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Technology in Real Estate: A Look Backward and Forward

Trulia VPs reflect on 2015 and what it means for 2016

It’s been 10 years since Trulia launched as an online real estate marketplace. Since then, we’ve seen competition pop-up and fuel innovation, data science revolutionize the way we use information, and changes in the way content is delivered to consumers via new consumer electronics. And things sure didn’t slow down in 2015.

I got the chance to sit down with three of Trulia’s leaders earlier this week – Deep Varma, VP of data engineering, Jeff McConathy, VP of engineering for consumer services, and Jonathan McNulty, VP of product and growth – to talk shop, reflect back on technology in real estate in 2015 and what it all means for 2016.  

Looking back, 2015 was a year of consolidation and adoption, setting us up for an exciting 2016. As we move into the new year, we expect to see a lot of what fueled innovation in 2015 to continue playing a role in 2016. Including:

Experimenting with already available technology
Across the board last year, companies like Trulia and Zillow started leveraging available technologies in new ways – or for the first time – to create better and more meaningful experiences for consumers, and to push themselves. For example, in 2015, Trulia brought a lot of its back-end technologies to the front-end, using image recognition technology and computer vision to categorize homes in a brand new way, delivering a better search experience to consumers. Trulia also tapped into its growing data science team to build a new search algorithm to serve consumers personalized content.

Additionally, companies started paying attention to what consumers are gravitating toward, tapping into new hardware and trends. In fact, Trulia was one of the first to develop an app for Apple Watch, and Zillow recently launched an app for the latest version of Apple TV.  

Over the past few years, consumers have started understanding, appreciating and even expecting personalized content. As they continue to engage with this type of content on a daily basis, it’s likely they’re going to start demanding it with every experience, including in the home buying process. As such, it’s likely more companies will work on creating personalized experiences in 2016, and look to see how they can further individualize the experience for even better engagement. As an added bonus, machine learning and algorithms are only going to get smarter in 2016, which may allow for artificial intelligence to make inroads this year.

Leveraging data in new ways
Data was also a big player in 2015, and it’s not going anywhere in 2016. Most companies are just scratching the surface of what they can do with data – leveraging it for local information, research reports, and more. As more government data opens and mandates are put into place, and as companies develop more partnerships, great strides will be made in new areas.

Overall, it’s an exciting time to be working in the online real estate industry, and with hundreds of new gadgets and technologies introduced at CES 2016 last week, I’m sure we’ll have even more opportunity for innovation in our future. If you have any other predictions to share, let us know in the comments.