Let’s be positive: there’s always time to innovate, even within the commercial property sector.
The pace of technological advancements has changed the way we live and interact. Yet while the world around us is evolving at a phenomenal rate, our industry is still to really catch on.
To me, this screams out opportunity. Rather than dwell on the slow emergence of promised revolutionary proptech, what we can do right now is use the most up-to-date tools available to force a step-change.
I am focusing initially on the transactional market and how we can improve the physical purchasing process to stimulate greater interest from potential buyers.
Despite the challenges posed by Brexit, remarkably the world is still very UK-centric about investing in property. We need to open up our market further to international buyers - not just institutional investors that buy directly or through local partners. There is a plethora of private investors still out there who want to access the UK property market but can’t.
At LSH, we’ve used technology to create an eBay-style selling platform for property. The point isn’t about the technology, it’s about introducing a new way to sell.
It’s a very simple, instant means of purchasing an asset with two overriding benefits: the ability to deliver absolute certainty both to buyers and sellers and the ability to be extremely clear and transparent about value.
Once the purchase button has been clicked, that’s it - contracts are effectively exchanged. This is a key differentiator from similar services that only signify intention.
The second aspect of certainty comes from the fact that we fully vet potential purchasers before they are approved to use the platform. Once registered, they are freely able to bid.
Once the purchase button has been clicked, contracts are exchanged
Transparency comes from the open nature of the bidding process, which makes the asset’s value obvious. It is 100% clear what other parties are interested in paying for a property and therefore how it is perceived by the market. For sellers that need to demonstrate value when considering a sale, this is ideal.
During its early stages, the platform predominantly traded small assets, but this is by no means the ultimate target market.
Continue delivering adding value
The platform’s scalability allows you to sell an asset of any size. You could use it to sell the Gherkin if you really wanted to - why not?
The main point is that we must challenge how we do things if we are to continue delivering added value to our clients. I’m certainly not suggesting that the impact of this will make investment surveyors redundant. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, we’re combining technology with our agents’ knowledge and skill sets to conclude the transaction in a more open, effective and expedient manner.
The data that sits behind this can be further exploited by our surveyors to provide an additional level of service and create a better-informed market. It helps to tell sellers why we’ve been achieving higher prices for properties than have been expected.
We’re changing the way that transactions have been processed for hundreds of years and this will undoubtedly expose the commercial real estate sector to more overseas money.
Investors will welcome the ability to access our market easily through an online platform. By encouraging this renewed flow of international investment, we will be able to unlock development opportunities, add value to existing properties and help keep the UK’s entire economy buoyant.
How to attract more overseas money is by no means the only area of our industry crying out for innovation, but it’s not a bad place to start.