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Technology Adoption Key to Growth in Real Estate

With more than 70 Property Technology (Proptech) Start-Ups from across Africa entering and the winner set to be announced to an in-person and virtual audience of 1000+-people at The Africa Proptech Forum on 22 September, this emerging sector is evolving and attracting major attention says its host Kfir Rusin.

As he comments, “The last few years, has a seen a massive shift in the adoption of technology across the real estate industry as well as wave of VC capital invested in Proptech with more than $3.2BN in 2021 globally. In Africa, we’ve seen the expansion of start-ups into global markets by the likes of DigsConnect, Flow, ParkUp and others such as estate Intel and Spleet attracting global funding and access into prestigious accelerators. All of this is evidence that Africa’s Proptech ecosystem is maturing and that real estate corporates are starting to deploy both capital and resources into their digital transformation strategies.”

This proliferation of tools and services is resulting in adoption and a shift in strategies by leading landlords and listed property companies; operators adopting and acquiring systems, as well as attracting the interest of major African and international VCs searching for the next ‘fintech’ like boom for Africa to mirror global trends. .

“At this point, we’ve begun to see more and more VCs interested in funding Proptech and the establishment of South Africa’s first VC dedicated Proptech fund, and this is creating a platform for start-ups to emerge; while at the same time Covid has helped to accelerate and provide impetus to a sector historically that has been slow to adopt a tech first approach.”

The continued pressure of escalating costs driven by global macro challenges is also adding to the rapid uptake and explosion of services by start-ups and existing real estate firms, he adds.

And while the start -up competition is a key component of the Africa Proptech Forum, the entire event is a gathering for Proptech companies, VCs and other tech players to interact with the wider African real estate community attending the API Summit (21 & 22 September).

“Proptech is driving the future of the industry and we look forward to sharing insights from the Proptech world, but also importantly connecting the traditional real estate community to the future.”

One such real estate leader who shares Rusin’s views is Liberty Two Degrees’ (L2D) Chief Executive, Amelia Beattie, who has actively sought to identify Proptech solutions across their portfolio to real world experience, she says.

Liberty Two Degrees’ (L2D) Chief Executive, Amelia Beattie

“We are always engaged in solutions in the Proptech world.  We keep abreast of developments in the SA Proptech world by engaging with the Africa Proptech Forum and globally by keeping track of Proptech developments. Where we identify a solution that is aligned to our business priorities, we are always open to engaging with the Proptech company to investigate a fit in our environment.

I cannot think of a better opportunity in them partnering with L2D as a springboard to greater market access, assuming that their solution can be shown to have been beneficial to us.”

And while MRI Software’s start-up days were more than 30 years ago. Its South Africa Managing Director, Mark Fairweather, believes that the acceleration of Proptech in SA and the continent is of critical importance for the real estate sector and its role as a driver of economic growth. 

Mark Fairweather MRI Software -SA Managing Director

“MRI Software is a global leading provider of innovative real estate software applications and hosted solutions. MRI’s comprehensive and flexible technology platform coupled with an open and connected ecosystem meets the unique needs of real estate businesses—from property-level management and accounting to investment modelling and analytics for the commercial and residential markets.”

As an admitted Proptech evangelist, Fairweather believes MRIs commitment to an open, connected approach benefits clients, MRI, and other providers in the region and the growth of a sector predicted to rival fintech in Africa.

“We have over 750 clients operating across virtually every aspect of real estate in South Africa, from commercial and residential to the retail and industrial sectors. We’re also investing heavily in our body corporate space.” 

As the real estate sector continues to evolve driven by changing demands and technology, Fairweather highlights MRI’s ability to be future ready.

“We’re also keeping a close eye on the growth of new verticals in South Africa which are potential opportunities for our clients, such as student housing and affordable or public housing. While these are exciting growth areas, they come with their own compliance requirements which can be different from other areas of real estate, so we’re working closely with clients in these verticals to ensure that our software remains compliant, so they can move into these spaces with confidence.”   

As Rusin concludes, Proptech solutions and services are growing and we look forward to welcoming delegates from across Africa and internationally on Thursday, 22 September to share their insights; network and drive digital transformation across the RE sector. “