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How Technology Facilitates Building Operations During and Post COVID-19

September 29, 2020
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The real estate industry historically has been one of the slower industries to move towards advances in technology. Property technology (PropTech) has emerged over the past few years, representing technological innovations focused on the real estate industry. With the recent spread of COVID-19, PropTech is being embraced by more building owners as they deal with business operation disruptions. Real estate owners and operators are now looking to adapt and conform to a “new normal” with innovations and efficiencies that will enable their business to persevere through challenging conditions.

Owners and operators need to address concerns facing their tenants’ operations, lifestyles, and behaviors that have been altered, perhaps permanently, from COVID-19 into the future. PropTech provides the means to address issues facing tenants and prospective tenants, such as social distancing, building services and amenities, remote access, security, virtual tours, property management, building operation efficiencies, data analytics, and more.

Below is a list of some PropTech services that have been made available for the Real Estate Industry:

Virtual Tours – Potential tenants and landlords have been required to social distance with respect to the leasing process. In order to facilitate the leasing experience during the pandemic, there are service providers that enable clients to use virtual reality to step inside a three-dimensional model. A virtual tour can provide a 360-degree interactive walk-through of the premise for a potential buyer or tenant to tour the space as though they were physically present.

Data Analytics - Real estate companies are looking at data analytics to provide information for insights and analysis on how a building asset is being operated. Many considerations for analysis can be uploaded into a database, such as predictive maintenance, light and heat sensor information, building use patterns, environment comfort needs, etc. Systems allow for the collection of data and producing analyzed reports that can be accessed from a mobile device.

Touchless Devices – Touchless devices include voice and facial recognition and motion sensors. These have been introduced to the industry but were not considered commodity prior to COVID-19. Many commercial and multifamily buildings either use keycard or key punching entry systems. Amid a global pandemic, many buildings updated their entrance policy with the use of touchless devices. Voice and facial recognition allow tenants to enter the building without physical contact within the commonly touched areas. In addition, motion sensors allow tenants to go through internal doors without touching buttons.

Rent Collections and Invoice Payment Process Automation - During the pandemic, rent collections have been challenging for building operators. The ability for immediate collection and deposit of rent is essential for building owners and operators considering the pandemic’s impact on the economy and tenants’ ability to pay rent. Automation of the rent collection process eliminates the handling of cash or checks, which also reduces the possibility of lost or stolen checks. It automatically sends payment reminders and establishes recurring payments made directly through credit card or ACH payments. Automated payments integrate with most of the accounting systems to apply payments and manage receivables. Invoice payment process automation eliminates paper invoices and streamlines your current accounts payable process. Provided service software will automatically code, assign workflows, and electronically route approvals before directing information into an existing accounting system for payment processing.

Although COVID-19 slowed down the economy significantly, it facilitated the use of PropTech to advance the real estate industry through the pandemic and beyond. PropTech provides the means to enable building owners, operators, and tenant occupants to adapt to a new norm. It improves efficiencies in building management and reduces operating costs in a long run. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to assist you with assessing the need of PropTech on your building and consult in implementation of PropTech technologies.