The confluence of big data, the digitisation of buildings and the corporatisation of residential property are among the major trends driving the future of property valuation, says Proptech Association Australia’s Kylie Davis. 

Speaking at Australia Property Institute’s 2022 National Property Conference last week, the PAA Executive Director said Australia’s proptech industry was growing rapidly. 

She said there were estimated to be more than 600 proptech companies just in Australia in 2022.  

The rise in proptechs comes as property valuers and other professionals look for new and more efficient ways to collect, store and analyse data. 

Davis said data was moving from data stacks like filing cabinets and hard drives to data lakes where data poured into central sources like the cloud.  

“There’s a lot of challenges around this, but we’re seeing all the data pouring into central sources and being drawn upon in the way and in the time that it’s needed,” Davis said.  

She said the shift provided a lot more flexibility around data at a time when data was everywhere.  

Buildings going digital

Davis said another key trend was the digitisation of analogue assets such as brick-and-mortar buildings and the different features in them including doors, windows and floors.  

She said buildings were becoming increasingly digital through the Internet of Things (IoT), connected infrastructure and proptech innovations.  

For example, Wi-Fi and other technologies were making asset capture faster and more accurate, as well as sending data directly into the cloud in order to quickly generate reports.  

Drones and aerial photography were providing valuers with up-to-date visual reports of buildings and assets that may have previously been too difficult or dangerous to capture.  

Davis said desktop valuations were speeding up time-consuming processes, allowing valuers to produce reports in real-time.  

“By the time you get back to the car, all of the data that you captured is basically being assembled into sentences, graphs and reports,” she said.  

“And all of this, every single time you capture an asset, every single time you upload a report to the system or produce a report – that is all becoming part of the data stream.  

“Everything we do now is becoming part of that data stream.” 

The corporatisation of Australian housing

Davis said new superannuation laws in Australia were expected to dramatically change the country’s housing market over the coming years.  

Australia’s residential property market has traditionally been fragmented and largely owned by mum and dad investors despite the asset class growing to about $9.26 trillion this year. 

In Europe and the US, institutional investors have been able to invest in the residential property market through Build-to-Rent (BTR) assets for some time. 

While Australia’s BTR market has been growing in recent times, Davis said some of the country’s super funds may focus on the asset class in a big way to support its members.  

Recent superannuation changes mean that the first super fund that a worker gets from their first job will follow them into new jobs for life unless they actively change to a different fund.  

“This is a really important point because the jobs that we do in our teens and our early 20s are jobs in retail, they’re jobs in service industries… they’re kind of low-paying and [casual] work,” she said.  

“So we’re seeing an enormous amount of money going into specific super funds, who have millennials and younger generations of stakeholders overwhelmingly, who are the group of people who are most affected by property affordability.”  

She said those specific super funds may start to look at investing in BTR more and more to help its members and the wider Australian population find affordable housing.  

Empowering the end-user

End-user empowerment was another key trend for the property valuation industry, Davis said.  

She said self-service and access to valuation products were increasingly important to home buyers and sellers.  

There has also been a growing emphasis on transparency around the valuation process and a desire from buyers and sellers to provide additional data to support or challenge valuations.  

Davis said all of these trends were fundamentally changing the property valuation industry in different ways such as improving speed and efficiency. 

She said risk assessments and the costing of risk were also improving, as well as the accuracy of valuations. 

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