From XU Magazine, 
Issue 22

How property management meets technological innovations. The future of real estate in the next five years.

The future of real estate in the next five years

PropTech is a welcome opportunity for an industry that has been plagued by inefficient processes which are both time consuming and costly.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Technology has been a major influence across all sectors over the past 10 years.

The Real Estate and property sector has been no exception, albeit at a slower pace. This has presented a massive opportunity for PropTech Entrepreneurs, driven not only by the vast size of the market and the lack of technology available, but by industry practices being plagued by inefficient processes which are not only a headache, but are both time consuming and costly.

PropTech has been shaping the Real Estate and property sector for several years with no sign of abating, but what are the real benefits?

1) Greater transparency

New technologies such as big data, or blockchain in particular, improve transparency. Various PropTech tools aid users in simply tracking their property transactions at the touch of a button. Since all parties involved have full visibility of each transaction, a greater level of transparency is achieved, resulting in higher levels of trust and efficiency.

2) Clearer communication

Many PropTech companies focus on setting up messaging services in order to improve communication between landlords and tenants. A lot of platforms provide access to documents or forms for claim reporting. Therefore, Property Managers can carry out their work effectively, whilst the owners can respond directly to tenants’ requests. As a result, less misunderstandings occur and there is a significant increase in response rates.

3) Automation

PropTech can automate administrative duties such as the processing of extensive paperwork, leaving those in the industry more time to concentrate on providing excellent service and other customer centric activities. Reminders including rent due dates, viewings and check ins and checkouts can be automated which reduces the margin for human error. Another great benefit is dealing with legal paperwork; the software can constantly update your documentation to ensure you have the correct legal contracts and notices, etc. on file. It also helps the property managers remain fully within the parameters of the law by ensuring that nothing is ever overlooked. As a certificate’s expiry date approaches, the systems can automatically contact contractors or managers to inform them.

4) Voice activated property search

The latest advancement in PropTech is the introduction of voice activated property search. The idea is that search engines such as Google and Amazon, triggered by voice activated instructions, could help you find individuals find their next home. New products like Amazon Echo Show, which is a screen-based device that works via voice activation and user data preferences, could show properties based on your preferences directly by voice command.

How will the sector evolve over the next five years in terms of technology?

1) Blockchain

Whilst still in its infancy, blockchain is currently having its golden moment. Out of all the emerging technologies, blockchain is the most likely to transform the real estate industry by revolutionizing the way in which transactions are made. Blockchain is a shared, distributed, and unalterable ledger for recording any type of transaction. The technology eliminates all risk of fraud and counterfeiting, thereby instilling trust among all parties involved. Thus, blockchain can replace an intermediary in any situation where a trusted third party is necessary. Blockchain will add liquidity to the real estate market and allow real estate transactions to be carried out in a less complex and much safer system.

2) Geolocation

Geolocation technology is highly relevant to the real estate sector. Geolocation provides the location of a device to other users and associates your location to real world locations such as shops, restaurants and events. Geolocation enables the potential for companies to assess the value of various locations based on user behaviour. Within the real estate sector, companies can better analyse the location and sell the properties in a more personalized way. In addition, geolocation allows for a major improvement when it comes to the user experience. Companies have begun to use geolocation in housing search apps, where users are alerted when passing by an available property, as opposed to wasting time wandering their favourite streets in search of ‘for sale’ or ‘to let’ signs.

3) Big Data

Big Data is enabling the real estate sector to better understand the trends, needs and interests of the end user. This allows them to adapt to unique profiles more effectively and make better decisions. This refinement means that sellers are targeting the right buyers. Companies are also using the power of big data to make strategic business decisions and adapt their business models accordingly. Via better understanding of the users’ needs and by having a much clearer picture of the market, businesses are provided with greater flexibility to adapt directly to their customers’ needs. Additionally, estate agents, investors, and buyers can make smarter investments by using data analysis to accurately predict market trends and risk.

4) Crowdfunding

Finally, crowdfunding is one of the leading trends in PropTech, it allows anyone to invest in property companies via an easy to use, online platform. Crowdfunding opens a market that would otherwise be inaccessible to many.

Leading PropTech companies that can help you transform your business

One of the most popular PropTech companies that is making waves within the property industry is Arthur Online. Arthur Online was born, designed and developed by property professionals who were seeking a solution to the various operational and reconciliation pain points they were facing. Arthur Online’s software automates and centralises lease administration and accounting of property portfolios on a single platform.

Via Arthur Online’s mobile apps, landlords and managing agents have access to live and accurate insights directly on their smartphone. The Arthur Online system is seamlessly integrated with Xero, an award-winning online accounting tool.

The founders of Arthur Online designed the software with the primary goal of making it as user friendly and ready to use as possible. Traditionally, B2B software is less user-friendly than B2C software. By taking inspiration from intuitive apps that are used by individuals on a daily basis, they were able to develop a software that was easy to use and accessible to all.

In conclusion, technology was once perceived as a disruptor, but is fast becoming the norm, a trend which is showing no signs of slowing down. The sooner property businesses adopt technology to improve their processes, the sooner they will start seeing a significant return on their investment both financially and from time saved.

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