What processes in real estate can be digitized
In this article, I decided to consider what processes in real estate can be digitized, what advantages and benefits it brings to the business, and where the bottlenecks are hidden.
What do I understand by the word “digitization”?
First of all, it is the creation of IT services (applications, platforms, individual scripts) that replace processes that were previously performed manually or using outdated and ineffective tools.
Secondly, it is the development of the IT infrastructure, within which the business more effectively uses the resources available for daily work and development.
- 1 Which processes should be digitized and which should not
- 2 Case number 1: directories, object management, data transfer
- 3 Case number 2: processes for managing purchase and sale agreements
- 4 Case No. 3: corporate sites for the presentation of the company, real estate objects and services
- 5 Case No. 4: creation of digital ecosystems within residential complexes, districts, and villages
- 6 On completion
Which processes should be digitized and which should not
Over 7+ years of development, we’ve hit a lot of bumps, including projects that shouldn’t have been taken on in the first place.
Regarding the real estate sector, it is very important to understand from the start which processes are really profitable to digitize in order to remove the influence of the human factor, and which are not necessary, because it does not bring any benefit to the business and will never pay off.
Any routine, regularly recurring operations that burn man-hours and take up a lot of employee time. It can be anything: automatic unloading of objects to sites (many still do it manually, Ctrl+C — Ctrl+V in a circle), creating reports based on available data, adding information to CRM and ERP systems, scheduling meetings with clients and much more.
Processes with a lot of errors due to human factors. Adding information, creating reports, scheduling work hours, contacts and communications with customers are all places where employees constantly mow, because of which they have to deal with dissatisfied customers and negative reviews. By the way, it is from them that you can find out which processes are lagging in your company.
Any document preparation process. Digitization in this case helps to save dozens and hundreds of hours every month, while reducing the number of errors in documents many times over.
Any process of communication with customers: sending messages and messages. Employees who forget to call the client back, make an appointment, contact for clarification, etc. — probably the biggest pain and problem in real estate, which is quite effectively solved by digitizing these processes.
In order to understand exactly which processes need digitization and how to do it correctly, we use the methodology of a previous study, which I talked about a little in one of the past articles.
Of course, it is far from always necessary to digitize all processes: often it is simply economically impractical — the development of an IT solution will not affect the quality of work in any way and at the same time will not provide a significant saving of resources.
Such processes can be left untouched (let everything work as before) or postponed to the backlog with the lowest priority – to be done “for order” when there will be extra money and desire for it.
What is the benefit of digitization?
Digitization saves employees’ time (and thus the payroll) and reduces the likelihood of errors.
This makes work more predictable and manageable, enabling the transition from firefighting to business development and provides the necessary foundation for tactical and strategic planning.
Case number 1: directories, object management, data transfer
Real estate catalogs with different functionality are one of the most common types of projects. They are necessary for the presentation of objects available for purchase, sale, or rent
real estate agencies,
thematic startups and services such as Booking.
At the same time, there are a huge number of possibilities for digitization.
Automation of adding objects and uploading them to different platforms. Up to the point that the photo and description can be downloaded directly through the program during the first visit, this data can be immediately added to the CRM or ERP system and uploaded to the thematic portals with all the necessary information.
Messages for customers, sending documents for payment. It is especially relevant for management companies that need to be in constant contact with hundreds of customers and ensure 100% of all messages.
Management of sales and rental processes. Digitization allows you to implement any logic: for example, an automatic price reduction after a certain time or a reminder to update the information in the object’s card, etc.
analytics. When, based on the data, you immediately see which objects and customers bring the most money, and which only eat up resources.
All this can be implemented only at the level of the directory by developing integration between internal management systems, site, application, real estate portals, etc.
At the same time, you can move from simple to complex: start with a catalog and develop it, adding more and more modern functionality.
This is exactly the path we took when we created Homy.ge, a short-term housing rental startup in Georgia.
From a simple directory with minimal (but very convenient for everyone) functionality to a full-fledged object management system in the future.
