Palo Alto, California-based global blockchain real estate marketplace, Propy, Inc. is launching a pilot program to record real estate documentation using blockchain technology in South Burlington, Vermont, a state that is increasingly known for being friendly to blockchain development.
“The startup, headed by founder Natalia Karayaneva, uses Blockchain protocols to record real estate transactions on a ledger that governments can use to tie titles to properties securely and efficiently. Propy also works to match buyers with both seller and brokers and offers information on neighborhoods where the properties are located,” — CoinTelegraph.
“…[The Pilot project is] emblematic of Vermont’s long history of innovating business, insurance, and financial technology. We are fortunate to have a cutting edge statutory framework that enables the use of blockchain technology, and we will continue to work with the legislature to ensure Vermont remains at the forefront of these innovations.”
Michael Schirling >> Development Secretary | Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
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Written by Wendy Bowman
When he was little, Griffin Cogorno would tag along with his father and grandfather to manage, sweep, repair and collect rent on his family’s commercial real estate holdings. Enthralled by industrial assets and the companies that worked within the industry, he learned firsthand how to treat tenants, vendors and their employees with respect—from the janitor to the director who signed the rent check.
“I would sweep the floor, work in a manufacturing plant during my summers and everything in between,” Cogorno says. “I was always interested in the markets and how the properties functioned. I found soaking up knowledge on trends in the industry fascinating, so I decided to make this a part of my educational and professional journey.”
Eventually, Cogorno met his greatest mentor—and eventual father-in-law—Mark Harryman, founder of Unire Real Estate Group. After working for Southern California industrial developer The O’Donnell Group and JP Morgan Chase, Cogorno landed at Unire and most recently became vice president of the boutique-style property/construction management company that is involved in institutional-level industrial/office commercial real estate in L.A., with a specific focus on industrial assets in the South Bay. Here, a conversation with Cogorno.
How long have you been in this industry, and what is your role at Unire Group?
I’ve been in the commercial real estate business for more than 15 years, but grew up in industrial building. I’ve financed, developed, managed, acquired and sold more than $750 million in my career, but my current and future focus is to continue Unire’s growth. My day-to-day role is bringing a fresh perspective and [skill set] to the old guard of industrial commercial real estate through technology, new media, e-marketing, social media and the next generation of decision makers.
Talk about Unire Group’s specific business focus.
Unire was formed to deliver a higher standard of asset services to owners and tenants of institutional-quality commercial real estate. We’re currently responsible for management of more than 45 million square feet of industrial and office properties throughout the six-county Southern California region, as well as the Greater San Francisco Bay area and Las Vegas.
How has the company evolved to keep up with industry changes?
Unire continues to evolve and think strategically alongside our clients, vendors and employees. We adapt to running the properties more efficiently through lighting upgrades, drought-tolerant landscaping, HVAC upgrades and sustainability measures. We work with some tremendous vendors who assist us with running our portfolio at a high level.
Tell us about some of the properties in the company’s portfolio right now.
Unire has 215 buildings under management. Along with our existing portfolio, we have about 5 million square feet of projects in development. Last year, we completed development of a 1.6 million-square-foot industrial asset and then pre-leased it to a national credit tenant. Our entire portfolio is 95 percent occupied.
What is your perception of the South Bay’s commercial real estate market? Discuss the advancements and new developments you see.
The South Bay has transformed the most out of any market in California, except for San Francisco. The tech boom has completely transformed the market in both commercial and residential development. We are starting to see tenants migrate from Silicon Beach to Torrance seeking redevelopment options and space. The demand for both industrial space for last-mile tenants and flex/R&D space [for] tech companies are driving vacancy into sub 2 percent. It is a once-in-a-lifetime cycle.
What can you say about the value in South Bay?
One of our brokers said it best: ‘Market rents are what market rents are.’ That means it’s almost an injustice to put a price on a space, as there is no availability in the market. Tenants are fighting over space, and startups are paying way over market to secure space and offering huge deposits to offset credit. Every deal is higher than the last.
