Real Estate Tech

Are Helicopters the Future of Mass Air Commute?

Imagine Cutting Through Traffic Jams, Totally Avoiding Rush Hour, and Being Able to Hop from One City to Another within Minutes. This is the Future of Helicopter Air Commute

When a rooftop helicopter accident in May 1977 killed five people, a dark cloud fell on what had been a booming industry – Helicopter air commute. This accident, involving a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter from New York Airways, eroded confidence in the safety of short distance air travel, and flicked the company from being a profitable venture to a bankruptcy in less than two years.

But a new page is opening in short-distance air commute. Already, an ambitious startup going by the name BLADE has introduced Uber-like ride sharing to air travel. Through a basic mobile app, clients can book a seat and secure a ride to the nearest airport starting at $695. Around the world, numerous startups are propping up and working to establish themselves as the proponents of helicopter commute.

The Unmistakable Signs of a Looming Boom

As helicopter costs go down, more forward-thinking investors are investing in air travel.

In the UK, a helicopter charter company called Atlas has already brought helicopter travel within reach of everyday Londoners. The cost of a short hop from one point to another is averaging at £650. But the company is advocating for the reduction of landing fees so that more Londoners can enjoy the benefits of air travel.

Zunum Aero, an ambitious startup based in Washington state, has been developing its fleet of hybrid-electric airplanes that can be used on short-haul flights between cities across the country. Upon fruition, the company hopes to make trips from one city to another as cheap as $100 round trip. Zunum has already received investment from heavyweight partners such as JetBlue Technology Ventures and Boeing HorizonX. The company might not hit the airways till after mid-2020s, but their electric air travel concept would definitely be a game changer once it comes to fruition.

e-VTOL Technology to Overcome Challenges in Helicopter Commute

Some of the present challenges to helicopter commute include excessive noise and high costs. To overcome these, aviation experts are looking to a new concept called the e-VTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) that will likely revolutionize short-distance transit in congested metropolitan areas. e-VTOL defines flexible battery-powered rotorcraft that will foreseeably make air travel a norm for millions of Americans. The technology has already attracted massive interest from tech industry stakeholders, with Uber, Google’s Larry Page and many notable Silicon Valley Investors chipping in.

Modeled concepts of the VTOL include the Volocopter VC-200, and EHang 184. The VC-100 is basically a car and an airplane all in one. It’s powered by nine batteries, and has 18 small rotors. Alexander Zosel, a cofounder and managing director at Volocopter, operated the first VC-200 model using an intuitive joystick, delivering a comfortable, stable ride.

Just like the VC-100, the EHang 184 is a battery-operated VTOL aircraft that’s designed for full autonomy. The company already showcased a full-size version at the CES 2016 at Las Vegas. Once complete, the EHang 184 will accomplish a top speed of 60 mph, and will run for 23 minutes on a single charge.

Other reputable entities that are looking into VTOL include NASA. Mark Moore, a lead research at NASA’s Langley Research Center, notes that helicopter air commute will become the norm within the next 10 years. This is being made possible by the fusion of electric propulsion systems and autonomous technology.



Real Estate Tech, Selling

11 Ways Tech is Helping Sell Homes Faster

Statistics from the National Association of Realtors show that up to 90% of home buyers start their house hunt online. In my experience, selling a home has become much easier than it used to be a decade ago – all because of technology.

The days of driving down streets and talking to other agents is becoming less rampant.  Tech-savvy listing agents and homeowners can leverage cutting edge innovation – from drone photography to digital transaction services – to make the entire process easier and friendlier.

This post highlights the top 11 tech tools that will help you sell a house fast.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”images” wrap=”i”] High Quality Images

Gone are the days when taking a few cellphone snapshots was enough for a real estate listing. Because real estate is such a visual product, younger buyers expect nothing less than the best visuals. 

Potential prospects are searching online with smartphones, tablets and computers that allow them to see in high resolutions. They want a perfect visual depiction of every room or facility in the home before they even express interest.  Otherwise they’ll just skip to the next listing.

