It didn’t seem like long ago when the internet changed the typical real estate transaction, allowing prospective buyers and sellers to perform their own research as opposed to relying on an agent to solely guide their real estate decisions. Now, disruption is on another level with the advent of technology like robotics and artificial intelligence, which is forcing agents to adapt to the ever-changing real estate landscape.
The common narrative is the introduction of robotics would eliminate jobs and cause rampant unemployment. It’s a sentiment that’s being echoed irrespective of the industry—from manufacturing and of course, now, real estate.
Will clients be receiving real estate advice from a robot as opposed to flesh and blood agent? The idea now doesn’t seem as far-fetched from reality given the explosiveness in technological growth, but don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.
“It’s a reasonable assumption that tech has and will continue to streamline the often convoluted and inefficient processes involved in settling the sales of homes—something I’m sure most people in the industry will eagerly embrace,” said Ashley Farrugia, CEO of ActivePipe—a leading marketing automation platform for the real estate industry, in RIS Media. “But will tech replace agents? Not if agents adapt to the changing expectations of the consumer.”
“In today’s online world, consumers expect information to be served to them in a personalized and relevant manner,” Farrugia added. “Brokerages and agents who embrace this and leverage the unique tech tools now available are those that will remain relevant.”
Tech and Real Estate ETFs in Focus
With an industry set to adopt the quickened pace of disruption in real estate, ETF investors can capture the changes via disruptive ETFs like the ARK Innovation ETF (NYSEArca: ARKK). ARKK, an actively-managed ETF, seeks to provide investors with exposure to innovation—thematic multi-cap exposure to innovation across sectors.
If investors want to hone in on real estate itself, it might serve them well to check out the Vanguard Real Estate ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ). VNQ seeks to provide a high level of income and moderate long-term capital appreciation by tracking the performance of the MSCI US Investable Market Real Estate 25/50 Index that measures the performance of publicly traded equity REITs and other real estate-related investments.
Investors can also obtain commercial real estate exposure via the NETLease Corporate Real Estate ETF (NYSEArca: NETL). The NETL ETF is uniquely focused solely on Net Lease Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which is one of the fastest-growing sectors within the REIT space.
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