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What could drive home prices in 25 years

I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was the mid 1990s, and our Realtor, Blaise, was driving my fiancée—now wife—and I around southern California in search of a home. The process was both exciting and intimidating—and primarily an offline endeavor.

Fast-forward to today, wherein the process of searching for and finding a home has been fundamentally transformed. The Internet has unlocked massive amounts of information, and smartphones have enabled buyers, sellers, brokers and agents to connect from anywhere, anytime.

Now imagine a prospective home buyer sitting in their living room and putting on a pair of glasses to attend a "showing" for a home on the other side of the country. Gone will be the bulky virtual-reality goggles of today, replaced by lightweight hardware and high-definition displays that blur the lines of what is real and what is virtual.

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This interesting vision thrusts me into the future of real estate. It's nearly impossible to predict anything about the world 25 years from now. Yet when it comes to real estate, I believe there are three trends in particular that are likely to have a significant impact on the future of the market. As technology continues on its disruptive evolutionary path, it will take with it the experience of finding your new home.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has a lot of momentum in the gaming sector right now, as demonstrated by Facebook's $2.4 billion acquisition of Oculus, a company that famously raised $2.4 million in a Kickstarter campaign for its headset, Oculus Rift. Virtual reality for gaming is just the tip of the iceberg; it has the potential to change everything from the way we interact to the way we educate.

This technology is likely to deliver what can be called an immersive home-search experience. Agents will have the ability to host open houses remotely, and guests will be able to experience virtual "walk-throughs"—even feeling the grass from a distant office. This will all be happening while a listing agent will be able to explain a home's features in real time.

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The Internet of Things

Another technology with huge promise is what many are calling the Internet of Things. Simply put, it's the idea of networking together consumer products that previously have never spoken to each other—providing more services and insight into the world around us.

Google's recent $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest demonstrates its belief in the future of this technology sector. According to the tech research and advisory firm Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.

This means homes will transform, becoming smart and connected. A pervasive array of sensors connected with intelligent cloud systems will make computing truly ubiquitous in the home. Information such as time left on the warranty for the water heater, the average temperatures in and around the house during the course of the year or the performance of the home solar-power system will be readily available and searchable for home buyers in online home listings.

Together both of these technologies have the capability to drastically transform how we generate and consume information and will transform real estate, just like the Internet has done in this generation.

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3-D printing

It will be a game-changer for the home-building industry. It's been very interesting to watch the nascent world of 3–D printing gain momentum over the last couple years—some argue we are in the beginning stages of the next industrial revolution. With 3-D printing, advancements in computer-aided design software and advanced robotics, the economics of manufacturing will dramatically affect how homes are built.

Countries around the globe are starting to get in the game. China-based Winsun New Materials is building homes today with a gigantic 3-D printer. Its use of the technology is changing the face of construction, making it possible to use environmentally-friendly composite recycled building materials, while cutting construction costs in half. In Amsterdam, homes are in the beginning stages of being constructed using 3-D printing technology as well—warranting a visit from President Obama.

By making home construction cheaper and more flexible, 3-D printers are likely to bring down home prices and make markets more responsive to housing demands—hopefully evening out some of the inventory shortages that have been common in the U.S. over the last few years.

CNBC Global CFO Council

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