1. Clear Capital was formed around the idea of smart, usable data.  Can you tell us the role of data in the Housing ecosystem?

Like many industries, data is the lifeblood of the Housing ecosystem, which is why it is problematic that it has stayed so paper heavy.  The digital mortgage movement and now the digital appraisal movement are absolutely crucial to fully harness data that leads to better decisioning and opportunity.

2. Real Estate is a very important part of the overall economy- is actually a bellwether–and affects peoples’ lives in a profound way.  Given that, what are the responsibilities of a data steward/producer/provider in this space?

Two themes that are front and center for us are accuracy and ethical data sourcing.  Interestingly enough, these two often go hand in hand.  We think a lot about ensuring that data is collected as close to the source as possible, while using technology to increase the consistency and fidelity of the data.  Our recent acquisition of CubiCasa, digitized floorplans using a mobile device, affirms our belief that first hand observation of homes should be made available downstream to decision makers.  And when we can’t collect the data ourselves, we take great care to ensure that obtained data has the appropriate usage rights and context to reduce risk for our clients.

3. With all the talk of bias in real estate, bias in appraisals etc, how can we use data to create an ecosystem that emphasizes fairness and foregrounds parity?

We need to raise the bar on what is allowed to be subjective observations, and ensure there is more science and less art.  For instance, the square footage of property (Gross Living Area) should be a fact not an opinion.  And the same measurement approach to a home in California should apply to a home in Florida.  Unfortunately today, two different appraisers visiting the same home can result in two different GLA measurements, which can have a big impact on value.  The more we have consistency on the facts, the better chance we will have to solve other factors that can create bias in real estate.

4. What most excites you in the PropTech market today?

I’m very excited about the acceleration in innovation, and the way companies responded to the challenge of the pandemic.  There are now more tools than ever that create a safer, more flexible set of options for real estate and finance.  This trend towards virtualizing property has exciting implications for homeowners better understanding their investment and making better decisions on how to best use equity.

5. What are your insights on the regulatory environment in the US housing market?

The change in administration has resulted in a different approach to housing and mortgage.  I view the willingness to embrace innovation and technology to solve issues such as bias, inequity and the housing ownership gap as a positive moment and historic opportunity.  Even recent announcements such as the FHFA making desktop appraisals a permanent option in 2022, should show that we can take iterative steps in the right direction to improve the home buying experience.