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At the 11th Annual NYC Real Estate Expo, hosted by the NYC Network Group at the New York Hilton Midtown in October, some of the region’s top executives sat down and talked tech.

While the NYC market is unique, a tech transformation is changing the industry worldwide, forcing today’s brokers to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant.

Moderated by Vince Rocco—associate broker at Halstead Real Estate’s Village office and host of “Good Morning New York, Real Estate with Vince Rocco—”The Technological Revolution That Is Changing the Face of Real Estate in New York” touched on how the industry is shifting and what today’s brokers are doing about it.

“More than 70 percent of today’s buyers are searching for homes online, and 80 percent of real estate agents transact their business using text. This is where we have to figure it out,” said Rocco, kicking off the forum. “Websites and apps make data accessible, so consumers seem to know more today than they ever did before. In tech, timing is everything. How can you live and adapt to the changes of this era?”

According to panelist Kent Swig, president of Swig Equities LLC/Helmsley Spear, tech isn’t necessarily about taking away work for agents and brokers, but making that work easier to accomplish.

“What tech does is, you can still do the same amount of work, but you can do more efficient work,” said Swig. “Everything is now in a central place and that works to our collective advantage.”

One of the biggest fears regarding technology is that it will disintermediate the industry. However, panelist Louise Phillips Forbes, broker of The Louise Phillips Forbes Team with Halstead Real Estate, doesn’t believe that technology can replace the human touch required in this industry.

“I think our job is to be of service and to respond,” said Phillips Forbes, on following up on leads. “My first job is to engage and secure, and only when I’m able to lock that down am I able to get that appointment or more information. Tech will never do that.”

Panelist Paul Massey, CEO of B6 Real Estate Advisors, agreed, stating technology will only help to support real estate agents and brokers, rather than remove them from the picture.

“Tech has made our lives much better for us and our clients. I don’t really buy into the whole ‘being replaced’ thing,” said Massey. “I think we are going to continue to see the commoditizing of business to a point, but that human judgement part is what really helps the clients.”

Where is technology going? Swig sees AI eventually helping to predict life patterns, resulting in leads that are ready for homeownership even before they know it themselves.

“Technology with AI is going to predict what is going to happen, and it’s going to be much better than us doing the work,” said Swig. “It will actually gather up and synthesize the information, turning it into real hard leads—that’s where the industry is going.”

While panelist Andrew Flachner, co-founder and president of RealScout, isn’t so sure that’s the pathway of AI, he predicts it will be more helpful in searchability and doesn’t think it’s something that should be feared.

“We use AI in a way that I don’t think anyone would find scary. Soon, we will read photographs the same way Facebook recognizes you in a picture,” said Flachner. “You’ll be able to classify pictures based on what’s in it, like the kitchen. I don’t think it’s something to be fearful of.”

As long as the role of technology helps in creating something of value, Flachner believes today’s human-centric roles are safe.

Overall, it’s about adapting. With new technology constantly being introduced. The face of real estate is always shifting. Panelist Luciane Serifovic, CEO and founder of Luxian International Realty, said this is where being your own boss comes in handy.

“When you are part of a big brand, you have a lot of people you have to go through,” said Serifovic of making changes within the brokerage in response to tech advances. “Being a start-up, I can pivot and change and make decisions very easily.

“In terms of technology, it was created to help us,” Serifovic added. “We can look at it as being evil, or we can look at it as being the best thing that’s ever happened.”

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.  

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