Elite AgentReal Estate Tech & Social

To 2020 and beyond- REIQ summit 2019

The robots are here, but they’re not going to conquer all and take over. That’s the take-home message futurist Steve Sammartino hopes to convey loud and strong to agents at IGNITE, the 2019 REIQ Summit being held in Brisbane next month.

With the evolution of technology, digital creations and products, virtual reality and artificial intelligence progressing at warp speed, you’d be forgiven for thinking we humans may be living on borrowed time.

Steve himself is a champion of change and a leader in the futurist thinking world. He has developed a full-sized, air-powered Lego hot rod, launched a Lego space shuttle into space from Germany and is currently planning to build the world’s most modern 3D-printed house.

Despite his belief in technology that once would have looked at home on hit 1980s television show Beyond 2000, Steve says one fundamental thing won’t change. Humans.

“The overriding thought among many right now is that robots and AI are going to replace everything, but that’s just laughable,” he says.

“Robots are very good at memorising things, giving you information and creating more efficiency, but they are not good at humanity, creativity and understanding.

“What humans want is other humans. Humans want interactions with other humans.

“Music is very telling in this regard. Technology allows you to download all of your favourite artist’s music, categorise it, create a playlist and we’re happy to pay for the service. However, we will still pay even more to go to a concert and see that artist play live.”

Steve says technology in real estate is no different. It will continue to change, grow and challenge the real estate agent. It will continue to reduce the time and distance it takes to complete mundane tasks, but it will never replace the agent.

“Agents know and invest in community; robots don’t,” Steve says.

“What we’re going to find is that more and more administration tasks will be outsourced to technology so that agents can maximise face time with vendors and buyers.”

Children are not scared of technology, because to them it is not new.

So where does this seemingly illogical fear of technology come from? Steve says his presentation will make all that crystal clear when he discusses the history of the industrial era.

“Children are not scared of technology, because to them it is not new,” he says.

“But children haven’t had 20, 30 and 40-plus years of indoctrination. Our business model and our model for living and doing things has been stable for a long time, since before our parents and before our parents’ parents.

“If you think about schools, we’ve been taught that we have to follow the rules and not make a mistake. At school we are going to judge you and use a bright red pen to show you where you were wrong. Schools weren’t made for this technological era we’re now in; they were made and funded to create compliant workers.

“We have to go through an unlearning process.”

Steve says we need to look at technology and how it behaves differently to the slow-moving, concrete world we’re used to, allowing for the Law of Accelerating Returns.

For the first time in history we have access to the world’s leading information as it happens. The idea that there’s always someone who knows more than we do has changed. Technological progress is inevitable, and to a large extent, we struggle with this perceived lack of control.

However, Steve says we didn’t really have control to begin with; what we can do now is change the way we approach technology and leverage it to our advantage more than ever before.

“While some may think that technology may replace the real estate agent, it won’t,” Steve says.

“What it will do is give agents the opportunity to reduce things such as screen time and free them up to focus on the human aspects of the job –and that includes listing and selling.

“Technology will help with the creation and management of databases, while the move to blockchain will see self-executable contracts used. When blockchain arrives –and it will –people will wonder how they ever had the internet without it.”

Steve says prospective buyers will also end up being sent a digital key when they inquire about a property; this will contain photographs and crucial information such as sale price or auction details, land size and features.

“That kind of thing isn’t selling; it’s just admin, and technology can take care of that for you so you’ve got time to do business instead of filling forms out,” he says.

“It will work in property management too. Prospective tenants can send you their keys with all the information needed for an application, such as their income, employer, driver’s licence and references.”

Technology is also already making the industry more transparent, with buyers, vendors and real estate enthusiasts now able to access all of the same information on a property that an agent can.

“It used to be the case that an agent knew more than the person buying the house, but in a very rapid transition that is going the other way. I think that agents today need to assume that buyers and sellers know more about the property than they will,” Steve says.

“Just with something like Google Street View you can find out what the house looked like 10 years ago.”

The look of new homes could also be vastly different 10 years into the future.

Steve is building the world’s most futuristic house. It will be 3D printed, have AI installed in the walls, be fully off-grid and come equipped with a drone landing pad on the roof so he can fly to the city. While he remains tight-lipped about the home’s exact location, he did reveal it will be about an hour outside Melbourne, on the coast.

“Talking to the walls used to be reserved for crazy people, but now it’s for everyone,” Steve laughs. “It will be fully IoT (internet of things) enabled, so the fridge will know what is inside it, what is normally stocked; it will prepare a shopping list and do the shopping online.”

Steve also expects to see a boom in regional real estate, with more people moving to cities and towns within commutable distance of the capital cities.

“Working in offices in major cities is an outdated idea,” he says.

“It used to be that offices worked because equipment like photocopiers, faxes and computers were expensive and we couldn’t afford to work from home. That’s not the case any more. People want to live in beautiful locations where there’s a lake, a river or the beach; they can work where they are and just commute into the city one or two days a week, or just as needed. And soon they’ll be able to do just that and fly to work with their own drone.”

IGNITE, the 2019 REIQ Summit, is being held on 14 and 15 March at the Royal International Convention & Exhibition Centre in Bowen Hills, Brisbane. Steve Sammartino will speak on Day 1.

For more information on the summit, including tickets, visit: reiq.com/summit.

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