Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
Residential real estate, particularly the rental sector, has been notably slow to experience the same radical disruption that many other industries have seen with the digital age (e.g. retail, finance, transportation). Companies like Zillow and Redfin have democratized MLS listings and the home search process, but the way we buy and rent homes is still fundamentally the same as it always has been. This has a lot to do with the fact that real estate is such a capital-intensive industry. It’s much harder to remove friction from a process that’s much more complicated (and has bigger stakes) than, say, ride-sharing.
I do think that’s going to change in the next five to ten years. Companies like OpenDoor are streamlining and digitizing the home-buying process in a way that we haven’t seen before, and Bungalow is leveraging technology to eliminate nearly all of the headaches of the rental experience for both homeowners and renters. Residential real estate is going to catch up to other consumer experiences that we’ve become accustomed to in the 21st century, which is a good thing for all of us.
One important point, however, is that technology alone isn’t going to make a dent in the bigger issues surrounding housing in this country. It’s far more complicated than creating a great platform or a great app. We need innovative solutions that create more affordable housing stock. My hope is that as Bungalow grows, we’re able to help keep cities affordable for early career professionals (and beyond). Tech is an important piece of that, and we’re excited about how emerging innovations can make the experience even better (e.g. using AI to help people find compatible roommates). But it’s not the whole picture.