Technology’s Impact on the Real Estate Industry
NEW YORK CITY—For the August 2014 Full Nelson, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ash Zandieh of RE Tech, a national real estate tech coalition, to discuss the impact of technology on the real estate industry.
James Nelson: What is the mission of RE Tech?
Ash Zandieh: RE Tech is a real estate tech coalition where we try to bridge the gap between real estate and technology through events like the RE Tech Challenge which you were a guest judge for, and the RE Tech Summit. Attendees for our events include industry thought leaders, real estate tech entrepreneurs, and resident startups.
Nelson: Do you think the Commercial Real Estate business is still in the Stone Ages when it comes to technology?
Zandieh: I think that there are certain elements of real estate than can be enhanced with technology, and I think ultimately it will drive the future of real estate.
Nelson: It seems like the Residential side of the business has figured it out with websites like Trulia, Zillow, and StreetEasy. They have really been a game changer.
Zandieh: Absolutely, I think they have been innovative with their technology and their approach on how to dissect the residential real estate market. I think that the Commercial Real Estate sector can really learn from it.
Nelson: At this moment there is Costar, which owns Loopnet, and they are effectively the only commercial multiple listing service site out there. Is there room for more competitors in this space?
Zandieh: Absolutely, I think specialization is the key to success in all industries. Startups like 42Floors, CompStak, Urban Compass, and the list goes on, they’re driving the future of real estate.
Nelson: There’s also ways to research information for properties, through PropertyShark, Oasis, etc. so is there more to be done in that arena?
Zandieh: The future of real estate is driven in data, and unlocking dark data is the future for real estate.
Nelson: Bloomberg created NYC Open Data, can you tell us about it?
Zandieh: NYC Real Estate Open Data is a program run by the EDC, and it’s an open platform where you can plug into city data via API.
Nelson: What information could you unlock for owners and brokers?
Zandieh: Any sort of data from building records to rent roll, I believe, to anything like transportation, nearest subway lines, so on and so forth.
Nelson: Tell me a little about Social Media and how important it is today for owners, brokers, to become visible?
Zandieh: Social Media is extremely important. Having a social presence will enhance a company’s vision and online presence. Look at all these brands like Coca-Cola to Pepsi and even Twitter; having an online presence is the future and more people are going digital, and if you’re going online, you should have an online presence.
Nelson: JLL released information that the first half of the year, tech has leased 2.6 million SF in Manhattan, that’s 15% of all leases and they’re the second biggest group after financial services. Is New York City now the capital of technology in the world?
Zandieh: That’s a good question. I think New York City and San Francisco go back and forth, but ultimately I believe that NYC is a very unique tech culture and so is San Francisco. They don’t rival each other, they’re not competitive, and what survives here is here for a reason, like fashion, media, real estate; and hardware in San Francisco. I think they’re both unique, but I think they add value to the technical system.