To claim that the last two years have transformed the way the real estate industry functions is an understatement. As the world grappled with the pandemic, the need for embracing new technologies in the real estate sector felt crucial.
A recent report highlighted that almost 56% of the professionals in the real estate sector said that the pandemic revealed vulnerabilities and shortcomings existing in their technological and digital capabilities. For an industry like real estate that has been conventionally slow to adapt to tech, the pandemic piloted this change and both new and established real estate developers emerged as game-changers. As compared to the pre-COVID-19 era, there has been a higher willingness to implement new technologies in all aspects of the business including sales and marketing.
Not just developers, but firms, too, are now realizing the importance of switching to tech-enabled real estate platforms to gain a competitive edge and stay relevant. In fact, in recent times, PropTech is seeing a greater demand and growth than ever before. New-age trends like the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has seeped in and begun catching up a significant momentum. Tech tools like 3-D mapping, virtual walkthroughs, and drone surveys have been in use since a few years, but only on select projects. Now, these specialized tools have become standard practices.
Moreover, a rising number of real estate dealings are now taking place virtually and remotely, all thanks to millennials who are becoming first-time homebuyers. As a generation that was raised in and around technology, the present-day consumers prefer remote and digital engagement in comparison to in-person meetings – an approach that has intensified even more after the lockdown. But the good news is; this newest and largest generation of home buyers are introducing new housing patterns, which is leaving an impact on the sales and marketing capabilities of developers as they are striving to attract customers, control marketing costs, and compete better.
Let’s take a look at the some of the technologies that developers are increasingly relying on to boost operational effectiveness and ensure a superior customer service:
Taking a glimpse of a property has become so accessible just at the touch of a finger. Consumers and potential investors can visit properties online, thanks to virtual reality (VR) and 3D modelling. For developers and property managers, this technology trend is a blessing, as they can demonstrate empty spaces to buyers who want to get a sense of how the space will look before it is complete. In fact, as per the National Association of Realtors, about 87 percent people found photo references of the property very useful, while 46 percent of them found virtual tours beneficial. Through virtual walkthroughs, developers can increase the saleability of under-construction projects and secure bookings even before the construction is complete.
AI has proven beneficial to both, the developers, as well as property buyers. Those looking to buy a home can find exactly what you are looking for, instead of hunting house after house, with the help of the extracted data. Using AI, homebuyers can analyze the rate of a particular property as compared to others in the market, look for specific kinds of homes in targeted locations, feed in desired space size, and then get instant alerts on the available and upcoming properties in the market. Essentially, AI isn’t doing something that traditional research couldn’t attain, but it does fast-track the process intensely, which in an ultra-competitive market, is essential for the real estate business.
PropTech has enabled both buyers and sellers to access information and seek online consultation. From virtual tours to online catalogues and online transactions, there are many similar such advancements that the real estate sector has begun adopting to make the process smooth, user-friendly, and efficient. The industry has also embraced innovative processes that digitize the conventional ones, thereby facilitating the developer to evaluate more data and be accessible virtually real-time. Most importantly, some of the tech-enabled platforms have helped home buyers to screen through multiple properties at the comfort of their homes.
Several Indian realty firms have started integrating chatbots on their brand websites. The benefits of chatbots have been understood across industries, including real estate. Chatbots let real estate companies save on costs related to customer services and reduce the time interval spent on responding to a potential customer’s query. This is done through a computer-generated assistant that addresses common queries that don’t need much modification.
Traditionally, the Indian real estate segment had always been unorganized. However, the new technological developments in this space have changed the face of the industry; making it more amicable, transparent, and reliable for the investors. These innovations are certain to help emerging developers sustain and succeed in this competitive sector and secure a strong foothold in the market.
(The author is founder & CEO, Plinthstone REMA, a multi-specialty real estate Advisory Firm)