Since launching in November 2014, the Amazon Alexa device (“Alexa”) has surged in popularity and advanced technologically. Not only is Alexa a virtual assistant for everyday life (helping to make to-do lists, setting alarms, providing weather updates etc.), but now, thanks to Hunters Estate Agents, it can be used as a property valuation tool in the UK.
Using the speech recognition tool built into Alexa, after answering a few basic questions, you are told how much your home may be worth. The estimates are created using Zoopla’s Hometrack Property information service.
This property valuation tool is the first of its kind in the UK to be launched on Alexa, although Redefy Real Estate created the first home valuation tool using Alexa in America in early 2017. This signals a clear pathway for the growth of technology in the Real Estate industry. Virtual assistance in the property market is starting to flourish, so it brings to the fore the question of whether a human surveyor can ever be bypassed completely in the valuation process.
More generally, the drive for the use of “PropTech” (literally the fusion of “Property” and “Technology”, which is now the catch-all label attached to the digital transformation of the Real Estate sector) is undeniably growing immensely. There is even a not for profit membership organisation in the UK (The UK PropTech Association) which has been formed to help drive this revolution.
Alexa is also just a step on the ladder to “Smart Buildings”, which aim to better tenant experience and occupant comfort by allowing people to control their built environment with the use of apps, among other things. You can easily find sites online, such as Smart Buildings Magazine, which post news, features and analysis for professionals interested in the smart building and technology sector. Smart buildings are inevitably a pathway to “Smart Cities”; cities which aim to solve traditional urban problems using technology.
It is easy to see that as the use of technology increases and the advancement in such technology continues to surge, the Real Estate sector is in for a time of exponential change.
Venture funds and real estate firms will bet big on ‘smart’ proptech in 2019