This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
Over the past year, I have had more than a few startup ideas and pitches thrown my way. I have to say, the market that I have found most interesting and intriguing has been real estate. We have obviously moved past the days of the 2008 housing market crisis, and I think it’s fair to say the real estate market is doing pretty well. In some cities, I have even heard that realtors have limited inventory of property to sell.
Real estate is pretty much everywhere these days. My wife and I love watching house flipping shows — they always make property buying look so easy. So why wouldn’t people want to get involved in this market? I mean, when you stop and think about it, it makes so much sense. Whether you are trying to get into the $30.9 billion lawn care marketplace or the $12 trillion (yes, that’s trillion) U.S. commercial real estate industry, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of opportunity or shortage of startups trying to solve the industry’s problems.
That’s why, as of Oct. 19, 2015, there are more than 58 startups that have raised millions of dollars trying to disrupt the real estate industry, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down or scaring away any founders or investors from joining the pack. The startups vary in use: some well-known companies, such as Zillow and Trulia, help prospective buyers find their dream homes; Balcony automates referrals to save time and help agents do their jobs; Student.com helps students find housing around the world; and BetterView helps insurance companies inspect roofs with drones so they no longer have to send people to inspect dangerous roofs.
Startups are using technology and data to revolutionize an industry that used to be bogged down by paperwork and phone calls. They’re improving convenience and accessibility, and they’re automating the whole sales process from the beginning to end. As much as people want to argue that real estate is a personal experience and that relationships matter, at the end of the day, the real estate industry is an information business. Whoever has the best information, the most accurate information and access to the technology will win the deals.
CB Insights reported that real estate tech startups raised $1.7 billion in 2015, which represents a 50 percent increase year-over-year. 2016 numbers are expected to eclipse the 2015 increases.
So, if you are reading this and wondering how you can use your real estate experience and know-how (or if you simply have an idea to disrupt or reshape how property is bought, sold and managed) CB Insights recently gave a great breakdown of the different areas where you can get your toes wet: