3 Great Tech Tools for Real Estate Investors

Although the real estate world was late to the party when it came to adopting technology, property investors will be pleased to know that there are a number of tech tools out there that real estate moguls can use to increase their investment earnings. Just like in other industries, digital technology and online networks have made it easier than ever before for real estate investors to scale their businesses and grow their holdings.

This article will outline a few online tools and digital networks that savvy real estate investors should consider adding to their arsenal as they build their business.

Finding Sales Comparisons with Zillow

Zillow is a real estate listing website that offers a wide range of tech-related benefits for real estate investors. Zillow allows users to quickly compare current listing prices and market trends to see if they are making a fair offer on a particular property. If you’re thinking about placing an offer on a fixer upper in a college neighborhood, for example, Zillow lists the prices of all recent sales in the property’s neighborhood, giving you a good idea if you’re making an offer that will allow you to win the property. Zillow’s quick comparison feature makes it an indispensable digital tool for real estate flippers.

Online Communities for Real Estate Investors

Another tool real estate investors should consider utilizing is real estate-specific online networks. If you’re on Facebook, poke around and find the real estate investment groups for your area — there are sure to be a few! These groups — as well as Facebook chat groups that were made for landlords — are a great way to learn about local real estate events, foreclosures, and auctions.

For investors wanting to join a broader digital community, a popular real estate forum to look into is Bigger Pockets. This forum brings together real estate enthusiasts from around the United States to trade tips and tricks on the latest real estate investing trends.

Tools for Landlords Wanting to Estimate Rent

Depending on your real estate investment strategy, figuring out how much to charge your tenants for rent could be an important step in building a more sustainable, long-term real estate portfolio.

For aspiring landlords, a tool like Rent-O-Meter is a great way to ensure that what you plan on charging your tenants is in-line with what they might expect to pay elsewhere for something comparable.

Zillow also offers historical rent information on properties, making it just one more reason to acquaint yourself with the site if you want to consider yourself a tech-savvy real estate investor.

An Overview of a $30 Million Mansion

What kind of real estate does $29.5 million buy? That’s a question that few will ever have the opportunity to explore–at least seriously. This Manhattan townhouse, though, allows a heady peek into the lifestyles of the upper echelon. Read on for a sampling of the delights of this Chelsea gem.
It comes with its own Bentley
Yes, it’s true: Whoever buys this house won’t have to worry about finding a place to park in Manhattan, as the pad comes fully equipped with a hot rod–itself worth half a million dollars. Check out the pictures here.
It offers two-plus bathrooms for each bedroom
While the mansion itself has a relatively modest five bedrooms, there are 11 baths, including a steam room and a sauna. This means that even if two people were to occupy each room, no one would have to take turns in the shower. Talk about how the other half lives.
There’s a yoga room and a lap pool
No need to join a gym–the tenants will have plenty of opportunities for exercise right in their own home. That ought to make the price tag sting just a little bit less.
The living room is the best spot in the house
Alyssa Soto Brody, the Realtor handling the property, is most enamored of the 26-by-23 foot living room. In addition to the 13-foot ceiling and wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, the space also boasts LED lighting that casts different colors on the enormous gas-powered fireplace.
A kitchen to die for
With its marble surfaces, cabinets covered in Swarovski crystals and vegan crocodile leather, and sleek chrome appliances, this area almost looks too pretty to cook in–although that’s not likely to bother the residents..
A room with its own floor
The fourth floor is taken up entirely by the master suite, which includes a gorgeous hand-cut mosaic Italian soaking tub.
The Realtor refers to the property as the “Bentley Batcave”
At 11,000 square feet, the space is clearly no cave; however, die-hard Bruce Wayne fans are likely to appreciate the comparison. While the price tag may be steep, bear in mind that in this corner of the Big Apple, parking spots alone have been known to fetch over $1 million.

New Virtual Lab for Developers, Builders, and Clients

The real estate industry is a perfect one to make excellent use of the amazing game-changing Computer Aided Virtual Environment (CAVE) technology. Suffolk Construction, a national building contractor, announced having opened a Smart Lab in its Miami office in March, joining other labs in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Tampa, and San Francisco, all having opened during the past year.

Using CAVE enables an individual wearing an HTC Vive headset or a group exploring a virtual space via WorldViz VR 3D glasses to “walk through” a photorealistic future project’s 3D model that was created from architectural drawings and blueprints. Imagine being able to go to a work site, make design decisions, spot potential problems, ride elevators, go into rooms to make sure dimensions are correct, change appliances or the wallpaper or any item, all with a handheld controller.

Joe Fernandez, Suffolk Construction’s vice president of operations, said that the basic concept is being able to build a structure in pixels before building it in brick and mortar and therefore being able to show a client and the builders exactly what it is going to look like, both inside and out. According to a recent Software Connect survey, currently just six percent of construction companies implement VR technology, but that is expected to grow to 15 percent by the year 2020.

Additional features of the Smart Lab include a Data Wall of nine smart-board touchscreens providing predictive analytics and information for ongoing and completed projects, live streaming feeds of job sites, comparisons of construction at various stages, and more. Also included is a Huddlewall, which is a giant display for planning meetings which allow plumbers, electricians, painters, and others to collaborate on the current project in real time.

Projects that have already incorporated virtual reality technology in the designing and building include:

The Sunny Isles Beach Jade Signature futuristic luxury condo tower that opened on March 16, 2018; the new Royal Caribbean Cruises terminal at Port Miami, which is looking at a completion date of October 2018. Royal Caribbean has even designed some of their ships entirely using virtual reality; and the 638-room Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Hollywood that is due to open in the summer of 2019.

Best Architectural Designs

Empire State Building

At 350 Fifth Avenue between West 33 and West 34 Streets, this Art Deco building has a steel frame plus granite, limestone, and mullions with aluminum. Dating back to 1930-1931, the skyscraper has 102 floors, is 1252 feet high, and has 6,500 windows with sandblasted spandrels that created the facade’s unique vertical striping.

This was the tallest building in New York City for over 40 years until 1972 when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was completed. Following the harrowing events of 9/11, the Empire State Building became NYC’s tallest building for the second time.

It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1986, was ranked number one in 2007 by the AIA on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture, and was named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Modern World’s Seven Wonders.

Chrysler Building

This is another skyscraper with Art Deco architecture and is located on Manhattan’s east side at Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street. Standing 1,048 feet high, having 77 floors, and dated 1928-1930 at a cost then of $20,000,000, it was the tallest building in the world before the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931. Steel gargoyles which depict American eagles stare out over the city, and there are sculptures of Chrysler automobile radiator caps and car wheel ornaments.

The entrance lobby is three stories in height, was refurbished in 1978, is shaped like a triangle with entrances coming in on all three sides, and is lavishly decorated with Moroccan red marble walls and Art Deco items of blue marble, onyx, and steel.

It is still the world’s tallest BRICK building, it has 3,826,000 bricks, is an outstanding example of Art Deco, and is mentioned by a multitude of architects to be one of NYC’s finest buildings.

Grand Central Terminal

At Midtown Manhattan’s 42nd Street and Third Avenue, and often inaccurately referred to as Grand Central Station, it dates back to 1903-1913 and has a Beaux-Arts stone facade style. Built in the heyday when long-distance passenger trains were so popular, it is still the world’s largest train station with below-ground 44 platforms with 67 tracks on two levels with upper-level 41 tracks and lower-level 16 tracks.

Real Estate Myths Debunked

Whether you’re trying to sell your home or looking for a home to buy, there is a great deal of misinformation out there. It’s important to learn the truth, because believing in one of these myths could force you to commit a costly mistake.
Sell Your Home for More Than it’s Worth
This is a common myth and it could actually hurt the sale of your home. Some people believe that setting an asking price above the home’s market value can help you sell your home for the price you really want. While it’s true that buyers try to negotiate the final price, trying to sell for too much can chase away potential buyers.
Buyers Do Better Without an Agent
The idea behind this myth is that the real estate agent’s fee will be spared. This is a false assumption. Real estate agents working for the buyer and seller share a percentage of the sale. In a case where the buyer isn’t working with an agent, the seller’s agent gets the full share.
Sellers Don’t Need a Real Estate Agent
While technically true, trying to sell your home won’t save you much money. The buyer will expect a discount from a seller working without an agent, so the money you save on the agent’s commission will be lost to the buyer. Additionally, you’ll have to be able to do everything an agent can do from listing the property online to handling the closing.
Sellers Should Remodel Their Kitchen and Bath
This is frequently recommended, but it may actually be bad advice. Buyers may have their own plans for the kitchen and bath, so putting in the work ahead of time could negatively impact a sale. Especially if they don’t share your tastes, they may prefer to look for a home that hasn’t been updated recently.
Sellers Can Expect to Earn Back What They Spend on Renovations
While it will be noticed, if the roof is in bad shape or the air conditioning doesn’t work, fixing these big ticket items won’t help you raise the value of your home. Buyers may feel it’s your responsibility to repair these things before putting the home on the market, so they usually won’t be willing to pay more for an updated home. However, if you don’t fix these things, you may actually lose value in your home.
There are more myths flourishing in the real estate industry, so always check to be sure something is true. If you don’t do enough research, you may find that it cost you money instead of helping you save. Always direct questions to a qualified and experienced real estate agent to avoid making devastating mistakes.

