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PropTech 101 for Agents Behind Pigeons

By Phil Butler | January 29, 2019

For those real estate professionals who've just emerged from caves, PropTech, or emerging technologies to aid industry professionals, they are disrupting the status quo. Now that a few more have been hit by this ray of bright news, I want to give a very short primer on how Proptech platforms allow real estate pros to tweak their services.

Are you chasing pigeons
Let's be real, are you walking behind pigeons?

What Is PropTech?

PropTech is loosely defined as "any technology applied to the real estate space." These innovations allow real estate agents to automate many laborious tasks that were formerly labor intensive. New technologies for real estate businesses can do things like remotely present property development and sale information, or help clients via smart robots that answer questions online. At least, these are generic ideas that give purpose for these new tools. But, PropTech also includes efficiencies from digital document transfer to artificial intelligence (AI) functions that streamline business like never before. Here are a few examples of emerging smart technologies, and a short prospectus on where PropTech is headed.

How Does It Work?

The best example of how PropTech can help users streamline or enhance business functions is by providing examples within a space. MapYourProperty is a Canada startup that allows developers to access layer on layer of crucial data about any given piece of property. The PropTech company is a prime example of the use of data about targeted properties that can help agents and investors make fact-based decisions quickly and accurately. With MapYourProperty users can assess nearby properties, factor in zoning laws, federal and other regulations, and correlate other key data that helps buyers/investors make informed decisions. The company narrative is "Streamline Due Diligence for Land Development," and these kinds of new data platforms are just that.

Other PropTech companies, like North Carolina startup OwnAmerica, are creating technologies that help investors access data on market fundamentals, population trends, employment stats price performance, and so on. The list of innovations is long, but these new companies provide users with services such as comprehensive valuation services, appraisal management, automated valuation modeling, and many other efficiency-related data-driven operations. At the other end of data efficiency, machine learning takes PropTech potential to a whole new level that gets into predictive science, but we'll leave this subject for another report. I'll offer interested readers a hint here, though. Check into another North Carolina startup called simply "First" - a stunning tool that helps ensure you never miss another client.

What's Coming?

The real estate arena has been a hard-headed, brick and mortar industry all along. Open a boardroom door and yell "Change!" into the room, and see what happens. Industry professionals are notoriously reluctant to shift, even when a paradigm is apparent. Even those leaders who have made a transition toward digital business, they've built their software on closed, single-stack architecture, and legacy systems. Now, as their competitors add greater capability and efficiency, many are stressed to find they cannot fully leverage all their data. The need for data interoperability across a range of tools and services has put them between a rock and a hard place. The sad fact is, legacy software providers are like dinosaurs loping toward solving the demand crisis. What's needed are a range of modular solutions, instead of archaic all-in-one promises. Agents and other professionals need the ability to leverage specialized tools that can be "plugged in" to whatever big data analytics systems are in the ecosystem.

In short, if your company cannot integrate for third-party APIs, data standardization and the open ecosystem of real estate technology, you will soon be wobbling behind the real pigeons of this industry. This is not some course and amusing statement to solicit a laugh. PropTech is the "fact" of your future. I leave you with a quote from Dan Hughes, PropTech Lead of RICS, who said:

“It was reported that the average agent spends 80% of their business day doing admin and marketing their product, not negotiating and closing deals. Technology allows us to invert that statistic so that 80% of a professional’s time is spent negotiating and closing deals and only 20% is spent on administrative tasks. Despite numerous misconceptions of both the technology industry and the property industry, we are increasingly seeing the two coming together to maximise efficiencies, increase a business’s bottom line and ultimately change the way we live and work for the better.”

Are any of you reading this quote and thinking, "So, this four times as many agents?" It has to be said.

Phil Butler is a former engineer, contractor, and telecommunications professional who is editor of several influential online media outlets including part owner of Pamil Visions with wife Mihaela. Phil began his digital ramblings via several of the world’s most noted tech blogs, at the advent of blogging as a form of journalistic license. Phil is currently top interviewer, and journalist at Realty Biz News.
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