Automation in Real Estate: Navigating Labor Shortages

Automation in real estate has become increasingly crucial as the commercial and industrial real estate sectors are in a state of rapid flux and have been for the past few years. While certain real estate trends come and go, the general consensus in the sector is that there are some challenges ahead.

According to Deloitte’s 2023 commercial real estate outlook report, most global real estate leaders are voicing concerns about the economy as revenue expectations for 2023 and beyond seem mixed at best.

The report notes that 40% of real estate leaders expect revenues to increase. However, 48% expect them to decrease, and a further 12% expect few to no changes in revenues in the near future. These statistics stand in stark contrast to those of 2022. This year’s stats showed that 80% of commercial real estate leaders expected revenues to grow during the 12-month period.

Deloitte notes that as a result of this changing outlook. 33% of respondents are now looking to cut costs in 2023, compared to only 6% in 2022. Respondents cited high inflation, labor shortages, workforce management challenges, and climate regulations as the factors that will most significantly impact revenues over the coming 12 to 18 months. More broadly, a recent survey by UiPath found that two-thirds of companies surveyed were impacted by labor shortages. To address this, 80% of the affected company’s executives plan to invest in automation to offset the lack of talent.

Is Automation the Solution?

The past few years have brought widespread and severe disruptions to the global labor force, with over 47 million Americans alone choosing to leave their jobs in 2021. Many of these professionals have permanently left the workforce to retire or pursue self-employment. This has created a shortage of skilled realtors to sustain commercial real estate’s profitability. However, there is a solution. Automation.

Automation is a primary solution to this issue. Industry experts expect a sharp rise in the use of robots in real estate to meet the industry’s ever-changing needs.

Exploring Automation in the Context of Real Estate

AI and automation technologies have a vast range of applications within the context of industrial real estate. They can complete simple yet time-consuming tasks, such as sending emails or gathering data. However, they can assume more complex responsibilities too, such as vetting applicants and handling accounting processes. Automation tech produces highly accurate results and can obtain real-time data. This allows real estate agencies to handle large datasets efficiently and without the risk of human error.

Using automation in this sector also helps to address labor shortages directly. It can streamline the hiring process for new talent. Additionally, it can help existing employees to use their time as efficiently as possible by eliminating tedious and time-consuming manual labor.

Although there are widespread concerns that automation could replace human employees in the future, this is far from the truth. AI can elevate the roles of human professionals. This can help them use their time more productively. Furthermore, they can focus on high-level processes that require creativity, innovation, and sharp judgment.

How AI Can Be Implemented in Real Estate

A 2021 study notes that workers in the real estate industry spend 219 hours per year on repetitive tasks. These tasks could easily get partially or fully automated.

Automation can simplify and streamline a variety of real estate processes, including:

Project planning: Automating project planning helps to ensure a smooth, efficient process from start to finish while including team members in crucial decision-making processes.

Reporting: Reporting is a reality for every real estate agency. Investors and managers often require reports on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis. Automation can help to generate highly accurate and comprehensive reports using real-time industry data. This allows upper management to make more effective and informed decisions within reduced time frames.

Investment planning: Moreover, AI tools can create extensive investment business plans using data-informed projections and broad datasets. These tools can handle most steps of the reporting process, from transforming data to communicating reports to users and investors.

Property management: The industrial real estate management process is often a highly demanding and time-intensive one. Automation can assist property managers by giving them instant access to property performance data. This eliminates the need to read through hundreds of reports. It can automatically schedule property tours and inspections and integrate with access control systems to automatically update tenant directories.

Customer relationship management: Developers purpose-designed CRM software to help estate agencies handle every aspect of their customer relations obligations. Automating this responsibility can help to ensure that every client is handled in a consistent and professional way. A dedicated customer support team is not necessary.

Hiring: Ongoing real estate labor shortages means that skilled talent is in short supply. AI can seek out, filter, vet and even interview suitable candidates for open roles in a fraction of the time it would take a traditional HR department. Moreover, once a new candidate gets hired, the onboarding and training process can get automated to ensure that they’re well prepared for their new role.

Data analysis: Automation tools can extract and transform information from reports and client interactions. This gives agencies access to accurate and easily accessible data in visual forms. The right tool can analyze NOI, net asset values, cap rates, returns, and other key investment metrics for properties. It can also help to track migration patterns and client preferences over time.  This helps to build more profitable and sustainable agencies and workflows.

Lead generation: People spend a huge amount of time and labor on lead generation. Whether this involves email campaigns, creating buyer profiles, following up hot leads with personalized messages, or segmenting markets, all of this eats into realtors’ days. Automating processes that result in targeted real estate leads can reduce labor. Moreover, it can save time while ensuring that the correct audiences and demographics get targeted. From running automated email campaigns to utilizing chatbots, there’s plenty of potential to automate lead generation.

Solving Labor Shortages with AI

Artificial intelligence can automate a vast number of industrial real estate processes. In doing so, it reduces the need for human staff and allows existing employees to maximize their productivity.

Tools like Qobrix offer an all-in-one solution built specifically for real estate, offering realtors, property developers and asset managers innovative systems that assist with capturing properties and data, nurturing and following up on leads, closing sales, and more.

Automation is set to revolutionize virtually every industry present in the modern world. And real estate is no exception. The initial implementation may pose challenges, including the need to convince employees to embrace new technologies and the benefits they offer. But once the systems are in place, it will become significantly easier to navigate the increasingly volatile labor market without compromising your agency’s goals or future growth.

Written by Nick Ward (Guest Contributor)

Nick Ward is a seasoned real estate expert with a wealth of knowledge and experience across various areas of the industry, including real estate investing, property management, and lead generation. With a sharp eye for detail and a drive to share his expertise, Nick’s writing provides insightful coverage of a wide range of real estate topics, including property analysis, market trends, and investment strategies. When he’s not advising clients or putting pen to paper, Nick indulges his creative side through photography, capturing the stunning beauty of the world through his lens.