Tuesday, September 27

Real estate: why technology doesn’t have to replace people

We can review the wide range of companies of this type: real estate portals, maps and aggregators, virtual tours, CRM (customer tracking) and information management systems, mobile agent management applications, real estate management software, information and statistics (Real Estate Big Data), property valuation, among many others. There are also collective investment systems or platforms (crowfunding) that can be managed by brokers and agents. Finally, there are technologies that are applied to the same construction or to the same property: for example, home automation, which makes a property intelligent.

The 100% technological real estate agencies that aspire to stop being intermediaries in the sector are only a small part of this group. Now, there are those who predict that the latter will take the whole cake of the business. But not even those who support this thesis know how to predict when this will happen.

If I were to ask my father or mother (boomers) if they would be willing to download an application and sell or buy a property through it, the immediate questions that any of them would ask me are: “Who is going to come to value The building? You are not going to tell me that the phone will know the price of my house “,” Who will make the visits? I’m not going to open the house to people I don’t know ”,“ Who will negotiate the offers? Or will they pay the price that we publish ”,“ By the way, who will take the photos and publish the notices, will take care of the paperwork, the agendas of both parties, the meetings, signatures and procedures?

It’s just that my parents grew up dealing with people. It is the people to whom they entrust their decisions, to whom they discuss an opinion if they disagree.

It is that although we invented systems to replace or enhance many human actions, there are many of them such as opinion, interpretation, negotiation and understanding, which cannot be replaced at least with the technology that we have at present. Not to mention the psychological factor. Who will contain people, since moving is considered among the most stressful acts of our lives?

It will be very different if we ask my teenage daughter, who will have no problem taking the photos, uploading them to a system and managing all the purchase or sale of her properties with an app. The problem is that my daughter still does not buy properties, much less sell them. But his parents and grandparents do. So the consequent question would be: how long will it take for this new generation “100% digital” to manage the economy of buying and selling real estate? There is already a nascent sector that can rent or buy small properties, but how long until they really move the needle of Real Estate worldwide? At least, for another decade or two there will continue to be intermediaries that need human presence to guarantee security, service, trust and judgment (and for much longer even if we dare to join generation X who are not fully enthusiastic about the idea of ​​managing all through a tel since we have grown up without them).

Once this time has passed, in which these two systems (human intermediaries and technological intermediaries) will surely coexist, we will see how this industry evolves and we will know if humans will be empowered with these technologies (facilitating proptech) or replaced (disintermediating proptech). I lean towards the first option. Technology will make everything easier for us, but ordering pizza or renting an apartment for a week on the beach is not the same as choosing your family’s home for the next decade. As long as we are people, we will like to walk the properties, feel where the sun is coming from, give our opinions and be advised by professionals, be able to express doubts, rely on the opinion of another, negotiate. And doing it face to face is still the most concrete, tangible and safe way that we know.

Founder and CEO of Bresson Realty (Buenos Aires, Barcelona).