Any specific areas that have really taken off? Where is the next hot spot?
I think the flex and R&D market in Torrance is the next hot spot, with Porsche really setting the bar with the amenities along with the new mall being developed. Torrance always suffered from a lack of amenities, but now that is changing and tenants are coming down the 405 as Silicon Beach has gotten too expensive and too difficult to secure space.
What do you expect the South Bay to look like in five to 10 years?
The South Bay will keep evolving into a micro Silicon Valley. In 10 years, who knows—the options are endless.
Wall Street has always been on the hunt for new and innovative ways to maximize returns on investment. Some turned out great, others not so great.
Ten years ago, it was subprime mortgages and mortgage backed securities, which led to the meltdown in 2008, which subsequently triggered the eventual $7 trillion dollar Wall Street bailout by the U.S. government.
Today, Wall Street is investing in the U.S. market again but this time it’s buying up homes. Since the mortgage meltdown and housing crash caused millions of Americans to lose their homes, institutional investors such as Blackstone, America Homes 4 Rent, and Colony Starwood Homes have purchased tens of thousands of these homes and converted them into rentals.
With new technology and cloud platforms to automate and streamline the way distributed assets can be managed, investment banks, private-equity firms, and hedge funds have found new ways to increase margins across the board. They look at these purchases not as homes, but as assets that can deliver a high rate of return.
As institutional investors leverage technology to become the largest buyers of most Americans’ biggest asset, they become the new iBuyers and could influence prices and terms under which homebuyers and sellers transact, including commission rates.
The iBuyer trend has just begun, but it will no doubt change the game in real estate. The “big money” always bets on technology to disrupt industries and make them “more efficient,” which is code for squeezing out more profit.
Drawing on institutional capital, iBuyers use technology to make quick offers on homes, close in just days, and either rent or flip them. New platforms are already up and running, with Opendoor, OfferPad, and the industry’s newest and most controversial, Zillow Instant Offers.
This new disruptive business model has the potential to make the housing market “more efficient,” – again code word for capturing generous fees. iBuyers use technology to offer homeowners a fast and guaranteed sale at purported “market value,” all for a flat service fee of between 6 – 13%.
Two of the industry’s leading iBuyers, Opendoor and Offerpad, currently operated in a few markets but plan on expanding quickly in the next 18 months. In Phoenix, the two companies have closed more than 600 transactions in the first quarter of 2017, accounting for almost 3% of total sales, according to Attom Data Solutions.
The transformation of the real estate industry is also attracting top talent in the technology space, as demonstrated by Opendoor’s recent hiring of Uber’s head of finance, as well as two former Amazon executives that will serve in key roles. Gautam Gupta, who heads up finance at Uber, but plans to leave in July, will serve as Opendoor’s COO, where he’ll focus on scaling operations and opening new markets.
“Opendoor has the opportunity to transform how people buy and sell homes much like ridesharing has transformed how people get around,” Gupta stated.
First, Wall Street is getting into the real estate business – leveraging its vast resources and might expedite the disruption. Second, the big money is now really zeroing in on the “direct to consumer” model as the ultimate model to make the home selling process more efficient.
Redfin, the Seattle based online brokerage has filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission with its initial public offering priced at $100 million. In the filing, Redfin also announced it was testing Redfin Now, a new service in which Redfin buys homes directly from sellers and resells them to buyers. The company will test Redfin Now in two markets to start – the Inland Empire and San Diego California.
Redfin’s new program allows homeowners to sell a property to Redfin for as little as 7 percent commission. Homeowners will be able to view an immediate offer range on Redfin Now’s website and if they choose to request a formal offer, Redfin will send a representative to inspect the home and then submit a binding offer within 24 hours.
Accelerating the new iBuyer transformation is real estate giant Zillow, which just entered the picture a few weeks ago. Zillow launched a pilot program in two cities – Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida with the promise that a home sale can be completed in less than a week. Called “Zillow Instant Offers,” this new service allows home sellers to receive all-cash offers from a hand-selected group of 15 private investors.
