The spread of COVID-19 forced many real estate agents to look to technology as a way to stay safe and keep up with the buying and selling demand. Many of these trends that started in 2020 will continue into the new year. The proptech industry has grown significantly in the past few years, and 2021 will be no different.

Along with an increased focus on agents’ safety and security, proptech trends will likely include a higher reliance on drones (and improved technology), more automation, and advancement in AI. Here is what real estate agents can look for in terms of property technology trends in 2021.

Proptech used for safety

Even before the pandemic brought on new safety concerns, security has always been top-of-mind for agents. A National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2017 Member Safety Survey found that 44% of female agents and one in four male agents had experienced a situation in the past year that made them fear for their safety or the safety of their personal information. Technologies such as wearables, panic buttons, and background identity checkers are all used to keep agents safe.

In addition to security concerns, the new challenge is keeping agents and customers safe from spreading COVID-19. Technology will be one solution to this problem.

We’re likely to see more virtual reality tours, as well as improvements in these technologies. Platforms such as EyeSpy360 already allow agents to create entirely virtual showings. As we move away from open houses, smart lock systems such as Sentrilock and Prempoint mean agents do not need to meet face-to-face with clients. In 2021, agents will likely rely on these tools more, so possibly more players will enter the market, and we’ll probably see new, upgraded features from existing tools.

IoT will be instrumental in this trend as well. Beacon technology, for example, can allow potential buyers to view a property before the agent arrives. Beacons are Bluetooth devices placed around a property to transmit information. When a client enters the beacon range, their phone receives the signal, and the viewers will get a link to begin viewing. Whereas once this technology was a nice-to-have, it may become more popular with social distancing regulations.

More drone use

Drone use has grown in popularity over the last few years. Surveys found 83% of home sellers (soldbyairdotcom) prefer an agent who uses drones. It’s difficult to capture images of large properties without drone use, and even small properties often show better when using aerial footage. Drone use will likely grow in 2021 due to consumer demand as well as more capabilities such as 3D mapping. The commercial drone market is expected to see exponential growth in 2021, with real estate agents taking advantage of this upgraded technology.

Automation

Automation has long been a trend in the real estate world, but 2021 will be a perfect time to automate efforts. Because of social distancing guidelines, agents scrambled to find ways to automate processes. Many of these processes, such as digitizing documents, e-signatures, and smart documentation, will become the norm.

Whereas parts of real estate processes must be done in person, other procedures, such as payments, do not. Some in the real estate world may also turn to the blockchain to automate paperwork. This would then provide a heightened level of security for buyers and sellers.

Other automation steps such as social media marketing, calendar automation, and CRMs will continue in the new year as agents find a better way to work.

Artificial intelligence

Next year we’re likely to see many AI technologies used for proptech trend watching. Using historical trends and current data, agents can find out what a house is worth — and perhaps more importantly, what it will be worth in years to come. Buyers and sellers will rely on agents to provide accurate calculations of a property’s value, as well as neighborhood trends and potential changes.

AI and machine learning are already changing property portals by matching buyers’ search criteria with relevant properties more accurately. This upgraded technology simplifies the search process for buyers by delivering more suitable results.

Focusing on proptech

Like many other industries, real estate is seeing technological upgrades to meet with COVID-19 regulations. 2021 will be an interesting year for proptech, especially since a digital transformation in the real estate industry has been in the works for the past few years.

Real estate agents that take advantage of upgraded technologies will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge in the market. This edge is beneficial now, given that buyers and sellers are, at times, forging agents in favor of online buying and selling options. However, like the previous years, the real estate industry will likely continue to see a digital transformation as new tech players enter the market, offering better ways of working.

Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels

Adrian Fisher

Adrian Fisher

CEO and Founder

Adrian Fisher is the CEO and founder of PropertySimple, a real estate technology software that allows agents to build their personal brand online.