Tech, Real Estate merge, promise virtual possibilities

Tech, Real Estate merge,
promise virtual possibilities

by ROB McMANAMY | May 21, 2015

The inevitable, uncomfortable question from the audience was raised last week at BuiltWorlds' otherwise hopeful Tech in Real Estate event: "Won't the explosion of creative technology tools in real estate end up costing traditional realtors their jobs?" 

Members of our expert industry panel looked at each other and smiled in general agreement. "No."

Sure, traditional realtors will have to change and modernize. But they will not be replaced by robots any time soon. As in any industry, in order to stay competitive and hopefully successful, the wise and the nimble will have to adapt. But there is no cause for panic about technology.

"The aim is to create the efficiency that we all crave, not to eliminate anybody's job," explained Jordan Fishfeld, founder and CEO of PeerRealty, Chicago, which bills itself as "the Midwest's premiere real estate crowdfunding platform." For as little as $5,000, investors can participate in high-end real estate deals with reputable developers. On the other end of the spectrum, this type of crowdfunding also has allowed neighbors and advocacy groups in blighted areas to come together to buy abandoned properties and turn them around, he added. 

Fishfeld was one of four panelists who participated at the May 14 event, sponsored by global real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield and architect-engineer-consultant ESD Global. James Stein of Cushman & Wakefield moderated the group (below, left to right): Matt Weirich, cofounder and CEO of ReaLync Corp.; FishfeldSarah Putman, a manufacturers representative with DIRTT Environmental Solutions; and Steve Monforton, vice president of technology with ESD Global. (See the gallery below. Photos by Ian Manger.)

Here's a random sampling of bon mots from our all-star panel:

  • Weirich: All the technology that is out there now is going to start talking to each other. It's going to all be integrated. We're already seeing the transition in finding properties and being able to visit and tour them via VR from anywhere in the world. It's the convenience factor;
  • Putman: When we look at history, we see generations always shift. After World War I, for instance, labor and materials shortages created the need for so many building innovations. Today, I think we will see more and more work being done in factory settings. We are already seeing prefab restrooms being built offsite that can just be dropped into projects;
  • Monforton: There's more information out there now than ever before, and it is only going to explode even more. The Internet of Things, iBeacons, the Sigmund (dreams!) app, all are expanding our imaginations. Technology has become an integral part of the built environment now and that includes the real estate industry.
  • Stein: As our clients become more sophisticated, we're seeing enterprises that require 24/365 connectivity. Real estate traditionally has been one of the slower adapters of new technology, so I am excited to see this all coming online now.

For more on this event, see's coverage here.


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