Multifamily & The Metaverse
Guest Post written by: Eric Brown
Times Are Good
It is undeniably a most excellent time to be in the apartment rental business. High occupancy, waiting lists, and solid collections are the norm now that most systems are operating in a more normalized manner. Yes indeed, we all look like geniuses after weathering the COVID Storm. My sense is that most apartment operators are focused on renting apartments, collecting rent, and maintaining the assets.
COVID hyper-accelerated certain technologies. Smart locks are smarter and opened the pathway to many changes in protocol such as self-guided tours. Smart home tech has dominated with gadgets that enhance our living experience. While multifamily has typically lagged behind on many technology trends, COVID brought many of these products to the broader multifamily market, enabling scale at warp speed. These new tools and platforms are now accepted by the masses who previously rejected them. That begs the question though –
I am going out on a limb and exploring the Metaverse (which took me down a deep rabbit hole!) and the ways it may affect how people rent apartments. It is an unprecedented time to be in the apartment business and I feel like apartment operators, (not all, but many) are taking a breather and simply managing the properties. They are likely laughing at the whole idea of Metaverse IF they even know what it is. Yet, I strongly feel that in time, our prospects will be renting apartments from Bots, in a Virtual World, where AI (Artificial Intelligence) will control most if not the entire process. Property websites as we know them will be vintage and apartment operators will operate their business in this virtual landscape.
I stumbled onto something Paul Bergeron wrote recently. Paul has been writing about and studying multifamily for a long time and is a smart and seasoned guy. He is an Executive Editor, Influencer, and Content Producer for Thought Leadership today.
In a LinkedIn Post, Paul writes, “Crazy. Many attendees didn’t stick around, but those who did found out that their apartment community is already on the Metaverse, where it can be bought or sold. The audience at last week’s MF Social Media Summit was most “blown away” when speaker, tech reporter Jeremiah Owyang, explained this. He pointed to Earth 2, a futuristic concept for a second Earth; a metaverse, between virtual and physical reality in which real-world geolocations on a sectioned map correspond to user-generated digital virtual environments…These environments (including your apartment community) can be owned, bought, sold, and deeply customized.”
So – What If?
What if the Metaverse, which is map-based, became the place where our prospects rented? They can see everything around the apartments, just as in real-time, similar to Google Earth. Imagine that the digital space has evolved, every person has an Avatar, real estate developers have purchased property on Earth2, and the apartment community looks exactly the same in the digital metaverse as it does in real life. While this may feel like sci-fi to many, some of us were renting apartments before URLs and .coms. We used paper brochures. I can vouch that no one, or at least not many, had any idea how websites, as we know them today, would change the renter’s experience. So, every property management company in the land started building websites and scrambling to get the best URL. It was messy for quite some time.
Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web (www) in 1989 while working at CERN. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world. On August 6, 1991, the first website was introduced to the world. And while perhaps not as exciting or immersive as some of the nearly 1.9 billion websites that exist today, it makes sense that the first web page launched on the good ol’ W3 was, well, instructions about how to use it.
Are We Blind to History?
One of my favorite authors, Aldous Huxley, quotes “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”
Who would have dreamt that we would be buying Digital Art aka NFTs, with Cryptocurrency, aka Bitcoin that all lived on the Blockchain? But We Are.
Maybe The Metaverse is a real thing? You Decide.
Defining the Terms
NFT – A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique digital asset that represents ownership of real-world items like art, video clips, music, and more. NFTs use the same blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrencies, but they’re not a currency
Cryptocurrency – A cryptocurrency is an encrypted data string that denotes a unit of currency. It is monitored and organized by a peer-to-peer network called a blockchain, which also serves as a secure ledger of transactions, e.g., buying, selling, and transferring.
Bitcoin – Bitcoin is a digital currency that operates free of any central control or the oversight of banks or governments. Instead, it relies on peer-to-peer software and cryptography. A public ledger records all bitcoin transactions and copies are held on servers around the world.
Blockchain – Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding).
Metaverse – Digital Technology in a shared, realistic, and immersive computer simulation of the real world or other possible worlds, in which people participate as digital avatars.
About Mike Brewer
My mission is to tease out the human potential in the multifamily space.