The term "PropTech" just emerged over the past several years. It is defined by information technology site WhatIs.com as "the use of information technology (IT) to help individuals and companies research, buy, sell and manage real estate." It refers to four primary tech tools:
- Smart home technology, which includes everything from automated surveillance systems to voice-activated devices and appliances.
- Real estate analysis and sharing technologies that enable property assessment, rent-paying, and other useful actions by brokers, investors, and tenants.
- Fintech technology, which automates aspects of the lending, buying, and selling process.
- Marketing technology to create a steady prospecting and deal stream for brokers, enabling them to reach large numbers of targeted consumers and build their personal and company brands. Voice and mobile are now important parts of that marketing mix.
PropTech Trends Shaping Real Estate
Today's broker must be familiar with all aspects of technology in order to stay one step ahead of competitors. That doesn't mean you need to know how to code or to communicate exclusively via text. After all, successful brokers never forget the human aspect of interaction. But the right technologies, if used properly, can help you stay on top of trends and close more deals, more quickly.
Forbes recently dove one level deeper, predicting which PropTech trends will have the greatest impact on the real estate business. Its analysis included 5G, which will ultimately become a consumer expectation when researching neighborhoods, commercial spaces and multi-unit residential options. But among the broker-facing automation tools is big data — utilizing real-time information and cloud-based systems to find hidden gems for real estate investments.
Preparing for a PropTech Future
Eventually, PropTech will not even need to be a term, as all real estate transactions will have some element of technology at their core. As a broker in today's market, here's how you can prepare for that inevitable reality:
- Embrace technology in your personal and professional life. If you did not build your career in an era of automation, partner with professionals who can teach, mentor and encourage you. Take small steps to change your own daily habits. For example, invest in voice-activated devices and commit to teaching yourself how to use one new app each month.
- Use cloud-based tools to research neighborhoods. Provide clients with the latest real-time information about properties, including accurate rehab costs. These tools give you access to more current information than you'd ever be able to find on your own.
- Incorporate automated marketing tools in all aspects of prospecting and communication. Having a great social media presence is now a commodity. Utilizing streamlined marketing tools to target the right prospects is critical for today's broker.
Not only can PropTech give you up-to-the-minute insights, but it can also be a huge time- and money-saver and can facilitate your interactions with clients. As brokerage consulting services firm REAL Trends asserts, "today’s high-performing real estate professionals must be high tech and high touch." The data and marketing techniques you're using must ultimately build trust, interaction and deals with flesh-and-blood humans, so be sure you're balancing next-generation tech tools with a hefty dose of empathy, commitment and engagement.