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What a trip to Silicon Valley taught me

By Grant Harrod
21 October 2015 | 1 minute read

Connectivity could become more important for tenants, as we endeavour to squeeze more into our already hectic lives.

The digital world is rapidly changing the way we do business in real estate. People are already able to inspect potential properties around the globe without even stepping a foot out of their front door. They can be in contact with agents 24/7 and receive data on all facets of the market in an instant.

But technology is now poised to influence the type of property we rent and purchase. Our home is set to become the connect hub of our lives.


It is no longer just going to be shelter and security; it is going to be how we interface with the broader world and how the broader world connects with us.

A recent tour of the US headquarters of Google revealed to me just how life is set to change. Everything is going to be connected and that includes your residence.

Your home is becoming an API, which is technical speak for Application Protocol Interface. Properties are already connected to the outside world through Wi-Fi systems, smartphone home management apps, content-streaming entertainment devices, home security, and more will follow. What you know about your property will be just as important as what your property will know about you!

We are starting to see this with systems such as Netflix, where the technology observes behaviour, making suggestions on what to watch based on what you've already been enjoying.

These systems will triangulate other things about you from what you like to eat, to how you like to spend your leisure time, all building a profile on your lifestyle preferences from your home. At the same time, the house down the road will be experiencing the same connectivity, thus determining the types of services most suitable to your neighbourhood.  

Communication won’t just be the traditional face-to-face or through the phone either; it will be through a number of devices. Even the humble front door will play a role in activating technology and services, or the Uber car pulling out outside your front door is learning about how you like to lead your life.

Such advancements will bring with it a shift towards high-density living, not just because it is affordable, but because these properties will be connected to a host of on-demand services, shaped by the lifestyle preferences of those residing in these communities.

This is already happening in places such as San Francisco where, in certain communities, you can order home delivered ready-to-eat meals, including sushi, salads and ice creams, all delivered within 15-20 minutes.

The ability to access these quick and convenient services on demand will be important to the next generation. They will not be just looking for an affordable apartment, but one that will connect them to the things that they need to enjoy the lifestyle they want.

These subtle things will influence how we live our lives and it will influence how properties are developed, purchased and sold.

As PMs, we are now seeing the tip of the iceberg when potential tenants start to ask about the Wi-Fi accessibility or mobile phone coverage of a property. Of course, they will still want to know how far to the school and the location of the nearest bus route, but things are changing.

Just like you wouldn't stay in a hotel that doesn't offer Wi-Fi access, future home buyers and renters won’t select a property that doesn't have great connectivity and access to on-demand services.

Property managers will need to understand not just the physical attributes of a property, but its virtual aspects as well.

What a trip to Silicon Valley taught me
Grant Harrod
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Grant Harrod

Grant Harrod

Grant Harrod has been chief executive of LJ Hooker since 2014. From 2009 to 2013, Grant was chief executive of Salmat. Before joining Salmat, he spent 13 years with Corporate Express Australia, where he served as chief executive for six-and-a-half years.

Grant has an MBA from Macquarie University’s graduate school of management and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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