Finding the Middle Ground Between New Orleans' Tech & Real Estate Industries

07/28/2016 01:18 pm ET
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Once upon a time, New Orleanians relied on real estate agents to help them navigate local housing markets. Now that digital technology has become ubiquitous, information-seeking individuals can peruse the housing portfolio for entire metropolitan areas and access valuable real estate data. The availability of this information has prompted New Orleans’ real estate community to modernize and improve its services.

But, the integration of digital tools in the real estate industry is a kind of double-edged sword. Although the availability of real estate data has improved industry communication and accountability, short-term rental websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway have become a contentious issue for New Orleans residents, who believe that Airbnb is driving up the price of housing. Airbnb is a timely topic among NOLA real estate professionals. The topic is polarizing, and understandably so, as short-term rental apps have disrupted and changed the nature of the real estate industry.

Over the last decade, online listings for housing and short-term rentals have transformed New Orleans’ neighborhoods and tourist hotspots. The good thing about online listings? They let vacationers experience the Central Business District, Metairie, and other NOLA neighborhoods as full-time residents would, and also encourage tourists to explore areas of the Bayou where they wouldn’t otherwise venture.

Advocates for short-term rentals are trying to persuade city officials that whole-home rentals — which comprise 75% of all short-term rentals in New Orleans — will stimulate the local economy once they’re taxed and regulated. In August, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) will vote on changes to establish a legal framework for regulating short-term rental listings.

As a local business owner, I believe that New Orleans’ real estate industry and our tech industry can find a solution that’s beneficial to all parties. The most innovative real estate apps allow buyers and sellers to work more efficiently―and transactional efficiency is integral to the success of any real estate company. By employing these digital tools, real estate professionals in New Orleans can streamline property renting processes and operate with the advantages afforded by real-time information. 

Had it not been for the growth of the sharing economy and NOLA’s tech community, my company, Kailas Companies, would not have had the pleasure of collaborating with local businesses who operate out of shared work spaces throughout New Orleans. I feel confident that, with enough time, real estate and tech will come together to find a mutually-beneficial solution that’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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