Despite being the single largest industry in the United States in terms of assets, the real estate sector has been surprisingly behind the times when it comes to the adoption of cutting-edge technology.

According to a recent article in Forbes, the real estate industry is at the same place now that many other industries were just getting to in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Many of the largest real estate companies are using proprietary technology, which entails frequent updates, patches, and ever-expanding functionality, along with all of the known problems that those sorts of fixes bring.

At the same time, there has been little interest in adopting industry-standard platforms in almost all other sectors. This has led to terrible inefficiency, a sort of constant reinvention of the wheel as 20 different companies develop 20 different solutions to precisely the same problem without ever collaborating with each other or determining what an optimal solution might look like based on their collective experience.

All told, the real estate industry is behind the technological times.

Some innovations are showing big promise

Though lagging as a whole, there have been a number of areas where the real estate business has quickly and successfully adopted game-changing technology. One example is the realm of virtual tours. The real estate industry has successfully implemented high-tech, three-dimensional virtual tours that help customers to see a large number of homes, getting a deep and accurate feel for the layout of the house, without ever having to leave their computer.

Now, virtual and augmented reality are adding another level of fidelity to the virtual tour. Some real estate experts predict that virtual reality will become the industry standard for virtual tours within the next decade. Even in its current state, augmented reality virtual tours have the potential to all but replace in-person tours, potentially allowing customers to get a solid feel for hundreds of homes. This could potentially dramatically reduce the time it typically takes for home buyers to find a suitable property. And all the time savings will translate into huge savings in hard dollars.

Another area where new technology is poised to shake up the real estate world is blockchain. While cryptocurrencies are already being used in some real estate transactions, the blockchain itself has the potential to create real estate transactions at an unprecedented level of security, ensuring these million-dollar purchases are 100 percent safe from fraud and abuse.