Real (Estate) Tech: Six Things You’ll Want to Know This Month

Welcome to Real (Estate) Tech, the monthly column posted from the intersection where Real Estate meets Technology. We scour the news so you don’t have to!

1. Google will begin selling Google Glasses later this year.

Ever since Google released the Google Goggles app, it’s been expected that they would develop a wearable platform for the software–and now it’s been confirmed that these glasses will debut sometime this year. Why is this a big deal? The glasses will overlay web content and advertisements on the wearer’s frame of vision, allowing for a whole new level of web-based marketing. Imagine the possibilities: virtual For Rent signs that display information about a rental property if a person simply glances toward the building, for instance, could be right around the corner. Click here for the full NYTimes article.

2. Fannie and Freddie are currently fueling the Multifamily Housing industry.

It’s no secret that multifamily rental properties are hot investments these days. Both Fannie and Freddie increased their multifamily lending by double-digits in 2011, topping off at 44.7 billion dollars.  “Looking ahead, we expect robust growth in the multi-family market,” David Brickman, senior VP at Freddie Mac, said. “The outlook is very positive due to solid fundamentals, demographics, low interest rates and strong capital flows into the sector.” Click here to read the full article from the NY Observer.

3. Granite Countertops: Have they gone from “aspirational” to standard?

“Trying to sell or rent a house without granite countertops,” one North Carolina real estate agent says, “is almost like trying to sell a house without a toilet.” Since the price of putting in granite countertops began to drop 12 years ago, installations skyrocketed. Why are renters and buyers insisting on granite? “Our product is purely emotional,” a countertop salesman asserts. Granite says something about the people who live in the unit–and increasingly, it’s a statement people are unwilling to go without. Click here for the full Seattle Times article.

4. Apartment sales are still lifting the housing market.

Guess what? Housing starts were 1.5% higher in January than in December, putting them at an annual rate of 699,000–even though there was a 1% dip in single-family homes. That’s because apartment starts increased 14%! Check out the full report from Investors Business Daily.

5. Geekwire just released nine ideas for free publicity (but we’re not sure how many of them we’d endorse)…

While writing brilliant complaint letters, arranging visual stunts (are there really contortionists for hire?), and “doing something ridiculous” seem like iffy strategies for courting publicity, some of the ideas–like running a contest, going green, and leaking a promotional rumor–are more promising. Check out the Geekwire article–have you tried any of these ideas in the past?

6. Amazon tweaks the Cloud (yes, that sentence made sense).

Everyone’s talking about the Cloud these days, and while it can provide affordable data storage solutions to many companies, there’s still a problem: it can be difficult to set up secure applications to run across both public and private platforms. But not if Amazon’s solution works! They’ve just released Simple Workflow Service. Read all about it at Wired.com. (Still not sure what the Cloud even is? Check out this introduction to the Cloud from HowStuffWorks.com)

Well, that’s all for this month! We’ll be back soon with more news and intrigue from the Real Estate and Technology worlds. In the meantime, have you come across a pertinent story? Let us know in the comments.

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