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Ever heard of ‘proptech’? It will change the way you choose your next home
29th November 2019

The UAE’s property sector is closely watched by global investors and as the latest trends evolve, the technology penetration has only led to the term ‘proptech’ to be more powerful, unveiling glimpses of future customers. Dubai, in particular, is witnessing far-reaching improvements in the real estate sector, with proptech rapidly transforming how the world of real estate works and is believed to be the next big game-changer after fintech.

A research conducted by a global bank showed that proptech is shaping homebuyers’ behaviour when it comes to renting, buying, owning and selling a property. Property buyers in the UAE are increasingly turning to proptech to search for relevant information pertaining to real estate purchases. The study reported that 72 per cent of UAE property buyers resort to online portals to search for properties they are interested in, while 67 per cent use online tools to check their current home value; 65 per cent check data related to taxes and regulations, while 64 per cent search for prospective home prices.

Brad Hariharan, regional director at Expotrade Middle East, said: “Realising the impact of proptech on UAE property buyers, more and more real estate websites are launching proptech tools on their sites. Among these, virtual reality, blockchain and chatbots, along with big data and analytics and drones, are making the entire property buying, leasing, marketing, selling and management process more efficient and rather exciting. The potential real estate consumers are able to gather insightful information related to properties and transactions allowing them to make more informed decisions.”

A number of stakeholders actively engaged in the real estate market, including property developers, management firms, financial institutions, real estate agents, facility and asset management companies and startups, are able to tap into proptech and offer customised solutions to end-consumers with more transparency. The research think-tank Magnitt lists real estate among the top eight industries in the Mena region and where the investments have surged in 2019.

Praveen Kumar, CEO of Digital X Tech, said: “The success of several new UAE startups within the real estate industry reflects the enthusiasm with which their customers are taking to the use of digital platforms, tools and experiences. The competitive edge in the property market will increasingly be about personalised solutions and optimal experiences. For real estate businesses in the UAE, standing apart from their competition in a crowded marketplace will be about gaining a deep understanding of each prospect and pursuing leads on the basis of these insights.”

Marketing has always been about a fusion of giving people what they need, as well as appealing to their aspirations with products that are unprecedented. The digital tools that proptech brings to the table are going to be key in addressing both these aspects of customer engagement, within real estate.

The UAE is emerging as a leader in enabling people-centric digital services. This is already altering the expectations of customers and the local real estate industry will have to orient itself to these standards, in order to fully exploit the opportunity. In a new age of AI-enabled and 5G-connected services, marketing will be about personalised relationships and real-time insights into customer behaviours and preferences. In this context, proptech will help create win-win scenarios for consumers as well as the real estate industry.

“I strongly believe that industry is defined by its consumers. The proptech-led revolution that the real estate industry is undergoing currently, is directly linked to the fact that every new generation of customers entering the market is more and more tech-savvy and at ease with using digital tools. Even a teenager alive today has probably already seen more generations of technology that a human being would reasonably expect to encounter in their entire lifetime, a mere century or so ago. It’s inevitable that such a target demographic will redefine any industry that serves it,” added Kumar.

Another startup, Facilio, an enterprise-wide platform for facilities operations and maintenance across real-estate portfolios headquartered in Atlanta and with operations in the US, Middle East and India, opines that the future belongs to technologies that unify, simplify and optimise. The power of AI will animate infrastructure and connectivity will provide the data streams and responsive mechanisms that enable such an approach. In the context of real estate, enterprise scale efficiencies and process optimisation will be the key competitive advantage in the sector, and proptech will be the enabling approach that ensures these outcomes.

Prabhu Ramachandran, founder and CEO of Facilio, said: “Proptech has reframed operational capacities in construction, in maintenance and in the sales of property. In legacy models, one of the long overlooked areas was the post construction phase of the asset lifecycle, but technology is now aiding the traction of solutions which are transforming these aspects. Value-addition, in terms of outcomes relating to people, sustainability and asset management, is perhaps the biggest contribution of proptech.”

One of the most empowering aspects of proptech is the integration of concepts from other industries into real estate. For instance, IoT can introduce unprecedented capabilities in facilities management and servicing tenants. Likewise, machine learning can enable intelligent and market responsive lease pricing, while blockchain can enable smart contracts which will enhance tenant experience and satisfaction.

The UAE’s property sector will benefit from widespread implementation of machine learning and workplaces will be empowered tremendously by five-dimensional building information modelling (5D BIM) and augmented reality. Anilesh Kumar, CEO of Levtech Consulting, said: “The UAE’s real estate will emerge as one of the leading beneficiaries of digital transformation, partly because it lagged initially and also because proptech can enhance virtually every aspect within the sector. I see the UAE’s dynamic and highly competitive real estate sector setting a benchmark globally, as an enthusiastic adopter of these innovative breakthroughs.” – sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

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