Over the past few years, we have witnessed the growing impact of technology within the real estate landscape. While the pandemic created many challenges for the industry, it also served to accelerate already-existing trends.
It has become clear that data, and technology overall, has and will continue to play an integral role in the industry’s ongoing transformation.
Clearly, the more data we have, the more data-driven decisions we can make. Data allows real estate professionals and organizations to compile information and track trends in order to offer the most up-to-date insights while allowing for transparency for current and potential property owners in the process.
However, despite all of the amazing insights data can provide, many often still associate technology in real estate with virtual signings or virtual home tours, when in reality there are so many more ways technology has and will continue to impact both commercial and residential real estate in Canada.
Top-3 technology trends impacting CRE
Informing decisions through data and technology
The Canadian commercial real estate industry creates and captures a lot of data.
Data about properties, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) data about how a building operates, can be used to make operations more efficient, improve occupant (shopper, resident and patient) experiences and identify current or potential issues.
For example, for owners and property managers, gathering real-time and historical information about all kinds of building systems through data — such as electrical, HVAC, fire/life safety, utilities and telecommunications — can translate into proactive maintenance.
In some cases, it may even be able to predict and alert a property manager to an equipment failure before it happens, allowing them to source a replacement part before an issue occurs.
Direct digital engagement
Technology platforms are being used more and more to introduce prospective tenants to brokers and landlords, making it possible to connect, share files and track transactions and data in real time.
This direct digital engagement with the end-users of real estate ensures a safe and healthy environment, which has been especially important during the pandemic. It also automates traditional processes.
Technology simplifying processes
Robotic process automation (RPA) is currently playing a key role in transforming various industries, from banking and finance all the way to real estate.
With RPA, businesses can automate mundane rules-based business processes, enabling users to devote more time to serving customers or other higher-value work. Businesses across North America are realizing the potential of this process and incorporating it into their daily operations to stay competitive and profitable.
When it comes to real estate financing specifically, RPA can be used to improve operational efficiency and minimize costs by automating parts of the mortgage process.
While software and AI processes, such as RPA, are reshaping the digital landscape in Canadian construction, there are two technologies poised to reshape the industry’s physical landscape: prefabricated construction and 3D printing.
3D printing in construction works to automate the construction processes and has the potential to limit labour-intensive work, material waste, construction time, risky operation for humans and more.
Prefabricated construction can also help reduce many of these key pain points by building the majority of a structure in an off-site facility, then safely shipping the pieces to be easily assembled on-site. Both are likely to have ongoing impacts – and play larger roles – in the years to come.
Top four technology trends impacting residential real estate
Data and AI
AI and machine learning will help make the data being collected more actionable.
For example, several companies are working on technology that would allow real estate agents to conduct showings via a tablet or with a chatbot, allowing them to increase the number of showings they can conduct in a day.
AI will also be able to help predict pricing trends more accurately in the residential real estate industry. This type of technology would look at historical trends in the market for an area, while also taking into account crime, schools, transportation and marketplace activity.
Virtual and augmented reality
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, nearly half of all potential homebuyers search for properties on the internet before contacting a real estate professional. Virtual reality and augmented reality have the potential to make the online search and home buying experience even more exciting, and more importantly, accessible.
For new builds, virtual reality can create realistic architectural images and walkthroughs to help buyers understand and experience the property — even before construction begins. For property managers, creating a virtual reality tour might help new tenants get acquainted with their spaces.
For example, as opposed to lengthy written instructions on how to use the thermostat, a virtual tour could walk the tenant through the process, demonstrating each step along the way.
Digital, multi-perspective site visits are now possible, creating emotional storytelling around a particular property.
Drones can also be used to provide a tour of the area.
For new builds, a drone might capture the feel of a new neighbourhood. It could also help people considering a move to a new town or neighbourhood get a feel for the place before visiting.
Drones can also be used to spot potential risks or maintenance problems which could reduce the price of a property or be used in negotiations.
Smart homes and cities
A smart home allows homeowners to control appliances, thermostats, lights and other devices remotely using a smartphone or tablet through an internet connection.
Smart homes aim to provide homeowners with both convenience and cost savings. As such, the effective use of data within homes has now become a competitive advantage.
Smart technology is not limited to homes as cities are also catching on to this trend. Smart cities, which are quickly growing in popularity, install digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure or help to streamline city operations through technology.
However, that’s not all they do – the real objective behind smart cities is to put data and digital technology to work to make better decisions, solve public problems and improve quality of life for those who live in the city.
The road ahead
The Canadian real estate industry is uniquely positioned to continue to benefit from data and technology.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that data has been and will continue to be integral to the ongoing transformation of both residential and commercial real estate.