Editor's Pick

Reshaping the property market with AI and emerging technology

Stephanie Feigenbaum, Lead for Process Automation at REdirect Consulting, talks all things property and technology – an unlikely relationship that could transform the housing sector. 

Industry leaders in the property sector view AI and automation as major gamechangers, with more than 79% looking to adopt this technology in the next three to five years. This is according to a survey conducted by the UK PropTech Association (UKPA), the British Property Federation (BPF) and supported by REdirect Consulting, leading real estate technology consultants.

As the sector still faces concerns about cost, problems related to integration of legacy tech and the general complexity of traditional ways of working, how will these new and innovative technologies reshape the UK property sector as it tries to overcome barriers to adoption?

Overcoming industry barriers

Despite the clear advantages of digitally transforming and implementing new technology across the property sector, there is still some push back. Results from the survey reveal that the most common barriers for concern are organisational resistance to change, cost implications and transparency when it comes to return on investment. For the sector to reach the next level, it needs to leverage the benefits of implementing PropTech and see it as an investment for the long-term that will filter down into almost every stage of the business.

Another factor that comes into play with digital adoption is the privacy and security concerns associated with implementation, including storing data and aiding GDPR compliancy. Alongside this, businesses may worry about vulnerability to cyber threats with the potential risk of customer data being leaked. Stories in the public eye that have risen to the top of the news agenda in recent years including the Royal Mail and Hackney Council ransomware attacks, provide further cause for concern and emphasise the need to prioritise security considerations. While these examples can have an impact on digital utilisation, partnering with a provider to ensure these considerations are front and centre prior to going live will ensure your organisation is robust and fully protected.

How AI and automation will reshape the property industry

There are numerous of areas that AI and technology can positively influence the wider property sector. From improving building performance, decision-making and carbon emissions profile, to speeding up transactions and engagement with customers, there are a plethora of advantages that PropTech can bring. Our report suggests that AI will have a profound impact on the industry and set the stage for significant advancements in data analysis, decision-making, and automation. This comes in the form of predictive maintenance where AI can be used to analyse data from building systems, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) to predict when maintenance will be needed and prevent sudden failure to equipment.

A common misconception is that artificial intelligence will replace employees and the human touch will be lost. But in fact, the technology has the power to not only streamline workflow and processes for property professionals but also give them more time to focus on the important details, interacting one-on-one with potential prospects – not bogged down in the admin and back-end processes. And according to GitnuxAI has the potential to save the commercial real estate market an estimated 40% in time savings by automating tasks. 

AI, VR and smart IoT solutions

Almost six in ten respondents from the survey predict a profound impact from AI, setting the stage for significant advancements in data analysis, decision-making, and automation. In other areas, blockchain and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) are not perceived as overwhelmingly influential, but they are recognised for their ability to bring about notable changes and improvements. Whether it’s helping immerse potential buyers within a property before they put in an offer or reducing their carbon footprint from a decrease in travel, there are many benefits to utilising AR and VR.

white and black typewriter with white printer paper

Alongside AI there are other developing technologies within the smart buildings and internet of things (IoT) space. By implementing IoT technologies, low-cost wireless devices can be connected around properties to collect data to enable complete remote asset management monitoring to enhance operational efficiency. These devices can detect a broad range of issues within properties such as temperature, humidity, mould growth, Legionella bacterium and water ingress. This not only provides transparency and valuable insight for industry professionals but it also allows them to be proactive rather than reactive, directing resources where they are needed most. This means that potential problems can be escalated as soon as they arise and be quickly rectified. This can be particularly beneficial across the rental market where there is a duty of care to protect tenants from property defects including mould or damp that can be harmful if ingested.

Proactive monitoring for a more sustainable future

The property sector is already making great strides in addressing existing pain points with organisations reporting how the new technology is having a marked improvement in these areas. From enhancing ESG and sustainability goals to data management and operational performance of properties, survey respondents indicated the key improvements that the tech is offering. Utilisation of this monitoring technology can help the property sector meet its ESG and sustainability targets as energy usage within buildings can be monitored to ensure it is operating at peak efficiently, becoming more environmentally friendly while lowering costs for tenants and homeowners.  

It’s clear to see the big impact PropTech is having on the wider property market in helping to improve operational efficiency and enhancing ESG data collection. Revolutionising business processes using AI and other evolving technologies will become crucial for informing business decisions in the property sector for years to come. 

Images: Stephanie Feigenbaum, Markus Winkler and Alex Knight

More on this topic:

Research suggests sustainable technology can make existing homes emission free

Braking: regenerative technology saves enough energy to power over 300 homes


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