In our experience at Palmetto Park Realty, professional photography can be the difference between listings that attract a lot of attention and those that don’t. Fortunately for real estate sellers, affordable digital photography equipment allow you to show off a home’s best vantage points. If your in-house real estate team is not well-versed in the art of photography, consider hiring a professional real estate photographer to capture the best angles and lighting.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”camera” wrap=”i”] Drone Photography

The National Association of Realtors agrees that pictures and video taken from drones are an incredible tool to sell homes fast. These are especially ideal with large properties and more expensive homes. Drone photography allows potential buyers to see any large homes with unusual features in all its splendor. Clear aerial shots easily highlight the property’s unique features. 

Bird’s eye view drone photography works like magic when it comes to showcasing estate properties with horse stables, farmlands, sports courts, lake or oceanfront access, swimming pools, mountain views, and other outdoor features.

Buyers who are looking to buy in a new town or location will also benefit greatly from drone photography because they can see the entire home within its locale. This ‘bigger picture’ helps buyers visualize the property as well as what’s around it. For real estate sellers, drone photography will enhance the appeal and potentially the price of property whose best side is not easily shown in street view and interior photos.

Real estate agents can use drones to obtain inexpensive images of homes for sale, commercial properties and parcels of undeveloped land.

48% of professional drones are used primarily for ‘aerial imaging and data collection, which includes real estate photography. – Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)

Read –> How Technology is Disrupting the Traditional Real Estate Model 

[wp-svg-icons icon=”stack” wrap=”i”] Floor Plans

Let’s admit it, many real estate agents see floor plans as “unnecessary” to the selling process. Contrary to that, buyers love floor plans.

When it comes to showing a home’s photos online, it can be difficult for buyers to figure out how the images fit together in the whole house. This is more so true if the property you are showcasing is empty. A floor plan helps buyers piece together the photos and entire property in their mind. This is important for real estate sellers because buyers are more likely to choose to inspect a property that already ‘makes sense’.

Out of town buyers consider floor plans to be a highly valuable tool because it helps them figure how the property ‘comes together’.

Many serious buyers will inspect multiple properties per day. The challenge for sellers is to make your property more memorable. Adding floor plans to your open home brochures or marketing materials is a great way to establish the listing as the most professional one the buyer came into contact with that day.

Another great advantage of using floor plans is that they allow buyers to draw and visualize their furniture inside the home. When buyers do this, they are more likely to become emotionally attached to the property.

Tech tools such as VHT Studios make it easier for real estate sellers to integrate floor plans into their listings. VHT interactive floor plans combine professional photography and a realistic illustration to enhance a buyer’s viewing experience and motivate them to take action.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”camera-2″ wrap=”i”] Immersive Video Tours

Because it shows a virtual tour of your property (both interiors and exteriors) video is a powerful imaging tool for real estate sellers. Today’s real estate videos go beyond the empty home virtual tours that were popular in yesteryears.

A video tour provides excellent interaction for online viewers so they get a walk-through-the-home experience.

The video will include narration, music, and scenes of people enjoying the features of the property. Video gives you an opportunity to create an emotional connection, which makes it a huge tool for buyers, sellers and agents.

Multiple studies back the claim that video is the newest frontier in real estate marketing. 50% of online interactivity is video based and consumers are 41% more likely to click a video thumbnail compared to a picture or link. Video content also leads to 403% more enquiries. The good news for real estate agents and individual home sellers is that you don’t require high-tech equipment to shoot a great video of a home.

Toolkit for taking real estate video tours

A simple smartphone or tablet may be enough to shoot a superb video tour. Where necessary, consider hiring the services of a production company that knows how to get the best angles and footage.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”books” wrap=”i”] Virtual Staging

This is another incredible piece of technology that will help attract multiple offers for your home. Virtual staging is essentially the digital enhancement of a home’s listing photos to show what the rooms would look like with furnishings and décor.

Because bringing in furniture to improve the look of an empty home can become prohibitively expensive, virtual staging is becoming increasingly popular with real estate teams across America.

