Housing and New Technologies


Michel Vols (main coordinator)
University of Groningen
Groningen, The Netherlands

Rosa M. Garcia-Teruel
University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain

Central themes
New technologies, such as big data analysis, blockchain, crowdfunding, the internet of things (IoT), domotics, robotics, proptech or digital printing, are expected to make an impact on housing itself (Davidson 2017; Nasarre-Aznar, 2018), as well as the theories and methodologies that housing researchers use in their research projects (Vols 2019) . These new technologies change, for example, the way we build, sell, rent, or interact with our homes. By way of example, it is now possible to sell a property just attaching a certain right (e.g. the ownership) to a digital token, and transmitting immediately this token to another person (Garcia-Teruel, 2020). But while these technologies are facilitating our lives (e.g. connected devices in our homes), reducing costs of buying or renting a property (e.g. blockchain), or allowing consumers to also invest in real estate thanks to crowdfunding schemes (Garcia-Teruel, 2019), some challenges and open questions arise: are these technologies going to change the way in which we conceive housing? What are the legal and ethical risks for citizens (e.g. data privacy and consumer protection, Edwards, 2015; Theoharidou, 2014)? Can digital printing reduce building costs without reducing the quality of the construction? (Hager, 2016) What are the major benefits of using these tools? How could data science techniques contribute to housing research? Taking into account that new technologies are increasing attention of scholars and professionals in the field of housing, this working group aims to promote dialogues and discussions on the impact of new technologies on housing (research) from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective.

Some themes of this working group are the following:

  • Big data analysis and housing (research)
  • Distributed ledger technologies (blockchain) in housing
  • Real estate crowdfunding
  • Proptech
  • Housing digital printing
  • Internet of Things, robots and connected devices in homes
  • 5G Networks of housing
  • Applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the housing sector and housing research
  • Interconnected (smart) cities

    Related bibliography
    N.M. Davidson (2017), “Affordable Housing Law and Policy in an Era of Big Data”, Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 44, pp. 277-300.
    Edwards, L. (2015), Privacy, Security and Data Protectio in Smart Cities: a Critical EU Law Perspective. CREATe Working Paper 2015/11 (December 2015).
    Garcia Teruel, R.M. (ed) (2020) La tokenización de bienes en blockchain: cuestiones civiles y tributarias. Cizur Menor, Thomson Reuters Aranzadi.
    Garcia Teruel, R.M. (2020). “Legal challenges and opportunities of blockchain technology in the real estate sector”. Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law. Special Issue: Blockchain and PropTech opportunities and challenges for land registration and land uses. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPPEL-07-2019-0039
    Garcia-Teruel, R.M. (2019). “A legal approach to real estate crowdfunding platforms”, in Computer Law & Security Review: The International Journal of Technology Law and Practice, Vol. 35, Iss. 3, 2019, pp. 281-294.
    Hager, I. et al. (2016). “3D printing of buildings and building components as the future of sustainable construction?”. Procedia Engineering n. 151, pp. 292-299.
    Nasarre-Aznar, S. (2018) “Collaborative housing and blockchain”, Administration, vol. 66, no. 2 (2018), pp. 59–82.
    Szabo, N. (1997), “Formalizing and securing relationships on public networks”, First Monday, Vol. 2 No. 9.
    Theoharidou, M. et al. (2014) “Smart Home Solutions: Privacy Issues”. Handbook of Smart Homes, Health Care and Well-Being. Springer.
    Verheye, B. (2017), “Real estate publicity in a blockchain world: a critical assessment”, European Property Law Journal, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 441-477.
    Veuger, J. (2018), “Trust in a viable real estate economy with disruption and blockchain”, Facilities, Vol. 36 Nos 1/2, pp. 103-120.
    Vols, M. (2019), “European law and private evictions: property, proportionality and vulnerable people”, European Review of Private Law, Vol. 29, pp. 719-752.

    Future plans and activities
    Taking into account the COVID-19 and subsequent travelling restrictions, we propose for the following academic term:

    • An online webinar to officially create the working group, co-organized by the University of Groningen and the Rovira i Virgili University
    • Participation at the ENHR Conference (2021)