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Industry in transition: digitalization promotes quality, transparency and efficiency

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The digitalization of real estate services is uncharted territory for many. Dieter Sommer MRICS, Advisory Board Member of properti, explains why this skepticism prevails and what opportunities the technology brings with it.

Real estate and digitization. The reality of digitized real estate transactions is conquering the market and should thus also better meet the evolving needs of owners and investors. The real estate sector in Switzerland does not traditionally have a reputation for being the spearhead of digitalization, although this has long since arrived in other industries.

Let’s take the financial sector as a comparison: we receive our salary automatically, pay our bills via e-banking and always have our bank card to hand. In one way or another, almost every financial transaction we make is automated and therefore easier. To date, there has been no seamless interaction between man and machine in connection with real estate.

In an interview with Dieter Sommer MRICS, we took a closer look at the reasons for the wait-and-see attitude to date and summarized the opportunities that digitalization offers for the sector.

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Why are digitalized real estate services only hesitantly accepted?

The fact is that many things are already possible in digital form, but they are not yet being lived or accepted. Our actions are still strongly guided by the “power of habits”. We perceive what we don’t know as foreign and reject it. Using digital services requires a healthy curiosity for improvement or a rethink, as the traditional method no longer works. Both still work for real estate services. Many prefer to rely on tried-and-tested patterns instead of changing them, which is why the transformation is still lagging behind, especially in real estate. However, this is changing rapidly.

What are the benefits of digitalization for users?

There are many new applications for the digitalization of the real estate sector. To name just a few: the online property search, viewing the property in virtual reality at any time, the rapid processing of a property sale, remote property management, and much more.

Press a button and the statement is ready – without any checking because everything has been transferred correctly – that is the dream of every real estate manager, for example. Digitizing repetitive, manual steps can lead to a significant increase in quality and efficiency. Higher service standards mean that, for example, idle times are prevented and the customer gains time and saves costs.

Where do you see the biggest challenges for real estate companies?

Digitization and automation processes are complex. For companies, the challenge is to implement new processes and applications that make it possible to simplify complex business and increase offerings through real added value. The industry is extremely heterogeneous, especially when you consider the various workflows and processes from start to finish. When talking to technology solution providers, the introduction of new process software sounds simple, quick and straightforward.

But the devil is in the detail. Although the advantages of a changeover outweigh the disadvantages in the long term, you have to be aware that there are stumbling blocks. Setting up and automating digital workflows costs time, money and perseverance and must be well thought out from start to finish, including all interfaces and data flows.

What has properti implemented in concrete terms and what opportunities do you see for the company?

We have reached a crucial point of significant change in the real estate industry. Well-designed digitalization and automation processes, interfaces and data flows are being activated and reshaping the real estate industry. Digitalization is highly complex and urgently requires the abandonment of comfort zones. With properti, we have our finger on the pulse of change.

The initial viewing and the first consultation can take place by video on request, whereby seriously interested parties are selected from so-called hobby viewers at the first attempt. Process automation is also used in real estate management, enabling scenarios such as rent losses and vacancies to be avoided and refurbishment gaps to be identified at an early stage. These are currently time-consuming, manual processes.

Digital processes relieve brokers and administrators of administrative tasks so that they can guide customers even more specifically to their project. The hurdles to trying out properti’s services are also very low: the customer pays no entry fees and can withdraw from the collaboration at any time. As an independent ecosystem, the company works with consulting fees and only earns money when its customers are successful.

Conclusion

The complexity of processes is an obstacle on the way to a fully digitalized industry. Until then, analog working methods will be combined with digital solutions. The aim is not to replace people with technology, but to increase the quality and efficiency of existing skills.

The automation of administrative processes between real estate service providers and “machines” will be indispensable in the future. Processes along the entire value chain are supported by technology, creating added value for everyone involved.

Personal details: Dieter Sommer, MRICS

Dieter Sommer MRICS

Dieter Sommer MRICS, top expert in real estate management, was named one of the 100 Heads of the Swiss Real Estate Industry in 2022.

As owner of the consulting firm Hubconsult, board member of SVIT beider Basel, advisory board member of properti, and lecturer in the Master of Advanced Studies in Real Estate Management course at the HWZ, he is actively involved in shaping the real estate industry.

Previously, Dieter Sommer was CEO of Privera AG for many years and member of the board of directors of the successful PropTech Flatfox. With management positions at Livit AG and UBS Funds Management, he has excellent real estate expertise.

Dieter Sommer new to the Advisory Board: top expert in real estate management, independent board member and HWZ lecturer joins properti’s management team. To the article.

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