The property sector hasn’t always had a reputation for embracing change, but in recent years there has been a big shift in attitude. We have seen a flow of new talent into the industry, bringing fresh thinking and innovative ways of doing things, with technology a key enabler.
For example, there has been much talk about blockchain’s potential to transform the real estate sector. It can be used to authenticate all kinds of digital information, including property titles. Streamlining the title portion of a property deal using blockchain technology could save buyers time and money – and put an end to property fraud.
Conveyancing could also be streamlined, potentially increasing the frequency of deals. By cutting out the intermediaries, trades could be made quickly and regularly using standardised smart contracts whose terms are implemented automatically. This could even remove the need for lengthy, complex and expensive paper transactions in many cases.
Digital connectivity is another key driver of change. Our research shows commercial office landlords have identified that tenants now regard connectivity as a utility. As a result, the majority of those we surveyed have undertaken work to improve their buildings’ connectivity and increase market appeal.
The benefits of this investment are tangible, thanks to the ability to charge higher rents and reduce voids. The arrival of 5G will accelerate this change further.
Artificial intelligence is also set to change the way we work. It has the potential to automate real estate industry processes, creating more accurate, speedier outcomes and reducing costs. We are already seeing this in due diligence and data room searches on big property portfolios. As a result, real estate professionals’ time will be freed up to focus on more value-adding advice, rather than process-oriented advice.
With so much potential for the introduction of disruptive technologies that can transform different parts of our industry, Property Week’s RESI Trailblazers initiative provides the ideal showcase for new thinking.
We should not be a sector resistant to change but one that embraces it and transforms the way we do business. Last year’s Trailblazers celebrated some fantastic new talent, with business propositions ranging from those focused on putting customer experience at the heart of the house-buying process to innovations aimed at easing the housing crisis and ensuring our buildings are designed as intelligently and sustainably as possible.
We work in a dynamic sector and I hope this year’s entries reflect this fact.
James Gray is managing partner of Cluttons