PROPTECH STANDING TALL IN 2021

PROPTECH STANDING TALL IN 2021
Feb 2021 , by , in ARTICLE, FEATURES, News/Views

WHAT STARTED AS JUST THE  ONLINE MARKETPLACE FOR  PROPERTY BUYING, SALE AND RENTING, IN LAST 6-7  YEARS HAS EVOLVED IN A  FULL SERVICE SEGMENT OFFERING DATA ANALYTICS AND  INFORMATION IN THE OPAQUE  AND FRAGMENTED INDIAN  REAL ESTATE. YEAR 2021 HOLDS  MUCH PROMISE WITH GREATER  ADOPTION OF TECHNOLOGIES BY  ALL INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS. 

2020 has been a landmark year for proptech in India,  as technologies shifted from the periphery to the  core with numerous innovations in the property  transaction space. In the face of the COVID crisis,  the focus was on business continuity, virtual property  viewing, easier transaction cycle, shorter liquidation  time alongside customer comfort. The proptech segment  enabled developers to get a deep understanding of  customer’s sentiments and preferences which helped  them to continue the momentum of sales despite the  roadblocks.  

This was also the year which truly accelerated  the digital transformation across organisations. With  collaboration tools, technology to enable work from home  and other related technologies coming to the forefront.  In a way, the world of real estate changed significantly  accelerating further improvisation and usage of technology  and several players adapting to this change swiftly. 

 

BREAKING TECH BARRIERS IN 2021

As the consumer behaviour has already evolved,  year 2021 is being foreseen as the most significant  year for innovation in proptech. Notwithstanding the  discovery of new vaccines, the cautious approach of  businesses and customers means that the technology  tools will continue to occupy centre-stage in the minds  of players in the eco-system. 

Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head, JLL India firmly  believes that an increasingly digital world of the future  will be driven in equal measures, not just by  technology, but by digital skills as well.  

“Business leaders will have to unlearn  and relearn a lot to continue to stay relevant in this new world. Deploying  cutting edge technologies would be meaningless without the right people to implement, use and draw insights from these. The top competencies for business leaders would be flexibility and agility to cross skill/ upskill themselves, being data savvy & treating data as an asset  and utilise the insights to chart the course. In the current,  non-linear world, no leader can claim to be able to predict  the future, especially with technology.”

“Adaptation to technology will be the key for Indian real  estate in the future. Companies that will adapt to artificial  intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) will be better prepared for any future disruptions.  

Investment in technology upgrade will not only help companies tide during such crisis but will yield rich dividends in the long term,” stated Anuj Puri, Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants. 

The advent of technologies like  AI, ML, Big Data, IoT & VR is  helping to put purpose, culture  shift, and customer experience at  the heart of the property sector. 

“Knowing that the huge amounts of data generated by the real estate industry can be leveraged to its advantage even further going forward as new technology, the business leaders would themselves require making a conscious effort during the adoption of technology. It’s crucial to put the future in perspective and build  ingenious proptech solutions or products that are  scalable, highly available, and have an evident  deeper understanding of existing consumers,  added Prakash Tejwani, CEO & Co-Founder,  Careersocially. 

Ankit Kansal, Founder & MD, 360  Realtors was of the view that leaders will have to don the hat of advocates and champions of digital innovation and embrace new technologies.  “They need to chalk out the path to digitization for their organization. This may require relooking their business models  and strategies at times.”  

Vikram Kotnis,Managing Director  – Sell.Do & Amura Marketing Technologies commented, “One of the key competencies that needs to be adopted is a mobile first approach. Perceive everything from a consumer behaviour standpoint; also, modify processes so as to align with consumer behaviour in the best possible way. Understand what tools and processes are right for them,  how to control cost and the storytelling needs to be done  very critically now.” 

“Business leaders need to be extremely agile in a  digital-driven world. For one, they need to be ahead of  the curve and anticipate changes that would impact their  industries in the short-term, medium-term and the longer term. Secondly, business leaders need to be risk-taking  and innovate across almost everything – ideas, products,  processes and go-to-market while balancing long-term  growth plans with short-term results.  Lastly, leaders need to make sure that they target their products correctly so  as to ensure that the early adopters  jump onto the adoption curve,”  stated Mani Rangarajan, Group  COO, Housing.com, Makaan.com and  Proptiger.com 

KEY PROPTECH INNOVATIONS

The proptech space is bustling with energy and ideas  and the opportunities are limitless. The question is not  about ‘should we’ but on ‘how soon’ before organisations  start adopting these solutions and make the space  mainstream, and this shift is happening as we speak.

Leveraging technology like AI /ML and social profiling,  the new property buyer leads can help to build accurate  predictive models which can give insights that how  the audience is going to behave ahead and how their  sentiments are going to be towards real estate products  in the coming time. Also, segmentation of leads and  prioritizing them based on social profiling is equally crucial  to prevent redundant efforts and drive more ROI.

Cross-sales using digital mediums can also be  considered one of the leading-edge approaches that very  fewer players have adopted but this practice can maximize  the impact of a company’s marketing efforts and can be rewarding as well. Building connections with more local  agents across micro-markets can scale up businesses at a  rapid pace using platforms that can expand their agents’  network digitally and maintain the momentum of their  project sales. 

In fact, there are quite a few prop-tech innovations  that can address major challenges faced by sellers and  buyers in real estate such as online verification of title  document, automated valuation models to assess the  value of rental/resale property, mechanisms to improve  quality of images, listings on platforms and to detect fake  listings. Self-create listings videos for listings, schedule  and host site visits virtually, apply for home loans digitally,  online tenant verification, design and furnish home online  and ultimately property management online.  

