Real estate industry bullish towards disruptive technology

Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of real estate investment professionals believe that so-called disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics will have a positive impact on their business in the future, yet only a fifth (19 per cent) say they are being deployed today.

Instead of accelerating towards a technology-driven future, Intertrust’s study suggests the property industry is taking a more measured approach; 72 per cent of investors believe disruptive technology will deliver the most value by driving back-end operational efficiencies, particularly in areas such as KYC reporting, due diligence and compliance.
Despite the transformational impact brought about by new technology on other sectors such as retail and media and the emergence of fintech disruptors, just 9 per cent of real estate professionals think it represents an existential risk to their business. 
However, over three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents believe that the increased use of AI, blockchain and robotics will mean that accounting roles will either be replaced entirely or dramatically changed. Legal (48 per cent) and operations roles (62 per cent) are also likely to be replaced or heavily altered.
Of all the disruptive technologies, Artificial Intelligence will play the biggest role in revolutionising the real estate industry over the next five years, according to almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of respondents, ahead of blockchain (61 per cent) and robotics (32 per cent). AI and its application through machine learning – computers that can learn through data – is being increasingly used to automate processes such as credit decision-making.
Intertrust, a global leader in providing expert administrative services to clients operating and investing in the international business environment, interviewed over 500 executives covering the asset management, corporate, capital markets and private wealth sectors based in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia to identify the value-add delivered by new technologies now and in the future.
Jon Barratt, Head of Real Estate, Intertrust, says: “With the hype surrounding disruptive technology it is easy to lose sight of reality. The findings from this study suggest that while the real estate industry is positive towards new technology such as AI, blockchain and robotics only a minority of firms are currently putting it to use and the speed of travel remains cautious."  
“At present, new technologies are seen to add most value to back-office operations and the threat they pose to existing business models is seen as very low. However, real estate investors cannot afford to be too complacent as the pace of adoption is likely to accelerate dramatically in the coming years. Once this happens, we will be able to spot the clear winners that have found new ways to apply disruptive technology and, as a result, stolen a march on the competition.”

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