Proptech survey uncovers obstacles and opportunities for Australian real estate

Big data analytics, business process automation and virtual tours are the top technologies plays for Australia’s property industry in 2021, according to a new survey from the Property Council of Australia and Yardi Systems.

The Property Council/Yardi Proptech Survey is the first installment in a long-term study into technology adoption and attitudes to innovation in Australian real estate.

The survey of 216 Australian property companies – a third of them with asset portfolios valued at more than $1 billion – finds the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated proptech adoption.

Twenty-seven per cent of respondents are pumping funds into new technology in response to the pandemic, while 55 per cent are beefing up their investment in existing technology.

Property companies are also turning to technology to support the safe return to offices, with track and trace (23%), touchless access (22%) and social distancing technologies (15%) the top three solutions.

“This survey sets a baseline for Australia’s property industry to track the barriers to proptech adoption and the big opportunities ahead,” says Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison.

“Hard data is at the heart of good investment decisions. But until now, we’ve lacked information on the acceleration and saturation of proptech in our markets. We hope this survey will become a reliable compass to guide Australia’s property industry towards the future.”

Proptech – which the survey defines as any innovative technology that reimagines property’s core processes and business models – is turning real estate on its head. Metaprop, one of the world’s largest early-stage proptech venture capital firm, predicts that proptech innovation will deliver $205 billion of new value to the global real estate industry over the next five years alone.

Australia’s property owners, managers, designers and constructors are partnering with proptech accelerators to support start-ups, invest in international innovators and test and trial new technologies.

But barriers – real or perceived – remain. Among the biggest are the perception that solutions must be specially developed or customised (34%). Twenty-six per cent of respondents see changing existing behaviours as the biggest obstacle to overcome, followed by cost (23%) and time constraints (11%).

Tellingly, a third (33%) of respondents believe that real estate trails other sectors when it comes to technology adoption.

But Yardi’s Regional Vice President Bernie Devine is optimistic that 2020 was a “tipping point” for proptech adoption.

“Australia’s property industry is upskilling rapidly. Big hires from other sectors are bringing in new skills in automation, artificial intelligence and customer engagement. These fresh perspectives are shaking up the tree, and propelling proptech forward,” Devine says.

“Investing in technology is like building. Get the foundations right and then everything else will be solid. This is the approach we are seeing from Australia’s real estate leaders,” Devine adds.

Looking long term, respondents nominated property management systems, construction management tools, artificial intelligence, tenant engagement apps, online marketplaces and vendor portals on their long-term investment horizons.

While 30 per cent of respondents believe Australia is lagging the leaders in proptech adoption, Mr Morrison expects to see a very different result in future installments of the survey.

“It is early days for proptech in Australia. But our local industry enjoys a world-leading position on sustainability, supply chain transparency and social value. We expect Australian leadership in proptech to follow a similar curve,” Morrison concludes.

Media contact: Henry Pike M | 0408 406 637 E