The metaverse and blockchain technology could have a significant impact on the future of real estate, according to experts at the 2022 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings. Several hundred REALTORS® attended Wednesday’s Emerging Business Issues and Technology Forum, which provided insight into the top emerging tech trends that are expected to have the biggest impact on the real estate industry in the coming years.
Jane Dzielski, Google’s principal analytical lead, kicked off the session with a presentation on data trends in the real estate sector. She said that prior to the pandemic, only one in 10 households moved each year.
“We are now seeing a ton of moving activity,” Dzielski said. “Twenty-five percent of consumers have moved in the past two years and 24% plan to move in the next year.”
Dzielski also said that while internet searches for buying a second home dropped in the first half of 2020 (-9%), they have surged since then (+23%). According to Google’s data, the top reasons that homeowners cited for purchasing a second home were to diversify their investments, earn money renting, and use as a vacation home.
Ashley Stinton, Second Century Ventures’ head of marketing, discussed the recent rise in investment in real estate technology companies, explaining that over $31 billion was invested in 2021.
“These are unprecedented numbers,” Stinton said. “We’ve seen 12 new prop tech unicorns as well as over 150 merger and acquisition transactions.”
Stinton noted that SCV’s REACH scale-up program plays an active role in shaping the future of real estate technology investment.
“We find, support, accelerate, and scale the innovative companies that are going to have the highest impact on REALTORS®’ businesses,” she said. “We then bring these technologies to NAR members so that these companies can work hand-in-hand with the REALTOR® community as they build out their products and services.”
Dan Weisman, NAR’s director of emerging technology, told the audience that technologies like the metaverse have the power to significantly impact the real estate landscape.
“Meta has committed to investing $10 billion per year, for each of the next 10 years, just on the metaverse,” Weisman said. “The metaverse is going to change how we interact as a society, how we use the internet in general, and ultimately how people buy and sell homes.”
Dave Conroy, NAR’s director of emerging technology, discussed how cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and blockchain technology will influence real estate businesses and transactions. He cited a Redfin report that said nearly one in nine first-time buyers—11.6%—sold cryptocurrency to help finance a down payment in 2021, up from 8.8% in 2020 and 4.6% in 2019.
“Blockchains are a new way of thinking about information management,” he said. “They provide a verifiable and trustworthy record of events or transactions. This is a critical component of any transaction.”
Conroy concluded the session underscoring the importance of decentralized finance and the role it could play in real estate in the future.
“Decentralized Finance, or DeFi for short, refers to financial services that exist on blockchains,” he said. “With financing being a key component of the transaction, Realtors® should become familiar with the new tools that are becoming available in the DeFi landscape.”