At the fourth annual iOi (Innovation. Opportunity. Investment.) Summit on Sept. 28 – 29, 2022, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) met with proptech leaders and forward-thinking real estate professionals in Los Angeles, California, to explore the latest cutting-edge technologies. iOi is where real estate investors and innovators shape the future of the industry—incorporating big data, blockchain, AI and other emerging technologies into the world’s largest asset class.
On the second day of the conference, NAR hosted a panel on Government Regulation of Technology and Impacts to Real Estate. The panel was moderated by NAR’s Director of Government Advocacy Ryan Rusbuldt, with panelists Sam Love and Joel Richard from the bipartisan government relations firm Invariant. The panelists underscored that real estate professionals should keep a careful eye on what happens in Congress because the impact of legislation is not limited to tech giants like Facebook and Google.
Over the last several years, Congress has focused on regulating so-called “big tech,” a loose term typically applied to only the largest technology companies. Major tech legislation typically applies to companies with multi-million-dollar market caps—meaning that the vast majority of real estate companies have fallen outside the purview of that legislation. However, as policymakers have begun to emphasize a comprehensive, all-of-market approach, major privacy, security and algorithmic accountability legislation has been applied to firms that aren’t considered “traditional” technology companies.
Rusbuldt underscored that technology is central to every stage of the real estate transaction, and innovation in the space is critical to the growth of the real estate sector. For example, before 2020, more than half of all states required wet-ink signatures to notarize paper documents. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all 50 states passed temporary legislation to allow the use of remote online notarization (RON) technology, helping ensure the reliability, efficiency and validity of notarized public records for all parties when mortgaging, purchasing and selling real property.
Similarly, high-speed internet has become critical to the way REALTORS® conduct business. High-speed broadband is now a selling point for neighborhoods and a competitive advantage for commercial office spaces. During this time of remote work and social distancing, Congress has spotlighted broadband as a public utility, passing billions of dollars in funding to help expand rural access, update infrastructure and provide reduced internet rates to low-income households. These changes allow REALTORS® to interface with clients, list and advertise homes, and manage the daily operations of their firms.
The panelists at iOi emphasized that all real estate professionals have a stake in future tech legislation, particularly bills dealing with data privacy, cryptocurrency, AI and other burgeoning areas of the industry. Buying a home is likely the most important investment a person can make in their lifetime, and creating a more convenient, secure and fair process is invaluable to the American public. Because policymakers don’t always consider the impact of regulation on sectors outside of traditional tech, it’s critical that REALTORS® and real estate professionals make their voices heard.
For more information, visit https://www.nar.realtor/.