Technology has become a critical necessity in every industry. Real estate is no different. According to Mr Prendergast, technology is important in real estate for one key reason: it is needed to build scalability and profitability for real estate businesses.
“The scale of these businesses now can be quite large,” he says. “You just can’t be efficient and effective in your tasks without sound technology behind you.”
The better the way in which technology is deployed and the more automated tasks become, says Mr Prendergast, arguably the more profitable the sector will become as a whole.
“It is hard to see how any real estate business can get to the scale that they would ultimately like to get to without being underpinned with good sound technology and technology partners,” he says.
But what makes a good technology partner? Those that look beyond their immediate environment for innovative ideas have traditionally become leaders in their field.
Rather than taking a global view, Mr Prendergast says Rockend has a regional awareness of markets similar to Australia.
“You would pick Canada and South Africa, North America and patches of Europe. We look at emerging legislation in places like Asia as well. We keep an eye on those real estate markets really to see what the technology underpinning them is doing,” he says.
While tech providers in offshore markets have developed their own innovative solutions for their real estate customers, in Australia, Mr Prendergast believes the next wave of innovation is still on the horizon. More importantly, it will be driven by the end consumer and be harnessed through the collaboration of existing providers.
“Innovation is coming. The speed with which this sector is evolving is much faster than it was even a few years ago. That is down to the investment that is going into it and the maturing nature of the businesses to provide these services.
“I don’t necessarily think you could point to any one technology right now and say it is going to change what we all do. The way in which we are developing technology and the way in which technology providers are opening up to talk with one another is going to be the biggest change. That change is primarily being driven through our customers but coming from the owner and the tenant.”
The expectations of real estate agents right now are extremely high. This forces tech providers like Rockend to ensure they are providing agents with the right tools that they need to provide an effective service.
“What gets us up out of bed in the morning is removing the mundane and administrative tasks that can be technology-driven,” Mr Prendergast says.
“Those tasks that are still manually done by our customers are irrelevant. We need to apply effort and ensure that the technology we are developing removes that from them but maintains management and control.”
While technology can significantly boost efficiency by allowing agents to focus on what they do best, it is also important that administrative burdens are not made completely invisible.
“Agents still need connectivity to the task, because that underpins their service,” Mr Prendergast says.
“The level of activity needs to be appropriate so that our customers feel they are in control of what they are doing.”