‘The pandemic is a great opportunity to change real estate’
The coronavirus pandemic is upending real estate and accelerating change, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Innovation, Data & Proptech Investment Briefing, which was held online yesterday.
‘The epidemic represents the greatest opportunity for the real estate industry and for proptech in particular,’ said Antony Slumbers, CEO, PropAI. ‘It is a flywheel of change, compressing 5-10 year of evolution in 12-18 months’.
In such a fast-moving environment it will not be the strongest who survive but the ones most responsive to change, as Charles Darwin noted.
‘The crisis means that it is possible to do things today that people had been trying to do for ten years and hadn’t been able to,’ said Slumbers, such as innovating, changing their business model and adopting technological solutions.
Disruption creates innovation and Covid-19 is forcing people to adopt technology.
‘There is a lot of potential for proptech to shape the real estate of the future,’ said Yasmina Darveniza, Investor, Round Hill Ventures. ‘From measuring air quality in buildings to utilising data analytics to evaluating market trends and consumer data, proptech platforms make processes more agile, lead to efficiencies and generate more revenue for landlords’.
The health crisis, which unlike the GFC has affected all businesses and sectors, has led to more awareness of the need to digitise and invest in technology.
‘People have realised that they are not as digital and well-prepared as they thought they were,’ said Neal Gemassmer, Vice-President, International, Yardi Systems.
‘Property owners have realised that they need to run their portfolio remotely from wherever they are’, said Tom Wallace, Founder & CEO, Re-Leased. ‘It’s not a nice-to-have investment any more, it has become absolutely essential’.
The period of lockdown and travel restrictions has driven that message home very clearly.
‘Technology gives you the agility that real estate doesn’t have at the moment,’ said Michelle Buxton, Founder & Managing Director, Toolbox Group. It can help streamline resources and create efficiencies in this time of uncertainty over the economic outlook.
A snap poll conducted among delegates by Real Asset Media revealed that 64% of respondents believe that the health crisis will act as a significant accelerator for proptech and innovation, while 36% think there will be some acceleration. Not a single respondent believes that things will stay on the same trajectory.
Technology will become the great differentiator that will allow some players to thrive while others fall behind, experts agreed.
It will be a gradual process, as industry players first learn what tech solutions are available and then choose the ones that are most suitable for them.
‘The transition to proptech is a process, not an event’, said Darveniza. ‘It takes time for people to realise what it is they need. But a proper use of proptech can help any part of your real estate journey, from cutting costs to making tenants happier to improving design to optimising the use of space. The benefits are truly limitless’.