Zillow, real estate industry’s chief disruptor, looks like it’s jumping into the iBuyer game, and leveraging its multi-billion dollar market capitalization and consumer brand to offer a radical new business model for home sellers. With Opendoor and Offerpad leading the charge and quickly gaining momentum in the space, Zillow really has no choice but to try and take the lead for fear of being disrupted itself.
With a market cap of $8 billion dollars and still losing money, Zillow can’t grow its advertising driven model fast enough to appease Wall Street. The fear amongst REALTORS and the industry at large has always been that Zillow is gearing up to “flip the switch,” and become a full service brokerage – which they have always adamantly denied. But ultimately, they may have no choice.
It appears Amazon is jumping into the real estate space as well. A “Hire a Realtor” placeholder page, (which debuted briefly and has already been removed,) suggests the internet behemoth will add real estate agents to its professional services marketplace. If the marketplace works for agents like it does for other professionals, then agents would pay referral fees to Amazon in exchange for new business.
Where this leads nobody knows, but with Amazon’s scale and clout in the product space, one could only imagine the possibilities here.
In 2011, $186 million was spent on real estate tech applications. Fast-forward to 2016 and that number has ballooned to $2.7 billion.
At the end of the day, technology is going to change every aspect of buying, selling, and managing real estate.
According to the National Association of Realtors 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker – a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.
It will be interesting to watch the convergence of America’s continued and growing dependence on the expertise of real estate agents and the accelerating advancement of technology.
The National Association of Realtors, (NAR) estimated that the aggregate value of existing U.S. home sales was approximately $1.5 trillion in 2016 from approximately 5.5 million total transactions. It is estimated that consumers
paid more than $75 billion in commissions in 2016 for these transactions.
The residential brokerage industry remains highly fragmented, with an estimated 2 million active licensed agents and over 86,000 real estate brokers in the U.S.
Over one-third of middle-class consumer spending is on the home, so it’s no wonder the “big money” is betting on the real estate industry’s continued disruption – there’s money to be made. One thing is for sure, that technology will continue to play a larger role in the real estate transaction, and the direct to consumer momentum will continue to gather steam. Where this ends up, nobody knows.
But don’t plan on real estate agents becoming extinct any time soon. The size, complexity, and legality of buying and selling million plus dollar assets warrants seasoned, professional representation. Additionally, “off market, not listed on the MLS” deals represent over 20% of home sales in some markets, and you can’t access these without tapping into an agent’s local network.
Finally, buying anything is a highly emotional decision. The bigger the price, the more emotional it gets. Agents serve this purpose well, by acting as personal caretakers during the transaction process – something technology can’t do at the moment.
We’re truly living in a “wild west” real estate world today, and it’s only going to get more interesting moving forward. So sit back, fasten your seat belts, and get ready for the ride.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 310.373.0142 x2461
Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Tesla
Tesla has become known for its luxurious electric automobiles. But solar energy always has been part of the technology and design company’s strategy. The first master plan that Tesla CEO Elon Musk penned 10 years ago included three goals: to create a high-end electric sports car; to use the money from their first auto to develop another electric vehicle at a lower price; and to provide solar power—all in hopes of one day achieving a sustainable energy economy. Fast-forward to today, and the Palo Alto-based company not only makes and markets a full line of electric vehicles—from sedans to an SUV—but now offers a line of attractive solar roof tiles that can convert sunlight into electricity, and in turn, lower utility rates.
According to Tesla, orders already are being accepted for the tiles, which will first be sold in the U.S. and, eventually, worldwide. Designed to resemble traditional roof shingles, the sleek, textured glass tiles offer a streamlined look and come in a variety of designs—the first tiles are available in gray smooth glass and black textured glass, with slate and Tuscan glass tiles arriving in 2018. The solar roof also can be integrated with a compact, stackable Powerwall that boasts a built-in invertor that can store energy produced by the solar tiles. The result? Continuous energy both day and night, even during grid outages. Users can also monitor and manage the tile and Powerwall from a smartphone via a Tesla App.
