The real estate industry is facing disruption on two fronts: brokers are getting younger, and technology is changing how business is done. With older professionals retiring and recent grads entering the industry, it’s not surprising that this shift in demographics has brought other changes.
Along with a shift in industry professionals comes an increase in the adoption of real estate technology, often referred to as proptech. All generations are embracing technology at a fast rate, using the latest software in new and innovative ways to accomplish more.
During my 43 years in the industry, proptech has become a cornerstone that allows brokers to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, and I’ve been able to play my part in that evolution. It’s clear that proptech isn’t just a fad, but instead, an industry staple — regardless of the generation. The widespread adoption of real estate technology has continued to alter the way brokers do business, as well as help the industry overcome challenges.
Changing Course In Commercial Real Estate Markets
Historically, technology adoption rates have been driven by how good the commercial real estate market is. When the market is strong, professionals often stick to their steadfast practices. Why change if you’re still making money doing what you’re used to? However, when the market starts to fall, people search for solutions that will increase business and revenue.
Currently, the commercial real estate market is thriving. Despite the rapid decline of malls, the emergence of new types of shared or rentable office spaces, and the trend of e-retailers and digitally native brands opening, brick-and-mortar stores have helped the industry stay strong. With this market growth has come the unique phenomenon of proptech tools as a professional must-have, despite a strong market.
In the past five years alone, I’ve watched from the frontlines as professionals harness the power of a strong market through the power of proptech. More data and insights help brokers respond faster to hot leads for clients, whether they are helping them sell an old office building or locate the perfect investment option within an opportunity zone. New tools help CRE professionals stay ahead of an ever-changing market and reach larger audiences.
Tapping The Potential Of Mobile Technology
While younger generations tend to be digitally inclined, technology use continues to grow for both baby boomers (ages 55 to 73) and Gen Xers (ages 39 to 54). In fact, a Pew Research Center report found that while there is a gap between millennials (ages 23 to 38) and their older counterparts in technology adoption, the older generations are showing a steady increase in adoption of smartphones, tablets and social media.
That means proptech has an opportunity to turn our everyday mobile devices, which are in the hands of almost every industry professional, into powerful business tools. Commercial real estate sites optimized for mobile allow brokers to have access to full data sets when they’re in the field.
This on-the-go model empowers professionals to act in the moment, provide a client with an in-depth analysis of a potential property or capture insights for other properties in the area during a site visit. Mobilizing proptech unchains real estate professionals from their desks and helps them connect with clients and properties in the field.
Making Technology Accessible Through Real Estate Associations
While there are many proptech solutions offering a variety of tools, it’s important to find the right solution to meet your needs or the needs of your organization. For example, association leadership might partner with a specific real estate technology platform, offering those tools to all of its members. Through an exclusive partnership, members of the real estate association gain full access to the platform and its tools as a membership benefit. In my experience, this sort of partnership has proven incredibly worthwhile. By doing this, brokers gain access to in-depth data and insights at the click of a button.
Proptech isn’t a new concept. In fact, widespread adoption and a thriving market suggest that technology has continuously streamlined and improved the work that real estate brokers are doing on behalf of their clients and communities. Professionals are working with clients in new, more efficient ways. Deals are being made and closed faster. Properties that sat dormant are being recognized with new potential by new audiences.
Proptech adoption across generations has helped fuel today’s thriving market. As the technology continues to evolve and disrupt, I look forward to seeing how it will help every CRE professional become more efficient.