UPDATED BY
Jessica Powers | Nov 11, 2022

Before the rise of real estate technology, it was hard to know a home’s value until a state-licensed appraiser visited the property and made an estimate, weighing pros like a chic patio against cons like a mildewy basement. 

Today, artificial intelligence and neural networking can do the work of appraisers. Zillow’s free Zestimate tool is one popular option on the market. 

“It’s always been this attempt at a starting point in home valuation for everyone who’s bought and sold and owns a home,” said Nicholas Stephens, director of product management at Zillow

 

What Is Real Estate Technology? 

Real estate technology comes in many forms, and it can be classified as any website, app or software used to find, sell or manage real estate. Real estate tech overlaps with proptech (property tech), which is typically used by real estate professionals, underwriters, developers, property managers, title companies and banks. 

Zillow is a prime example of real estate tech. Since it debuted in 2006, the Zestimate’s internal algorithm has drawn on traditional real estate metrics (bedroom and bathroom count, square footage) as well as contextual data, like local tax records. When people list their homes for sale on Zillow, they upload pictures; the Zestimate can “see” these photos using cutting-edge computer vision techniques and factor elements like natural light and curb appeal into its estimates.

The Zestimate’s median error hovers just above 3 percent. In other words, half of its estimates are within 3 percent of a home’s actual selling price. That’s a massive improvement since Zillow’s early days when the Zestimate had a median error of 14 percent.

Zillow isn’t the only company that foresees a shift in real estate appraisal. The more powerful AI technology becomes, the more automated valuation models (or AVMs) sprout up. 

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Real Estate Technology Trends

Tech has fundamentally changed how the real estate sector operates. For one, it has sped up transactions. Discovering real estate listings and setting up showings used to take days. Today, not so much. On-demand information and services are standard in this hyper-connected era, and the real estate industry has responded to consumer demand for immediacy.

Redfin debuted Instant Updates more than a decade ago, and the feature has only gotten faster in the intervening years.

“People can sign up for notifications for the types of homes that they’re looking for,” said Jen Chao, vice president of engineering at Redfin. “We can notify our customers faster than anybody else, so they can be the first to find out about homes that are hitting the market or price changes.”

Real estate technology has also accelerated the booking process for viewing homes. Redfin’s “Book It Now” feature is just one example. The feature allows users to schedule a home tour in just a few clicks. 

In fact, a recent trend — instant buying, or iBuying — extends this on-demand ethos to selling a home, a sometimes interminable-seeming process. But selling to iBuyers takes only a few days. The companies make prompt, algorithm-driven offers, pay in cash and sell homes themselves — often sprucing them up in the process.

Today, iBuying represents only a sliver of all real estate transactions, but that’s poised to change. In 2018, Zillow Offers bought fewer than 700 homes, according to the New York Times, but it expects to scale that up to 5,000 homes per month by 2024.

For her part, Redfin’s Chao sees proptech heading toward what she calls the “complete solution.” Redfin hopes to eventually become a one-stop shop, so it can provide a seamless home-buying experience. But this doesn’t mean real estate professionals and agents will be pushed out. 

“Real estate is a highly personal service,” Chao said. “[We use] technology to streamline and get rid of the [tasks] that software can do really well, to free up time for agents to focus on the things that require the human touch.”

 

14 Real Estate Technology Companies to Know

Real estate technology companies are constantly growing and changing with the housing market. When it comes to staying up to date on major players in the industry, there are plenty to sift through. Here are 12 real estate technology companies to keep an eye on. 

 

1. AptAmigo

Location: Austin, Texas

AptAmigo is an Apartment Locator service building a better way to match people with their dream apartments. Operating throughout seven U.S. cities, AptAmigo’s process begins with 1-on-1 support from a local apartment expert. Prospective renters describe their perfect apartment, which the AptAmigo team then turns into a curated list of apartments located throughout their city. From there, AptAmigo provides a personal Touring Agent who helps renters tour each apartment and even follows up to help complete the application process, eliminating stress while landing more people their dream apartment.

 

2. Opendoor 

Location: San Francisco, California

Opendoor is an iBuyer that simplifies the home buying and selling process, making it “as easy as buying and selling cars,” according to The New York Times. The company buys houses in cash, typically closing in 10 to 60 days. Then it resells them via the Opendoor app, backing sales with a 90-day guarantee: if the buyer doesn’t like it, the company will buy it back. Currently, Opendoor buys and sells homes in more than 35 cities across the United States.

