Property sector’s countdown to 2020 and impact of ‘transformative technologies’

propertyThe property sector has less than two years to prepare for “major transformative technologies”, according to a report published by legal practice Osborne Clarke.

Research conducted on its behalf by FTI Consulting surveyed more than 550 European technology experts to gauge their opinions on the scale of challenges, disruption, and opportunities that technological innovations will bring to the property industry in the 2020s.

In its report Future proof real estate – is the property sector ready for the 2020s? respondents deliver a clear message to the sector; that it should be prepared for key technology trends – big data (73% agree), 3D printing (70% agree), wearable devices (69% agree) – to be ready for large scale adoption by 2020.

“This research gets to the source of the transformative technologies that are set to reshape our cities; the technology experts themselves,” said Conrad Davies, partner and head of real estate and infrastructure at Osborne Clarke. “This gives us an unprecedented understanding of the pace and depth of the changes ahead and what the property sector, across all asset classes, should be doing to stay aligned.

“When viewed as a whole, the research provides a fascinating insight into the 2020s when the built environment looks set to be re-written thanks to the likes of autonomous vehicles, advanced logistics systems and customised homes and offices. These profound changes have the potential to transform how we inhabit the land and how we design, deliver and manage the built environment.”

For the first time, the research explores the strength of the sentiment within Europe’s technology community around their sector’s ability to address key challenges facing the property sector, including housing shortages and the rise of e-commerce and urban logistics.

Technologists view the technology industry as an increasingly important influence on the built environment, with 82% of respondents stating that their sector should play a key role. A significant proportion of respondents (82%) believe that innovation can help solve housing shortages by accelerating delivery through greater utilisation of limited spaces (84% agree), delivering cost effective housing (78% agree) and delivering greater density at key locations (82% agree).

Technology should also support the anticipated reduction in home owner- ship by boosting the appeal of built to rent accommodation amongst the younger (73% agree) and older (70% agree) generations.

In terms of student accommodation, innovations that save students time and money will have the most impact; VR viewings (72%), energy consumption and cost appropriation (68%), and monitoring behaviour to improve overall management (68%), are the elements which are most likely to improve.

Not only are technology firms shaping office design, technology experts also predict that these same companies are likely to become significant landlords with technology being expected to deliver real time pricing of offices (81% agree). They also predict that superior office technology will lead to occupiers being happy to pay a higher price for their space (83% agree).

European technology experts also expect significant changes to the logistics sector, with 92% agreeing that autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly change the location of distribution warehouses, 85% agreeing that intelligent buildings will reduce the amount of warehouse space overall, and 79% agreeing that drones will be “the answer to the war on space for last mile logistics”.