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Virtual viewing is expected to become a standard tool – Akos Budai, Property Forum

Akos Budai is Editor-in-Chief at Property Forum, a leading media and event platform in the CEE real estate industry. They bring the thoughts and ideas of leading real estate experts from all over Europe, both online (through interviews and articles) and offline (events). 

We wanted to see how he sees the proptech market and its evolution, what startups need in order to grow, from his perspective and what should entrepreneurs keep in mind when they aim for a media mention.

Main takeaways from our interview with Akos:

  • In 2021, data-driven real estate decisions and sustainability-focused solutions are in the spotlight
  • Traditional real estate companies are often not aware of the proptech solutions that could solve their problems. This is why startups need both investments and awareness generation
  • Encouragement & education are key to increasing the openness of decision-makers towards innovative solutions
  • Virtual viewing is a time-effective practice expected to become a standard tool 
  • Readers of a media outlet don’t want to read just about how amazing your company is – even if it is

PropTech trends for 2021

This year has boosted the proptech industry, as it offers a safer, faster, digital and more modern approach to processes in real estate. When it comes to the most important trends for 2021, Akos Budai emphasizes the importance of virtual tours, of data and of sustainability: 

In 2020, the real estate industry was forced to recognize the value in virtual viewing solutions, remote property management and remote workplace management tools. Of course, these will continue to be popular in 2021, especially solutions focusing on workplaces as people head back to the office. 

What I’m seeing now emerge are two trends that are not directly related to the pandemic: data-driven real estate decisions and solutions focused on sustainability. Based on my discussions with real estate decision-makers, these are definitely areas that should receive more focus (and investment) in 2021.

How can PropTech startups grow

While we see an increasing number of proptech companies, these entrepreneurs need more than just financial support. Akos believes that the magic mix is made of money, awareness and cooperation:

While proptech investments in 2020 dropped globally because of the pandemic, the fact the most active markets such as the US and the UK are already coming out of lockdown makes 2021 a promising year. Investment is necessary for growth, of course, but so is the expansion of the customer base and that’s where awareness comes in. 

Traditional real estate companies are often not aware of the proptech solutions that could solve their problems and they might not even realize that they have a problem – and by problem I mean a process that could be made a hundred times more efficient by digitization. 

If anything good has come out of the pandemic is that it shed light on the fact that many practices simply don’t work when you don’t have physical access to your property or when colleagues don’t have the chance to work from the same office. Now that real estate market players have realized this, it’s up to proptechs to show them their solutions and cooperate with them.

Digitizing processes in real estate

Will the real estate industry will digitize most of its processes soon or are we still going to see many manually-done tasks? Akos Budai replies:

I think we’ll definitely see more processes being digitized over the coming years and COVID-19 has, without doubt, accelerated this trend. Having taken part in countless virtual calls and having had the pleasure of organizing a large number of online events this past year, however, I must add that the real estate industry is often quite uncomfortable with technology in general. 

I think that encouragement and education are key to increasing the openness of decision-makers towards the adaptation of innovative solutions, that’s why we’ve made it a focus to feature proptechs on our news website and at our events.

The future of office space visualization 

After having started to use virtual tours especially during the pandemic, most developers won’t give them up once we’ll be able to hold in-person tours, Akos thinks. But virtual reality won’t entirely replace live visits:

Just because we’ll be able to hold meetings in person in the foreseeable future, doesn’t mean that we’ll stop having Zoom calls. And that’s because they’re convenient and help bridge any distance. 

The same goes for virtual showcasing which I think people will start to view as an excellent tool rather than a necessity once the pandemic is over. Virtually viewing is a time-affective practice which I expect to become a standard tool going forward. Still, I highly doubt that many people – including both home-buyers and professional investors – will be willing to purchase any property without seeing it in person at least once.

If you want to be featured in the press:

Finally, we wanted to discover what Akos is paying attention to when receiving a media pitch an what he recommends to proptech entrepreneurs who want to be featured with their company in the press: 

Our readers are mostly interested in reading about deals and partnerships that companies make. They want to know who’s buying/leasing/selling what and what kind of solutions/tools/services are other companies using to stay on top of the competition. They don’t want to read about how amazing your company is – even if it is. 

If editors don’t feel like they need to put a disclaimer saying this is an advertisement in the article, if they post the press release unedited, I think you’re on the right track.

You can read one of our articles in Property Forum here: https://www.property-forum.eu/news/one-united-launches-digital-office-rental-in-bucharest/7768 

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