Technology Impacts on Real Estate

New technology may be adapted slowly in Oman. However, globally, the field of technology has made immense progress and there is much to leverage on this destructive technological trend. There are at least seven technology-driven changes which can potentially transform the real estate sector in Oman. Essentially, these evolutionary steps in technology can completely usher in an era of ‘experiential’ real estate for consumers, developers, and consultants – and as a direct consequence, transform the way in which real estate business is done:

1. Real Estate Automation:

Increasing number of real estate marketing is done via online channels these days, be it online portals or cross-platform mobile applications. There is a huge opportunity in more evolved automation of these online channels, where the updating of property listings could be carried out using advanced machine learning techniques.

Real estate listings and other stock real estate data is very dynamic in nature - and with more leasing data freely available, there is more scope for automation in this sector.

2. Artificial Intelligence on Real Estate:

Technology today allows us to perform tasks which require higher forms of intelligence. Hence, Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools allow computers and machines to function more intelligently and efficiently.

It important to note that in real estate sector, the increased use of machine learning techniques and deep learning will boost the quantity of information available, as well as the efficient processing of this information. Improved computation power of machines aided with smarter algorithms will make it easier to grasp ‘moving parts’. The digitizing of data assets is becoming less cost and labor intensive due to support of AI technologies. Real estate sector data is currently available in varied forms. If we look at commercial real estate markets, lease documents are often not standardized, presenting a challenge in evaluating one vs. another. Soon, advanced AI techniques (loosely known as deep learning) will enable machines to comprehend the various clauses and sub-clauses in such leases.

Larger amount of data is currently stored physically in the offices of builders and brokers. From brochures of upcoming projects to ‘stacking’ plans of malls or other buildings, legal documents, contracts, administration-related paperwork - all will gradually migrate to the digital format. From a client’s perspective, the emergence of more online portals showcasing a higher number of commercial and residential properties will simplify the customer’s journey towards a buy, sell or lease decision.

3. Use of Drones to enhance the human experience in Real Estate:

Latest innovation in artificial intelligence, specifically in machine learning and deep learning, have contributed to the increasing use of drones. These are helpful in creating 3D images and videos of office spaces which help clients narrow down on property options. Drones are being used very effectively in in many party of USA and Europe for marketing real estate properties with compelling and dramatic images. Such images help differentiate properties, especially on online portals, which are continuously competing for consumer mindshare.

Real estate enabled Drones can be used to highlight property features like landscaping, pools, walking paths, backyards, internal spaces, flooring, etc. to create a general sense of awe which cannot be achieved through normal, ground-based photography and surveys.

4. Use of Virtual Reality technology on Real Estate:

The latest revolution of Virtual reality or VR technology - a mix of architecture design and gaming software - will soon enable consumers in Oman to get a real-time experience of living in their yet to be constructed homes or offices.

Using special glasses, customers can view 3D videos of the properties in homes or offices they are interested in. This can help them to shortlist properties before making the final purchase or leasing decision. As this is still an expensive technology, it is currently being used only in high-end property marketing – mostly while marketing luxury housing options to ITCs projects.

5. How Real Estate can use Internet of Things (IoT):

Internet of Things (IoT) is a great network of connected factors, including people. The relationship could be of people-with-people, people-with-things and things-with-things. The use of sensors to track the movement of objects is commonplace today. With sensor technology getting cheaper, we will soon find a much larger use of sensors across office, retail as well as residential spaces.

It will become especially useful for the facilities management business. From small requirements like identifying the need for changing a fused bulb to larger issues like managing car park spaces in large office complexes, IoT is ready to take off in a big way. Retail offices can look at using display shelves linked to sensors which indicate when products need to be restocked. Residential spaces already use sensor-driven lights and very often sensor-linked water flow in gardens. On a much larger scale, Smart Cities will have digital technology embedded across all city functions and facilities.

6. Blockchains impact on Real Estate:

Data held on a blockchain exists as a network of nodes. It is a shared, continuously reconciled database which is hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, and its data is accessible to anyone on the Internet. This is still an evolving concept worldwide. However, blockchains will soon play an important role in the storage of information for real estate transactions. For example, we will see the evolution of Smart Contracts which make the execution of real estate transactions much more efficient.

Take an example of this scenario, let us take a client purchasing a property in the secondary sales market. Currently, such a person is dependent on the bank for a basic due diligence on the property. Since the bank lends a home loan, it bears all the risks related to the property including ownership risk, construction risk, litigation risk, etc. Just in case, a loan is not required, other agencies must step in to verify all the property-related documents.

Feedback from technical experts to address safety concerns regarding old structures may also be called for. All this information could be stored in a blockchain and easily accessed by a buyer, who can trust this encrypted block of information without physically examining the title or contacting prior owners of the properties in the tittle deed.

Blockchain Technology has already made inroads in the world of currencies – previously very much a ‘physical’ concept - as well. Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency which is the raison d’etre for blockchain, is finding its way now into the investment world. In fact, it is one of the fastest-appreciating digital currencies. Very soon there will be a time where real estate transactions are carried out through blockchain. This is a technology that will simplify all real estate deals and transaction and create transparent among all real estate stakeholders in Oman.

7. Digital Marketing & Social Media Marketing on Real Estate:

The use of social media and effective channel for communication and advertising will be a preferred channel to context to end users. Social media channels are already being used by a few brokers currently, but we shall see increasing usage of these channels as the use on mobile is now increasing at a very rapid pace.