last few years, and that’s now being reflected in real estate tech trends. Most of the tech I saw at NAR NXT was geared toward teams of five or more agents. Many showing solutions and marketing, branding, and lead generation tools are now too expensive for the majority of solo agents.
The shift toward teams makes sense because segmentation allows agents to focus on what they’re good at. And that’s what will be important in the future—artificial intelligence (AI) can take care of surface-level tasks. But for focused, detailed analyses that require a specialized set of skills or knowledge, an agent is still best. Take a listing manager: She knows exactly how to stage a home and market it on the MLS—she has her processes down to a science. She isn’t playing this listing by ear—she’s done this hundreds of times and has a process to execute. Those people are going to win in the next five years, and they’re going to have the technology to make it happen.
And with the uncertainty in the real estate commission space due to the Sitzer-Burnett trial and others, agents will look to proven formulas for success. Teams can help real estate pros to specialize and win more deals. I expect this trend to expand in the years ahead.
4. The Role of AI & Automation—Agents Are Essential
There tends to be a “sky-is-falling” tone when real estate professionals discuss AI—that it will make our jobs obsolete. However, the thought leaders at NAR NXT 2023 painted a different picture. The consensus was that while AI and technology are, of course, streamlining many aspects of an agent’s role, they simply cannot replace the human element.
And never forget—humans are emotional. In real estate, transactions are more than just a financial deal. They’re an emotional journey. Buying or selling a home is a deeply personal experience. ChatGPT and artificial intelligence, for all its wonder, cannot empathize or connect emotionally like a human can. It’s that human touch that agents bring to the table—it’s what guides clients through those choppy waters of a real estate transaction.
That being said, AI and technology like lead nurturing tools, video editing software, and chatbots can be incredibly powerful for your business. Let the robots handle the routine tasks and allow yourself to focus on the human aspect. For example, using AI to help you brainstorm social media posts and listings descriptions is a great way to streamline your business. Focus on connecting and supporting your clients on a human level. The real estate business, at its heart, truly will remain a human-centric profession.
5. The Importance of Your Presentation & Analysis
With the rise of Zillow, clients are able to view their home’s worth and estimate their equity easily (even if agents don’t agree with the math!). You’ve got to find a way to stand out by showing exactly how you help your clients.
Understanding hyperlocal neighborhood data trends, along with a personalized and polished presentation, are going to be your keys to success. Use a free tool like Altos Research to arm yourself with data. Remember that every interaction with a potential client is a reflection of you and your brand. Put your best foot forward! I also see potential in tools such as Highnote, which allows you to customize your presentations as well as track analytics on how clients interact with it after the fact.
Being able to craft a unique experience for each client is important in ensuring you remain at the top of your game. When your buyer is interested in a home, don’t just open the door. Bring in your sharpened analysis skills to be able to speak about the home, its potential, and whether it works for your client’s situation. Try to be one step ahead of your client by being able to point out things they may not take into consideration. After all, you’re the expert.
Companies to Watch
During NAR NXT, I talked to a lot of tech professionals vying for your business. Because our focus at The Close is always to bring our readers actionable advice, here are a few of the companies that I think you should keep an eye on in the coming year.
1. Pivo Real Estate
This is a really cool one. The Pivo Pod is about four feet tall, and has unique AI tracking capabilities to sense your movements. You can use it to hold your phone and follow you around so you can create beautiful videos. While this is awesome for social media, the real beauty of Pivo is that it will put together a flawless 3D rendering of a home that your clients can interact with.
These days, a Matterport tour can run you anywhere from $350 to $600 or more. Pivo cuts this price at least in half and helps you make an impact with your clients. This is a really slick piece of technology that I can see becoming the standard for agents in the future.
This company’s name is a fun combo of two Latin terms—“privatus” (private) and “praesidio” (protect). As a digital privacy vault, it’s an easy way for you to help your clients prepare for the unexpected. This app is basically a virtual vault of everything important—from where the will is located to what the safe combination is to what grandma’s prized pearl earrings are worth (and where they are!). This is a way for you to stand out for your clients in aiding them to prepare to downsize or even just plan for contingencies.
Though not exactly an iBuyer, Sundae is a company for homeowners who don’t want to sell their home in the traditional way. A seller can contact Sundae for an estimate of their home’s worth. Sundae then takes care of the listing photos and any major renovations, and sends the listing out to its network of investors. The owners of the home don’t have to worry about showings, and they can get an offer on their home with minimal hassle. If you work with investors who are looking for some good deals on a property, this might be a great tool to have in your back pocket.
4. Real Grader
A digital presence is nearly essential for agents in the modern age. However, a lot of agents get started, get their profiles up, and then get busy. They might switch brokerages or grow a beard, and before you know it, their online profile is completely out of date. With so many channels out there for agents to keep up, you may need tools to automate your presence and ensure you’re looking 100% to all your potential clients sniffing you out online. Real Grader will do a digital audit of your online presence, then provide recommendations on how to improve your profiles. For an additional fee, they can clean up and get your digital footprint into tip-top shape.
5. iNCOM Real Estate
Of course, iNCOM isn’t new; you can read our review of the company, which we identified as our budget pick for real estate website builders, here. However, there’s one new element of iNCOM’s offerings that is interesting and worth mentioning. The company added an alert for you and your leads when prices drop on a listing. That keeps your house hunters fully engaged on your platform instead of jumping over to Zillow or Trulia. Giving buyers access to recently reduced listings keeps your leads on your platform and creates a fantastic “in” to start a conversation.
To celebrate Black Friday, InCom is offering $245 off on annual subscription and $50 off to set up fee. – Promotion end November 30th 2023.
What about you? Were you at NAR’s NXT conference? Are there any cool real estate tech trends that you’re watching? How are you feeling about the breakneck pace of innovation in the space?
I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comment section. Let’s keep this conversation going.