Proptech – The Future of Real Estate

Ali Sajwani, General Manager – Operations, DAMAC Properties

‘-tech’, a suffix that indicates the most phenomenal phase of transformation the world has ever seen. The advent of fintech, regtech, suptech, among others, completely changes the way we live and do business. Digital transformation is the new order, and every industry is either disrupted or on the verge of disruption. However, the real estate industry has been slow when it comes to technical adoption. Despite representing the world’s largest and most valuable asset class, the real estate sector has always been considered a late user of technology, but things are changing rapidly and proptech is proving to be one of the hottest trends in real estate.

As consumers become more and more technology dependent, and companies look for new ways to increase efficiency while reducing costs, real estate players around the world are turning to technology as solutions. A recent study by a global bank showed that proptech shapes customer behavior when it comes to real estate trading. According to the survey, 72 percent of UAE property buyers search for property online, 67 percent use online tools to check their property value, 65 percent search for information on taxes and rules online, and 64 percent use Internet tools for potential home prices. While online listing portals have been around for a while, real estate developers today can transform every aspect of their business with the right technology integration. Let’s look at some of the ways in which technologies, both existing and new, are transforming the industry.

Big Data and CRM

The real estate industry has always been a treasure trove of big data. However, the data are often scattered and unstructured. By organizing this data and using the right analysis tools, real estate developers can perform better financial analysis, make better investment decisions, predict market conditions and serve customers better. At DAMAC Properties, we have migrated all our customer data to Salesforce, an integrated CRM platform that gives all our departments a single customer overview. The digitization of data has enabled us to create Hello DAMAC, a one-stop customer service portal that gives customers access to essential real estate services 24 x 7.

Talks about DAMAC’s digital transformation initiatives, Ali Sajwani, General Manager for Operations, DAMAC Properties, said, “For any organization, digital transformation is a long and ongoing process. The most important thing, however, is to get started with a long-term vision in mind. At DAMAC, we have started our journey by using technologies that help us interact better with our customers. As an innovative and flexible organization, we are always looking for new ways to improve our processes on all fronts. ”

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is perhaps one of the most influential forces in the technological revolution that is changing the world. From voice recognition to autonomous decision making, the effects of AI on the real estate sector are truly incredible. Through AI and predictive analytics, developers can access unprecedented insights into the market. We can improve the efficiency of operational processes and completely transform the way we make decisions. We can build better, improve the energy efficiency of our projects and better understand our customers’ current and future needs.

Robotics and drones

Robotics is changing the way we build buildings, leading to more efficiency and cost-effectiveness in construction. But their significance is not limited to the construction or management of facilities. Robotic process automation, for example, implementation of virtual agents can be hugely useful for automating repetitive back office processes, e.g. Invoicing, NAV calculations and documentation. While drones have long been used for site monitoring, we could soon see drones being used for tasks such as property management, inspection and maintenance.

3D printing

Until now, 3D printing has been widely used to create scale models for real estate projects. Prototypes of 3D-printed homes have been created in different parts of the world. Technology could soon become more mainstream and change the way real estate was built. 3D printing of entire buildings or parts of the architecture will have a significant impact on reducing the time involved in construction.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality has already been successful in marketing real estate. By giving potential clients a virtual tour of off-plan projects, we help them make better decisions. However, the scope of VR in real estate marketing exceeds. By integrating VR into planning and construction, developers can make better decisions and improve operational processes. Earlier this year, DAMAC Properties introduced VR to train construction workers in safety procedures. Augmented reality can also be used to show customers and other stakeholders what a property under construction will look like when it is finished.

Blockchain

Blockchain will transform different aspects of the real estate industry. The transparency and security associated with blockchain can accelerate due diligence prior to leasing, improve contract management, and enable more efficient processing of financing and payments. Blockchain also allows real estate tokenization, the process of representing an ownership interest in real estate with a token. In Dubai, the government is leading the adoption of

blockchain in the real estate industry. In 2017, the Dubai Land Department launched its blockchain platform, which uses a smart and secure database to record real estate agreements such as leases and registrations and link them to telecommunications and utility accounts.

Although ‘tech’ involves technology, a tech transformation is not just about adopting or acquiring technology. For property developers to become digitally fit, they need to create a culture of innovation at all levels. Proptech can undoubtedly change the future of our industry. However, we need to adopt a mentality that compliments technology.

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