Tesla is currently taking orders for its solar roof/battery-storage package, with installation available on a first-ordered, first-installed basis beginning this year. Homeowners can enter their information at Tesla.com, with a $1,000 deposit to secure their spot on the order list. Tesla plans to manage the entire solar roof process—from the removal of the existing roof, design, permitting, installation (which takes five to seven days), operations and maintenance.
Customers can assess a calculator at Tesla. com/SolarRoof to estimate the price of the solar roof, along with the energy it can generate for their home. The calculator is based on factors such as roof size, average local price of electricity, number of Powerwalls installed and how much sunlight a neighborhood receives during the year, with the typical homeowner estimated to pay $21.85 per square foot for a Solar Roof.
According to Tesla, its solar roof is affordable, and it is expected to ultimately pay for itself by reducing or eliminating a home’s electricity bill. Made with tempered glass, the durable and long-lasting solar roof tiles also are more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. Finally, Tesla offers a warranty for the lifetime of the house, or infinity, whichever comes first.
Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Local Motors and KKreations
Chicago-based software developer John Ellis began his career at Motorola 26 years ago, creating products that are part of today’s mobile revolution—think the country’s first mobile device third-party developer program that has since led to the Google and Apple app stores. He went on to work as a global technologist for Ford Motor Co.’s connected car business unit, where he helped develop technology to integrate mobile devices into automobiles— now known as Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Car Play. Meanwhile, Ellis formed his own management-consulting firm (Ellis & Associates) in 1997 to teach clients how to conduct business effectively overseas, but now serves clients in the space where automotive, consumer, connectivity and software intersect.
Here, the high-tech pioneer discusses five technologies that are set to change the face of residential and commercial building in the coming years, some of which already are taking place right here in L.A.
How did you arrive at these five specific technologies?
I picked ones that I thought were the most transformative for anyone working in the space, whether a contractor, owner of a construction company or a regulator, such as an inspector. I tried to pick technologies that were real; none of this is science fiction. These are all demonstrative, thought-provoking, and challenge people in terms of the automation, chemicals and chemistry or cool things you can do with construction.
Tell us about how each of these five technologies is expected to change the future of building.
3D printing. This is the ability to take a printer and print an object in 3D. Think of Star Trek and the replicator [a machine capable of creating and recycling objects]. You would open up a cage, and out would come something from thin air; it’s an incredible area. In May 2016, Dubai was able to demonstrate a 2,300-square-foot office building that was completely 3D-built. The objects inside of it were 3D-built as well, with the exception of electric wiring and glass. There were significant cost savings in terms of the number of employees and the amount of time it took to finish the building. This was a demonstration by the government to prove the efficacy of 3D building, and they eventually want half or three-quarters of the buildings in Dubai to be printed as opposed to being built onsite.
China also has a 10,000-square-foot home that was 3D-built. Certainly, some of these exercises are almost extreme examples to prove something. It’s not yet viable today to 3D print everything. That said, the prefab market is becoming more accepted because the quality and design choices and construction are better. A form of printing already is being done via assembly at the factory, and this is taking it to next step. One of the future implications of 3D printing is in trim work. You no longer have to get carpenters to do these complicated pieces, but instead you can print them onsite to specification and color and then install them…that world is coming.
For example, the International Space Station recently needed to repair a product and didn’t have a tool for it in space. They did have a 3D printer, though, and a toolmaker sent them a design and they used it to print the product they needed in space. It’s all about becoming self-sustaining. The time frame for everyday use is probably 10 to 15 years away; it’s not that far off.
Wireless power. Everyone in the world believes that to get power, you have to plug into a wall outlet or use batteries. Well, there is a group of people doing wireless charging without wires. The first example of this is surface charging, where you put a device on a surface pad and it charges through induction. This is out in the market today; you can put a device on a pad and it charges. Take that same concept, and you walk into a room and it has ambient electric waves and you can wirelessly charge your phone while it’s on your body. We can contemplate a world in which there are no wires. You can bring a light in and turn it on…and it’s on. We just have to get it to a price point and a form where you can deploy it reasonably and safely. That is happening today, with the Department of Energy placing a lot of focus on this. What does it mean to the builder? Maybe power becomes part and parcel of the product, but we’re still 15 to 20 years away. It’s fascinating to contemplate.
