Thailand is getting some really great proptech solutions. Source: Shutterstock

Can proptech transform the property market?

TECHNOLOGY can play a disruptive role in any industry or sector, and the property market seems to be among the slowest to be impacted by it.

Most people who buy or rent a property today still do it via brokers or through websites that list properties like the classifieds page in a newspaper.

However, all that is about to change. In an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia, Bumbung Co Founder Gadiy Lim explained why new-age proptech companies are going to transform the world.

“In the next few years, proptech companies across Asia will help simplify the property acquisition process, helping all stakeholders breathe easy,” said Lim.

The truth is, proptech isn’t something that’s on the horizon. Proptech companies are here already and making serious efforts to go mainstream and help retail investors and customers with their propterty needs.

In fact, the proptech market in Asia is one of the most vibrant, with innovative use of technology already in the works.

“Data analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, blockchain – all of these will have significant repercussions for how we invest in and occupy real estate in the future,” observed Anthony Couse, CEO of JLL Asia Pacific.

According to a  new report by JLL, US$4.8 billion of investments out of the global grand total of US$7.8 billion poured into Asia Pacific proptech start-ups between 2013 and 2017.

Lim, who sees great value in proptechs, feels that one of the reasons startups in this space are taking a bit of time to go mainstream is because their arrival will disrupt the role of the agency.

“We’re all thinking it. We know that artificial intelligence and machine learning will someday replace agents, many of whom simply make the task of acquiring or investing in property unnecessarily tedious,” said Lim.

However, if proptech firms are to overcome the resistance in the market, primarily from stakeholders who will be disrupted by their arrival, governments need to take action.

Regulatory authorities must explore changes they need to bring about, especially when it comes to evaluating the competency of the system and ease of access to property information (transparency), and figure out the value that proptech firms can bring to the market.

When the regulator understands and explains it to the public, there is bound to be faster adoption and more success for proptech firms in the market seeking to strike a chord with the young and mobile demographic in Asia.

It’s easier said than done, because among the stakeholders who will be affected are not just agents but also brokers, lawyers, bankers, and accountants.

If, lets say, blockchain takes over how we transact properties, everything will get decentralized. As a result, everyone will know who owns an asset (property), how they need to be taxed, and who must be reached in order to bid for or acquire a property.

“It will put many stakeholders in the property transaction market out of a job, and make a serious dent in those involved with faciliating property transactions,” exclaimed Lim.

Lim, who’ll be speaking at PropTech Asia in September, joked that we might perhaps get to a point someday where we exchange land parcels on Mars via a holographic contract or via voice command, but for now, proptech companies that make the biggest impact will be the onest that simplify transacting in properties.