The 21st century digital revolution is one of the biggest industry game changers in the recent past. It has impacted the way we behave, make choices, transact, communicate, and even elect! It has essentially changed the way we live. The Commercial Real Estate (CRE) industry is yet to catch up with this digital age, but it is well on its way. Earlier, real estate was all about ‘location’. While location remains an important aspect, it is now much more about information and innovation.
The digital wave comprises of multiple factors that can improve the real estate experience for consumers and industry professionals alike. These are some of the main factors:
Direct Market Access
Almost every consumer with any kind of interest in buying or renting real estate, first begins their research online. This is the even playing field on which buyers and sellers can make direct contact with each other. The real estate market remains one of the most competitive, so the onus is on the professionals to challenge their digital teams to create ways and means of attracting the masses and making the best first impression. Well-equipped websites and apps are the prime portals that customers look at to find the most information regarding projects and to get the best deals. They are the customers’ one-stop-shop for information about the property itself, as well as the businesses, schools, connectivity and even crime rate in the locality.
Virtual & Augmented Reality
Along with data and analytics, a new and improved visual component of real estate marketing involves the use of virtual and augmented reality. Unique methods like drone technology enable customers to experience properties and complexes from the comfort of their own homes. Videos of 3D rendered walk-throughs bring to life a developers’ vision long before the proverbial ‘first brick’ is laid. Similarly, augmented reality allows for the projection of design ideas on already existing spaces, helping clients to imagine what the result could be. These are smart tools to create market interest and excitement while still in the developmental phase.
The use of visual and augmented reality has levelled out the gap between the “concept presentation” to the final product.
Real Estate and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The integration of sensors and devices that help create a seamless, hassle-free experience for the user created the origin of the ‘smart space’. Automated workspaces allow users to control their environments remotely. It is now possible to schedule devices linked to automated systems, including lighting and air-conditioning. Energy consuming devices linked to the system can communicate with the energy supplier to optimize consumption and use. For the consumer, this translates to a more economical and eco-friendly way of living. Sensing devices help collect data on regular usage of appliances. They can track patterns of use and suggest damage preventive measures like recommending when maintenance may be required. Data collection devices are supporting efforts in behavioral analysis, to better inform designers and planners of the psychology behind the use of space. This is also having significant impacts on the way the spaces of the future will be designed.
Crowd-funding Real Estate
The hyper-connectivity of our world can create new ways of collaborating and doing business. The crowd-funding phenomenon that was born in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008 is an example of how industry combined with digital access offers resourcefulness. This has gradually evolved into a now common way of pitching and investing in real estate property.
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
BIM describes the partnership between digital software and construction agencies. It involves the creation of a 3D render of a project, onto which all aspects of its functioning are projected. From the design and construction phase, right up to the operational and maintenance issues, BIM covers the entire range of complex systems involved in allowing for the smooth running of a property. BIM assists designers when they are planning, to consider all equipment being used and to ensure that the most budget friendly, energy saving ways to operate the project are being implemented. The result of this is a satisfactory and enjoyable experience for the end user.
With technology pushing the envelope of innovation and evolution, we are still experiencing only the beginnings of large scale digital transformations. The CRE industry has a way to go to catch up on the trends because consumers are still building their trust in these new and improved, yet slightly cryptic systems. However, there is no doubt about the fact that the future is digital and real estate must get on board.