These days, it’s not uncommon - in fact it’s highly likely - for people entering the home buying or selling process to turn to technology to get started with the process. In the real estate industry, property tech or ‘proptech’ is addressing almost all aspects of the real estate business.
Although some North American real estate companies have been slow to embrace proptech, others understand that failing to do so puts them at risk of falling behind their peers.
Lorne Burns, Partner at KPMG's Building, Construction and Real Estate group, notes, "Historically, it's been a conservative industry, but companies can no longer afford a wait-and-see approach. If you're not already embracing digital technology and leveraging data, you run the risk of either losing market share or experiencing revenue income erosion or both."
Today, companies like Nobul are offering a one-stop-shop tech-focused solution for both real estate agents and home buyers alike. They have created a proptech application that helps both parties make informed and efficient decisions. Nobul, which operates both in Canada and in the United States, enables a digital marketplace for buyers, sellers and real estate agents to find each other.
While proptech is the way of the future, it’s important to understand the old model of doing real estate and how technology has improved it. Before, real estate agents had to have an established brick and mortar office to conduct business. Fax machines were the only way to transmit documents between agents and clients. In order to finalize a deal, agents would have to drive back and forth between buyers, sellers, lawyers and financial institutions.
As time went on, digital signatures took over physical ones. Email allowed agents to transfer their documents electronically. Though other improvements in technology, for instance the adoption of smartphones and mobile apps, people no longer have to comb the newspaper to find a reliable agent. Instead, using apps like Nobul, it can be done from anywhere.
Today, many real estate offices don’t even have agents working in the office. That’s because they can conduct business at home, or from the local coffee shop with the added bonus of prospective clients finding them.
Property technology uses data to help buyers and sellers find each other with the help of a real estate agent. It’s innovative, while at the same time adhering to the traditional real estate model.
So how can real estate companies better incorporate digital into its everyday business practices?
According to Saqib Jawed, Partner at KPMG's Building, Construction and Real Estate group, "This'll look different for every company, of course; large companies with deeper pockets will explore technology in different ways than smaller companies will. But, the only way to find what works for your business is to get started."
In fact, there are plenty of ways real estate companies can embrace proptech.
For one, they can hire management and staff who have a deep understanding of digital; people who can lead the transformation.
Another method? Build a company-wide strategy that details how to incorporate digital. Companies can also choose to partner with proptech companies to create solutions that benefit both parties.
“Do you want the most value-adding services or do you want the cheapest? It’s all about being honest and open and consumer centric,” says Regan McGee, Nobul founder.
When it comes to the future of real estate, just like in any other industry, the expansion of technology will enable businesses to reach their fullest growth potential.
Regan McGee correctly adds: “A lot of people are realizing there’s a huge opportunity here.”
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