Prop Tech and the future of real estate

On 14 December 2016 Cushman & Wakefield sponsored  the Estates Gazette Prop Tech Summit, which hosted two panel discussions from a Technology Entrepreneur and ‘Traditional’ Property perspective, on the future of Prop Tech.

EG PropTech banner

There were several interesting key messages.

Property industry has been underserved by technology – why?

  • There has perhaps been a fear to adopt tech across the industry – it has always been relationship/conversation based and therefore perhaps technology has been seen as detracting from this personal relationship?
  • A failure to see the problem- did we realise that we wanted an iPhone? Can we now live without one?
  • A lack of technological intelligence within the industry is now a big problem – how many property firms have Chief Technology Officers?
  • A potential misunderstanding that there is a lack of truly useful Prop Tech. Up until now much of Prop Tech has just been technology repackaged?


Prop Tech is not just a ‘disruptor’:

  • Technology is not going to ‘steal jobs’- used well it can create: higher productivity; less time spent on admin; better communication/collaboration and better access to data. It will improve agents roles not make them redundant.
  • There is a misunderstanding that we will have to disrupt our core business to add value through technology – this is not the case – it should just make our businesses more productive.
  • In retail, our tenants are already using innovative technology so we need to keep up; their industry will disrupt us too so we need to stay ahead of the game.

“Prop-Tech” is an irrelevant phrase:

  • Every company is now a ‘tech’ company, including many retailers and online/offline is becoming increasingly blurred. Property companies need to keep up and employ more tech people – CTO’s and at a lower level in order to bring technology into the company and embrace innovation – to operationalize technology within the industry.
  • Equally, tech companies are also becoming property companies and landlords Airbnb/Amazon/WeWork/Deliveroo now all have their own property portfolios.

We can learn from the WAY tech companies work:

  • We should embrace start-up/tech working methods – they focus on adaptability/agility and innovation.
  • They also focus on conversation in order to deliver a product – they do not claim to have the answer first time around but work on a cycle of developing, trialling and iterating, involving their clients in this process.
  • They constantly ask for feedback – simple questions, e.g. “are you happy with this service?” Improving the experience for clients and tenants.

store of the future

We are being ‘disrupted’, so how do we adapt?:

  • We need to skill up – to gain resources and understanding of what tech solutions will work for us and add value to our business
  • We should look at how other industries have done it. The Residential Property market is under attack from online platforms: Purplebricks, Zoopla and others are changing the industry. How does the traditional estate agent industry adapt?
  • We need to think in a more adaptable/flexible/short term way even if our focus is on long-term investment and even in our valuation models
  • Rather than looking for useful technology, we should search for problems, both within our business and for tenants, and then find technology solutions

Data is the fuel for the future:

  • Data is power. We collect data so we should be using it more efficiently, not giving it away to existing platforms and then paying to get it back.
  • Previously some decisions, even those with large financial implications, have been made based on sentiment, gut-feeling or experience; if we collect and utilise our data more effectively, we can make better informed decisions.
  • Data is king for retailers. Landlords often have the data they need to make decisions, they can use data to empower their tenants.


Listen to the EG’s podcast from the event

We Work space

WeWork space that caters for start-ups

The Estates Gazette Prop Tech Summit tech speakers – the ones to watch:

Charlie FarrDeliveroo

Deliveroo is developing a new product RooBox: an incubator for food start-ups removing barriers to entry for new by offering kitchens in containers.

Brandon WeberVTS/HighTower

Recently merged, now the main global leasing and asset management platform for the commercial property industry.

Savananah de SavaryIndustryHub

IndustryHub is described as Shazam for buildings. Imagine being able to photograph a building on your smartphone and immediately be able to find out all of the information you need about it…

Chlump ChatkuptPlacemake

Artificial Intelligence for location and mobility. Linking location and mobility technology onto one platform ‘Bloomberg for mobility problems’. Read the interview with Dr Chatkupt in our latest edition of Capital Watch

Jon Taylor –The Collective

Addressing the problems faced by renters in London, creating co-living spaces offering hassle free, affordable living and the benefits of a ready-made community.

 Ross Bailey – Appear Here

Online retail property platform describing itself as “Airbnb for retail” where landlords list space and retailers can rent space on a flexible basis.

appear here ad

William NewtonWiredScore The global rating system for building connectivity backed by Mayor Bloomberg and Boris Johnson.

James Morris-Manuel –  Matterport

Matterport is an immersive media technology company that builds 3D media solutions that power industries from real estate to entertainment.

Estates Gazette Prop Tech summit property speakers – the champions of prop-tech:

David Rosen – Senior Partner – Pilcher Hershman

Juliette Morgan – International Partner – Cushman & Wakefield

Ben Dimson – Head of Retail Business Development- British Land

Adrian Leavey – Partner – Trowers & Hamlin

Jacob Loftus – CEO – General Projects

 You can read more about Prop Tech in London on our Future London blog

Justin Taylor is Head of Retail , EMEA

Justin Taylor is Head of Retail , EMEA


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