The consumer wants more convenience so smart  homes, smart societies with better security, IOT based  infrastructure will be the norm in the future. Technology  will also play an integral role in home designing going  forward.

What will hold realty professionals  in good stead is a willingness to  experiment. Unlike the millennials  and Gen ‘Z’, not all business  leaders are ‘Digital Natives’, however, we have to be ‘Digital  Ready’ in order to succeed.” 

Ramakant Sharma, Co-founder and  COO of Livspace elaborated, “The real estate and design segment is ripe for  digital disruption. Whether buying a home or buying an interior solution, consumers are spending increased time online researching, estimating budgets, getting inspired and visualizing their home. Once they become a paying customer for a  brand, they prefer to get updates online. Thus, we have  the opportunity to use technology to create interactive  experiences, personalised content, fast and realistic 3D  visualizations, share real-time updates and tracking and  much more. For businesses, the pandemic has proven to be an opportunity to leapfrog and build sticky digital  behaviour among its users.” 

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FUTURE 

According to Anuj Puri, going forward, we will  continue to see the momentum in tech adoption. “Given that no one knows how long this virus will actually play  out, realtors are now completely relying on technological  advances. They are increasingly relying on virtual tours  and the use of drones (in countries like US) to evaluate  properties for prospective buyers in order to limit physical  activity. Usage of technology in real estate may not give  realtors the same volume of business but it will definitely  not lead to total disruption of business.” 

Drones: The use of drones can help  manage and inspect sites. Developers  can map a site and create 2D as well  as 3D images. Most of the advanced  drones use a coordinate-based system  which helps achieve absolute accuracy in  measurements. 

Robotics: Being a highly labour-intensive  industry, construction activities that are  repetitive and labour-intensive may use  robotics to not only reduce costs, but  also maintain quality and precision. For  instance, the semi-automated mason —  ‘SAM’ — a bricklaying robot designed and  engineered by Construction Robotics is  the first bricklaying robot commercially  available that works in collaboration with  a mason and thereby increases their  productivity five-fold. 

3D Printing (large-scale printing of  homes) may also change the way real  estate builds over the next decade. Other  than reducing waste, cost and labour  requirements, it will help to penetrate  in inaccessible areas including dense  urban centres where it is impossible to  set up heavy machinery for construction.  It will also enable the eventual printing of  internal structures as well as walls, e.g.  plumbing, electrical systems, venting and  so forth. 

Building Information Modelling (BIM) software allows designers to produce  3D mock-ups of planned structures with  inclusion of info on its cost and time. 

Virtual Reality/Augmented Realty linked  to the BIM software via an app allows  contractors and developers to do virtual  walkthroughs of a structure even before  its complete, thereby enabling them to  make more informed design decisions  earlier in the construction stages, saving  both time and cutting costs.  

“The proptech space offers limitless opportunities  in India, more so in the current environment where  companies are grappling with new challenges like creating  contactless facilities, portfolio optimisation, employee  health and safety etc. Almost all these imperatives can  be addressed through technology intervention. A lot is  happening in the sector and I am quite excited for what  2021 holds for the Proptech segment in the country. I  see a greater adoption of technologies, increased level of  funding and lot of newer products and solutions to cater to  the ‘next normal’,” shared Ramesh Nair 

“2021 will be a year of the rapid adoption of  technology in the real estate sector and the Proptech  segment will play a key role in boosting the revenues in the real estate market. We have already seen the  digital budgets in real estate touching an all-time high  in 2020 and leading to increased margins in sales. We  expect the momentum to continue in 2021. Digital  outreach is expected to grow further in 2021 and real  estate developers will rely greatly on Proptech for  its convenience, marketability, and ability to provide  unique and trusted insights that can help to know their  customer better, profiling the customer persona and  accelerate the sales with increased profit margins,”  stated Prakash Tejwani.

Mani Rangarajan added, “The pace of technology  adoption within the sector has accelerated with various  participants across the eco-system taking up technological  solutions to facilitate the home buying and the home  renting process. More than 90% of prospective buyers and  tenants have moved online to search, discover, shortlist  and in some cases, complete the home buying process.  Developers who had traditionally relied on touch screens  moved into virtual and augmented reality products backed  by offerings such as drone shoots, video connect calls,  webinars and virtual site visits to attract users’ interest.  Brokers adopted products such as video shoots, live video  tours and video profiles to connect with prospective buyers  and tenants. In all likelihood, we will see the emergence of  new technologies both upstream and downstream in the  buyers’ journey (e.g. ability to check documents title to the  property and online registration of properties purchased).” 

Vikram Kotnis concurred, “Proptech saw the highest  adoption in technology, especially in sales and marketing  functions. Online buying experienced a major boost;  Homebuyers have become more open to zero touch bookings  and payments. This level of adoption has never been seen in  Real Estate. Going forward, transparency in the home buying  process and online transactions will help move inventory  faster and better adoption of CRM will play a crucial role.” 

Ankit Kansal summarized, “Due to the innumerable  advantages that accompany the adoption of tech-enabled  models, going forward the adoption of proptech is  expected to bring about a transformation in the Indian  real estate space. With evolving homebuyer preferences  & rising interest among developers to tap into greater  markets, innovation in proptech will be a major game changer for the sector.”

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