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Why big data is a big deal for real estate

Jessica GalangFebruary 27, 20208 min

Thanks to the proliferation of apps, social media and other online platforms, there is widespread availability of data that can be used to improve products. It’s known as big data, and it’s a big deal: new, complex and robust data sources can be tapped into to solve new problems. But, much of this data is also unstructured, meaning that a lot of current and traditional software can’t manage it, according to Oracle.

What does this mean for the real estate industry? Overall, being able to tap into this data helps real estate professionals and tenants get more accurate information, make more informed decisions and get things done. Read on to find out how.

Making urban planning better

When real estate developers are assessing a potential property, there are a lot of factors that come into play that can be difficult to track. From zoning regulations to sourcing the best area, it can be difficult for a human to make sense of the data. However, big data solutions can make sense of this unstructured information, and present it in a way that lets professionals make more informed decisions. Toronto-based Ratio.City, for example, allows its users to explore hundreds of datasets on a virtual map, including filters to let professionals make assessments based on what is most important to them while visualizing the data.

“Having all of the City’s complex layers of planning regulation embedded in one convenient location is critical to making quick, informed decisions in a constantly-changing industry,” said David Cogliano, director of acquisitions at Tercot Communities, on the benefits of Ratio.City’s platform.

Measuring risk

Data on its own isn’t valuable; what’s important is to be able to see patterns and make predictions based on that data. McKinsey gives the example of a developer who wants to evaluate underused, but high-value pieces of land zoned for development; while there are many data sources on transactions available, these sources don’t make forecasts.

Analytics, which can be done with machine learning algorithms, allow professionals to make these predictions. Toronto-based MapYourProperty is another example of a company that streamlines this due diligence process for potential developments; while it allows developers to browse digital maps for zoning information, it also produces reports that help them find a property’s true development value using, and analyzes over 50 regulatory datasets within minutes.

Building management

The internet-of-things — connected physical devices like thermostats and cars embedded with sensors used to operate more efficiently — will only create even more data, helping managers operate their properties better. According to Cisco, 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2030.

There are already solutions that we’ve covered in the past that are helping property managers better control their spaces. Parity, for example, lets buildings measure the performance of their HVAC equipment, using real-time data and automation to control the mechanical HVAC equipment. It can also help property managers improve their maintenance practices, for example, according to Deloitte, sensors in potted plants can communicate with automated watering systems. Devices can even potentially predict system failures before they occur.

What the future holds

Platforms that make it easier to tap into the power of data will only make our lives easier. In Canada, luckily, the industry is moving in the right direction. In December 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a Toronto Real Estate Board application appealing a Court’s decision allowing the Board’s members to publish home sale data.

While this data was previously only available through real estate brokers with access to the Multiple Listing Service database, opening it up to the public allows for more people to build solutions around it — allowing everyone to make better, data-driven decisions.

How do you think big data will impact the real estate industry. Let us know in the comments.

Jessica Galang profile picture

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is a tech journalist who has been tracking the Canadian tech ecosystem for the last several years. In the past, she was news editor at BetaKit and a reporter at The Logic, interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs in emerging industries.

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