Can Tech Disruptors Address Housing Industry Needs?
Many of the biggest names in tech disruption have moved into the real estate industry in the last couple of years, yet questions remain over how well the current crop of top disruptors are addressing key needs of the housing industry, reports Curbed. Compared to other fields, real estate tech disruption has come relatively late, mostly in 2017, says the report.
Almost $34 billion in real estate startup funding
The article notes that major tech disruptors have brought a lot of money to the housing industry, with global real estate startup investment growing from $2.4 billion in 2008 to $33.7 billion in 2017. Household names like WeWork are focused on building community and helping new businesses grow and thrive. Airbnb has helped people find accommodation while traveling and helped property owners take full advantage of their homes.
Affordable housing solutions needed
However, the article notes that an acute housing shortage and ongoing affordability issues remain. “Don’t try and disrupt everything. Focus on actual problems,” Allison Arieff, editorial director of SPUR, advised tech disruptors.
“What I’m worried about is the heartbeat of cities,” said Jon Dishotsky, co-founder of Starcity, a real estate startup focusing on affordable co-living solutions. “If teachers, firemen, and policemen can’t afford to live in cities, it ruins their viability.”
The article reports Starcity offers small, fully furnished co-living solutions that range from $1,400 to $2,400 per month, and include Wi-Fi, janitorial services, and shared common spaces. With the already high and rising cost of urban accommodation, there’s question whether such solutions can work long term. “The future is more expensive and less room,” Adam Neumann, co-founder and CEO of WeWork, told the New Yorker in 2016.
New startups look to disrupt prefab and manufactured housing
The article argues that some innovations are more needed than others, and what many cities need is new housing. It points to Katerra, a construction technology firm that recently received $865 million in venture funding, with the goal to create a cheaper, one-stop shop for construction housing. Other firms, including Kasita, Blokable, and Module, are likewise focused on perfecting prefab housing or manufactured homes. The challenge, the article notes, is to find solutions to the housing industry crunch before more firms move on from top cities.