This cool technology allows buyers to see photos of any home online with furniture and different colors or flooring.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”joomla” wrap=”i”] Interest Maps

This is a tech hack that many real estate sellers – not just in our Greenville backyard –  are using to quickly cash in homes. Most listings integrate Google Earth’s maps that allow viewers to see the physical locations of properties.

You may include an extension for interest maps that show a certain home’s proximity to schools, shopping centers, and landmarks. This can be a major influence point especially for online viewers who are not able to visit the property in person.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”mobile-2″ wrap=”i”] Real Estate Mobile Apps

Real estate shoppers – especially younger buyers – want to be able to look at listings on their smartphones. These clients want an easy and convenient way to view photos, look up details of a property, find directions to a home, or get details of the agent in charge of it. It’s no wonder that most major real estate marketplaces and brokerages have mobile apps. 

Zillow’s chief marketing officer, Amy Bohutinsky, says that about 600 million homes are viewed on mobile every month. That just shows how many buyers are using mobile devices to search for homes. By going the extra step to make sure that their listings look GREAT on mobile, real estate sellers can attract more cash offers.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”facebook-2″ wrap=”i”] Social Media

When it comes to spreading the word about a property on sale, social media is an indispensable tool. Social media feeds have become so interconnected that they provide a valuable marketing tool for selling homes.

At Palmetto Park Realty, over half of our social media website traffic comes from Facebook alone. We believe that in this digital age, all real estate sellers should leverage a vibrant social media strategy that includes paid advertisement.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”screen” wrap=”i”] Friendly Online Search Tools

Millions of home buyers across America are already using Zillow, Trulia,, Redfin and other online portals. A decade ago, there was a huge gap when it came to searching for listings online. Customers are able to access real estate listings quickly with more targeted searches than ever before.

Because they allow people to search for homes that match their lifestyle, smartphones and mobile devices have been a real catalyst in the entire real estate process. Real estate sellers should utilize these search platforms to increase the exposure of their listings.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”github-3″ wrap=”i”] Virtual Reality

Virtual reality brings three dimensions (3D) to how real estate agents showcase homes. Although this technology is still new to real estate, it’s catching up fast. Imagine your buyers being able to use an inexpensive viewer such as Google’s Cardboard to tour a home in high resolution. The experience is very immersive, almost as real as being physically present for an open house. The buyer will be able to look up and down, climb stairs, zoom in and out, and view (in great details) all the features that make a home sellable.

By allowing clients to truly experience a property without ever setting foot in the physical space, virtual reality will lead to less time wasted touring properties and faster closes.

[wp-svg-icons icon=”profile” wrap=”i”] Digital Transaction Services

Digital transaction services are also having an impact on how Americans sell real estate property. These technology services simplify the home-buying process by allowing buyers and sellers to complete their transaction online. Perhaps the best example is DocuSign, which allows parties to complete offers, counteroffers, contracts and other documents online with eSignature technology. makes it possible for buyers and sellers to have legal documents notarized online. This process will entail uploading the real estate documents, and participating in a video call with a notary public in Virginia. The company’s services can be used in any U.S. state except Iowa.

Although not as popular as the other innovations we have seen above, these digital services can make everything easier especially in situations where distance is hindering a buyer who’s interested in a property.

Contact Palmetto Park to list your Greenville home

Time to sell? Forward thinking real estate professionals are using  technology to attract top dollar home prices on their listings! At Palmetto Park Realty, we utilize these measures – and many more – to sell homes faster while saving thousands of dollars in costs per sale. Contact us today to request your free listing analysis with our Greenville, SC team!

News, Real Estate Tech, Trends

5 Ways Tech is Disrupting the Traditional Real Estate Model

Technology continues to infiltrate real estate in ways we never thought possible. In Los Angeles, a company is replacing the traditional real estate model with robots and “big data”. Out west in San Francisco, another bold startup is using blockchain to help customers buy homes anywhere in the world. Everywhere you look – the story is the same.

Real estate technology has produced two of the most valuable startups in the nation today – WeWork and AirBnB. But there’s much more to it. This article explores how tech is disrupting the industry as we know it.

