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The potential is there — so why is property lagging in the tech space?

By Grace Ormsby
25 June 2021 | 1 minute read
Josh Symons

The Australian real estate industry has a long way to go if it wants to catch up with those retail businesses that are thriving in the online space. So, why is it so far behind?

Speaking to REB after the reveal of MRI Software’s new partnership with Propic, MRI Software’s real estate industry analyst, Josh Symons, said when it comes to uptake of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, “property certainly seems to be a bit of a lag behind most other industries”.

Highlighting advances in both the banking and consumer space, as well as the advent of online retail businesses that have all “adopted it quite heavily”, Mr Symons conceded “property hasn’t done that so much”.

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When probed as to why this is the case, the real estate industry analyst said “there’s certainly some fear there — that AI and machine learning and this type of technology is designed to replace people”.

“That’s certainly not our belief. Our belief is that we should be augmenting and scaling that customer experience with the technology and using people to interact with landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers [and] anyone else in those transactions,” he said.

He also believes that the role of technology should be about “adding value” to the moments that matter, “rather than responding to mundane questions where data’s available and we can use technology to answer those questions”.

At the same time, he can understand why the uptake of technology solutions may have lagged in the real estate space.

“Proptech solutions need to be solving a problem that actually exists — or solving a pain point that exists,” he reflected.

They shouldn’t be “creating a solution and then trying to work out what problem it solves”, which he conceded as having happened across both proptech and fintech solutions at various points in time.  

In spite of this, Mr Symons does see “significant opportunities” coming from the Australian proptech sector, where local proptech providers are solving problems endemic to the region.

It’s why MRI Software sees so much value in partnering with these businesses, with its relationship with Propic being just one example of such a partnership providing extra capabilities to customers and clients. 

“It’s not about us just providing a property management solution and then businesses having all these standalone pieces that work separately and don’t talk to each other, [and] don’t integrate with each other,” he conceded.

MRI Software’s work in this space is renascent of a trend towards proptech partnerships that Mr Symons sees as growing in popularity more broadly.

“Proptech moving forward will be how all of the software vendors to the industry effectively work more congruently together to be giving our customers a better outcome — whether that’s the business owner, property manager, landlord, tenant, buyer, or seller,” Mr Symons said.

“That’s where it needs to be — it could [become] quite fragmented if we don’t have that interconnectedness.”

The potential is there — so why is property lagging in the tech space?
Josh Symons reb
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Grace Ormsby

Grace Ormsby

Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and stakeholders.

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