Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

Real estate professionals need to be aware that tech companies want a share of their industry, and some of them are already taking it, NextHome Inc. CEO James Dwiggins told an audience of about 500 people in Bend on Thursday.

Dwiggins, who runs a San Francisco-based real estate franchise, was the keynote speaker at the Bend Chamber of Commerce’s annual Real Estate Impact breakfast. He talked about signs that Amazon has its eye on the industry; the impact of i-buyers, which offer buyers and sellers set closing dates and a number of technology-driven conveniences; and how autonomous vehicles and the demise of brick-and-mortar retail will change urban landscapes and real estate values.

While all that might be unsettling to real estate and mortgage brokers, Dwiggins also reminded the audience that people will continue to pay for services that they perceive as valuable. Travel agents are making a comeback, Dwiggins said, because people like him are frustrated by dealing with Expedia — the company that transformed the travel industry — when they have to rebook flights.

There are about 1,800 licensed real estate brokers and principal brokers in Deschutes County, according to the Oregon Real Estate Agency. Dwiggins said there’s an “enormous” need for their services, but he doesn’t foresee room for growth in the profession.

“Unfortunately, homeownership is down across all age demographics,” Dwiggins said.

New, disruptive companies could also help brokers’ businesses, Dwiggins said. He sees promise in RealScout, a listings-alert platform that uses artificial intelligence, and Unison, which offers home buyers cash payments in exchange for a percentage of the future appreciation of the property’s value.

A panel of Oregon-based experts offered insight on transportation trends and legislation. Jeff Patterson, an attorney at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC in Portland, predicted that the Oregon Legislature will pass two controversial housing bills — rent control and the elimination of single-family-only zoning.

Landlords should also be prepared for changes to the streets and sidewalks that surround their properties, said Marc Butorac, senior principal engineer at Kittelson & Associates in Portland. “Disruption’s on its way at the curb,” he said.

Ride hailing services are trying to pave the way for autonomous vehicles by paying cities for the use of their curbs, Butorac said. While Uber and Lyft drivers often double park and let their riders disembark into traffic, that won’t be possible for autonomous vehicles, which need to be 18 inches from a curb, he said.

Meanwhile, restaurants are willing to pay for access to curbside lanes to expand seating, Butorac said. So cities could replace metered on-street parking with various uses and dynamic pricing. And the technology exists to facilitate that. “We can put crystals in the pavement, hit it with light, and the driver will see color changes throughout the day,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

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