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PropTech Today: a new year, a new you - resolutions for 2020

Yes, you can promise yourself that you won't eat all the mince pies, or yet another roast potato, nor drink as much as you did last year. The thing is, we know none of this will actually happen. You will succumb to the primal urges of the holidays. 

However, this is one time of the year when there might be a little bit more time to consider the months ahead, whether you are a business owner or employee. It’s a time to regroup, think about your objectives and what you want to achieve. 

I hope this column has served to educate and inform over the years, but there are other huge indicators of this shift to a more digital mindset that are likely more influential. Take the decision this week by KPMG to invest $5bn into its digital transformation initiative. These sorts of initiatives and resulting publicity will trickle down through the sector. 


2020 will be a pivotal year for real estate, so let me set you some 2020 PropTech resolutions. 

1. Join the UK PropTech Association

This should be a no-brainer as it is completely free. Serving the interests of both the property and PropTech markets, the UKPA is there to help educate, network and also legislate. They run regular roundtables for members to attend as well as networking events for you to meet and engage with fellow innovators. 

Perhaps most importantly is the involvement of the UKPA in driving political agenda. Helping government bodies drive the change at the heart of the real estate industry is a major play, so it is worth getting involved to ensure your opinions can be lobbied at the appropriate parties. 

Join the UKPA by following this link.

2. Attend a PropTech event

Ask the powers that be to let you attend a single event. 

Beg, borrow and steal the money should it be a paid event, but attend you must. There is no better way to move your career to the next level in 2020 than by networking at an event in the UK or speaking to appropriate speakers or companies attending. 

To be fair it doesn’t even need to be a specific PropTech event, the property events now seem to be covering PropTech in such a way that they are worth a review too (and maybe easier to justify attendance). Just take the Negotiator conference I attended recently; I would say 80% of all suppliers in the event area were PropTech suppliers. Go and speak to them. Find out what they are all about. 

The key thing to remember here is some solutions will be completely wrong for your business. That doesn’t matter. Understand their business model at the very least; how does the pricing work?  Which audiences are they focussed on? How do they integrate with incumbents? etc, etc. 

The more you are exposed to solutions, the more experienced you will become at working out the right ones for you and exactly how they will bring value to your day to day business.

Find a list of all UK PropTech events here.

3. Read, read, read

I cannot emphasise this enough. Unless you are reading around this topic you will never progress personally or professionally. 

In the summer, I suggested a reading list for the summer holidays but since then there has been another book release; Rethinking Real Estate by Dror Poleg - perhaps one of the most vocal social media voices from the States. Books have landed in the UK now so well worth a read. 

“Technology is revolutionizing the way real estate is designed, operated, and valued. It is democratizing access to capital and information, changing the way tenants use space, and eroding the power of regulation … Value is shifting away from the assets themselves toward those who understand the needs of specific end-users and can use technology to deliver comprehensive, on-demand solutions. With all of these developments, there is an urgent need for a resource that helps industry practitioners think differently about their investment, customers, and competition… Rethinking Real Estate answers that call.”

Whether you are an investor, developer, operator, broker, lender, facility manager, designer, planner, or technology entrepreneur, this book will help you navigate the exciting period ahead.

If that isn’t enough, a more immediate read is this free 51-page ebook about Digital Transformation in the real estate industry. It should keep your printer happy for a while if you want to print it out, read it and scribble all over it!

4. Become more active with the social media audience

An important element of my early learnings around the topic of PropTech and Digital Transformation was the social media audience that was starting to build around the topic. Two platforms are predominant when it comes to learning more: Twitter and LinkedIn. Therefore, here are some recommendations. 

First, some hashtags to follow - you can enter these into the search bars on both Twitter and LinkedIn and all relevant results will be shown for you. 

  • #PropTech

  • #ReTech

  • #ReCoTech

  • #realestatetechnology

  • #ConTech

Some twitter lists to subscribe to which will help you, among other things, find the best people to follow and read: 

And lastly, some LinkedIn groups to join 

And there you have it. Four resolutions to get you started on your PropTech journey for 2020. I look forward to joining you on that journey for the next year. 

With that in mind, I am looking for thoughts and feelings for what you would want in this column next year. What will interest you and aid your learning. Email me at james@unissu.com with any comments or suggestions as to how I can do more to provide a valuable column every week. 

*James Dearsley is a leading PropTech influencer and commentator, and is co-founder of PropTech platform UnissuYou can follow him on Twitter here.

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    Take #proptech on board but don't make it become an obsession. Selling/letting property will always be a people business based on direct interaction. To even attempt to subvert this, you'll end up a cropper.

    Algarve  Investor

    But will it be 20 years from now, even 10? I get your point that property is a people-based business and people still prefer dealing with a human than a robot, but just look at the changes in the last decade - contactless technology, a drastic rise in online banking, the rise of Airbnb, Booking.com, ASOS, etc.

    The younger generations in particular seem less interested in that face-to-face interaction; if something can be done remotely, at the click of a button, online - they jump at the chance. It's why Purplebricks has gained traction among younger sellers and buyers.

    Millennials are pretty tech-savvy, but are probably still more likely to opt for human contact because they were brought up at a time when the analogue to digital transition was happening and the high street was still dominant. Now it isn't. And Generation Z, Alpha and the ones behind it are more reliant on tech than any other before.

    I don't think we can say with any certainty that things won't be much more tech-led and digital a decade from now, as Generation Z and Alpha become the main buyers and sellers, and landlords and tenants.

    You can see it with Land Registry's digital transformation programme and the talk of movable online tenancy deposits. Still a long way to go - and the property sector is still quite old-fashioned and almost archaic in some respects - but I can only see it going one way personally.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Great words of wisdom James, especially going to a proptech event, I think it will really open a person's eyes in a good way to the possibilities and solutions out there.

    Also, I know there are a lot of property professionals who are unsure of Proptech, or maybe anti - what I would say is that Tech, cannot be ignored.

    It is a two prong movement. Clients adopt new tech and interact and buy things using it (web, smart phone etc), so agents need to keep up with this tech revolution going on in the customer sector, at the same time agents need to spend 10% of their budget on getting their tech working for them to stay competitive within the sector.

    I have clients who have a great single branch business, making 300K profit, with an established team and little tech apart from your CRM, and the CEO asks what need is there for worrying about the advance of tech?

    Well, even if you put zero £ in to your tech budget, in the next 5 years your new clients and customers who have stopped coming into branches already, will be buying and selling and renting and doing all the associated processes through emerging tech; you might be the 'best' agent in the area, but if your clients 'can not find you' to do business your tech savvy new agents will be eating your lunch.

    Some CEO's think I am being alarmist, but I say go to the annual Negotiator awards in 2020, and in the evening, when you look up at the winners screen, you will see time after time, companies that get the top spot are a new breed of agent, what they have in common is they are either adapters or new businesses that have just started and all have a digital heartbeat and proud owners or CEO's who get the shape of the future.


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