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We Need To Push The Boundaries Of Proptech To Meet Real Estate’s Current Challenges


There are more proptech applications on the market than ever before. Solutions now exist to help building owners better understand utility bills, monitor building use and even provide remote access to tenants and staff.

But to get the most out of proptech, the real estate sector needs to create a unified approach. 

This is the message from Zoe Thomas, head of real estate at Evelyn Partners, which provides business advisory services to clients across the real estate industry.

“We need to push the boundaries of proptech,” she said. “Today there are high expectations on property owners and developers to make real estate that is fit for the future, but currently we’re not thinking smartly enough to get there. If we explore the possibilities of AI cohesively, we can find solutions to the major challenges facing real estate.”

Despite the continued adoption of proptech, there still exists an element of fear of technology in real estate, Thomas said. Recent headlines suggest the UK could lose up to 8 million jobs from AI, including those in professional services. To remove these fears and encourage property businesses to accelerate the use of proptech, the industry needs to work together.

“There are enough industry bodies, such as the British Property Federation or the Association of Real Estate Funds, to lead a drive,” she said. “Together they could form a cohesive group that has conversations about how to push proptech forward and aim for meaningful output. It’s just that nobody has done this yet.”

Thomas said that she believes the most obvious challenge facing real estate that technology can help with is sustainability. Businesses are facing the need to comply with increasing regulations on both a national and international scale. There are now many proptech solutions that can help property owners not only monitor energy consumption but save considerable money doing so.

But one piece of technology on its own is not going to solve all of commercial real estate’s problems, Thomas said. Owners need to combine their sustainability tools with solutions that allow them to look deeper — into a building’s overall performance and beyond, looking at all aspects of ESG.  

“Technology can monitor not just energy but how people are using social spaces, the impact of governance measures or how space is maintained,” she said. “It can help to manage and understand employees’ or residents' health and wellbeing. The possibilities are only just starting to emerge.”

Another challenge proptech can alleviate is the labour shortage in the construction industry. Since Brexit, the number of construction workers has reduced, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic. 

“Can some construction work be carried out offsite by AI?” Thomas said. “We need to think smartly to come up with solutions. We shouldn’t have to wait for another pandemic to force us to think differently.”

Overall, the main potential of proptech is to free up people’s time to do things that are more valuable, Thomas said. Using technology to streamline tasks can allow building staff to focus on tenant retention and providing exceptional customer service.

Organisations in real estate that understand this are already seeing the benefits of using proptech, Thomas said. Not only are they starting to appreciate the efficiencies and savings that can be made, but how technology can effectively boost a brand.

“People now see that if they don’t engage with proptech, they will be left behind,” she said. “Their assets will start to lose value and eventually become obsolete, particularly if they don’t invest in technology to help with sustainability. In contrast, proptech can give us the information we need to improve real estate and the time to do it.”

Evelyn Partners is keen to engage with businesses looking to improve their use of technology, Thomas said. By carrying out health checks, the team can help them find the best implementation of proptech in their business. 

“Using proptech is not a one-size-fits-all solution as the market is still so fragmented,” Thomas said. “Every business is on a different path and stage in adoption. At Evelyn Partners, we deliver straightforward, impartial advice using the expertise of our teams, which we tailor to give each client an actionable strategy.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Evelyn Partners and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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