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When It Comes to Automation in Real Estate, the First Step Is Data

In just about every industry, everything from wine to video games, automation is one of the biggest forces of change. Creating automated systems and uncovering important insights using advanced computing techniques like machine learning has become easier than ever. Real estate is no outlier. Implementing workplace automation in real estate offers the opportunity to gain efficiencies in everyday tasks and allows employees to use their unique human skillset to contribute in other areas. It also can be a new way to differentiate your business in a crowded market. It is no wonder that some of the biggest property firms are hiring computer scientists and devoting more and more of their budgets to automation technology.

But the nature of automation means that there are scripts written to command something be done with the help of a subset of data. Without data, your automation isn’t going to be all that effective. Therefore, whether you already have data or not will be a deciding factor for what type of automation you are able to capitalize on. Zillow is a great example of this. They have the highest traffic of any residential real estate site, giving them valuable data about what people look at when shopping for a home (or just passing time imagining where they would live if they could afford it). For this reason, amongst others, I have predicted that Zillow will likely come to dominate the iBuyer market, where they offer a cash price based on their valuation algorithms.

Most real estate companies don’t have the access to data like Zillow. Luckily, there are options to help real estate firms buy the data that they need to feed their automation tools. Data can be added via an API by pulling data from a third party web app connection and added to the data that a company already has. Once real estate companies are able to aggregate data, both from outside sources and internal documents they will be able to get started with basic automation techniques. 

The insights gained from the information collected can be valuable to lead nurturing and lead communications management. It can also be integrated with a platform that hosts contracts, like HelloSign. By pre-populating data fields you’ve already captured, you’re automating a part of the transaction process and eliminating manual entry errors.

To stay competitive using the same data as everyone else will not be enough. Companies will have to add new datasets that allow them to automate in ways that their competitors can’t. As listing information becomes more of a commodity, adding off market property data, for example, could provide a competitive advantage. This data can be purchased via a property data API or bulk file to help companies put together a unique data set that can help them with their unique business models. The beauty of data is the more you have, the more you can do with it. Two of the methods mentioned above, connecting to external APIs or ingesting a bulk file format, provide access to innumerable new data sources. 

Data science is as much art as it is science. Cutting edge companies get creative with automation. But no matter what the task that is being automated, finding and organizing the right data is the first step. Every real estate strategy is different, so too is every company’s data needs. Before thinking about what would be helpful to automate, remember to consider what data will be needed to do it successfully.

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