• Virtual reality, 'peak content' and data curation will impact real estate in 2016, according to Matthew Shadbolt.

As director of real estate products at the New York Times, Matthew Shadbolt knows a thing or two about the intersection of real estate and technology.

Here are three big trends that he sees impacting the industry.

Virtual reality

We’ve reached a tipping point with virtual reality, Shadbolt said on stage at Inman Connect. This year the technology will finally begin to gain traction and impact the business landscape.

Jenna Bascom / Inman.com

Jenna Bascom / Inman.com

In real estate, VR headsets, such as those provided by Oculus Rift and Google, and online 3-D models will enable consumers to virtually saunter about listings. This experience will be particularly valuable to relocating buyers, Shadbolt said. He envisions agents sending VR headsets to buyers to streamline their home search.

‘Peak Content’

The challenge of marketing and communicating on popular online media platforms, such as social networks, continues to grow. Agents and brokers should think carefully about how much time and resources they invest in maintaining a presence on these platforms.

“Distribution [of content] might be best thought out strategically rather than fear of missing out,” Shadbolt said.

One effective strategy for brokers would be to “digitize what’s in your agents’ heads,” in order to serve up their unparalleled knowledge of neighborhoods, he said.

Curation 

Consumers can access an abundance of data online. But all that data can be overwhelming.

This presents an opportunity for agents. They can lace a homebuyer or seller’s consumption of data with “empathy, guidance and understanding” — the “key point of differentiation between an agent and a portal,” he said.

Agents must excel at organizing and interpreting data for consumers to continue to thrive, he said.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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