Nanoparticle paint. This is a concept that you’ve heard of—nanotechnology. This is the ability to make materials smart and do things with them, like infusing paint with particulates that can be smart.
One example is cars that could change colors. It’s not unreasonable to assume that this technology could also make it into homes and commercial buildings. For example, you could paint a home with nanoparticle paint that can change colors. Or, imagine the nanoparticle paint is infused with a cleaning agent and you don’t have to wash it; when rain comes, it resists dirt and staining.
Autonomous cars. In this particular case, the implication to a builder is significant. If we can get to a world where cars don’t need people to drive them, then it’s very likely you will be in a world where you don’t need to own a car. And if cars don’t need to be driven by human beings, then you have a world where you can schedule a car and it just shows up…whether you need a two-person car or you want to go on a getaway and need a car for a family of four, or a pickup truck or a mini-van for a group of friends. The transportation you need at the moment you need it just shows up.
If that becomes true, then we also don’t need curbs, streets, garages, driveways and homes with setbacks off of the road. Then how we plan and execute developments is different. How real is it and when is it coming? Ford announced it is going to have an autonomous car in 2021 and is being joined by Volvo, Tesla, Google and others in and around the same time frame. It’s real and happening now, and builders need to start thinking about it now in terms of the entire housing and commercial element.
Drones. People thought technology entrepreneur Jeff Bezos was crazy when he explored the use of drones to deliver packages. Now everyone is looking at it. Drones now have become the hot new thing in transportation; there is amazing stuff happening. Do you remember when you were a kid and watched The Jetsons and they could just get in a car and whip around? It could have been a drone. Drones now are being made with seats that can carry up to 200 pounds. So, we could have drone transportation for people and not just goods.
In addition, Uber just announced its version of a flying car that is more like a drone than a car. The introduction of this technology into the mass market is going to take away garages and driveways, and maybe in my future home, I will just need to have a drone pad for transportation and deliveries.
What would a home with all of these technologies in place look like?
In the world I live in, I have a furnace room that heats my house and has an air-conditioning unit for central air. It’s connected to my electricity supply. So, I have an electrical line that supplies electricity to my house, a pipe to provide natural gas to burn and to create the heat, and a pipe to put in fresh water. All of the waste leaves the house in terms of drains. In the future home, you’re going to have a carbon supply line that will provide the basic element of all things we have and enjoy on earth…3D printing takes carbon and prints it into whatever shape or object you want. I could envision a 3D printer room that becomes part of the house similar to what the furnace room is today; you wouldn’t buy a house without one.
It would have an Ethernet connection to download a schematic of an object, like a plate or fork. When you want it, your account is debited a license fee of maybe $2 to print the object. You’ll pay the designer, the printer will pop to life, you’ll hear a ‘[b]ing’ and you’ll have a plate ready to use for dinner. In the same house, you could print 12 plates for a nice dinner. Or, you’re online at Target or Costco, and instead of going to get an object you’ve ordered, an autonomous car just shows up so you can go get it or a drone delivers it. A drone delivery might be $10 and an autonomous car $5. With the drone option, within an hour a drone lands on your drone pad and releases the package that you just purchased with the objects for your dinner, including fresh vegetables. Then you have your dinner and people are sitting in your dining room and someone remarks on how beautiful and clean your home is. You could say, ‘It’s courtesy of my nanoparticle paint that allows the room to change moods and color and is always clean.’
Then a guest might drop and break a plate. You pick it up, and instead of putting it in the garbage, you can put it in the 3D disposal can and it puts carbon back into your carbon supply line so you can print another plate later. You also could invite people to sit in your living room, which has 3D-printed couches, or on the patio with a geometric structure that has been 3D printed courtesy of a new company that builds 3D objects that can’t be built by hand because of the geometries. That’s the future of the home or the abode you would be living in. That future is in about 20 to 25 years; it’s totally real today and coming.
