3 Tech Trends That Will Transform Real Estate

Three emerging technology trends are going to impact the future of real estate and how people work, live and play.
Elie Finegold

Elie Finegold, CBRE

Three emerging technology trends are going to impact the future of real estate and how people work, live and play, according to Elie Finegold, CBRE Group Inc.’s senior vice president of global innovation and business intelligence.

“Quite simply, we are going through a period of intensely rapid and actually accelerating technological change that is penetrating every aspect of our lives—and will continue to persist for the foreseeable future,” Finegold told Commercial Property Executive. “The challenge for real estate leaders will be to keep eyes on this different future while still creating value for existing asset bases.”

From broad access to WiFi and the ubiquity of smartphones to ever-lighter laptops and more powerful tablet devices, the virtual barrier between work and home is all but gone, and the way people think about real estate is fundamentally changing.

“The technology thread is undoubtedly the continuing rise in power and decline in cost of computing, which drives most of the other incredible innovations,” Finegold added. “But the deep human thread is that we are going through a profound transformation in how we live and how we work, how we grow up and how we grow old. We’ll still be doing all of that in buildings, but it is going to be a very different experience.”

According to Finegold, these three trends will reshape the way people use real estate in the future:

  1. radical mobility;
  2. a collaborative economy;
  3. the transportation revolution, with the ability of people and machines to work from anywhere likely to transform the utilization of traditional spaces.

“I think the collaborative economy accelerates and deepens the impact of autonomous vehicles. In many major cities, if you average less than 10,000 miles per year, it is already cheaper and easier to Uber than to own your own car,” Finegold said. “This means that for many people transportation will become a cheap and ubiquitous service—much like we have given up CDs for streaming services, people in a lot of urban areas will abandon their own cars for a cheap, driverless chauffer. It stands to profoundly change the cost of living in cities, while being at least price competitive with mass transit, highway infrastructure, and owning a car.”

Finegold expects the most disruptive technological advancement will be safe, completely “robotic” cars and trucks.

“Fully autonomous vehicles are already licensed in certain states, and will probably be fairly common by 2020 or so,” he said. “I think it will have a profound effect on how we move goods and people through and between cities, creating a far greener and more efficient experience, but also leaving us with a lot of infrastructure and city planning that we will need to repurpose.”

While some of these trends may be in the distant future, aspects of all three already exist, and are quickly creating new modes for people to access real estate, Finegold concluded.