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The future is now: Invest in real estate using cryptocurrency

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) Real estate is going on trend and through REAL, investors can now use cryptocurrency to invest in real estate.

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Real Estate Asset Ledger

The cleverly acronymed Real Estate Asset Ledger (REAL) is important, because it’s one of the first instances ever of a seamless platform for investing cryptocurrency in real estate. Blockchain solutions have been nibbling around the edges of the real estate market for a while. That’s still a big deal. We’ve reported on it.

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But involvement has been limited. We’ve noted limited applications of blockchain tech to specific real estate issues like listing databases or mortgage payments. There’s been no large-scale attempt to buy into the real estate market as a whole.

REAL solution

Meet REAL. REAL is interested in the big show: making it possible to invest in and even purchase real estate with cryptocurrency. That’s new.

In fact, it’s new two ways. Not only is it, y’know, using a completely new form of money, it’s doing it in a way that’s still drawing open-mouth stares from Realtors and commentators alike when it’s being done with normal dead-tree/president money. That would be low-equity investment.

TL;DR on low-equity investment, or to use REAL’s term, “real estate crowdfunding,” goes like this. Instead of a single party owning a given piece of real estate and selling it to another via a structured series of payments secured with collateral (or “mortgage”; you may have heard of it) a group of investors, not necessarily connected, buy shares in real estate like any other investment and profit from any rise in value.

REAL is a real estate crowdfunding platform.

It lists properties interested in being crowdfunded, accepts investments in REAL Tokens, its in-house cryptocurrency, and pays out in Ether, a more widely used cryptocurrency, to be spent on cars and sandwiches and things.

So the REAL offer is twofold: cryptocurrency and crowdfunding. Rad. Who cares?

Pro cryptocurrency

REAL’s argument for cryptocurrency is pretty much the same as NAR’s, as explained here: real estate requires investment, and cryptocurrency is a giant pile of value no other investment space has seriously leveraged yet.

Investors with limited options get a huge chance to profit, real estate gets committed investors – win-win.

Their argument for crowdfunding, however, goes a step beyond. I have previously waxed lyrical on the benefits of distributed risk. That’s always been the problem with mortgages as a financial tool: failure sucks, hard, for everyone. Having multiple investors rather than a single mortgage means a bunch of people benefit when things go well, and one person isn’t left holding the bag when things don’t. That provides means to forego conventional foreclosure, since all investors, occupants included, have a vested interest in the property getting more valuable and don’t lose everything if things go south.

That’s good news both for the P&L sheet and the soul. Due respect to our Dickens villain readership, most real estate professionals don’t actually like making people homeless.

REAL identifies a plus that didn’t occur to me, because, for once in my digital life, I wasn’t thinking in terms of blockchain. Crypto plus crowdfunding equals international.

Being peer to peer, cryptocurrency values are determined between people directly.

They don’t care about borders. There’s no difference between an American REAL Token and a Chinese one. Real estate crowdfunding alone was worth $3.5 billion last year. Forbes estimates the global crowdfunding industry as a whole at $300 billion by 2025. That’s a lotta tokens.

What’s to come

Whether REAL’s model is the best way to take advantage of that is an open question. What isn’t is that both crowdfunding and cryptocurrency will be a part of the real estate market in the coming years. Plan accordingly.

#REALinvestment

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Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Real Estate Technology

Steam device makes your water heater smart

(TECHNOLOGY) Not only is a smart water heater good for the environment in helping reduce CO2 emissions but it pays for itself in around a year after purchase for a standard 3 bedroom home.

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I don’t usually think of the internet when I think of saving energy and I certainly don’t think of my water heater, but apparently that’s all about to change thanks to an innovative new component called the Smart Water Heating Unit, you (and your clients) can save money on energy.

You may not realize it but we spend nearly 20% of our monthly energy bill just heating the water! Instead, by setting your tank to work at low rate hours and by setting your water temperature to an appropriate level you can gain significant savings.

Because your tank is connected to the Internet via your home Wi-Fi network, you can access and control it from any device and from anywhere in the world.​​ And the good thing is that it requires only a 2.4Ghz band which is available on most routers.

According to Steam’s website, “Steam’s multiple sensors help you find patterns, understand your consumption, and change habits. You adjust the water heating to the optimize comfort level.” Conveniently, you can choose between adjusting the heating unit by yourself, or just let Steam do it for you!

The Smart Water Heating Unit fits onto your existing or new hot water tank, connects to Wi-Fi and then you control it via Smartphone or Tablet, anytime or anywhere. Saving energy was never this easy! HelloSteam.com says that “not only is Steam good for the environment in helping reduce CO2 emissions but it pays for itself in around a year after purchase for a standard 3 bed house.”

