Proptech Pivots

By on May 14, 2020 in Global

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Property Australia and is reprinted here with permission.

How is real estate technology responding to the industry’s needs during the COVID-19 lockdown? We check in with Yardi’s Bernie Devine, regional director of sales for APAC, to find out.

Bernie Devine, regional director, Yardi

“Real estate technology companies have been doing extremely well over the last five years. Massive amounts of investment have flowed into the sector as investors seek high returns, demand access to new technology and, for some for some, react to a fear of missing out,” Devine says.

“COVID-19 has caused investors to refocus and technology companies to pivot to take advantage of adjacent or complementary market opportunities. Proptech companies not in a position to do so are facing a quick death.”

Devine says Yardi has mobilised to respond to clients’ needs quickly, prioritising health, continuity, analytics and communication.

As transactions and projects are paused, or in some cases cancelled altogether, the industry needs tools to eliminate paper from processes, enhance data rooms and streamline the valuation and underwriting process, Devine says.

“A key challenge is in the due diligence process when it is currently not possible to travel to do site inspections.”

Operational initiatives include mass rent abatement assessments and their impact on budgets requests and approvals, Devine explains. Expect to see artificial intelligence embraced to enforce social distancing and the rise of the robot cleaning and testing workforce, he adds.

Technology is also helping property companies to stress test business continuity plans to see “how it holds up with a remote working scenario.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has revealed how fragile spreadsheet-based processes really are. Some companies have rediscovered paper-based processes and must now figure out how to fix them in a remote working model.

“In countries like China, where a company seal is regarded as the official signature for a contract, the ability to apply this in a remote model has helped adoption of e-signature technologies.”

As a company bringing process to real estate, Yardi can help property players to simplify their processes, embrace remote working, and bring teams together to work seamlessly on a common data set.

CommercialCafe provides a single point of contact for tenants, for example, with 24/7 online services enabling faster communication with tenants. Yardi’s Procure to Pay platform provides invoice approval workflows and a VendorCafe that eliminates manual vendor onboarding, uncoordinated procurement and paper-based processes.

“One of the biggest lessons we’ve learnt during this crisis is why cloud computing is a core part of the technology stack. The benefits of cloud are now crystal clear, as it removes the need for anyone to be in the office,” Devine concludes