Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Covering real estate tech

January 9, 2019

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As real estate startups boom, consider who’s funding them and why. Photo by Vladimir Kudinov via Pexels, Pexels License

Tech startups are changing how home buyers, sellers and real estate agents interact.

Companies called iBuyers (short for investment buyers) including Offerpad and Opendoor will now buy homes for cash in certain markets so the seller can move on their own timeframe without dealing with staging, last-minute showings or open houses. Knock operates under a trade-in model, and Zillow joined the iBuyer world when it introduced instant offers earlier this year. Meanwhile, real estate agency Redfin offers digital tools to sellers with lower listing fees.

Here’s a look at story angles to consider as you’re covering real estate tech.

Which of these startups are operating locally?

Find out if any of these startups are operating in your neck of the woods or have announced plans to expand into your area. What types of homes are they interested in and why? Can you find a local buyer or seller willing to share their experience on the user side?

Who’s investing in real estate tech?

Real estate is a capital-intensive industry, and venture capital firms are betting big on this niche. Who’s investing in this space? Why are they bullish about these companies?

How are legacy real estate companies staying competitive?

Real estate giant Century 21 announced a major rebranding earlier this year. Talk to real estate agents and firms in your area about how about they’re evolving to stay relevant, especially to younger buyers (the National Association of REALTORS reports that Gen Z-ers hope to own a home by age 25). Are they offering virtual house tours? Marketing themselves on Instagram? What else are they doing differently in the current real estate market?

Reporter’s resources on real estate tech

National Association of REALTORS (NAR). NAR has a robust media room with information on real estate trends and data. Remember that not all real estate agents are NAR members, so the term realtor should not be used generically.

Real estate professors. ExpertiseFinder lists 49 professors with expertise in various areas of real estate, including real estate law, real estate finance and real estate investment trusts (REITs). Perhaps a professor at a nearby college or university could provide context on what’s happening and why.

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