How will self-driving cars change real estate?
BOSTON – Nov. 9, 2018 – Automobiles have shaped the way we build cities, roads and houses. They've led to the rise of suburbs and a commuting population. By the year 2030, 70 percent of the world's population could live in urban environments, but how will that growth be influenced by self-driving cars?
"It's important to think not just about what is here now, but look at what is coming five to 10 years from now," says Chad Curry, director of the Center for Realtors® Technology at the National Association of Realtors. "Many things are coming that are going to reshape our industry and reshape the land that we hold so dear."
Industry experts and researchers discussed the future of mobility and its impact on real estate during the 2018 Realtors Conference & Expo in Boston.
"In the 1990's, 95 percent of 16-year-olds had a driver's license. Today, that number is just 76 percent," says Curry. "Today's youth are already finding new ways to move around that don't involve a privately owned vehicle."
While ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are responsible for a large percentage of alternative transport, micro-mobility – such as bike and scooter shares – are beginning to rise in popularity. LimeBike, a scooter and bike share company, has been valued at $1 billion and is currently deployed in 65 cities. The increase in micro-mobility has encouraged cities to create multimodal roads that accommodate cars, buses, bikes, scooters and pedestrians.
Legislation regarding driverless cars is currently being crafted or debated in a majority of U.S. states, meaning this new technology could soon have a genuine impact on the nation's mobility.
"Automated cars won't simply help alleviate traffic but will also make roads safer," says Benjamin Lewis, a panelist and innovation manager and future of mobility expert for Liberty Mutual Insurance. "The overwhelming number of crashes (94 percent) are attributed to human error. A reduction in human error will lead to fewer accidents, deaths and injuries. Drunk, distracted and tired driving will be a thing of the past."
Cars are currently designed with one person in mind – the driver. The driver needs to be able to see the road ahead and behind them, they need to be able to steer and reach the break and gas pedals. However, that design could change with the driverless revolution.
"Cars could be designed to be used as mass transit in the morning and moving lounges in the evening," said Curry. "They could be turned into small mobile offices – are we looking at the real estate office of the future?"
And what will happen with homes? Some owners may happily give up a personal car and adapt an existing garage to other uses – but some homeowners won't. While the transportation changes are coming relatively soon, it's still unclear how it will impact homeowners and real estate.
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