Renting Vs. Owning: What’s The Difference?

Many people are torn between the prospect of owning a home versus the carefree lifestyle of simply renting. The pros and cons of both renting and owning have been laid out below in a simple and concise manner.
Upfront Costs

When calculating the upfront cost of renting a home or an apartment, the figures are relatively affordable. Renting only requires a light contract with first and last months rent along with a security deposit in order to successfully obtain said property. Alternatively, homeownership tends to be very heavy in regards to upfront costs. When going through the process of purchasing a home, a person is usually required to pay a certain percentage of the mortgage immediately including any and all closing costs.
Fluctuating Monthly Expenses

One advantage of owning a home is that the monthly mortgage payment is set by the bank who issued the mortgage. Depending on the type of interest rate that was negotiated, the monthly mortgage payment can remain steady for many months depending on how housing costs rise and fall. Alternatively, when paying rent to a landlord, the rent can be increased at the whim of a landlord but only if they follow proper legal regulations regarding rent increases. If someone is renting without a contract, the renter is at the complete mercy of the landlord in regards to the monthly rental rate.
Repairs and Renovations

A homeowner is financially and physically responsible for all repairs to the home. The bright side to this is that they also have the freedom to redesign, redecorate, or renovate the home as much as they desire. A person who rents isn’t usually afforded the same privilege. Landlords may impose strict rules in the rental contract regarding changes to the home or apartment, preventing the renter from painting, remodeling, or redecorating. On the other hand, renters aren’t responsible for any repairs and can usually apply for replacement appliances and fixtures if covered by the rental agreement.
Relocating

When renting a home or an apartment, deciding to pick up and move to a different city or state is relatively simple. A person can sublet the remainder of their lease to a third party and skip town before their rental contract has expired. On the other hand, a homeowner doesn’t have that same luxury. A homeowner must first prepare their home to be sold and ensure it has enough equity to be marketable. This could take months or years to accomplish.
Choosing whether to become a homeowner versus remaining a renter really depends on the type of lifestyle you live and whether you prefer security or freedom.

How Tech May Impact the Real Estate Market Over the Next Year

Technology’s impact on the real estate industry is gradually starting to take hold. To stay competitive, many real estate professionals and companies are changing their business models or the way they do business. With technology rapidly changing consumer behavior, real estate professionals must adapt to the digital innovations that are beginning to define the sector. Here are some tech trends real estate professionals can expect to happen this year and beyond.

Machine Learning/AI
Real estate pros are constantly looking for ways to streamline their processes, and many in the industry are counting on machine learning and AI to improve efficiency. Many agents and brokers now use artificial intelligence to match properties to a homebuyer’s specific requests. Additionally, many companies are finding ways to use machine learning and AI to spot trends in housing markets. The goal would be to use data backed by facts instead of relying on a hunch to make home buying and selling decisions.

Chatbots
Artificial intelligence is what programmers and computer scientists use to process natural language in the form of chatbots. This technology is one of the fastest growing trends in the customer service industry, and the real estate market is certainly no exception. Companies are looking for ways to use AI and chatbots to automate engagement between agents and brokers. They also hope to use chatbots to transform lead generation in an effort to streamline their marketing efforts. Chatbots are proving themselves as an invaluable tool in answering customers’ simple queries about home availability and pricing.

Blockchain Technology
By now, many people are familiar with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but they may be unfamiliar with the technology that fuels cryptocurrencies. Known as blockchain, this technology is far more than a cryptocurrency payment gateway. Instead, it is a powerful decentralized database that could hold important records on virtually any property in the world. If real estate professionals implement the technology, it could provide a fraud-proof way to access far more data on homeowners and properties.

The real estate industry could see some dramatic changes in the way companies conduct business over the next several years due to the rapid rise of technology. However, many real estate experts agree that the industry is overdue for a tech shakeup. Although the future of real estate and technology is uncertain, companies will have to adapt as AI and machine learning continues to evolve.

Housing Markets Set To Explode!

According to a recent article, there are a number of states throughout the country that have a very high chance of experiencing continued rises in housing prices over the next year.

While some housing markets have cooled off due to a combination of state policies, slow or negative job growth and stagnant local economies, a few states are reaping the lion’s share of the increasing demand for national housing. In fact, the last few years have marked the first time since 2006 that the average housing prices across the country as a whole have set records. But these gains have been distributed unequally, and that trend is likely to continue. Here are three states where housing prices are likely to continue experiencing strong gains.