1. Direct challenge for the traditional real estate model

Rex Real Estate Exchange – a 2014 startup – seeks to overhaul the traditional real estate model. The firm uses robots and ‘big data’ to lower the cost of selling a home. While a real estate agent will charge a 5-6% selling commission, the company takes just 2%.

Perhaps the main challenge facing Rex’s approach is that both buyers and sellers still value quality personal services from a professional real estate agent. The facts are very straight on that. In 2015 and 2016, 89% of all home sellers relied on a real estate agent.

At the end of the day, most people are still relying on the value a real estate agent provides,” says Adam DeSanctis, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors.

But Rex’s Chief Executive, Jack Ryan, argues this could change once people learn how much money they may save using their platform.

Traditional real estate rates are just crazy compared with every other industry in the United States,” he says.

Rex identifies probable buyers by rigorously analyzing consumers’ income, spending habits, location, and similar data. It then reaches out to them through focused advertising on social media platforms and websites such as Zillow.

Although computers do the more sophisticated work, the firm employs salaried real estate agents to guide both buyers and sellers through the transactions. This way, customers get the same service they would with a traditional real estate agent, but at a fraction of the cost.

Rex Real Estate Exchange has so far attracted over $16 million from investors. Four years down the line, the firm has managed to put up office locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, and Denver.

2. Blockchain powered real estate transactions

Experts predicted digital currencies would at some point in time be used for major transactions. In the real estate context, a San Francisco startup called Propy is taking steps in that direction.

The company recently helped Michael Arrington, found of online publisher, purchase an apartment in the Ukraine using digital currency. The title change was recorded the old fashioned way – on paper – but with the blockchain address for the digital transaction inscribed on it.

A few years ago, it would be hard to envision use of digital currencies to conduct such a transaction. But it appears we are much closer. “I can’t really tell you the date. But I think it’s going to happen much faster than everyone anticipated,” says Alex Voloshyn, the Chief Technology Officer at Propy.

In many parts of the world, regulations are changing to recognize blockchain contracts. In the U.S., the state of Vermont is moving in that direction. Propy hopes to position itself as a major global property store dealing in digital currencies.

Real estate insiders who understand digital currency deals say that they have numerous advantages over traditional transactions. “They are more transparent, more efficient, less expensive, and less prone to corruption,” says Drew Nichols, lead agent at Greenville’s Palmetto Park Realty.

3. Smart contract technology

SmartRealty is a Seattle-based startup that is working to apply smart contract tech to everyday real estate transactions. The company has been developing a smart contract template and management system that will handle common transactions in buying and selling properties, as well as rental agreements.

Parties involved in the transaction will be able to build their own contract that is specific to the transaction.

Some of the major benefits this platform will offer include enabling users to securely track payments and efficiently solidify the terms of their agreement. It reduces risk of fraud or theft, and provides a faster, more reliable and trusted system for sale, purchase or rental of real estate property.

4. Virtual and augmented reality

Augmented reality is another real estate technology frontier that has a real possibility of appending to the home buying process. Tech savvy real estate professionals have often used augmented reality to market real estate and entice customers to purchase property in far-away cities.

Since buying a home can be a very emotional process, the technology helps personalize things by putting the buyer in the actual space.

Pandora Reality, a firm based in New York and Istanbul, creates augmented reality solutions for brokers and developers who want to depict the potential of an unfinished space.

Currently, the challenge with augmented reality is that it still does not offer a true sense of realism. But this capability is right around the corner, according to most experts.

Read >> Swanky Apartments with Drone Balconies 

5. Chat bots to answer simple customer queries 

Powered by artificial intelligence, chat bots are emerging as the technology of choice for answering simple customer queries. This rapidly growing technology being used in multiple industries to empower customers while freeing up employees’ time so they can focus on other pertinent tasks.

The good thing about chat bots is their capability to work round the clock. They can furnish customers with a relevant market report at 2 am in the night, and answer numerous customer queries in a matter of seconds.

Chat bots are becoming an instrumental part of the real estate marketing approach, capturing data and generating leads on autopilot.

