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Overheard: Houston experts weigh in on the future of tech in real estate

What's the future of real estate — and how have technology and the pandemic affected its trajectory? A panel of experts discuss. Photo via Getty Images

The residential and commercial real estate industries have both evolved drastically as new technologies have emerged and in light of the pandemic. But where does that leave renters, homeowners, Realtors, brokers, and everyone else?

A panel of experts looked into their crystal balls and tried to answer this question at a panel for Houston Tech Rodeo last week. They discussed diversity and inclusion, home buying and rental trends, post-pandemic office design, and more on the virtual panel moderated by Allen Thornton, CEO of Money For Your Mission.

To hit the highlights from the virtual panel, check out some overheard moments below. To stream the full broadcast, click here.

“We’re dealing with a different consumer. When you look at the largest pool of buyers of residential real estate — it’s millennials.”

— Bobby Bryant, CEO of Ask Doss. Bryant says these buyers want information than just pictures, square footage, and the school it's zoned to. They want to know about the neighborhood they will be a part of.

“Folks are realizing how much waste comes from buildings — the buildings we spend 90 percent of our time in.”

Natalie Goodman, CEO of Incentifind. She adds that renters and homebuyers, as well as commercial tenants, are increasingly demanding more sustainable options. And the government will pay you to implement these things, Goodman says.

“Before the pandemic, there were already over 60 million freelancers across the country. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a whole lot more people than just that 60 million are capable of doing a really fantastic job of powering the economy from home."

Reda Hicks, CEO of GotSpot. People are going to be using space differently, so it's about finding those needs and providing the right access to them.

“As human beings, we’ll be drawn to operating and cooperating with other people in environments that are conducive to collaborating and creativity. We’ll probably see innovation ecosystems transition their operational pieces to an online platform. … But we’ll just naturally want to engage with other humans again."

Alexander Gras, managing director of The Cannon. Gras adds that the opportunity for in-person collisions is too important to us as humans.

“People are getting educated and educating themselves, and there’s more inclusion. That means more opportunities for individuals of color to invest in or own residential or commercial real estate.”

— Mark Erogbogbo, influencer at 40 Acre Plan. These emerging opportunities, he adds, need to continue.

“When you don’t need to go to a specific office every day and you can work anywhere, well then you can live anywhere.”

— Sebastien Long, CEO of Lodgeur. The pandemic changed how people regarded their housing. Many opted for more spacious rentals with backyards in less crowded areas. Americans don't have a much time off as Europeans, he adds, so they are rethinking how they work remotely.

“Residential real estate has to be the only industry that sells a product that it doesn’t service.”

— Bryant says, explaining how homebuying is one of the most expensive purchases in people's lives that they use for 8 years on average, yet it's a one-time transaction that also spans across many platforms. "The future of real estate brings everything together in one place."

“What CRE needs to think about if they are going to attract and retain tenants … then they need to think about resilience and build for more extreme weather. And that’s where incentives are going to spike.”

— Goodman adds, referencing the winter storm and the hurricanes Houston gets every season.

“For a very long time, (commercial real estate) has been an industry based on a 10-year lease. There are few people who are willing to take on that kind of relationship because that’s a decade, and nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

— Hicks says about the challenge CRE owners face with finding new tenants.

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It's a blast to work at Johnson Space Center. Johnson Space Center/Facebook

Houston continues to prove it hosts the best of the best employers in Texas as NASA tops Forbes' 2023 list of "America’s Best Employers By State."

The highly anticipated list, published August 22, is a collaboration between Forbes and Statista to survey the satisfaction levels of tens of thousands of workers employed by national companies.

Though the government agency is based in Washington, D.C., NASA's stratospheric presence in Houston (coupled with a great work environment and advancement opportunities) is what propels it to the top year after year. There are currently more than 17,000 workers employed by NASA, according to Forbes.

Earlier this year, NASA was honored as the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government by the Partnership for Public Service for its unyielding dedication to space exploration and discovery.

"The passion and precision of our workforce makes NASA the best place to work in the federal government," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement. "Together, we are poised to accomplish more daring feats with new advancements, more scientific contributions on Earth and in the heavens, and more incredible technological breakthroughs that will help shape the 21st century."

While Forbes explains that the national list isn't the same as their best large employers list, it's meant to serve as an in-depth analysis of companies that are "closer-to-home options for every American worker."

NASA's high rank follows shortly after the agency launched a brand new Digital Engineering Design Center fully dedicated to innovating the future of spaceflight. The new center will aid in expanding opportunities for the younger generation to embrace aerospace engineering as a career.

Forbes and Statista determined their rankings by surveying 70,000 Americans working at employers in the U.S. with at least 500 employees each. The final list features 1,392 highly recommended employers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 270 employers ranked highly in multiple states.

Here are the 30 best large employers in Texas, as determined by Forbes and Statista:

Houston area:

  • No. 1 – NASA (based in Washington, D.C.; Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake)
  • No. 4 – Houston Community College
  • No. 5 – Houston Methodist
  • No. 6 – Texas Children's Hospital
  • No. 18 – National Oilwell Varco
  • No. 19 – Bechtel (based in Reston, Virginia; major corporate hub in Houston)

Dallas-Fort Worth:

  • No. 6 – Texas Oncology, based in Dallas
  • No. 9 – Fidelity Investments (based in Boston; major corporate hub in Westlake)
  • No. 14 – Capital One (based in Richmond, Virginia; major corporate hub in Plano)
  • No. 17 – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas
  • No. 22 – Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas
  • No. 24 – Texas Health Resources, based in Arlington
  • No. 25 – General Motors (based in Detroit, Michigan; major assembly hub in Arlington)
  • No. 27 – City of Plano
  • No. 28 – Toyota North America, based in Plano

San Antonio:

  • No. 2 – H-E-B (based in San Antonio; more than 300 stores in Texas)
  • No. 26 – University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Austin:

  • No. 3 – Google (based in Mountain View, California; major corporate hub in Austin)
  • No. 13 – Apple (based in Cupertino, California; major corporate hub in Austin)

Throughout Texas:

  • No. 8 – Salesforce (based in San Francisco, California; offices in Austin and Dallas)
  • No. 10 – IKEA (based in Sweden; five stores in Texas)
  • No. 11 – Costco (based in Issaquah, Washington; 38 stores in Texas)
  • No. 15 – Cardinal Health (based in Dublin, Ohio; 23 locations in Texas)
  • No. 16 – Microsoft (based in Redmond, Washington; offices in Austin, Dallas, Friendswood, Frisco, Houston, San Antonio, and The Woodlands)
  • No. 20 – Leidos (based in Reston, Virginia; locations in San Antonio, Houston, and Webster)
  • No. 21 – Cisco Systems (based in San Jose, California; offices in Austin, Dallas, Irving, Richardson, Houston, Laredo, and San Antonio)
  • No. 23 – IBM (based in Armonk, New York; offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Frisco)
  • No. 29 – Nike (based in Beaverton, Oregon; 26 locations in Texas)
  • No. 30 – Charles Schwab (based in San Francisco, California; 25 locations in Texas)
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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