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Survey reveals pandemic has proven prosperous for proptech sector

A new study from the Property Council and Yardi Systems has found data analytics, business process automation and virtual tours are the top technologies the Australian real estate sector is set to embrace in 2021.

The joint survey of 216 Australian property companies – a third of them with asset portfolios valued at more than $1 billion – by the software provider and the Property Council also found the COVID-19 crisis had accelerated the adoption of proptech.

The survey results are the first instalment in a long-term study into technology adoption and attitudes to innovation in Australian real estate.

“This survey sets a baseline for Australia’s property industry to track the barriers to proptech adoption and the big opportunities ahead,” Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said data was at the heart of good investment decisions but up until this point, “we’ve lacked information on the acceleration and saturation of proptech in our markets”. 

“We hope this survey will become a reliable compass to guide Australia’s property industry towards the future.”

The study found that proptech – which the survey classified as any innovative technology that reimagines property’s core processes and business models – was turning real estate on its head.

Metaprop, one of the world’s largest early-stage proptech venture capital firms, has predicted proptech innovation will deliver $205 billion of new value to the global real estate industry over the next five years alone.

Property owners, managers, designers and constructors in Australia are partnering with proptech accelerators to support start-ups, invest in international innovators, and test and trial new technologies.

But real and perceived barriers remain, with 34 per cent of respondents saying there was a perception that solutions must be specially developed or customised.

Twenty-six per cent of those surveyed said they saw existing behaviours as the biggest obstacle to overcome, followed by cost (23 per cent) and time constraints (11 per cent).

A third of respondents said they believed the real estate industry trails other sectors when it comes to technology adoption.

Yardi’s Regional Vice President, Bernie Devine said he was optimistic that 2020 had been a “tipping point” for proptech adoption.

“Australia’s property industry is upskilling rapidly,” Mr Devine said.

“Big hires from other sectors are bringing in new skills in automation, artificial intelligence and customer engagement. These fresh perspectives are shaking up the tree, and propelling proptech forward.

“Investing in technology is like building. Get the foundations right and then everything else will be solid. This is the approach we are seeing from Australia’s real estate leaders.”

Looking long term, respondents nominated property management systems, construction management tools, artificial intelligence, tenant engagement apps, online marketplaces and vendor portals on their investment horizons.

Although 30 per cent of respondents said Australia was lagging the leaders in the take-up of proptech, Mr Morrison said he expected to see a very different result in future installments of the survey.

“It is early days for proptech in Australia,” he said.

“But our local industry enjoys a world-leading position on sustainability, supply chain transparency and social value.

“We expect Australian leadership in proptech to follow a similar curve.”

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