Businesses are big on the idea of “disruption” these days. They define it as a game-changer, a revolution for their industry and a way to overturn established conventions and business models in order to increase marketability, market share, and ultimately, profit.
As a buzzword, “disruption” is most often paired with “technology”, the engine that has allowed disruptors to multiply their effectiveness and reach customers directly in new and improved ways to provide ever more powerful and readily available services.
Smartphones disrupted the way we communicate. Uber and Grab disrupted the way we commute. Amazon disrupted the way we shop. Cryptocurrencies are attempting to disrupt the way we pay. The list goes on.
What about property and property finance? With technological innovation and disruption being attempted or having arrived in so many industries and aspects of daily life, will something also one day change the way we buy, manage and sell our properties here in Singapore?
Let’s take a quick look at five current technologies, some of them still relatively new, but all of which have potential to one day disrupt the property industry in a big way.
As a result of having more and more people living their lives digitally, we are inadvertently generating large amounts of data in cyberspace, which can be analysed to discover insightful consumer trends and patterns. These can be useful in forecasting and decision-making, or turned into hyper-granular targeted marketing.
One major way in which Big Data could revolutionise the industry is through the accuracy and transparency with which property buyers, sellers and agents may be able to find and analyse prospective properties. Property portals (like us!) could become hyper-refined, not just able to filter by property type or area, but also draw on data for profitability, transaction history, marketability, location analytics, and many other measurable metrics to provide a clearer picture.
Buyers may find their search results more relevant as property search engines “learn” their past search preferences and interests, and try to ensure that the properties in each category with features that are most likely to pique their interest are ranked first.
Naturally, a key concern about Big Data is that with the widespread compiling of users’ data from various sources, and the resulting use of it, maintaining the privacy of individual users has become more important than ever—particularly as it is now nearly impossible to prevent your data being collected through some kind of contact with technology in the course of daily life, even if you avoid using technology yourself.
Big Data will disrupt how the property and property finance industries work in many ways. How much it can disrupt remains to be seen yet, and will also come with its own set of potential issues—but it is coming.
Fintech, or financial technology, simply refers to a term to describe technology an industry uses to provide financial services to consumers. It ranges from mobile payment, blockchain cryptocurrency exchanges to robo-advising apps.
Fintech has already begun to impact the property and finance industries. One way which some companies are already starting to make headway is through mortgage marketplaces. Chatbots have been reported to be helping banks rake in business.
In the future, mortgage banking solutions may become even more sophisticated— having better access to a prospective client’s credit information, banking details and debt history and maybe even give approval in a matter of minutes. The use of blockchain and cryptocurrency may even one day result in phenomena like crowdfunded credit that is independent of financial institutions. The possibilities are endless.
As a young industry that is growing by leaps and bounds by the day, fintech brings a great deal of potential to shake up and revolutionise how property finance works. It has already begun—and there is much more to come yet.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The concept of IoT is fundamentally connecting any electronic device to the internet. Everything from air conditioners to washing machines can be hooked up to the internet for a wide variety of functions.
We’re already seeing the rise of smart devices and homes: For example, “robot” vacuum cleaners and air-conditioners that can be toggled on remotely to clean and cool the house before you get home.
In a property context, there is also great potential in the rentals market. When all the electronics are wired up, who knows, maybe in future, our appliances and devices may be able to notify the owner and even automatically call for servicing when it is due. The technology already exists—it only needs to grow further in scale and integration to truly revoutionise how we manage our property.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Advances in AI seek to progress the technology to simulate human intelligence in machines, to think, work and perform problem solving functions like us.
Consider the idea of an AI lawyer that can manage your conveyancing and other basic legal property functions? Or an AI mortgage banker who can generate and explain loan agreements to you? In fact, all these systems can speak with each other seamlessly – in the future, if you decide on buying a house, all you might need to do is provide some biometric verification for your purchase to be completed in seconds as AI lawyer, banker, and land registry assistant automate the process for you.
Of course, AI has not yet reached this level of competency, and this vision of a seamless property experience remains something for the future. In the meantime, though, Propertyguru Finance is the closest thing to that seamless experience for property seekers and sellers.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
We already see working virtual property tours of these today especially with the current global pandemic. Maybe we laugh at the clunky goggles, the awkward 3D movements and the impersonal nature of virtual viewings today. But you can be sure technology will progress. One day the technology we have to visualise a property will improve. Perhaps the AR hardware of the future will be no bigger than a pair of sunglasses. Perhaps it will no longer be 3D graphics, but actual video. There will most certainly be more realistic renderings of architecture. It may even instantly transform a cluttered house through some new form of digitalised staging.
At that stage of advancement, show flats are going to be a thing of the past. Projects can be rendered and sold without the developer even having to bid for the land.
The Future is Here
Do these examples sound farfetched? Well, so did concepts such as private hire vehicles, self-driving cars and automated drones not too long ago. These technologies slipped into our lives gradually and turned the industry on its head in a big way. The future is arriving—in some cases, it is already here.
The only way to capitalise on these technologies when they catch on or defend your job against them is to be acquainted and familiar with new trends and ideas wherever and whenever they arise. Try them out as soon as you can so that you get a headstart from your competitors.
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