Nevada

Nevada isn’t just the gambling capital of the world; It’s also one of the states with the lowest overall tax rates and the most favorable laws towards business. These facts have continued to attract new residents in droves, driving the housing prices of the state up by a factor of nearly 3 since 2012. While buying a home or piece of commercial real estate is always a bit of a gamble, doing so in Nevada has been a bet that has paid off handsomely.

Texas

The Lone Star State has one of the fastest-growing economies not just in the United States but in the world. Cities like Houston and Austin have experienced growth in their respective populations that place them among the fastest-growing cities in the country. And the characteristic intrastate migrants that Texas has been receiving tend to be high-earning and highly educated. With some of the lowest taxes and one of the most pro-business environments of any U.S. state, Texas has seen a massive influx of tax refugees from states like Illinois, Connecticut and California.

Florida

At one time, Florida may have had the reputation of being the poor man’s California. Today, Florida is one of the most popular destinations for those fleeing the Golden State. With zero personal income tax, idyllic year-round weather and, perhaps, the easiest access to beachfront and water-based recreation of any state in the country, Florida continues to be a prime destination for retirees, business owners and just about anyone else who seeks fun and sun without the stifling taxes, regulation and congestion of California.

High-Priced Houses: The World’s Most Expensive Homes

While I certainly do enjoy discussing real estate development and the industry as a whole, I also enjoy taking some time to admire the homes and properties that are being provided to the market. Like most other people, I thoroughly enjoy looking at lavish houses with dozens of rooms, extravagant decorations and top-notch amenities. With that being said, I wanted to go through and highlight some of the most expensive and extravagant houses around the world.

 

Beverly House

Beverly Hills, California

$135 million

When most people think of extravagant houses, they picture Beverly Hills, with good reason. Boasting six flat acres of land, additional smaller homes, an expansive library, billiard room and family room with an outside terrace that can seat 400 people, this mansion has something for everybody. The mansion even features a nightclub, a wine cellar and a spa facility. With amenities like these, there’s no reason to ever leave your house. The house itself has become incredibly famous, most notably for being featured in The Godfather and The Bodyguard.

 

Villa Leopolda

Villefranche-sur-mer, France

$750 million

Not many people can say that their homes are built around royalty, but the owner of Villa Leopolda certainly can! Built by the Belgian King Leopold II in 1902, this absolutely magnificent mansion is truly a sight to behold. This 50-acre expansive building features a helipad, pool, outdoor kitchen a commercial greenhouse and more than a dozen bathrooms and bedrooms combined. Similar to the Beverly House, the Villa Leopolda has been featured in many movies, such as The Red Shoes and To Catch a Thief.

 

Tour Odéon Penthouse

Monte Carlo, Monaco

$400 million

How can a penthouse be worth $400 million dollars? Simple: it’s the greatest penthouse in the world. This 35,000-square-foot space sits atop of a 560-foot skyscraper (the second-tallest building in the Mediterranean) and provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of the area’s beautiful waters. While some prefer to stay on the ground, for anyone looking for a lavish high-rise apartment, look no further.

Real Estate Startups in 2018

2018 is finally in full swing. Regardless of your thoughts on last year, we must all move forward and look towards a bright and hopeful future. And, if you’re invested in the real estate industry, you may have some exciting trends to look forward to. As someone who is closely connected to real estate, I am incredibly excited to see some new companies and businesses that are looking to make some waves in the industry. Without further ado, here are some of this year’s most interesting real estate startups.
Dealpath
For any of you involved in commercial real estate investment, you may be tired of the tedious and mundane tasks associated with the job. Luckily, Dealpath is looking to make the process a bit easier. With Dealpath, development and acquisition teams can streamline their process by cutting down those pesky tasks and focusing on high-level strategy. Dealpath allows users to communicate easily, collaborate more efficiently and to keep track of deals and projects in real-time.
Flip
Where Airbnb focuses on providing users with the ability to house guest for short-term rentals, Flip does the complete opposite: long-term rentals. With Flip, landlords have a better deal of security on payments and renters have a bit more flexibility. Leases on Flip can range anywhere from a month to a year, but they typically begin at six months. The startup is currently works in the New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles markets and recently secured a $2.2 million seed round of investments.
Rentalutions
With short-term rental services such as Airbnb and FlipKey becoming more and more popular, we are in an era where anyone can be a “landlord.” This is a bit scary, considering the fact that being a landlord isn’t necessarily easy and that title comes with a great deal of responsibility. Rentalutions looks to solve this dilemma by providing the necessary tools and information to brand-new landlords in order to make their lives a bit easier and to make tenants feel a bit more comfortable and safe. Last year, the startup earned $2 million in funding and it looks to continue growing this year.