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Technology in 2018 and What It Means for Real Estate

Trulia’s Leadership Team Predicts What’s Next for Blockchain, AI and AR

As we close 2017, Trulia is finishing a pivotal year of innovation. The company expanded its hyper-local Rent Near Transit tool to new cities, further personalized experiences for consumers with Activity Feed on its apps, and doubled-down on investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

We’re excited about where all of this work will take our products in the years ahead, and much of our efforts in 2017 mirror the predictions for tech in real estate that we shared at the beginning of the year. But, what does it all mean for the future?

I sat down with some of Trulia’s tech leaders to hear about what they expect and hope to see for technology in 2018 and beyond. Here’s what they shared:

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Will Play a Role in Real Estate
By Fall 2017, everyone was talking about cryptocurrency and blockchain. Whether the discussion was about Bitcoin specifically or regulations and ethics, these are hot topics and Trulia’s tech leaders have ideas on how to apply blockchain to real estate.

Both Tim Correia, senior vice president and general manager of Trulia, and Yardley Ip, general manager of Trulia Rentals, think we’ll see the cryptocurrency craze dwindle a bit in 2018, but both agree blockchain technology has the potential to transform outdated real estate transactions.

“Blockchain will bring updates to the most outdated elements of the real estate transaction,” says Correia. “Take escrow as an example. Blockchain technology has the potential to finally make this obsolete process faster and easier.”

While we saw at least one home purchased with Bitcoin in 2017, Ip adds that we’ll need to see a change in both traditional banking and FinTech before buying homes with cryptocurrency becomes mainstream.

Regulations will also play a big role in this, and all of us at Trulia are curious to see how things shake out.

More Data, More Artificial Intelligence, More Personalization
Things are about to get a lot more personal, predicts Deep Varma, VP of Engineering at Trulia. While everyone in 2017 has been talking about their general use of AI, Varma predicts the future is about focusing AI efforts to deliver even more personalized experiences to consumers and customers.

“Improved accuracy in data collection and easy access to machine learning technology for companies is playing a big role in creating a shift in expectations,” explains Varma. “Both customers and consumers now expect businesses to know them better, and serve relevant content at relevant times.”

With this new expectation, recommender systems will multiply in 2018, says Varma. Taking a page from Netflix, more companies will start offering recommender systems powered by AI to deliver products, services or experiences based on consumers’ inferred behavior.

Creating personalized experiences and fine-tuning our recommender system were focuses for Trulia in 2017, and they’ll be an even bigger part of what we do in 2018.

“With more data, technology will be able to continually personalize product experiences, so renters and buyers can find their future homes more easily,” explains Ip. “For example, data can help us experiment with using prediction engines. Maybe we’ll be able to use them to determine when someone should buy or rent.”

Augmented Reality May Find a Home with Consumers
We’ve talked about augmented reality (AR) in previous prediction blog posts, but now, with AI and hardware both getting better, we expect to see the capabilities of AR grow and morph into something more meaningful.

“AR is in the same place visual search was a few years back,” says Varma. “We’re starting to see progression with the big players embedding chips in their devices to create faster data connections, so experiences like AR are better for consumers.”

In addition, Correia says augmented reality will be the gateway that virtual reality needs to move into the mainstream consumer world.

“A broad application of AR, driven by an industry like real estate, will create a comfort level among consumers over the next few years in a way that will allow virtual reality players to get a foot in the door,” says Correia.

By that, he expects AR to enable home seekers to tailor their journey their way. For instance, a busy, single mom can check out a home and neighborhood without having to make the time to visit an open house.

The tech world grew leaps and bounds in 2017: companies started sharing delivery dates for driverless cars, cybersecurity became a real concern and facial recognition went mainstream. We expect 2018 to be even bigger.