The role of digital technology in shaping the way industries will continue to evolve is significant. The real estate sector, often assumed to be relatively traditional in its working practices, has also seen the impact of technological advances across the purchase and on-site construction realm. From planning tools to quality management to delivery efficiency to sustainability to safety and a digitized purchase process, the role of technology in real estate is all pervasive.
While Indian real estate companies have easily adapted to the shift in consumer behavior to the digital spectrum, the adoption of construction technologies on site is relatively lower. With 80% of home buyers starting their property search process using Google, the digital realm can hardly be overlooked by real estate companies. Whether its 3D to 7D BIMs, to VR, to Drones on site, to hybrid formwork, voided slabs, EPI Pulse Plasma Rock Fragmentation, to MgO wall panels, to the use of moisture meters/lead detectors, snagging to mobile hydraulic platforms and other tools for safety, the role of technology to improve the quality and output of real estate development is undisputed.
Even the realm of property diligence and compliance has undergone a complete overhaul with the increased adoption of technology for e-governance. In India, the online application/registration of properties/agents under the new RERA portal, the payment of GST and the digitization of land records are just a few of the examples of the impact of technology for enhanced transparency and accountability in real estate.
Technology will also be instrumental in aiding the Government achieve its ‘Housing for All’ target of 20 million affordable homes by 2022. While pre-fab is currently constrained owed to poor transportation infrastructure in India and a perceived high cost of construction, it will be instrumental in scaling mass housing. Smart Cities that are premised on digital connectivity, e-governance, IoT and sustainability, will continue to require enhanced technological intervention and innovation if we are to have ~100 Smart Cities across the Country in the coming years.
Further, in more advanced markets such as the US, UK and Australia there has been significant momentum in even adopting digital currencies for property transactions. In December 2017, property developer Go Homes in the UK announced the successful sale of a home using bitcoins. A number of property sellers in these markets seem to be moving to accepting crypto currencies as an acceptable form of payment. In India, however, the use of crypto currencies for property purchases seems relatively a long way away with the fairly conservative RBI monitoring acceptable payment structures.
The role of AI in navigating property records and lease administration/management is becoming an increasingly discussed subject. Further, the use of block chains in storing relevant property diligence information with a view to giving access to secondary home purchasers who can ill afford high costs of due diligence, is also being explored.
Digital technology has been instrumental in transforming the operating framework of most industries quite significantly. The real estate sector has been no exception, with technological advances changing the purchase process and on-site construction for better planning, efficiency, improved quality, sustainable development and effective delivery. Additionally, technology has also been instrumental in supporting the diligence process, as well as in ensuring compliance through improved e-governance.
By: Amit Wadhwani, Director Sai Estate Consultants