PropTech and Commercial Real Estate

Jennifer Camille

So many terms are used for this new wave of technology that we're on the precipice of...we have Fintech, Proptech, Insurtech, Wealthtech, Regrech, Legaltech, Femtech, Foodtech and the list goes on.

Biotech may have been the first reference to this combining of technology with some other field. We have been talking about Biotech research for YEARS. It was only recently that Proptech (Property + Technology) started making its way into the mainstream and into our everyday dialogue. PropTech may also be referred to perhaps more commonly as REtech or CREtech.

So what is it?

The actual definition of PropTech is difficult to naildown. Different people have their own ideas about what it means and what it encompasses.

In general, PropTech is the technology that is now available to modernize the sale, leasing, development and experience of residential and commercial real estate. This could include anything from new construction and property management software to virtual tours you can view on your phone to home or office automation solutions. It aims to make everything about owning, buying, leasing or working n a building easier and more efficient.

How does this affect CRE?

The real estate industry, and commercial real estate specifically, has always been one of the slowest industries to adapt to change. In recent years, however, commercial real estate brokerages have begun to embrace new technologies that make it easier for their agents to do their jobs from day to day.

Undoubtedly, there are still many "old school" agents who aren't quite ready to let technology in. These agents are missing out though! PropTech is designed to make the real estate agent and property management companies collective lives easier, NOT more difficult. Proptech ISN'T just for agents and brokers either. It enables brokers, asset managers, property managers, building engineers, developers, investors/owners and agents to work together seemlessly and provide enhanced value to tenants, buyers and other clients.

Propelled Into the Future

“COVID-19 could be one of the most transformative events the built environment has ever experienced”

– Faisal Butt, Pi Labs

When will things ever go back to normal?

That is the question that has been on everyone's minds for months now. The simple fact is that some things never will return to "normal" and we will have to adjust.

Organizations across the globe are re-thinking their strategies in terms of real estate. With such a high level of competition due to the surplus of product availability, providing value for tenants has become a top priority for many.

As property owners are forced to face and react to this pandemic, the commercial real estate industry is being brought into the future of PropTech pretty rapidly. Real estate brokerages are looking for ways to differentiate their service offerings; landlords are searching for value-add opportunities to attract new tenants; developers are learning to be flexible in the kind of end-product they are building.

The emphasis on the workplace has been quite significant over the last nearly 9 months. We're not just talking about the layout and desk space of an office here - how well they can adjust to this changing world; if they put their employees mental and physical wellbeing at the forefront of their decision making; how they foster collaboration, learning and focus in this ever-changing environment. These things have never really had an impact on the commercial real estate market before, but now everything is different. According to an article on allwork.space “One MIT study, for example, calculated that offices which rank well on wellbeing measures command 28% higher effective rent premiums on average.”

"The workplace has been disrupted by lockdown, and will be further impacted by the subsequent economic downturn, changing the status quo of the real estate industry for years and perhaps decades to come."

– Faisal Butt, CEO and Founder of Pi Labs

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