1. You are internationally recognised as a central figurehead in the real estate tech community. Can you describe what has brought you to where you are today?
I have spent my entire career in the commercial real estate sector. It’s an industry I am deeply committed to and love. As someone who is always drawn to the blank canvas, I was fascinated by the fact that this industry, while being the largest in the world, invested the least in technology. And so I said, “Why not me?” and I set out to help build a global real estate tech sector.
2. You’ve spoken previously about the limitations of referring to real estate technology as ‘proptech’. Why do you think it is important to expand the definition of proptech to incorporate everything related to the Built World?
Great question. When I think of PropTech I think of property. I think of IOT, hardware, etc. But real estate is so much more than property. It’s actually more about the ‘process’. Ask any successful real estate owner and they will tell you they make their money BEFORE the building is ever built. Meaning, it’s how it’s bought, financed, sold and also about how it’s managed. The built world to me is also about so much more than property. It’s about mobility, 5G, smart cities, construction etc. and so for many of those reasons I try and shy away, unsuccessfully most of the time, from saying PropTech and try to refer to our industry as Real Estate Tech or Built World Tech.
3. Last year you launched CREtech Climate, a platform focused on climate tech, sustainability and ESG throughout the Built World. Can you tell us more about how the platform is working to advance the adoption of climate-focused real estate tech solutions?
It’s not actually happening fast enough honestly as the climate crisis is sitting idly waiting for the industry to get its sh*t together! 2021 was one of the hottest years on record. My mission is to galvanize the real estate industry to make decarbonization its number one priority and in doing so, create the safest, healthiest and most inclusive work and living spaces for the world to enjoy. Oh and by-the-way, green is good for the bottom line for the industry to reduce operating expenses, command higher rents and sale prices so it's a win-win-win...for the planet, for the occupants of the Built World and for the real estate industry itself!
4. In your opinion, how has the pandemic changed the perception and adoption of real estate tech among CRE leaders? Do you think this will persist in the long term?
Yes and no. For sure there is heightened awareness in the real estate sector as a by-product of the pandemic that investing in technology can actually improve efficiencies, reduce costs and help make more intelligent investment decisions. But, do I think the real estate industry truly understands how much their customer base is demanding digital experiences, how profound the cost savings could be in every aspect of their business, or how much smarter it can get as a result of the extraordinary gains in producing real time data and predictive analytics? Hell no. As a result, we are still so early in the life cycle of adoption of real estate technology.
5. Which key trends do you predict will have the greatest impact on the real estate sector in 2022 and beyond?
For me, the biggest trends would be the emergence of hybrid tech and real estate companies (think of how many startups have evolved into actually owning, investing, operating and managing hard real estate assets), the pressure on the industry to decarbonize, the emergence of new sectors within real estate tech such as affordable housing tech and the massive scale of the construction tech as a category.
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