Wissam Karmouchy, managing director at Gold Mark Real Estate, says the next era in the property industry has arrived with a bang.
It’s no secret that advances in technology have led to innovation in many industries around the world.
This is evident in our daily lives, from the way we order food to the way we order a taxi. So, it’s only logical that these advances are going to affect the way we look to buy, sell and rent real estate.
Not only do we search for properties online, we use digital tools to calculate mortgage payments, Google Streetview to virtually visit a neighbourhood, and various other online tools to research information about a property that was not previously possible.
Since arriving in UAE in 1998, I have witnessed first-hand Dubai become a global leader when it comes to innovation; often the first city to bring cutting-edge technology into practical application. From the construction of the tallest building in the world, the largest shopping mall in the world and the biggest Ferris wheel in the world, to flying taxis and hyperloop transport – this is a city that embraces transformation.
Through the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), Dubai further aims to drive its real estate market into the future. It has already undertaken several innovative projects, including eMart — a smart property marketplace, Ejari — a platform to streamline the administrative aspects of lease management, and SIM — Dubai’s interactive smart investment map.
According to a study conducted by HSBC in 2017, 72 percent of prospective property buyers in the UAE search for properties online. Another study conducted by US-based firm Redfin, concluded that 20 percent of buyers in the UAE had made an offer without ever seeing the property in person.
Not only is proptech changing the way we search for property, it’s disrupting the entire sales process. The private sector is also embracing this change as many of the latest technological innovations and trends are already being applied by real estate brokers in the region.
Brokers who don’t embrace technology are likely to be left behind in the near future. This is evident through the rise of various proptech companies that offer end-to-end services, eliminating the need for a broker altogether. That said, working with a qualified and experienced broker offers a level of personal attention and understanding to ensure you end up buying a home – not just a house – a service that no artificial intelligence will ever be able to provide.
Brokers who utilise technology to their advantage not only streamline the process for themselves, but also create an improved experience for buyers and sellers that saves them time and money.
In the past, prospective buyers had to visit the brick and mortar offices of real estate brokers, which could be very time consuming, especially if a large number of properties were available for viewing. Combine that with the balancing act of making appointments that are convenient for both buyer and seller, and a lot of time could be wasted in arranging, driving to and viewing properties that aren’t the right fit.
Through the advent of 360-degree photos and videos, virtual walkthroughs became possible, allowing buyers to digitally ‘walk’ through an apartment or house from the comfort of their own homes. Recent improvements in augmented reality (AR) also have major implications for both the buyer and seller experience and could possibly allow both parties to interactively see information about a property that would otherwise be unknown.
With the implementation of big data and machine learning, it has now also become possible to more accurately match a buyer with a seller, based on their specific interests and individual profiles. This type of technology considers all available data about a buyer profile such as specific requirements, styles they like, and reason for purchasing – whether a family home or investment – and can accurately match this with available properties and property profiles. Not only does this save valuable time, but also makes it easier for the real estate broker to spend time on deals that are more likely to close.
Just as fintech has disrupted the financial industry through cryptocurrency, mobile banking, AI risk management and various other innovations, proptech is certainly disrupting the real estate industry.
Another project of the Dubai Land Department is the Dubai Blockchain, a decentralised transactional platform, not unlike bitcoin, that could possibly see property transfers and deed management take place virtually and immediately.
The improvement of large-scale 3D printing is also very promising and could well lead to homes being printed to exact specification at a fraction of the cost and time that traditional construction would take.
By Wissam Karmouchy
Managing Director at Gold Mark Real Estate
This article was originally published in Prestige Magazine, Issue 37.