Do you think Los Angeles will see these technologies in the very near future?
L.A. already has autonomous cars. Last November, Mayor Garcetti was driven from City Hall to the L.A. Convention Center in an autonomous Volvo as part of the L.A. Auto Show. This year, the L.A. Auto Show will present Local Motors, a company out of Phoenix that did a 3D-printed, autonomous bus named Olli in partnership with IBM that is already up and running in Washington, D.C. You can get on the bus and it will say, ‘Welcome aboard Olli. Where are you going today?’ And then you use regular, natural language, like, ‘I want to go to the Washington Monument,’ and Olli will take you there. Four years ago, L.A. Auto Show head Lisa Kaz recognized the transformation that was happening in the transportation industry and knew the auto show industry needed to change.
So, she introduced, in conjunction with the L.A. Auto Show, a Connected Car Expo to showcase the best in technology, including the autonomous car. L.A. is now the epicenter of all things transportation and connectivity and the movement of goods and services. On top of that, you have the mayor who is committed to making the city of L.A. and greater L.A. County an epicenter of things related to transportation.
Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Dana Meilijson and Kevin Wong
Adding to LA’s standing as a hub for technology is the wealth of individuals with technology focused careers who are early adopters of tech in their private lives too. This makes for a landscape that is ripe for incorporating the latest home-intelligence and technology features to streamline daily processes and enhance a homeowner’s overall living experience.
“A well-designed tech integration can really elevate the desirability of a property and take a home to the next level,” says LA technology entrepreneur Ted Dhanik, formerly of MySpace.com, and most recently, founder and CEO of the cross-device company engage: BDR. “Taking out all the work for a potential buyer is attractive—all you have to do is move in and customize your desired settings, instead of having to worry about design and installation processes. These types of integrations make a house able to feel more like home on day one.”
Take, for example, Dhanik’s personal abode at 2118 Beech Knoll Road in the West Hollywood Hills, wired from top to bottom with smart-home technology. During the course of six years, Dhanik redesigned this 4,538-square-foot home in thoughtful stages, taking his inspiration entirely from Dwell on Design tours and expos. With touches of reclaimed wood, steel and concrete, the three-bedroom home not only offers sweeping views of the city skyline from all three stories, but also features a Control4 home automation system with touch panels and smartphone access that allows residents to subtly tailor the space to their own needs— from preferred shower settings and mood-specific lighting and music to remotely viewing cameras and opening gates, the garage and doors.
“The wow factor is how little you notice it compared with the impact it makes,” says Dhanik. “Imagine waking up by having your shades rise to provide natural light at your desired time; the shower knows the perfect temperature; your coffee is ready at the perfect time; and the music is just right to put a pep in your step. That’s a pretty great way to start your day, with no work involved on your part.” Meanwhile, the Savant home automation system at a new Bradley Bayou-designed home at 9233 Swallow Drive in Doheny Estates also lets one operate the entire house via a smartphone. “Simply everyone is on their phones, so it’s an added selling bonus to say you can literally control every incredible facet of this home from your smartphone,” says Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty, who is listing the property for $14.25 million. “When you can say you can turn the spa on from a restaurant, turn on the music from your iPad and dim the lights when that time is right, it’s a sexy factor that makes you go wow!”
Then there’s The Wave House, built by LA architect Mario Romano in Venice in 2016. Here, one finds unprecedented design technology throughout, with wholly original walls and floors carved and textured into non-repetitive and large-scale surfaces—a level of design technology only achievable with massive computer processing, algorithmic software and robotics. Meanwhile, material technology was used to provide finishes that are flexible, easy to repair, durable and non-conductive, as well as impervious to mold and bacteria.
“Technology has the potential to make our homes more energy-efficient, ergonomic, intricately constructed and visually compelling,” says Romano. “Technology is a worldwide trend in general, influencing more and more aspects of our lives. We are now seeing it infiltrate into all aspects of our homes.” When it’s all said and done, technology means convenience…and convenience is the ultimate luxury.