How technology is transforming the real estate market

John Allen

Building, buying, and selling real estate has never been straightforward. Building a property requires intensive or expensive labor. Buying a property requires extensive searching and paperwork. And selling a property requires patience and legal assistance. None of the processes are "easy" and most of them still take place offline for majority of the time. But a few new startups have ambitions to bring digital delight to the real estate industry — most notably Atmos, Orchard, and Tomo.

Atmos offers a one-stop online shop to build a home. The company's mission is to infuse the simplicity of modern e-commerce into real estate to garner a homebuilding experience that has yet to be seen on the market. New customers can search for a lot to build upon, select a house from a batch of pre-architected designs, personalize the interior finishes, obtain financing, and discover homebuilding companies directly on the platform. This turnkey experience drastically reduces the complexity of crafting a new house which opens up the market to buyers who previously wouldn't have considered building.

Orchard is utilizing the newfound ibuying real estate model (proven out by Opendoor) to unify property transactions. Buyers and sellers of residential real estate tend to overlap since many homeowners sell their old homes while they are on the hunt for a new one. But the two sides of the market have typically been treated separately, which from Orchard's perspective, is outdated. Orchard's modern process offers sellers a guaranteed price for their home that is good for 90 days; the company then lists the home on their Zillow-esque platform to sell and will buy the property if it doesn't sell within that time period. That offer enables sellers to secure financing due to the guaranteed future cash while giving them the comfort to bid on properties they like — which of course they can do on Orchard's platform. This holistic approach combines the home-buying and home-selling processes into one experience, making this another one-stop-shop, just like Atmos.

Tomo sees the future of real estate as one where agents work alongside their customers instead of for their customers. Their flagship product, which has yet to be fully publicized, turns document management into data management by using AI to remove the friction within real estate transactions. Their product aims to become the source of truth for agents and consumers when buying or selling a property. All of the paperwork is handled online and simplified so that everyday people can comprehend the terms.

Those companies are approaching real estate with unique products yet all of them are trying to accomplish the same goal of digitize the industry. It's tough to predict what ideas will work and which ideas will fail but the notion is clear that the user of experience of buying and selling property needs revamped. The industry could look much different in just a few years because of companies like those mentioned above.

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