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Real estate has been notoriously known for its hesitancy in adopting technology. As someone who’s been in the industry for decades, I can tell you firsthand that getting people on board with property technology can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. And, unfortunately, as a result, real estate falls behind many other industries in terms of innovation.
Almost a decade ago, I was fed up with the outdated intercom system at my apartment building. It boggled my mind that in the age of the smartphone, most multifamily properties relied on bulky, wired intercoms of the yesteryears. That’s when the gears started to turn in my head, and I came up with ButterflyMX: a wireless, smartphone-powered video intercom system.
However, there are still countless real estate professionals today who shy away from technology at first sight. The truth be told, this industry is still very much a pen-and-paper business, and folks tend to reject anything that deviates from that.
Well, it’s 2022, and we’re long overdue to bust five common myths about technology that prevail in the real estate industry.
Myth #1: “It’s too expensive.”
The industry’s age-old excuse for not adopting technology is that doing so will be too expensive. Not only is the cost of the devices high, but property managers also worry about the installation costs. However, times have changed for the better.
Little do they know that technology has significantly advanced to the point that it costs a fraction of the price to manufacture devices now than in the past. Property technology hardware — such as intercoms and smart locks — has become sleeker, simpler, smarter and much more affordable.
The reality: Although the cost of entry might seem high (relative to other capital expenditures for your property), many property technology solutions pay for themselves quickly. Simply put, you’ll see ROI on those proptech devices relatively fast: The more efficient building processes are, the more time staff has to retain and attract residents. And ultimately, technology leads to faster lease-ups, helping your building reach stabilization in no time.
Related: The Impact Of Digital Transformation On The Real Estate Sector
Myth #2: “My staff will feel replaced.”
The fear that technology will replace jobs is not unique to real estate. However, this fear has been lingering since the advent of the telephone — perhaps even before that!
But did you know that real estate, particularly property management, has one of the highest employee turnover rates? That’s because people in the sector feel burnt out at faster rates than in other industries. And a major source of this burnout has to do mundane, time-consuming tasks repeatedly throughout the day.
The reality: Proptech automates repetitive and mundane tasks, leaving staff more time and energy to provide high-touch services. For example, instead of spending hours on end entering tenant information in databases or processing package deliveries, having the right proptech devices automates and streamlines those very tasks. And staff can instead focus on developing irreplaceable relationships with tenants and combat burnout.
Myth #3: “The devices are too complicated to install and use.”
It’s true that many proptech solutions used to take long to install and often required wiring throughout the whole building. But not today.
Think back to the last time you set up a smartphone or laptop. Chances are that it only entailed powering the device on and signing into your accounts. But industry veterans probably remember it used to be much more complicated than that. The same is true with real estate technology.
The reality: With the advent of wireless technology, most proptech devices only require a power source and an internet connection. Long gone are those expensive wires that had to be run throughout the whole building. And if you know how to use a smartphone, you know how to use these devices.
Related: Real Estate Is Way Behind in Tech. Here’s Why and How to Fix It.
Myth #4: “It’ll lead to easy data breaches.”
Some real estate professionals love doing things the “traditional” way. But at the same time, they prioritize security above all else. From listing a property to buying it, every facet of real estate requires attention to security. So, it’s ironic that some people don’t want to use today’s top-notch security solutions and software because of the fear of data breaches.
The reality: With advanced technology like blockchain, quite the opposite is true. Using technology — such as storing important information in the cloud — is the best way to safeguard it. Technologies like the blockchain ensure accurate, safe and fast real estate transactions.
Myth #5: “The industry simply doesn’t need technology.”
As one of the biggest industries in the world, real estate loves to toot its own horn about not needing technology. But in today’s digital age, every industry needs technology to stay competitive and relative. If you really think about it, many parts of real estate do actually use technology — from online property listings sites to property management software. So, why not just embrace technology and reach the new horizons that it lets us grasp?
The reality: As we witnessed during the pandemic, technology was our lifeline, including in real estate. For instance, technology has enabled the mass work-from-home shift, contactless deliveries and building entry, and even health screenings upon entering buildings.
Related: This Proptech Is On The Move
Simply put, now is the time for real estate to adopt technology on a large scale. In such a technology-centric society, failing to do so will cost the industry valuable employees and tenants, when it’s already a tight market on all ends.
Therefore, adopting technology is one of the best ways to have a competitive advantage in real estate. Today, more and more people see tech-enablement as the expectation, not the exception. To remain among the top industries globally, real estate must be receptive to technological change.