Real estate has always been an industry dependent on technological developments, but the past few years have held some major breakthroughs. Whether you're a real estate agent looking to sell more homes, a landlord looking to get better tenants, or a prospective homeowner looking for your first real house, the new technology shaping the real estate industry will probably affect your life significantly in 2019 and beyond.

So which technologies and trends are most important to watch in the next few years, and how might they impact the real estate industry as a whole?

Tech Development in Real Estate

These are some of the top tech developments to watch.

1. Buying and selling platforms. First, we'll see fantastic advancements in the approachability and functionality of real estate buying and selling platforms. The basic idea is to make buying and selling properties easier and more intuitive to the greatest number of people. With easier platforms to navigate, more homeowners will be able to get their houses to market quickly, and more home buyers will be able to find what they're looking for quickly; overall, that's going to result in more market activity and better experiences for everyone involved. If you're selling your home in 2019, you may be able to bypass the need for an agent by using one of these platforms.

2. The blockchain. Blockchain technology has gotten tons of attention for its potential to support cryptocurrency, but in 2019, it may be applied to the real estate world. The possibilities are practically limitless; thanks to tokenization, landlords could hypothetically use the blockchain to sell portions of ownership in their properties. Real estate contracts between buyers and sellers could be done with complete encryption and built-in legitimacy checks. Even property titles could be more securely and more conveniently stored, thanks to blockchain ledgers.

3. Virtual walkthroughs. Virtual reality has been making headlines in practically every industry, but it could really start taking off for real estate in 2019 and beyond. One of the most important steps of buying a property or becoming a tenant somewhere is viewing the property, inside and out--but this can prove difficult if you're moving to a distant city, or if you're otherwise unavailable during normal viewing hours. Virtual reality (VR) could easily allow prospective tenants and homebuyers to walk through properties before buying, and it's going to become more popular and more common in the next few years.

4. Machine learning and ROI calculation. Property investors and real estate agents need to know that they're spending their time well, and new technology may be able to help them do it. Thanks to the prevalence of big data and machine learning algorithms, real estate professionals will gain more knowledge about the ROI of each of their (and their clients') transactions. For example, real estate agents will be able to make more accurate predictions for what properties will sell for, how much money their clients will be able to make, and how much they'll get in commissions. These algorithms can also be used to spot better real estate deals, leading to smarter investments.

5. Big data and personalized recommendations. Personalization has been a game-changer for marketing and advertising (and for many specific industries), but it hasn't been fully utilized in the real estate industry. Now, real estate agents attempt to personalize their clients' recommended properties based on personal wants and needs (like number of bedrooms and property location), but in the future, big data will be able to make even more intelligent recommendations. Under the right circumstances, real estate agents and/or homebuying platforms will be able to successfully predict what a homebuyer would want--even if they haven't explicitly stated it in the past.

Watch for Startups

These high-level trends provide a kind of blueprint for the near future of the real estate industry, but as always, it's hard to predict exactly how new technologies will develop--and how, exactly, they'll change the real estate industry. If you're plugged into the industry, or know you'll need to change how you buy and sell property, pay attention to the nimble startups that are sure to emerge in the coming years.

They have the power to completely change the industry, so you'll do well to monitor their development.