The coronavirus pandemic has challenged, perhaps, all spheres and the real estate market is no exception. In "peacetime", only a geek could imagine a completely contactless purchase of an apartment. Despite the rapid development of technology around us, all stages - from viewing the living space to obtaining a mortgage and keys - were more familiar to all participants of the transaction to be carried out offline.
COVID-19 has made its adjustments: the technological revolution is rapidly seizing even the most conservative niches right now. Previously, digital tools in real estate were perceived as a bonus, beautiful packaging, marketing ploy. Now, this is our reality and the future. Developers, developers, and realtors understand this very well.
This term was coined in France at the end of the XX century. In 2019, according to CREtech, investors invested about $25 billion in PropTech startups worldwide.
Armed with a gadget, the consumer can no longer (and does not want to) come to the construction site and to the showroom: self-isolation forces both the developer and the potential buyer to change the usual patterns of interaction. IT tools come to their aid, created to visually show the house, the layout, the current stage of construction, and the future infrastructure. Zoom is not the most convenient service for such purposes. VR technologies do not save us yet either: the solutions that are now on the market were mainly focused on surprising those who are physically already at the facility.
Now developers and realtors need to surprise those who are sitting relaxed on the couch. Previously, both large and medium-sized developers had 3D tours in their arsenal, which were used to sell apartments with finishing. Usually, two or three variants of apartments were presented in this way. Now the demand for 3D tours will increase. This means that technologies will be in demand that allows smaller developers to create 3D layouts according to plans without long waits and overpayments, work with virtual graphics without hiring an army of expensive specialists. Now there is a real boom in zoom displays, many developers have implemented them in a short time.
Innovations will not bypass the client-side either. Various widgets for websites will appear, offering, for example, the possibility of customizing repairs, the ability to select interior design within the framework of 3D tours. A lot of startups with similar solutions are now turning to our accelerator, which indicates a sharp increase in interest in the development of highly specialized services.
Everything that the market has been slowly and lazily moving towards all this time has suddenly become a vital necessity. While remaining an image component for many, the websites of construction companies are rapidly turning into the main channel of sales and communication with customers. Beautiful renderings of future LCD, pdf layouts, cameras broadcasting how the construction is going in real-time - this is no longer enough. Those who will be able to equip the site with the most convenient personal account with expanded and constantly updated functionality will hold their positions in the market.
The personal account should become not a burden for the user and the company, but a single window of communication in which it is convenient to view all possible housing options in buildings under construction, book the property you like, sign a contract, pick up and issue a mortgage, monitor the progress of construction.
The technologies that the real estate industry needs now should not so much demonstrate the object without the contact of the seller and the buyer, as to bring the transaction to the end - and also remotely.
"The future of the real estate industry depends on how FinTech and ProperTech startups interact”
Online payment and online mortgage existed before, but before the pandemic, they were most often marketing tools. Now the coronavirus forces everyone to use these tools. The Russian government has simplified the history of obtaining an electronic digital signature, which should accelerate the development of this industry.
Statistics show that in 80% of cases the purchase of an apartment is accompanied by a mortgage transaction. Fast, convenient, and secure communication with the bank is important here. Those developers who will have technological banks as partners will win, and the whole process will be organized in such a way as to minimize the number of visits to the office. Meanwhile, the introduction of a mortgage application on the website with the ability to send it to different banks accelerates the process of buying real estate.
Innovations will affect not only the client-side of the process. The cost of apartments is formed due to internal processes in the company. Many developers will have to optimize the structure of departments, look for ways to reduce the cost of building buildings through the use of new technologies. Services that allow you to calculate where and how a company can save on resources and automate work will be in demand. This also applies to software for designing and software for analyzing construction sites and real estate management services using smart home technologies, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.
One of these solutions is offered by the American startup Enertiv. Sensors are installed on the object and combined into a single information system. They monitor the condition of the building, the temperature inside, monitor the occupancy of rental premises, identify malfunctions, help save energy consumption and reduce costs.
Another example is the SMS Assist project, which helps a company keep records of property, pay taxes, generate rental announcements, and monitor the terms of current contracts.
The leaders of the global market of PropTech startups, such as Zillow or Truila, have already taken on the role of realtors. Using Big Data technologies, these services accumulate and analyze the entire array of information, giving the user the most interesting options for him. Even now, a future buyer can see the house he likes without a seller: for this, an electronic lock and an Opendoor application are needed.
But as soon as the issue of contactless purchase of an apartment has been successfully resolved, a new one arises in front of a person — the issue of arranging future living space, which does not want to be postponed. Moreover, the apartment has turned from a cozy place for dinner and overnight stay forever into a place where, if anything, the whole family should survive difficult times, work productively and have a good rest.
After the pandemic is over, we will be able to communicate with builders and designers, personally choose the right shade of parquet in the store, and come to the facility several times a week to monitor the progress of work. The question is whether we want it. Will we look for unnecessary contact with strangers?
The consequence of long-term social distancing in the future will be an increased demand for remote selection of a team of workers, the choice of a designer and a project, remote purchase of building materials, online budgeting, and so on. So far, there is no frenzied demand for such services. And, therefore, the coronavirus gives you time to reconsider your approach to organizing such a business.
The trend towards openness and transparency of the management company for the consumer will increase. Applications that simplify the interaction between them on housing and communal services and additional services will be in demand here. Video cameras will come to work, and the face of the apartment owner will become a pass to the house. Now biometrics is available only in premium-class housing, but projects such as ProEye and VisionLab are accelerating the day when these technologies will enter the homes of most citizens.
Do not think that these technologies will be in demand only for the duration of the pandemic. The consumer habits that are being formed now will remain with us even after self-isolation. People will use remote tools that save time and money. Remember how startups were criticized for developing contactless car refueling technologies that allow you to buy fuel without leaving the car. Now they are in great demand.
The world must change beyond recognition, and the real estate market must change with it. The market leaders will remain those who are already using new technologies.