Case number 2: processes for managing purchase and sale agreements
Such a plan of IT systems is needed by real estate agencies, developers, management companies, and law firms that specialize in drafting agreements.
Here, a huge number of opportunities for digitalization of processes appear, which as a result helps to reduce business costs at various stages of work and reduce the number of errors due to the human factor.
Automation of document preparation: taking into account the need to adapt standard contracts for different clients, automatic sending for verification by lawyers, confirmation of correctness and many other features that help in a couple of clicks to do what in many companies is still done not only manually, but also with great difficulty depends on the physical presence of the necessary people in the office.
Automation of financial processes. Invoicing, payment, generation of closing documents, integration with banking products, automatic sending of loan requests to various financial institutions — time-consuming processes that require the participation of expensive specialists from the company and take tens of hours of their time every month can also be a lot digitized and automated.
Complete digitization of the entire process of buying, selling or renting. We also have such experience when, within the framework of the same platform, a buyer and a seller can complete a transaction completely remotely without a personal meeting.
An example of the digitization of all processes is the SingDealNow project, which we developed for the Estonian market during the coronavirus restrictions.
The platform is created in such a way that the buyer and the seller can complete the transaction without meeting each other: agree on the terms of the contract, make the necessary amendments and sign the final version with the help of EPC (every resident of Estonia has it and it is used everywhere), remotely certify documents at a notary public, issue invoices for payment and make payments.
This experience can be extrapolated to other markets.
But interestingly, in conversations with many potential customers, I see that companies simply do not know about such an opportunity – when one platform essentially allows you to replace the staff of specialists and completely eliminate all bottlenecks related to human factors from the process.
Case No. 3: corporate sites for the presentation of the company, real estate objects and services
The simplest type of project in terms of implementation, but one of the most important in terms of further business development. Often everything starts with the site, and the entire further IT system with CRM/ERP, catalog, integrations and digital services is built on its basis.
At the same time, a huge number of real estate agencies still do not have their sites at all, relying entirely on aggregator platforms, or use it as an ordinary stub, posting only basic information.
I am against this approach and believe that the website is not only the most important marketing tool, but also the foundation for the future digital platform of the business.
As an example, I can show the site for the architecture agency Vero.agency.
This project is interesting precisely because the site performs a presentation function, which is very important when it is necessary to show customers visually that the company uses non-standard approaches and out-of-the-box thinking when solving problems.
Case No. 4: creation of digital ecosystems within residential complexes, districts, and villages
A corporate website, catalog and digital services can be combined to create a full-fledged IT ecosystem that significantly improves the lives of people in entire buildings, housing complexes, quarters, districts, villages and even cities.
Such solutions are available only to large players in the real estate market, but they provide an opportunity to take business to a new level.
Ensure full control of all processes thanks to their digitization. Sales, monthly invoicing, maintenance and repair applications, residents’ fees – literally everything can be digitized.
Reduce the negative impact of the human factor on all processes, starting from the first contact with the client.
Provide a fundamentally new level of user experience and service for residents, when all issues can be resolved in a matter of minutes in the application, and for this, no effort is required.
Create a controlled community instead of hundreds of scattered chats that are inexplicably moderated by someone. Quickly prove news, make collective decisions, promote and advertise new services or objects, and much more.
Literally everything can be combined within the ecosystem.
For example, in addition to everything described above, we made a platform for controlling energy chains.
Another interesting NDA project is the system of accounting for construction tools used by workers, which helped to reduce the number of losses again.
The result is always the same: more efficient management of the company’s resources, a reduction in the number of errors, elimination of service bottlenecks and, ultimately, an increase in customer satisfaction.
Within the framework of one article, it is very difficult to talk about all the possibilities for digitizing business in the real estate sector. I rode, and the material has already accumulated to almost ten pages (and this is despite the fact that I tried to be as concise as possible).
Since I am ready to talk about this topic and share my experience endlessly, I suggest those who are really interested in the direction of digitalization of business (managers of real estate agencies, construction companies, management companies) to write or call and chat live.