David Grin: Property sector warned to embrace tech boom
The property market is being transformed by new technology which is bringing innovative solutions to a wide range of challenges.
And now a call has gone out to businesses to embrace the changes it brings, so the sector can become more productive, efficient and offer a better customer experience.
Advances in digital communication tools, machine learning, structured data analysis and artificial intelligence have already revolutionised business around the world.
Known as 'PropTech', signs are emerging of the growing use of technology designed for use in planning, development, construction, management and marketing in the property sector.
At the forefront are a growing number of start-ups focused on transforming or disrupting traditional industry practices which in the past often relied on human input.
A spokesperson from the Lotus Investment Group said: “The application of technology is not a choice but a market imperative.
“The acceptance of technology in the industry cannot be a passive act, implemented part by part. It demands our attention now.”
The rise of PropTech
Traditionally the property industry has depended on human interactions - personality, loyalty, personal communication and expertise - when conducting business operations.
However, property market industry leaders want a more reliable approach, with more use of technology to give developers, investors, home builders and consumers the tools to analyse and gain insight from the vast amounts of data available.
Lotus Investment Group said those who don’t embrace technology face being left behind.
“The PropTech sector poses a threat to long established industry players refusing to change their way of doing business,” their spokesperson warned.
“By embracing technology, you are better equipped to remain a strong competitor in the marketplace.”
Previously, technology in the sector aimed to smooth business operations, development and marketing. However, the focus has now shifted to supporting consumers’ needs – such as crowd-sourcing review apps, vacation rentals to co-working and living spaces.
The digital revolution is being led by a slew of recent start-ups targeting the property market.
Technology across the sector
Technology has revolutionised construction, from planning, design, engineering and construction to building management and infrastructure.
Cork-based Evolusion Innovation is a European leader in off-site construction and manufacturing consultation.
One major application of technology has been the complete digitisation of the process using Building Information Modelling (BIM).
This intelligent 3D model-based process allows architects, engineers and construction professionals to collaborate on a building's planning, design and construction.
It means applied data can be applied to the decision-making process, with reduced construction costs and improved productivity.
New technology is also changing property management
Where property managers once had to rely on trust and relationships, technology is giving them effective tools to analyse data, perform preventative maintenance, manage operational efficiencies and save costs.
Irish-based Johnson Controls has developed smart solutions for energy management with its Metasys® Building Automation System, integrated technology for HVAC, fire, lighting and security systems within a building.
Meanwhile, technology is also being introduced to cater for the shift to co-working and co-living spaces, which means managing secure building access is crucial.
Dingle-based innovator Standard Access has developed The Sonic Handshake® which uses a data-encrypted, inaudible sound transmitted via smartphone to unlock doors. This eliminates the need for keys, fobs and the costs associated with changing locks.
One of the most buzzed-about Irish based PropTech startups is Popertee, a revolutionary app offering advanced location intelligence to recommend spaces suitable for pop-ups, events, retail and marketing campaigns.
Revolutionising property sales
Irish startup BidX1 has created a fully digital property bidding platform so bidders can bid against each other in a live online auction.
It gives buyers increased access to information and offers transparent, efficient transactions.
BidX1, which in February 2019 reported over €25 million worth of property sales, is among a group of Irish online sales and bidding platforms that includes Beagel, Hunters and mySherryFitz.
New technology means sales happen faster, buyers can complete the process digitally and agents can concentrate on marketing properties rather than continuously chasing deals.
Lotus Investment Group's spokesperson said: “There are opportunities to implement new technological solutions to increase efficiency and reduce costs at all stages of property development, operation and management.
“For those involved in the investment and asset management sector of the market, it will be interesting to see how the industry evolves to apply technology to source capital, optimize assets and create value."
PropTech has the potential to redefine the property industry and alter the current roles of those that operate within it, with innovations that will impact all levels of the industry and improve productivity, efficiency, quality and consumer experience.
Lotus Investment Group has provided funding for over 2500 new homes across Ireland and lent out in excess of €300m to the Irish market.
The firm has backed almost 200 projects in Leinster, Munster and Connaught.