News: 3 Key Trends in the Asian Real Estate Technology Space

Sep 11, 2017


The Asian real estate marketplace is an exciting place to operate in today- with the numerous changes, varying local market nuances and a population that is young and growing in affluence.

As the Chief Business Officer of PropertyGuru Group, Asia’s foremost online property company, I had the opportunity to present my thoughts around the trends in the sector in front of an audience of over 600 Real estate professionals from across Asia a few days ago.

The audience had gathered to participate in ARENA- an annual conference which was hosted by the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents this year in Kuala Lumpur from 25th to 27th August, 2017.

Before we set about understanding the trends in the space, let’s look at how important the online medium is in the region. In SEA today we have 53% internet penetration, to put it in perspective this is above the global average of 50% (Source- Hootsuite June 2017). So very likely, the trends that we see unfolding in the more mature real estate markets will unfold and soon enough will impact business and the way we function in the region.

One base reality, that we appreciate at PropertyGuru is that we serve an empowered customer who have access to devices, tools and knowledge beyond their own market. Winning the trust of this empowered customer is critical for any brand and Transparency, Speed and Relevance are the key elements to build up this trust, which carry over to the real estate sector as well.

And as we move into an era where Transparency, Speed and Relevance have become highly critical to the audience, let’s look at the upcoming trends in the market which can help real estate professionals build up trust with property seekers, their audience-


1. Digitization will shape a new future

Once upon a time there existed a clear line between what products people thought would go digital, and those that won’t. Today that line is blurring and blurring rapidly. Digitization in the Real estate industry has already started, albeit in a small way- where instead of in-person tours, prospective buyers experience property through Virtual Reality.

Going forward we will be faced with a reality where in some places automation steps in to simplify the rent or purchase experience. The possibilities can go even further beyond making property bookings to other aspects of the purchase process including simplifying loan applications- reducing process and removing paperwork by a large degree, or convenyancing, contract signing to even property inspection reports, tenancy agreement between parties.

In Australia is one such company looking specifically in to the Convenyancing process is PEXA- The digital exchange has the capacity to replace most Australian paper-based property title transfers, reduce conveyancing times and costs, and bring property buyers and sellers, conveyancers, banks and title registry offices on to a single unified system.


2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

We’re already living with Artificial Intelligence all around us, every single day. Whether it’s the Amazon Alexa you ask about the weather or the text bot you write to when you’re shopping online, AI is already here, and there’s no reason to be afraid of it.

There are many possibilities which speak to how AI can play out in the real estate field- Smart Home and the Internet of Things and voice based AI are a few of them.

In certain cases, real estate agents could be empowered with better, smarter data which provide personalised and intuitive suggestions to clients, build up agents credibility and add more value to conversations. The way to look at it as per Russ Cofano’s view that “cognitive computing” not as a threat to labor, but an asset to the baseline of real estate’s agent intelligence.

At PropertyGuru, Artificial Intelligence is something which we are really excited about. For us it is important that we look at integrating technology – AI or otherwise, through the lens of the consumer- the property seeker. We always keep in mind property seeker needs, and what will provide a faster, more qualitative property search experience to enable making the right choice / property decision.

To that end, we believe that agents, play a critical role in shaping the information on our platform that property seekers consume and leverage to make decisions.


3. Payments processes and systems will be redefined

This is a specific area that we see area which is being redefined by technology at a rapid pace for our industry. High trust in online payments, advent and accepatability of Blockchain based technology, push for transparency will being more payments related processes online.

Already we have seen higher- consideration products like mobile subscription (in the case of Circles Life), investments, insurance- both health and life, mortgages (for example MoneySmart) moving to online based models.

In fact, there are a few exciting start-ups in this and associated spaces which are picking up traction- Home equity platform Point in the US enables homeowners to unlock the value of real estate they own by selling equity to investors rather than accruing debt by refinancing their homes. Cadre is another company that provides a marketplace of investment opportunities for real estate investors.

As the Chief Business Officer at PropertyGuru Group, I often interact with real estate professionals and leaders across the region who sometimes look toward the next few years with trepidation. While there is no silver bullet to the question of how can real estate professionals manage the changes that are coming,

I believe that customer relationships based on trust and the three tenets of transparency, speed and relevance will go a long way in helping real estate agents in the region not just survive but succeed in the age of Digital and Technological disruption.


This article was written by Chief Business Officer at PropertyGuru Group, Lewis Ng.


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Shaiful Safar
Real Estate Negotiator
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True Vest Property Consultants Sdn. Bhd.
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