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Arizona’s business-friendly environment, weather and affordability have made it a hot spot for tourism and inbound migration for decades. But in a post-pandemic world where an estimated 269 people are moving to Arizona each day, the real estate market is experiencing an unexpected surge in demand that is affecting the availability of affordable inventory.
The May 2022 episode of the Arizona Technology Council’s AZTechCast podcast featured proptech experts including Ryan Egan, founder and CEO of Stackhouse; Bill Gleason, vice president of business development at ApostleTech; and Dusty Parsons, chief marketing officer at Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona. These leaders joined Karen Nowicki, president and owner of Phoenix Business RadioX, and Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, in exploring technology’s role in discussing the innovative technology solutions that are helping to stabilize Arizona’s housing market.
Throughout this hour-long episode, this panel of experts spoke about the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the national and local real estate market. With the rise in remote work, workers were no longer tied to a physical office space and could disperse across the country, moving from urban metropolises like New York City and San Francisco to more affordable states more commonly known as “flyover states.” This influx of new residents into Arizona, combined with the hesitancy to overbuild left over from the 2009-2010 recession, means that the state is still severely lagging in housing stock, particularly affordable housing stock. This shortage has inevitably pushed technologists and innovators into reimagining the real estate solutions that can help alleviate this social problem.
As the founder of CEO of Stackhouse, Ryan Egan is one of the imaginative creators that is working to build a scalable and patent-pending real estate solution. While software solutions are one way to address the housing crisis, Ryan and his team chose to pursue a physical solution. Stackhouse creates modular container homes out of shipping containers and envisions a world where these modular homes can be easily moved from destination to destination and stacked upon one another in vertical towers that resemble apartment buildings. Despite this convenience, Ryan and the Stackhouse team are running into a big problem that is hindering their growth: local municipal regulations which tend to vary greatly from state to state. Ryan advocates for a national code that acknowledges each community’s unique qualities but sets forth basic standards.
Bill Gleason, on the other hand, represents a company that provides a host of creative software solutions to support the housing industry. ApostleTech boasts a team of talented consultants with expertise in implementing, extending, connecting and supporting Salesforce solutions for the homebuilder industry. For over a decade, the team has delivered enterprise-level solutions that drive organizational efficiency and agility, particularly among homebuilding and construction companies through the United States and Canada. Bill spoke at length about the potential to innovate real estate from a technological perspective, particularly though virtual reality, IoT and other smart technology that has now become the norm in home building. He also stated that technology can help to alleviate the supply chain difficulties that homebuilders are facing and reduce the excessive waste that is created during the homebuilding process.
Dusty Parsons, chief marketing officer at Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, brought a very interesting nonprofit perspective to the conversation. Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has built more than 1,180 homes, made more than 3,000 repairs and improved homes for more than 4,000 Arizona families. In early 2022, Habitat began experimenting with 3-D printed houses that can be constructed within a matter of days. The first home was constructed in Tempe using a Build on Demand printer, and subsequent homes have been built in Virginia that allow homeowners to 3-D print anything from electrical outlets to cabinet knobs. While innovation can sometimes be tricky in the nonprofit world due to limited funding and staff bandwidth, Dusty said that “innovation comes from nonprofits – we had to take a crazy risk to get a crazy return.” His closing thoughts? “The market does not work for everyone equally – we need to take another look at inclusionary zoning in Arizona.”
Creative housing solutions built out by companies like Stackhouse, ApostleTech and Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona are critical in offsetting rising costs and limited inventory for Arizona homebuyers and re-stabilizing the housing market. While each speaker agreed that the local housing market will still face challenges in the years ahead, they remained optimistic about the future of housing in Arizona.
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/techcast to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.
About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.
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