It seems that property professionals now overwhelmingly regard proptech as an opportunity rather than a threat, as a new survey has revealed that 95% of property professionals are now positive about proptech.
However, the study also reveals that a clear majority are also sceptical about their own companies’ progress on adopting new technology.
The study of more than 300 property professionals by Trident Building Consultancy was carried out in association with RICS, GoReport and Teesside University.
Asked whether they saw proptech as an opportunity or a threat, 95% of respondents to the survey said that it presents an opportunity. However, asked to score their company’s progress on proptech take up on a scale of one to ten, 23% opted for one, indicating no adoption at all. In total, 65% answered negatively, giving a score of one to five, compared to 35% who answered positively.
On the plus side, it is clear that companies are at least trying to make use of new technology: 59% of respondents said that they used some form of proptech in their jobs, compared to 41% who said they did not. In addition, a clear majority, 57%, said that their firm either had a digital strategy or was working on one, compared to 26% who said their employer didn’t and 17% who simply didn’t know.
The survey also makes clear that there remains a steep learning curve for many property professionals when it comes to proptech, with 57% saying that they didn’t have a “good understanding” of the technology, and just 27% saying their company had “invested heavily” in proptech training. One respondent commented:
“Decisions are still being made about tech investments without a clear understanding of the transformative nature of Proptech. Advances such as IoT [internet of things] and machine learning will drive early gains and shift the balance in the favour of companies willing to invest.”
In terms of the barriers to take-up, the most commonly cited concerns were a lack of knowledge and training (56%), cost (53%), doubts about return on investment (43%), lack of clarity on the benefits (43%) and the time required to implement proptech (41%).
“Cost benefit is key,” commented one respondent. “We need to be sure that proptech innovations are not made just for the sake of it. I have seen too many new IT systems brought in that increase workload – the opposite of what is intended.”
Certainly, it’s a fast growing sector.
Established estate agent software provider AgentPro have been working with estate agents for more than ten years. Gareth John, Managing Director believes that useability has been key to the company’s success:
“AgentPro has been developed as a result of consultation with estate agents, designed purely with them in mind, so while we have sought to automate every task from enquiry through to completion, including diverse things like key management, marketing, financials and even producing brochures, we focus on making it easy to use. We offer comprehensive staff training as part of the package. We thought our biggest challenge this year was going to be issuing a new release for GDPR compliance – in fact, our biggest challenge this year has been managing very rapid growth – the GDPR release has seen us grow our customer base by over 30% since Christmas.”
Trident director Anthony Walker, who initiated the survey and is the chair of the RICS UK Building Surveying Professional Group Board, felt the survey painted a positive picture of the industry.
“It is clear that many in the industry still do not feel that they have a full understanding of proptech and the advantages and benefits it can offer businesses and their clients,” he said. “However, the fact is that a majority of companies are now using the technology and most firms have a digital strategy. In terms of direction of travel, that is highly encouraging.”
“Clearly, both individuals and companies have a responsibility to ensure that they remain up to date with the latest technological advances and how they apply to our industry. However, the onus is also on proptech firms to engage and communicate more effectively.”
Trident Building Consultancy has offices throughout the UK, providing architecture, building surveying, cost management and project management and right of light services across a wide range of sectors in commercial and residential property, and across all parts of the private sector, local and central government.