A general assumption within the property industry is that the adoption of innovative new technologies is driven ground-up by tech companies migrating into the sector.
While it is true that many tech companies have focused on property, the role of property companies in driving change has largely been overlooked. A key example is on the agency side, especially in London.
In recent years, London’s commercial property market has seen an increase in joint agencies working on schemes. For example, Knight Frank and CBRE jointly acted for Battersea Power Station to secure Apple for its 500,000 sq ft HQ.
This demand is coming from landlords requiring two leading agencies working side by side to drive results, or wanting to include a boutique firm specialising in the relevant subsector. Pressure further increases from the commercial market’s rise in transactions, funded by both UK and global investments.
Admittedly, London is a unique market. It is a natural home for international capital, owing to a transparent legal framework, and a safe haven for secure financial transactions, while being in an advantageous time zone.
This results in a constant turnover in international trade and a multitude of transactional data to dissect and co-ordinate. London also has a high number of JVs and joint agency instructions.
Exemplary as standard
This rise in overall transactions and the number of teams involved in deals impacts both agency and market reporting. New technology is needed to consolidate the increased amount of information generated, so it can be easily shared across internal and external audiences.
The average agent must work with larger teams to manage an increasing number of client accounts and transactions. This is further impacted by increased pressure from the growing number of boutique agents.
The new environment demands exemplary standards from any firm wanting to be seen as a legitimate player.
These issues have caused agents to explore technological solutions to manage reporting, increase efficiency and return on investment, and create a level of transparency with their client base. Tech solutions allow agents to spend less time on day-to-day administrative duties and more time on their consultative and business development role, increasing fee-earning potential and client win rate.
In a recent client marketing meeting, I saw two JV partners and three leasing teams come together on one asset. Their ability to use VTS to follow real-time updates allowed them to shift their focus to other deals and strategic topics that would have the biggest impact on their letting efforts.
Leveraging tech provides firms with a competitive advantage borne out of demand they generated - never before have property companies been so open to technology. The industry has gone from reticence to proactively fostering technology. CBRE’s recent acquisition of Floored supports this idea and is an encouraging sign of things to come.
Technology enables owners to work with more agents than they have traditionally done, creating an environment that quickly highlights those providing best-in-class services.
A property advisor’s work, regardless of square footage or location and difference in fees, still requires the same amount of graft. The implementation of tech solutions impacts the service quality irrespective of scale across all areas, which is what makes it such an attractive proposition.
Ultimately, property companies need systems enabling connectivity, transparency and ease of access to information. It is those forward-thinking companies that will drive industry changes and I wait with bated breath to see which solutions they consider integral to business.
Ryan Masiello is co-founder of and chief revenue officer at VTS