The rise of digital innovation in UAE’s real estate industry – by Pixl’s Imran Khan

By Imran Khan, CEO of Pixl

Real estate has been going through a seismic shift over the last few years. Compared to other industries, real estate sector adopted digital technology much later. The age-old real estate industry is beginning to embrace digital disruption in marketing and other areas as technology helps the real estate sector stay relevant in the digital age.

Here are the key factors that nudged the industry into a digital awakening.

Internet penetration

According to Statista, the UAE’s rate of internet penetration is a staggering 99 per cent, which makes it the second-most connected country in the world. The average daily time spent by individuals across all devices is a whopping 8 hours 36 minutes. If most of your audience is present online for the better part of the day, you have to be there to meet them halfway. Offline marketing and other traditional marketing have now shifted to facilitate brand recall and image building while online platforms are now steering sales and marketing campaigns from the forefront.

The emergence of proptech

Proptech – an acronym for property technology – refers to the use of technology for operations, sales and marketing in the real estate space through tools such as virtual reality, online listings, automated payments and more. Proptech enables real estate companies to take informed and data-backed decisions, optimise business operations, manage sales pipelines and plan marketing campaigns all from a unified single platform. Proptech and digital marketing solutions have brought about an era where real estate is seamlessly accessible to all stakeholders from developers to buyers. Companies that do not embrace this change now will have to spend more resources to catch up with the competitors.

User experience is definitely king

‘Experience’ is the buzzword or the holy grail when it comes to marketing and selling. From a website to a sales center, conversion depends on how seamless the user experience is. Just having a website does not work anymore. Your website is your asset and your brand’s digital avatar. In most cases, it is the first point of contact for your audience. The real estate industry is waking up to this truth and has joined the bandwagon. Developing a viable online marketing strategy complete with a cohesive user experience across all the customer touchpoints will allow realtors to reach out to their target audience effectively.

Target audience: millennials

Since 2010, millennials have consistently been the main group of home buyers and this trend is expected to continue and spill over to Gen Y and Gen Z in the next few years. Millennials depend on the internet for everything They begin their research on properties before actually reaching out to an agent or a broker, unlike previous generations. This makes having a professional and influential digital presence imperative.

Rise of web3 and blockchain technology

Three major disruptive innovations that changed the way the real estate industry functions are blockchain technology, augmented reality and AI-enabled data integration platforms. Currently, there are transactions being processed in cryptocurrencies in the real estate space and virtual real estate investing in the metaverse is also rising. Real estate marketers have to explore these technologies to be future ready. Even though the real estate industry heavily relies on the human element, it will be wise to understand how these disruptive changes will come about and what they will be.

Digital disruption

The pandemic revolutionised the modus operandi for the real estate sector and pushed businesses to think outside the box. As a result, there have been a spectacular shift from real to virtual in the real estate industry. The availability of real-time market data, changes in customer behavior and advancements in augmented reality, virtual reality (AR/VR) technology have hastened this field’s development. Demand for online shopping and virtual house tours is at an all-time high. 3D renders and virtual walk-throughs have become normal now for most real estate companies. As of today, the UAE real estate market has recorded AED 204.5 bn worth of sales – it is a massive 77.8 per cent higher than the last year even though property prices are at an all-time high. The digital transformation that took place in the industry has played a big role to play in these pathbreaking sales figures.

To wrap it up, real estate marketers must continue to be agile and open-minded in their marketing efforts. Technology has seeped into every aspect of our daily lives. However, we connect with brands for the values they represent and the stories they tell. Your branding should reflect this in the digital world while embracing the latest technologies to remain in step with your target audience.