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Property Technology: Disruptor or Enabler?

By Desmond Sim
By Desmond Sim

A candid overview of property technology and how it may eventually disrupt or enable the real estate industry. While technology offers boundless opportunities, there are still gaps in which technology cannot encroach.

The buzzword for the real estate industry now is property technology, or proptech in short – with the various players trying hard to keep abreast on what advances it may bring. In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has reiterated that there is the need for Singapore to be a “smart nation”, using the latest technology to benefit the country, is about making life better for the people and more. There are plans to bring the current piecemeal uses of technology into a cohesive, nationwide whole that will make Singapore’s economy more productive, our lives better, and our society more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations.

Every day, technological innovations continue to transform the way we communicate, commute, consume and even compete. Technology has enhanced globalisation, provided market transparency as well as expedited business processes; all areas which could benefit the property sector.

Property Technology: Disruptor or Enabler? Figure 1


The first Proptech wave begun in the mid-1980s where computing power was applied to data and adopted for research, analytics and performance management. Examples include Argus, a real estate software solution for valuations, asset management and portfolio analysis. Computing power also gave Investment Property Databank (IPD) the ability to organise and analyse data describing the performance of commercial property in the UK.

Subsequently, the emergence of the internet in the 1990s through to the early 2000s saw the widespread adoption and adaptation of the world wide web by business owners and consumers. Apart from search engines, online portals and databases also slowly found their way to businesses small and large. Such services were made available via government portals (e.g. REALIS in Singapore) as well as via the private sector, where customisation can be provided to the end-user. The internet has broken boundaries and casted a wider marketing reach for property professionals in the brokerage business. Launched in 2007, PropertyGuru was such a platform which enables property agents as well as property developers and owners to showcase their listings on a single online portal.

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