Lessons to Take Into 2022 From the Lens of a PropTech Leader
Real estate technology is proving a worthwhile investment.
By John Cecilian, Jr.
Homebuilders and developers are on the cusp of tremendous opportunity — a fundamental truth realized in 2021 when every industry was forced to pivot in some fashion including into the digital realm to transact business.
The future is filled with potential for builders and developers if they grow more comfortable within this realm.
Builders and developers have been mitigating challenges and most are desperate to ease pain points and advance projects more efficiently while maintaining thoughtful dialogue with key stakeholders. Adapting to new processes and solutions can prove daunting, causing companies to revert to what they know.
We’ve watched homebuilders take a shotgun approach to technology, innovating only when they discover problems, which forces immediate change. Property technology (PropTech) is not a singular, out-of-the-box, or one-off investment. Instead, it represents a shift in approach, situating humans at the center. How and what do humans communicate through technology? What does the data explain when analyzed over periods of time?
Innovative PropTech elevates the homebuying experience for consumers and has the capability of keeping more cash in builders’ pockets, streamline processes, deliver 24×7 access by stakeholders and inform builders earlier than ever about potential challenge areas and opportunities.
A human-centric approach bridges the digital divide and makes every human touchpoint along the real estate journey opportunistic, whether by visual appeal, remote access, ongoing communication, depth-filled data analysis, or the wow factor.
In a recent survey, 40% of Americans claimed that the process of buying a new home is one of the most stressful experiences. A third of those surveyed reported being brought to tears given the seemingly insurmountable stress involved.
But, builders and developers still rely heavily on manual processes that take thousands of hours to manually transpose into drastically different systems or platforms. We hope to encourage more to reduce the monotonous while showcasing how to make these processes more automatic and accelerate the day-to-day so more time, money and attention can be riveted on business growth.
One of the most valuable elements of innovative PropTech is how it simplifies the homebuying experience, thus greatly reducing the stress, a true value proposition.
The customer experience (CX) is an incredibly salient point given that positive experiences sell homes whereas less than engaging or stressful experiences typically result in a slew of negative online reviews. Leaders in CX outperformed laggards by 300% over the last decade. The recurring theme in their approach is simplicity. The proliferation of choices in life drives decision paralysis/regret and increased expectations, often leading to negative online narratives that exist repeatedly across the Internet. Too many choices result in lower satisfaction—the opposite of good CX. We learned that consumers will pay more for simplified and more engaging experiences. This is where PropTech accelerates and can add tremendous value.
The integration of PropTech supplants a multitude of disconnected applications, programs, and platforms and streamlines the building, buying, selling, and reporting process. Much of the data in offices today disappear randomly into silos or are stored in a software application and rarely accessed. Outdated, manual approaches and missing connectivity drives bad data, unnecessary costs and a painful experience for team members. PropTech addresses the holes, automating manual processes and linking community developers, homebuilders and customers while providing immediacy of information.
Builders need access to layouts, architecture plans, permitting status, and email, while customers seek floor plans, virtual views, and transparent pricing models. By creating an inner-connected atmosphere of simplicity, transparency, and immediacy, PropTech shifts when and how information is accessed, to the benefit of all. By connecting customers, sales and marketing teams, and community and builder operations, PropTech delivers rich and valuable data metrics.
The power of data is being realized, and businesses able to successfully collect it will succeed over all others. Imagine what a homebuilder or developer can do with access to data including number of children, marital status, income, size of prior residences. These baseline analytics can be used to create predictive models. I envision a future centered on the customer experience that leverages the results of those engagements to architect future blueprints, literally and figuratively.
By viewing data as an asset the industry has limitless opportunity to collect, store, analyze and use it to make decisions about how to invest, price and target future customers.
The philosophy is obvious: Simplify the complex, put humans first, and invest heavily in data.
John Cecilian, Jr. is Co-Founder and CEO at Cecilian Partners, a growth-stage technology company focused on customer experience transformation across the real estate industry. For more information, visit CecilianPartners.com.