By the year 2020, the amount of data generated per person, per second is predicted to be 1.7 megabytes. Even more staggeringly, 90% of all the data in the world was created within the last two years.
We’re truly living in the age of information, and the idea of ‘big data’ is really starting to take off. Big data refers to the enormous data sets that are emerging, so big that we’ll require new methods of analysis and research to really understand them.
This data is infiltrating every area of our lives, with decisions about health, wealth and everything in between being made using big data, it effects everyone. One industry where data is a game changer is real estate. Lenders, insurers, and real estate agents are just some of the groups that rely on this data and could benefit from easier and more reliable access to it.
But at the center of this market, of course, is the humble homeowner. Buying a home is a huge commitment, especially in societies where property prices are high compared to wages and many first-time buyers are struggling to get started.
If you’re getting started in the world of property owning, you’ll want to get it right first time and buy the dream home that’ll be the backdrop of your life for many years to come.
Big data can be the perfect tool for this, if used correctly.
How big data can help buyers
Buying a home is easy to mess up. In fact, in one recent survey almost 70% of millennials said they regret buying their home. This was due to factors like financial mistakes, problems with the house itself, and underestimating ongoing costs and maintenance.
Some mistakes are unavoidable, of course. But access to better data could help people make better decisions and avoid regret. By harnessing data, it’s possible to get a more reliable, accurate profile of a property with better estimates of costs and value.
Data can inform potential homeowners on things like the profile of a neighborhood, prices, the facilities in a house, and much more. With better data, it becomes possible to fine-tune a search and find the perfect place based on the buyer’s own criteria.
Platforms like Realtor and Agorafy are doing this to some extent as they’re providing databases where users can search for their dream home.
On these platforms, buyers can specify what they’re looking for and then the engine draws from a data set of countless homes to find the ones that are just right for them. It saves time, and avoids costly mistakes.
But there are still some issues. Data in the real estate industry is often unreliable, conflicting, and hoarded by centralized bodies that want to use it to their own ends. Often, consumers can’t be sure that the data they’re basing decisions on is even accurate, because there’s no reliable way to verify or validate it.
This means they’re forced to place trust in data providers with vested interests, who have used their influence to secure a reputation that might not even be deserved.
We need a fairer, more democratic way to share data in real estate, which is where blockchain technology comes in.
ReBloc is one example of a company using blockchain to answer the data needs of the real estate industry. They want to make big data in real estate more accurate and reliable, so property buyers can really trust the information they’re getting.
In their system, when a customer accesses data it’s compared with multiple other sources on the network using smart contracts to establish its reliability. If it turns out to be valuable, accurate data, the buyer is charged and granted access.
If it’s found to be unreliable, the contract is terminated and the unreliable data provider is penalized. There’s also no central point of storage in the system — the platform uses a decentralized model to store data securely, giving users privacy and control over their data, so it’s only shared how, with whom and when they want it.
In addition to this, the platform benefits other parties too, like lenders, insurers, and sellers. It’s a faster, better, and cheaper way to access useful data without the chore of sifting through piles of data sources to find the most accurate ones.
ReBloc’s project is also being led by some big names. This includes some veterans of data analytics and intelligence in real estate, like Gary Yeoman from iLOOKABOUT and Jordan Ross who was the Chief of Staff at Altus Group.
Projects that democratize data like this are a long-awaited addition to the world of real estate, and another example of how decentralization can change the way we trade for the better.
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