In recent years, investment in property technology or PropTech has grown exponentially. PropTech startups have attracted over $43 billion of funding since 2012, the University of Oxford has described PropTech as the future of real estate and Forbes has posed the question: Is PropTech about to have its ‘Man on the moon moment’?.
So what does the future of PropTech look like? Here are five experts with their PropTech predictions for 2021.
1. Enhanced automation and housing democratisation
According to Justin Butterworth, Founder and CEO of Snug, 2021 will be the year of automation and data-driven decision making.
“Through 2020 we saw an unprecedented migration across the industry into property management cloud software. This sets up 2021 as the year of automation and data-driven decision making. Insights from data as well as seamless integrations between specialist systems will see enhanced automation.”
“For example, on Snug pre-verified rental application information such as identity, references, income and employment will enable leading agents to select tenants quickly with confidence. It's win-win-win for all: agents enjoying time savings and faster fee generation, owners enjoying reduced risk and reduced vacancy, tenants enjoying certainty as well as the incredible transformation of the letting experience.”
Additionally, Butterworth noted the increased democratisation of housing and predicts that fractional property investment platforms will gain momentum once again.
“Governments are recognising that home ownership continues to be an affordability challenge not only from a home deposit barrier perspective but also in terms of debt servicing with uncertain and casualised employment. The reality is renters are renting for longer so expect continued renter friendly regulations around rent adjustments, pets, tenure and energy efficiency.”
“In addition, fractional ownership platforms will rise in popularity as the property market bottoms from the COVID recession and renters look to participate in predicted house price gains. As renting gets better the property management industry will retain tenants and we'll see properties managed per staff member continue to rise.”
2. Deep integrations, greater connectivity and frictionless marketplaces
With changing requirements in multiple states, Simon Chamberlain, Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Marketing at Detector Inspector said that deep integrations will play a critical role in helping property managers ensure safety and compliance.
“When it comes to integrations, it’s going to be a case of the deeper the better. The growing shift from desktop to cloud-based solutions has opened up new opportunities and the time savings available for busy property managers from well thought through workflow automation between multiple software providers is positive and impactful. Detector Inspector is working with integration partners like PropertyMe to make it even easier for property managers to seamlessly ensure the compliance of their portfolios.”
Chamberlain also believes that greater connectivity in the coming years will enable even more connected devices, drive innovation and disrupt existing markets.
“Once upon a time, we might have said that having devices in the home that could think for themselves was some sort of dystopian nightmare, but that world is upon us. Greater connectivity through 5G or purpose built networks is coming for devices in the home. What once required site visits can now be done remotely over networks. The question we’ll all be hanging on is when consumers will decide they want what it offers. At Detector Inspector, we’ve always led from the front on innovation and this will be no exception.”
“Lastly, the allure of frictionless marketplaces where buyers and sellers interact seamlessly and efficiently has been the promise of the internet for some time. In PropTech, the battle is just beginning. An interesting trend to watch will be open versus closed software—think Microsoft versus Apple. This often leads to a choice of what’s better for the consumer or what’s better for the property manager in execution. Regardless, vertical integration between software and service providers has arrived and Detector Inspector will be an active participant.”
3. A focus on data security, flexible workplaces and hyperlocal businesses
Belinda Seers, National Manager at Direct Connect believes that data security, flexible workplaces and support for hyperlocal businesses will become more important than ever in 2021 and into the future.
“Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer and science fiction writer, said that ‘You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data’. Many companies are data rich but are unsure what to do with that data for the greater good of customers, partners, vendors.”
“With the amount of private information known to facilitate transactions in real estate, the challenge is not only to provide useful services, value adds and predictions but also to ensure that information is all kept with the heightened levels of compliance and integrity. Therefore, compliance, cybersecurity and data security will continue to become even more important in 2021 and into the future.”
Seers remarked that “commercial buildings resembling ghost towns have become the norm during the pandemic and even with lockdowns completed and restrictions relaxed, offices remain fairly empty.”
“Flexible workplaces are now standard practice and the big adjustment that needed to be made has been a silver lining of 2020. Managing remote workforces means having to reinvent aspects of workplace culture, find ways to replace those updates on the fly (the missing water cooler conversations) but also track sales pipelines better than ever using CRM tools such as Salesforce.com.“
“The power of these tools is relatively untapped and many organisations use only the basic functions of CRMs but it would be a missed opportunity to not delve deeper into the functionality of CRMs to continue to automate workflows, improve response times and communicate more effectively with those in your supply chain.”
Looking back at 2020, it was the year that brought everyone closer together. Local communities rallied behind small businesses to show their support throughout the pandemic and Seers expects this trend to continue in 2021 with hyperlocal being the new norm.
“That human connection to root for the underdog, to shop at the local corner shop instead of the big name brands has always been there, but it has returned with gusto in 2020. We predict that supporting Australian owned and operated businesses will continue to become more important to Australian households and businesses, as we have seen a strong inclination towards Aussie made in 2020.”
“Technology will never replace human relationships and PropTech can help with those processes that are repeatable, mundane and inefficient and are better handled by unempathetic software but will not and should not replace the human interactions that are important in helping customers with property management, property purchases or renting.”
“At Direct Connect we know renting a home or buying a home can be stressful and the actual move event is where we can help and make that as easy as possible. You can ‘outsource’ that back to the customer under the umbrella of convenience but at the end of the day you have just moved the burden to an online experience rather than genuinely helping customers.”
“We believe technology and true human, empathetic conversations working in concert to create the best experience will be the trend of the future.”
4. Driving efficiency with seamless integrations
Andrew Colagiuri, Founder and CEO of FLK It Over predicts that 2021 will be all about seamless integrations and PropTech that increases accessibility and facilitates a remote workforce.
“We have seen some amazing PropTech come into the industry over the last two to four years. Agents now expect these systems to all talk to each other to help with time management and ease of use.”
“2020 has taught us we don’t need to be tied to a computer in the office to be an effective property manager, so I think we will see more products evolve to be mobile friendly and accessible, allowing agents to be fully functional while at a property or on the run.”
“At FLK It Over, we love contributing to the industry and are continually pushing ourselves to answer the question: ‘how can we make agents' lives easier?’”
5. Streamlining and enhancing the user experience
Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on the real estate industry, Svetlana Nikolic, Sales and Marketing Manager at MyConnect said that the pandemic served as a “catalyst for PropTech innovation that is now integrated into our everyday lives” and she sees no signs of it slowing down.
”We predict that consumer-focused trends will accelerate in the post-pandemic space. Companies will continue to enhance the user experience and deliver products that streamline workflows and bring convenience and transparency to the workforce. This will enable industry professionals to improve productivity while reducing costs. ”
As such, the user experience is at the core of MyConnect’s ethos—“It has supercharged our pursuit to become the market leaders in the connections sector through innovative technology projects,” Nikolic said.
“ In 2020, we left no stone unturned. We celebrated the launch of our new website, which was designed to radically enhance the customer journey and we released Self Sign-Up which allows movers to connect their utilities at a time and pace that's right for them.”
“In addition to these projects, we’re continually evolving our connections portal to help maximise efficiency for our agent partners. We’re excited about the future and the horizon of PropTech looks bright!”
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