A good example of a commercial real estate technology startup that’s using chat bots is Truss. This is a Chicago-based real estate firm that helps customers find office space below 10,000 square feet. The company uses an artificially-intelligent chat bot to automate the process of finding office space in cities like Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Washington and Austin.

The primary feature on their website is Vera, a cartoon representation of the chat bot that beckons visitors to start the process of looking for the perfect space.

Many technology-oriented real estate firms are picking up the use of these bots to improve customer service, improve engagement, monitor consumer data, gain insights, save costs and increase growth.

Investors are betting big on real estate tech

In 2017, investors splashed over $5 billion into real estate technology. That was a huge leap compared to the $33 million invested in the sector 7 years ago in 2010. Although total real estate investing declined in Q1 of 2018 compared to the same stretch last year, there are many indicators this trend will continue to hold. Large real estate firms are increasing investment in new technology as they seek a competitive advantage – and there’s an urgency to find the most promising startups.

Real estate technology startups are getting some major attention from venture capitalists. Here are some major deals that happened in recent times.

  • Late 2017, real estate technology firm Compass announced a $450 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund.
  • Apartment List is a San Francisco based firm that helps landlords find renters, and only charges after the landlord has success finding someone. The startup raised $50 million from Passport Capital, Industry Ventures, and other venture capital firms.
  • Rentberry, a rental platform that uses blockchain technology to connect tenants and landlords, raised over $20 million in funding through its initial coin offering.
  • Last year, Truss (the Chat-Bot Powered Commercial Space Finder) raised $7.7 million in Series A funding.

From applications that help manage multiple rental properties to machine learning solutions, technology will continue to impact real estate.Through innovation, and investing in promising startups, forward thinking players are positioning themselves to own this future.

Real Estate Tech, Trends

Swanky Apartments – Why It’s Time for Architects to Start Building Drone Balconies

Florida’s luxury real estate market is known for its excesses and world firsts.  Just look at something like the Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach with its sky-reaching garages for each residence, or the $31M beach front mansion of Highland Beach for inspiration.  But there is a new trend coming: Drones!

According to Lisa Ellman, a drone policymaker working with President Obama’s administration, there will be more than 20 million drones (unmanned) in the U.S. by 2020. That’s in four years time, not a decade. Already, industry leaders have taken steps to make drones an affordable, convenient and useful accessory for the average American. Amazon, the world’s number one e-commerce marketplace, is testing drone deliveries. If all goes well – and it has so far – unmanned aerial vehicles will be landing on your lawn to deliver that latest iPhone that ordered online.

Ever-increasing use for drones

It’s booming business for makers of drones meant to deliver packages, conduct routine crop dusting on agricultural fields, monitor endangered wildlife, inspect oil and gas pipelines, and take aerial photography. The current reality is that most states and municipalities in the U.S have banned the use of these aerial robots due to real privacy and safety concerns. But more open regulation is going to take center stage in due time, and this resistance to progress will eventually melt.

Personal Aerial Vehicles

There’s every indication that early adopters will purchase personal flying vehicles in the near future. Already, some models have been proposed, and others are undergoing development even as we speak. A good example is the Ehang 184 Personal Flying Vehicle, a super-sized drone that can carry human cargo. It’s roughly the size of a very small car and can ferry only one human at a time. A working prototype was shown at the CES 2016. And although it’s airborne for only 23 minutes (10 miles travel) at a time, it’s a good place to start!

Is it time for drone towers on Florida new construction yet?

All this progress raises the question, isn’t it time progressive architects and future-minded real estate stakeholders started building apartments with drone-landing balconies? A building equipped with a drone-ready condo tower in Dubai, Tokyo or any other bustling global metropolis might sell much faster. Of course, large balconies contribute to the appeal of swanky condos, but they could be much more useful if they if they obliterated the need to use the elevator down to the car park, or walk to the subway to get to the office.

The future drone balcony would be big enough to accommodate shipping drones and small electric aircraft. And as the industry gathers momentum, you might not even need to purchase your own drone. You could order a drone-ride with an air-travel taxi app, and jump in right from your abode. Definitely, this would call for thorough safety standards due to the increased air traffic around buildings and other residential areas, but that can be worked through.