Technology changes so fast it’s impossible to predict what will actually happen in 2012. However, it’s always fun to analyze the data, look at trends and observe consumer behavior. The real estate industry will certainly continue to wrestle with issues such as data and syndication. Daily deals will come and go, and open source applications will have their place in our business, especially WordPress.
Here are my top 10 real estate tech trends for 2012:
10. The death of QR codes
I never understood the fascination that the real estate industry had with QR codes (Quick Response codes). Many Realtors I know are extremely passionate about them. However, I’ve seen them used inappropriately on Facebook, on mobile and even in email signatures. Look for the QR code fad to dissipate in 2012. Need further evidence? Check out, "The Problem With QR Codes," by Scott Stratten, president of Un-Marketing.
Podcasting (of audio and video) has been around for some years now. However, it really seems to have been rejuvenated of late, especially with many celebrities and notable tech personalities adopting the DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality. Thanks to Internet-to-TV devices such as Apple TV and Google TV, programs that were once confined to laptop screens and iPods can now be enjoyed on the big screen in the comfort of one’s living room. There’s a tremendous opportunity in 2012 for real estate pros to develop a Podcast, build an audience and share valuable industry knowledge!
8. Cloud computing
According to a WAV Group study, "The Shift in Real Estate Technology," technology will be the "new glue" of the real estate industry. Broker brands will be built around tools that serve their agents in the way they really do business today, meeting their real needs. One of those tools is cloud computing. Cloud computing reduces expensive infrastructure and will help power that hub allowing Realtors to work remotely and better serve consumers with valuable data at their fingertips. Applications like Google Apps have been popular with brokers and will continue to gain popularity in 2012.
7. Social media
When will social media hit the wall? Well, it won’t be in 2012. Social is as strong as ever. Companies now have a better understanding of how to incorporate social media into their overall marketing strategies and budget accordingly. Twitter just unveiled a new design and Facebook will continue to enhance open graph.
I also find Google Plus to be extremely intriguing in 2012 as it further integrates with Google Apps and releases video streaming to the masses. Also, transitioning social networking from online to offline seems to be a natural evolution. In 5 tips to upgrade your real estate skill set in 2012, Inman News columnist Gahlord Dewald offers this advice: "Learn what it takes to get people from being your friend on Facebook to being someone you actually know in the real world."
6. Content marketing
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93 percent of marketing professionals plan to create content marketing as a part of their overall strategy in 2012. Creating content such as community information, photography and video will be key for real estate brokers and sales associates in 2012, especially if you are competing with major consumer destination sites such as Zillow and Trulia across the major search engines. Creating unique content is a key ingredient for rock solid SEO (search engine optimization). Check out "5 Easy Ways to Jump-Start Your Content Strategy" by InmanNext contributing editor Katie Lance, to learn more.
Real estate pros are beginning to understand the unique role that video plays in marketing. Unlike a floor plan or a virtual tour, a video can showcase a lifestyle or a community. Look for brokers to take video to the next level in 2012 not only creatively, as detailed in "The Academy Award for Best Real Estate Video goes to …" but also technically, by partnering with real estate-focused video hosting services such as WellcomeMat.
4. Responsive Web design
Responsive Web design is a single, clean, flexible design that accommodates all devices and screen sizes. As Joel Burslem of 1000watt Consulting describes in "Responsive Web design is the future of real estate online," there is no need for a separate mobile-only version of your site. There’s also no need for iPhone or Android apps. Smaller brokers and real estate agents don’t have the budgets to develop multiplatform native apps, and my hunch is that developers are growing tired of having to create multiple apps. Responsive Web design may not be the right fit for every project, but it will certainly gain steam in 2012.
Sure, the iPad got a head start on the competition and is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the tablet market. And even though the HP TouchPad and Blackberry Playbook flopped in 2011, there will be a plethora of competing tablets available in 2012. Check out "CNET looks at current and upcoming tablets" for an up-to-date, comprehensive guide to tablets.
Tablets are a wonderful tool for real estate professionals. They are great for listing presentations, slide shows, email, browsing the Web and using productivity apps. Also, as more and more MLS applications become cross-platform (mine currently is not), the adoption rate will be even higher in the industry.
HTML5 is the latest version of HyperText Markup Language, the programming language used to structure content on the Web. As I wrote in "HTML5 will improve real estate websites" back in July, HTML5 will play a definitive role in the Post-PC era. It is slated to be recommended by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in July 2014.
HTML5 will have a major, beneficial impact on the real estate industry. Web apps and services that Realtors use everyday will be developed in HTML5, allowing them the freedom to work on any device. Rich content such as interactive floor plans and property tour videos will be available to consumers no matter what devices or operating systems they are using. It’s only a matter of time before desktop browser plug-ins like Silverlight and Flash are laid to rest. HTML5 along with CSS3 are game changers that will be wildly popular in 2012.
If you thought mobile was huge in 2011, just wait. With mobile Internet usage projected to surpass desktop Internet usage by 2014 and the announcement that Adobe is discontinuing Flash development for mobile, 2012 will see an abundance of engaging Web apps developed in HTML5. Real estate pros should be strategizing mobile optimized email campaigns, cross-platform video content that plays on all devices, and mobile websites that feature a killer property search.
2012 will be a year of publishing and consuming content on multiple devices. Mobile will continue to change our lives and businesses. I’m not exactly sure what the future holds, but one thing is certain: It’s going to be exciting!