 

3. Aalto

Location: San Francisco, California

Aalto is an online marketplace that allows sellers to connect with interested buyers. The process works by having users create a home profile, where they can receive insights on profile views and tour requests. Aalto employs licensed advisors, which prevents buyers from paying commission fees, and it only requires buyers to put 1 percent down.

 

4. Redfin

Location: Seattle, Washington

Redfin is an online platform that allows users to find and post listings for rentals and homes for sale. The platform allows users to filter options by offering landing pages for listings by state, city and listing type. The company’s website also features a mortgage comparison tool that allows prospective homebuyers to enter a desired location, home price and down payment to see the rates of different loan companies.

 

5. Zillow

Location: Seattle, Washington

Although Zillow’s Zestimate tool is one of its most popular features, the platform also offers users options to search for real estate for sale and for rent as well as offering its own home loan service. The platform also allows users to find local real estate agents, list rentals and sell homes directly through a Zillow agent or post a listing for free for homeowners selling their own homes. 

 

6. Knock

Location: Seattle, Washington

Knock is another iBuyer, but it doesn’t just buy houses in cash — the company helps sellers use that cash to make offers on their dream homes. Sellers can move into their new house before their old house goes on the market. Knock handles all repairs and updates on their old house, too, bundling repair costs into the client’s new mortgage.

 

7. Bowery Valuation

Location: New York, New York

The real estate industry has seen a rise in AVMs, but Bowery Valuation hasn’t fully automated its process. Instead, the company’s team of veteran appraisers works with its proprietary software to produce data-backed estimates informed by expert intuition. The hybrid process has attracted high-profile clients like Capital One and Greystone.

 

8. Rentberry

Location: San Francisco, California

Rentberry streamlines renting through its online platform, which operates in more than 50 countries and has listings in cities like Paris, Rome, Budapest and more remote locations. Through the site, renters share personal information, eSign leases and submit repair requests. In addition, Rentberry offers transparent rental negotiations that prevent vacancies and keep rents from needlessly ballooning.

 

9. Offerpad

Location: Chandler, Arizona

Selling a house through Offerpad starts with a simple form. What’s your address? Got any pictures of your house? Based on those details, the company algorithmically generates a quote, sight unseen. Before buying a house, though, they send a representative to verify its condition.

“We seek to provide an offer where the homeowner will net an amount very similar to what they would net in a traditional transaction,” co-founder Jerry Coleman told Forbes, “with our margin being what would be paid to other third parties” — including contractors and plumbers.

 

10. SquareFoot 

Location: New York, New York

Squarefoot matches companies like Casper and Instacart with office space — a task that’s more complex than it sounds. First, company leadership needs to sort out what they need. SquareFoot has online tools to help: the Space Calculator, for example, helps estimate the square footage required based on the number of employees a company has, how many private offices it wants, etc. Once clients have a specific space in mind, SquareFoot brokers can help track it down in New York and New Jersey.

 

11. Flyhomes

Location: Seattle, Washington

Flyhomes clients don’t have to line up a lender before making an offer on a home. Instead, this real estate company fronts clients the money they need. Once the seller accepts, the buyer then tracks down a lender and purchases the home from Flyhomes. On the seller's side, Flyhomes offers a compelling guarantee: its team will spruce up and sell a client home in 180 days, or the company will buy the home itself.

 

12. WeWork

Location: New York, New York 

Is WeWork a real estate company or a tech company? It’s a mix of both, renting out offices and co-working spaces in cities across the world. In many ways, it functions as a landlord. Its leaders, however, position it as a tech company that has scaled quickly thanks to its digital platform. Technology certainly plays a role in its business; clients can network and reserve conference rooms through the WeWork app.

 

13. neighborhoods.com

Location: Chicago, Illinois 

Neighborhoods.com is an online search platform that allows prospective homebuyers to search for homes for sale. The platform aims to help buyers understand the neighborhood a home is located in by providing school, walkability and local business data. The website allows users to create a profile and save homes, and entire neighborhoods, that they like. The company is also the parent of 55places.com, a real estate website specializing in retirement communities and offering mortgage options for buyers over the age of 62.

 

14. Trulia

Location: San Francisco, California

Trulia is an online platform that allows users to see homes for rent and for sale The company also features a neighborhoods platform that showcases resident reviews, photos and comments. Trulia also offers tools to make finding a mortgage more streamlined, such as an affordability, mortgage and refinance calculators.

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