Remember, Steam needs 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network in order to connect the Steam box to the Steam backend, which is supported by most routers. For now, the app is only available on Android and iOS but Steam will be supporting a web interface in future versions.

You will also need to have access to your water heater. Steam works best in single-family homes, condos, and townhouses that have their own hot water tank. Steam is powered from the same power lines going to your tank. No additional power is required and currently spends less than 1 megabyte of data per day.

As startups go, this one is hedging its bets on helping us spend less and consume less energy. In my book that’s a winning combination!

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Real Estate Technology

How AI boosts sales skills, not replaces them

(TECH NEWS) Artificial intelligence will drive the future of sales with time-saving solutions, not career-destroying deviance.

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Artificial Intelligence is getting pretty wild, y’all. Google and Uber are both working on developing AI systems with self-doubt, the University of Cambridge added a “Superintelligence” modification to popular computer game Civilization, and Japanese scientists can basically read minds with deep neural networks now.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) broadly covers the idea of machines and technology carrying out “smart” tasks. AI is driven by machine learning (ML), which allows devices to analyze data and learn through pattern recognition.

AI’s potential is widespread, from personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, to services like Pandora and Netflix. Utilizing machine learning (ML) software, these services apply algorithms to data sets to analyze and learn user preferences.

Whenever you like a movie or show on Netflix, you get suggestions of what you may like based on previous reactions, watching history, and Netflix’s extensive dataset. Machine learning does the analysis work, while Netflix as a service is considered something that uses AI.

Many companies use AI and ML to evaluate and manage data. In 2016, $20-30 billion was spent worldwide on AI. Of this, ninety percent went to research and development, which speaks to global interest in improving and increasing AI technology.

As the amount of worldwide data increases, AI and ML can help manage information and deliver insights across a variety of industries, including retail, real estate, education, energy, manufacturing, and so many others.

Sales can particularly benefit from AI since it reduces the manual labor of researching prospects and qualifying leads. With AI, sales teams can determine when to engage prospects, and which information will be most relevant.

Additionally, AI provides insight into which content is doing well so sales teams can better optimize high-performing strategies. In turn, this can improve engagement based on insights instead of intuition to increase close rates.

Close analysis of data doesn’t have to be a tedious administrative task with AI and ML. By finding out what your customers need based on close data analysis, you can create targeted, personalized solutions.

Plus, AI can help reduce lost sales by evaluating product availability, and implement dynamic pricing along and demand forecasting.

In terms of customer support for sales, you can already easily implement chatbots that use machine learning to answer frequently asked questions and generate leads.

We’re not exactly at Westworld levels of automation yet, but the future is leaning towards AI. Those in the sales industry can greatly benefit from implementing artificial intelligence solutions to save time and increase productivity for anyone who’s still human on the team.

And now for a neat graphic to digest:

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Real Estate Technology

How to run a phone system inside of Slack (no phone required)

(TECH NEWS) Ottspott is a phone system that runs inside Slack. You don’t even have to own a telephone set – you can make and receive all of you calls through your computer browser, without leaving Slack.

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If you’re already running everything in your business though Slack, you might want to keep an eye on Ottspott, a startup currently registering early adopters in beta.

Ottspott is a phone system that runs inside Slack. You don’t even have to own a telephone set – you can make and receive all of you calls through your computer browser, without leaving Slack.

No coding or technical skills are required. Sign up takes less than a minute, and your entire team is integrated into the system – no need to invite team members or have them sign up individually. You simply select a phone number from a list of 9,000 cities in 40 countries, and Slack takes care of the rest. Included are major tech cities such as Dublin, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco, and New York. Ottspott is a great tool for global businesses that want to keep local phone numbers for their customers.

Ottspott can help you with internal communications, as well as calling clients and customers.

You can label calls for efficiency (for example “urgent” or “sales”), and you can have calls automatically forwarded to the appropriate member of your team. Your Gmail contacts are integrated with Ottspott to provide caller ID. You can also create folders of contacts to share with your team. Ottspott can even facilitate conference calls using Slack’s slash commands.

Ottspott notifies you instantly when you receive or miss a call, or when you get a new voicemail. You can then click-to-call from these notifications or from within voicemail, so you don’t need to dial the number.

You can also use OttSpott’s analytic metrics to measure your sales team’s phone performance.

And what if you’re away from your computer? No problem. Ottspott has a built-in voicemail system, and can also forward calls to your cell phone or landline.

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