PropTech: what this means to your Portfolio and Business

Proptech has started disrupting and enhancing real estate market

Innovative solutions are boosting businesses and reinvigorating the commercial property sector.

With the onset of the pandemic and the sudden shift from offices to home, workers were quick to adapt to tech-enabled daily communication and connection.

Technology enabled us to understand that work is something you do, not somewhere you go to. Millions of people working from home have found that this works for them and their employers. CEOs and their executive teams now also know that remote working fits into a leaner operating model, one that is more attractive in challenging economic times.

Covid worsened and disrupted an already tumultuous market. The property sector has been slower than most to adopt digital transformation that has left it exposed and vulnerable.

Now, not a moment too soon, property technology, or PropTech, has begun to disrupt and enhance the real estate market worldwide. A combination of intelligent technology and platform economics, innovative PropTech solutions are driving businesses forward again and reinvigorating the commercial property sector.

Just as financial technologies (fintech) improve through automation the delivery and use of financial services, so PropTech is improving the way the property sector engages with its customers. Business performance specialist Bernard Marr said it best in Forbes earlier this year: "PropTech is booming and changing the way we buy, sell, and interact with our properties."

PropTech spans all things tech, from big data to drones, but it’s in the artificial intelligence (AI) space that we’re seeing a solution for the local office rental market that’s easing the transition of workers back to the office.

Dror Poleg, author of Rethinking Real Estate, put it into stark perspective when he said: "Previously, companies had 100% of their employees at the office and contemplated how many of them could be allowed to work remotely. Now, companies are starting with 100% of employees working remotely and are contemplating how many of them should be at the office at all, how often, and for what purpose."

We know some companies - large and small - are vacating their offices permanently, opting for a full remote office experience. Others are working on a staff rotation system, leaving them with many square metres of unused space. Others still want a place for colleagues to meet and collaborate and invest in corporate culture, which creates an environment that spurs creativity and productivity. The problem is that permanent offices are expensive and risky in uncertain times.

What property owners - previously the stronger party in the relationship - should understand is that tenants no longer want the product they used to sell. Instead, they want a service. That service is the enriching experience that creates a workplace culture that leads to all the good things that grow a business and a team, but at a lower cost and without long-term liability. It's a simple space-as-a-service model.

When augmented with PropTech, the space-as-a-service model does what Tinder did for the dating scene, Uber for a quick ride, and Airbnb for holiday goers - it bridges the gap between property owners and tenants via a technology-driven interface for property owners and potential tenants alike. It enables tenants and property owners to engage, match and make a deal.

The innovative tech-enabled PropTech user experience - backed by AI and machine learning - brings employers back into the workplace by matching them to property owners and other companies that have space available to rent, typically in co-working and flexi office set-ups. Of course, like Tinder, the parties must meet to confirm compatibility. Still, by the time the potential tenant has shortlisted the space they’re interested in and organised a tour, tech has already filtered in, and out, the flexi space that best meets their needs. Similarly, the property owner knows they’re meeting an interested match.

Technology can no longer be an optional vertical in the local property sector; it has to underpin everything property owners and tenants do. Platforms such as WeWorks, CoWorks, StorAge, Office Hub and InoSpace will act as the catalyst that drives the move to tech in the sector.

In the process it will enable a return to the factory, to the shop and to the office, albeit in a different guise, and bring welcome relief to the commercial property sector.

Meraqi is able to assist you as follows:

  • Review your existing properties and your new development layouts
  • Drafting a scope of services indicating where PropTech solutions are and can be accommodated
  • Managing the execution and implementation of the agreed strategy
  • Evaluating the impact of PropTech in your property portfolio

About the Author

Jonathan Yach, MRICS

Jonathan Yach, MRICS

Jonathan is a 35 year real estate services and management veteran, with hand-on management experience in the complex markets of South /East African and India

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