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Future unknown, but tech evolution certain to be at the heart of it

10 December 2018 Tim Neary
Man in suit predicting the future

Console CEO Charlie Holland says wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball and know what real estate will look like two, five and 10 years from now? On the one hand, he says tenants want a higher grade of service, better communication and more visibility. On the other, landlords want more service for less commission.

“This means that real estate businesses are going to need to evolve, become more efficient and pivot towards a service that meets the needs of both tenant and landlord,” Mr Holland says.

“What we can be certain of is that the service model of today is not the model of tomorrow. Even Airbnb, who has already disrupted this industry before, is evolving its offering to change the market of the future. And they represent just one example of disruption in this sector.”

Mr Holland says that there is a high volume of start-up tech business entering the property tech industry.

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“This, together with a significant increase in investment funds, is creating something of a mini tech boom.
 
“Most of these new entrants are trying to solve a particular problem, niche or part of a process. Nobody is trying to solve all of these at once, though. What it demonstrates is how slow the industry has been to adopt new tech that solves problems and creates more value for everyone in the ecosystem. The industry is, in that sense, a bit behind other Australian industry sectors. But the trend indicates it will start to catch up.”

Mr Holland says that one clear trend emerging is the development of new communication paths.

“We’re seeing a lot more tech that allows tenants or landlords to interact seamlessly with property managers. After all, who wants to communicate by email if there is WhatsApp? Who wants to print a form if there is an easier, digital alternative?

“They are thinking about the customer journey, which means, for residential property management, that the tenant and landlord experience is at the core of the technology.”

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He adds that there are companies in the market that are trying to disrupt the traditional property manager role already.

“The software companies that succeed here will be able to change how property managers work,” Mr Holland says.

“Rather than make property managers obsolete, however, these companies are likely to focus on creating more customisable experiences for customers. They might, for example, give landlords the option for variable levels of interaction with the property manager, depending on that landlord’s preferences.”

Mr Holland says that searching for a property, to buy or to rent, is going to change — radically.

“At the moment, people search for properties by the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and so on. In the future, people will start searching for properties by lifestyle.

“They will be able to say, ‘I have three school-age kids, and I want to be in walking distance to highly rated cafes, and I need to be near public transport that will take me to X or Y location. I also like to host BBQs, and this is the furniture I own that needs to fit in the property.

“Now show me properties that meet that criteria, and overlay my furniture in the images.”

Future unknown, but tech evolution certain to be at the heart of it
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