The COVID-19 situation has changed many things. On one side, it has revolutionized our lives digitally. On the other hand, it has made us traditional at the same time, because while older generations learned how to use zoom, the younger ones learned to make homemade pizzas. Yes! We have changed, and the real estate world has changed with us.

Today, we wonder about everything; we think much more about what we buy, how we do it, where do we want to eat, if it is safe to do it, where we go on vacation (if we can do it), in what we invest, and believe me, I could continue with a big list of things we think about these days.

We are living a drastic change, and we were not ready for this, but it has brought a lot of new opportunities, and they will continue to appear in the real estate sector.

Technology offers professionals to go further by providing solutions.

These trends were already there. Some of them have exploded as if COVID-19 were an accelerator.

What trends have accelerated?

  • All those that reduce the distance. Distance became our worst enemy. We couldn’t see, touch, sign, show, test any product, nor real estate. Hence, virtual solutions were demanded among professionals, avoiding displacements and interactions, but offering the client to visit a property with the agent in a virtual open house. Nothing replaces that physical visit where the rooms are as important as their smells, their sensations, the light, and the breeze entering through the window, but for now, it serves for a more than a good first impression.
  • All those that avoid displacements, which we still have reduced today. This situation forced us to have to sign at a distance, digital signatures are not proptech, but they have helped a lot not to stop our operations. It has been the most purchased product during the confinement by realtors in Spain.
  • All those that avoid contact. We can touch, neither with each other nor with the objects that surround us. The blockchain was not yet a palpable reality for professionals in the real estate sector. COVID-19 has accelerated its implantation in the market. All those online transactions that avoid manual interactions increase security and traceability and have gained points in recent months. Within this category, we could also include domotics, with the automatic doors opening, for example.
  • All those that increase security. Entering a building with many people today can be unsafe. Hence many control sensors have become an opportunity. Controlling access to buildings, offices, shopping centers, and other places is a critical factor that can provide security today. Besides, this information helps us to offer services related to the availability of those spaces.
  • New ways of real estate uses. There will be real estate spaces that will have different applications. Remote work will need flexible offices, and maybe there will be empty spaces. Retail and Tourism may have a similar situation. The crisis impact and the tourist decrease may also leave empty spaces. Indeed, some of these spaces will change uses, this could influence the reduction (perhaps) of the pressure on real estate prices in large cities, which will lead us to new situations in the real estate market and why not, to new business models and ideas.
  • Logistics. A big winner of this crisis is the logistics sector. Who knows if uses changes mentioned in the previous point, will transform into logistics points or even kilometer 0. The technology years ago entered the logistics sector, but inevitably new technological opportunities will arise for warehousing and distribution spaces.

From the beginning of this crisis until today, there have been winners and losers. All those proptech startups that simplified processes and reduced the “face to face” need have won, as well as traditional real estate companies that had developed or integrated technologies into their processes since they had more opportunities to work during confinement. But we cannot ignore the impact on the ecosystem of our proptech map. Many of these companies and startups struggle to stay productive and having incomes in this challenging situation when, at the same time, investment is also uncertain.

But PropTechs must take advantage of the new opportunities offered by the market. Create services that increase communication, space as a Service, online transactions, quality visualization without visits, contact and data management, and all opportunities that will come up in the real estate sector.
Since the pandemic has brought an excellent thing to the proptech market: It has eliminated many of the possible internal obstacles to innovation. Decision-makers have realized that market rules have changed.

Sheila Gracia

Service´s Director at the Real Estate Agents Association in Catalonia