Industry experts express while technology has streamlined the process, it is unlikely that it will completely replace real estate agents
Technological advancements are transforming industries and revolutionizing conventional business models around the world. This wave of disruption has not spared the real estate sector. Real estate brokers have become a topic of significant debate and interest in the UAE, where the real estate market is thriving.
In order to gain further insight into how technology might impact traditional brokerage practices, REM Times spoke with some industry experts.
With increasing investments in proptech solutions, the global real estate market has witnessed significant changes over the years. Some examples include online viewings with VR and even AR, digital twins for asset management, blockchain technology for secure transactions, crowdfunding for multiple real estate owners to collectively invest in properties and the use of enhanced smart home technology for property buyers or owners allowing them to control lighting, temperature and security at their fingertips.
Alina Adamco, Head of Sales, Metropolitan Homes, part of one of the biggest property brokerage groups - Metropolitan Group, says that she has observed notable changes in the UAE real estate industry in the last few years. “In Dubai, the Government has launched many initiatives like the Dubai Blockchain Strategy to streamline real estate transactions, property management and land registry systems. Smart Dubai and Dubai 10x are implemented to introduce disruptive technologies and innovative solutions across various sectors, including real estate to revolutionize the industry,” she adds.
The Dubai Land Department has also established various programmes to promote innovation in real estate. These include the Dubai Real Estate Self Transaction (REST) platform, which enables paperless property transactions using blockchain technology and AI. Additionally, the DLD has introduced new QR code permits that must be included in property listings and advertisements to provide more transparency to clients.
Advances in technology have given rise to innovative platforms and applications that enable buyers and sellers to connect directly, eliminating the need for intermediaries. These emerging technologies offer convenience, efficiency, and a wealth of information, challenging the traditional agency model that has long dominated the real estate landscape. However, it is essential to recognize that while technology holds tremendous potential, the traditional real estate agency model still carries considerable value for both buyers and sellers.
While technology continues to disrupt and evolve the real estate industry, the human element provided by real estate agents remains invaluable. The combination of technology and human expertise is the most effective approach, providing a balance between data-driven insights and the personalized touch that clients seek when it comes to buying or selling property.
“At Metropolitan Homes, we have a client-first, people-focused approach that allows us to promptly support our clients with their preferences and tailor a property journey that is relevant to their needs. We continually invest in technology, especially across our website experience, CRM systems and documentation processes, to ensure we always add value to our clients’ property experience,” adds Alina Adamco.
Technology is vital to empower brokers with the data and tools to perform their roles. Betterhomes was the first agency in the UAE to go online and “go digital” with an internal CRM and website back in the early 2000s. Talking about this transition, Richard Waind, Group MD, says that since then they have always embraced new technology. “This year we have launched the first of its kind in-region mobile app, putting the listing and transaction process into the palms of our sellers and landlords. The app makes the whole lifecycle of the listing transparent, from allowing our clients to review their listing, receive real-time feedback on viewings and offers, and helps guide them through the conveyancing process. Our full-service, AI-powered app for all brokerage and property management will be released in Q3,” says Richard.
In short, there is plenty of room for technology to assist buyers and sellers to achieve the best possible price in the shortest possible time. Having seen this with the rise of property portals, VR, 3D walk thro, etc. is Barnaby "Barney" Crompton, a Dubai-based British-born broker, who has more than 24 years of real estate experience in the UK and UAE. He is currently the Super Prime property broker and partner in Crompton Saltini Real Estate. While he believes that technology will aid buyers to make a decision before they view a property, he notes that it will not replace the end user experience required to make the right decision about buying a home for an individual and their family.
“But I do think it will put additional pressure on investment grade real estate agents who solely deal with numbers rather than the touchy feely side of real estate where brokers begin to understand and know their clients personally,” says Barney.
Talking about the advantages of using a traditional real estate brokerage model over a technology-driven model, Richard says that the most successful brokerages are those that combine the best of the traditional brokerage model with modern tech. “For most buyers, real estate is the largest financial investment in their lives and for that reason, they value the knowledge and experience of a great real estate professional. Great advice on when, where and how to buy can be tremendously valuable to a client,” adds Richard.
It is clear that traditional brokerage is here to stay! While these advancements have streamlined the buying and selling process, it is unlikely that technology will completely replace real estate agents in the near future. “We've seen budgets increase and decrease when they feel they walk into a property and they feel it is the right one,” says Barney.
Alina explains that real estate transactions require trust. “It also requires an understanding of clients’ needs, guidance, ongoing communication, empathy, judgement and a level of personalisation to tailor the clients’ experience and build long-term relationships through personal connections as a property decision is not just financial but also emotional,” says Alina.
Richard opines that technology will replace those agents who do not add value to their clients. “But I strongly believe technology will empower great agents to do more and transact more. Brokerages will harness technologies such as Chat GTP to converse with clients and provide up-to-date information and data. AI will change the way we market property and mobile-first technology will make transactions faster and more efficient. But ultimately property purchases are emotionally driven, and there will always be a place for a human in the deal,” he concludes.