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The future of real estate is digital

Insights | William Newton on August 29, 2016

The future of real estate is digital

William Newton, WiredScore’s UK Director, takes a look at the future of the real estate industry.

I was recently invited to contribute to a report on the future of the real estate industry. The report, produced by FTI Consulting on behalf of corporate law firm Nabarro, surveyed more than 300 real estate professionals to explore their views on what the future holds for the industry in which they work.

What was immediately clear from the report’s findings was that, in common with many other sectors, real estate is currently very much in the midst of a digital transformation.

Virtual reality, for example, was seen by four-fifths of the survey’s respondents as likely to change the way in which new developments will be planned, marketed and leased within the next ten years. 3D printing technology is expected to move from being an architect’s design tool to being part of the construction process itself. And, if driverless vehicles are widely adopted, they could impact the value of properties located close to transport hubs, as well as reducing the need for parking space in commercial areas.

As James Max, Senior Advisory Director for Business Development at BNP Paribas Real Estate and presenter on BBC radio, notes tech has until recently largely been ignored by real estate, but that is now changing. This change hasn’t come a second too soon.

Tech clusters are emerging across the UK - outside of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh are taking the lead - innovative technology firms are seen as being the main drivers of occupier demand over the next two years.

Meanwhile the recent shift towards dynamic, agile working environments is expected to lead to a rise in demand for flexible spaces, with 88 per cent of those polled for the report believing connectivity will be key to enabling these flexi work spaces.

What’s more, over a third of respondents believe the Internet of Things is beginning to have a significant impact, bringing the concept of the smart building closer to becoming a reality. With new energy performance standards due to be enforced in 2018, we are seeing an increasing demand for state-of-the-art systems to regulate buildings’ environments.

It’s perhaps little surprise then that landlords are starting to look at the connectivity capacity their buildings offer potential occupiers as a real point of difference, beyond those of cost and location. The importance of the internet for businesses is only going to grow. Indeed, it sits firmly at the heart of all of the upcoming trends identified in the report.

The office of the future will be very different to the office of the today, and real estate professionals have clearly recognised how quickly things are likely to change for their occupants’ businesses as well as their own. It’s critical therefore that, in doing so, they also recognise that what may appear to be well connected now, may not be so in ten years’ times.

Acknowledging this, they can then take steps to future proof their properties against the impact of the digital revolution.

The full report – ‘UK real estate in the digital age: what does the future hold?’ - can be downloaded here.

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