The future of PropTech - what can we expect to see in the years ahead?

The property sector can no longer hide from our digital-first world. Technology has grasped the industry with both hands and helped property leaders improve the way they work with investors, customers and the community. Proptech is presently one of the fastest-growing investment sectors in the world.

We saw great acceleration in Proptech during the Covid-19 pandemic after consumer working and living patterns began to shift. Now, as we live in the aftermath of the nationwide lockdown and global pandemic, working patterns and customer expectations have changed..

People no longer just expect - but need flexibility, communication and greater efficiency. Applications of data analytics and digitally led customer relations will help to eradicate obstacles to disruption and revolutionise the way we connect tenants with properties. But there’s still a long way to go before we can embrace the full scope of ‘Property Technology’.

What exactly is Proptech?

Proptech, in the same way we have coined the terms ‘Fintech’ and ‘Medtech’ is the digitalisation of the property industry.

Forbes defines PropTech as “businesses using technology to disrupt and improve the way we buy, rent, sell, design, construct, and manage residential and commercial property.”

Blending property and technology, it sees the acceleration of software applications and tech innovations that disrupt and improve the way we rent, buy, sell, design and build property. The increase of data as a result, is allowing property leaders and landlords to make quicker more informed decisions that create more efficient business models. Proptech is still in the early stages of its ecosystem but as we have seen already with peer-to-peer platforms, virtual viewings and 24/7 customer service, technology is changing the property industry.

Increased disruption

Technology has already revolutionised other industries and the way we live, work and communicate. Uber, Netflix, Airbnb have disrupted the way we do things in the travel, entertainment and hospitality industries. Through software and tech solutions, users can monetise underutilised resources and create autonomy for themselves while benefiting financially.

Proptech will become more beneficial to customers, investors, developers and property management companies. But this technology enabled disruption is yet to be seen at a larger scale. Already, technology is allowing property leaders to address inconveniences and obstacles currently blocking them from reaching their full potential. For example, high volumes of empty units, inflexible services, long lifecycles and communal issues. But the future is likely to facilitate remote and virtual services at an even greater scale. Such disruption could see the industry become one that is ‘always on’, with 24/7 services across all areas and we could expect things to happen faster and more efficiently, from development and construction, through to buying and selling.

The data available from implementing a PropTech solution will afford property leaders greater visibility across all areas of their platform. That includes utilities, occupancy levels, historic trends and more. With access to data analytics, property leaders can navigate difficult times with greater certainty and confidence, foreseeing obstacles and improving their decision-making.

Improved operations

Property companies are likely to increase their reliance on digital communication and infrastructure as a way of maintaining and building relationships with tenants, partners, and managing operations. At Staykeepers, this is already taking place, and is revolutionising the way we market the industry. But in the future, we can expect greater disruption throughout the property space.

Most major property businesses will need to harness at least some elements of Proptech in the next 5-10 years. Something we can most definitely expect to see is the increase in virtual viewings, improved accessibility and communication through digital platforms, and a much shorter property lifecycle.

Data will be used to match suitable candidates to properties that are more likely to suit their needs, and therefore result in longer stays and greater customer satisfaction.

At present, the most common inconveniences in the industry tend to centre around:

  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of community
  • An unnecessarily long lifecycle
  • Affordability issues

With increased applications of technology, property leaders can tackle each of these problems with greater ease.

A sustainability initiative

The real estate sector accounts for 35% of the world’s energy consumption and new construction annually contributes over 3.5 billion metric tons of embodied carbon emissions.

The future of proptech will most certainly be focused on sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Climate change is becoming a vital point of discussion in all major industries, and using Proptech, companies can leverage smart technologies to improve sustainability. .

Data analytics and IoT (The Internet Of Things) will improve efficiency across the sector, and could promote the increase of smart building infrastructures. Smart buildings naturally control their energy consumption and reduce wastage, while addressing the pain points listed above. We can also expect to see the rise of eco-friendly building materials and reduced energy consumption on construction sites.

Affordability concerns

Affordability has become a problem for PBSA landlords in particular, as the student population continues to flux. With greater expectations and a more diverse student population, students from lower income backgrounds are still in need of affordable housing with all of the facilities and amenities of typical student accommodation. Proptech could be harnessed to tackle those divisive issues and easily tailor offerings to specific markets. With greater communications and improved accessibility, affordability concerns can be resolved earlier in the life cycle, ensuring greater customer satisfaction and higher occupancy levels.

There is no limit for what we can achieve alongside the evolution of PropTech. Virtual touring, online ticketing for property related issues and 24/7 customer service availability for tenants are just some of the services we are already seeing. Paired with enhanced data visibility and application, the improvements in the property market are happening at a rapid pace.

But there is no doubt a resistance to adoption. Lack of knowledge, training, associated costs stand to hold many property leaders back from making large investments in technology at this stage. Plus, with the pandemic still a looming threat on businesses, some may prefer to play it safe for now. 2022 looks set to follow a similar pattern to 2021, with a slow adoption, and gentle introductions of PropTech solutions. But, 10 years from now? Big changes could be in store.

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