Self-driving cars will change the way you think about real estate.
Cars have been in the news a lot in the last month or so. Volkswagen has an emissions scandal. Google has a new Self-Driving Car Project CEO. Automakers at the Frankfurt International Motor Show are talking about staying relevant (and not becoming hardware makers for tech companies). And Car Free Day in Paris happens September 27, 2015.
I have a great interest in self-driving cars. Most of my interest stems from seeing Google’s cars on the road every single day. A proliferation of self-driving cars will happen quickly, but it will happen in stages, the first being industrial fleets of autonomous vehicles run by taxi services and disruptors like Google, Tesla, and Uber, and by peer-to-peer car sharing services like ZipCar.
But how would autonomous cars relate to real estate?
People will have more disposable income.
The automobile is the second most expensive personal asset people purchase. Add in insurance, gas, speeding tickets, and upkeep – all that money could be spent elsewhere (like on a home).
Fewer accidents equals fewer deaths and injuries, leading to fewer medical expenses, not to mention fewer missed work hours during recovery. Don’t worry about the doctors – they will always have work.
Home location will be less of an issue.
Let’s face it, walking distance to shops will always be in demand. A good school district will, too.
On the other hand, self-driving cars are expected to diminish the number of cars on the road, and make commuting faster (upwards of 140 mph) and more efficient. So, living near work, school, or shopping should be less important.
Plus, commute times will be productive.
Think of it this way, instead of putting on makeup, shaving, or reading the morning news at home, you could do it in the car. Yes, I know that people do it anyway, along with phone calls and meetings while commuting, but it would no longer be distracted driving.
Did you know nodding off while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk? You could take a nap in an autonomous car.
More real estate would become available.
Think of those acres of parking lots outside of workplaces, malls, and shopping districts. Call your car with an app to pick you up and drop you off where you want to be (no more endlessly circling in the search for parking space). It can go park itself and return when you need it.
That leaves more land available for additional housing or open space.
By the way, you won’t need your garage, unless you use it for storage like I do. Or driveways. That gives us more room on our lot for more landscaping or living space.
Will people give up cars completely? I doubt that autonomous cars will be as
practical outside of urban areas. I suppose that there will always be enthusiasts demanding their rights to own and drive their classic car.
Interested in learning more or following this topic on a regular basis? Check out Driverless Car Market Watch, a website dedicated to the topic.