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How real estate agents can use automation to boost productivity

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The real estate sector has shown steady growth despite the recent economic turbulence, with a global market value of $3.69 trillion in 2022 and a predicted value of $4.8 trillion in 2026, according to The Business Research Company.

The industry’s success greatly depends on the meticulous work of back office staff handling vast amounts of paperwork. Even though most of the sector’s processes are digitized, the need for manual processing of documents and data is still strong. 

As a result, many real estate professionals don’t have enough time for strategic, social and creative tasks.

However, modern technologies offer various opportunities to streamline or even fully automate time-consuming manual tasks. One of the most popular and accessible solutions for real estate agents is robotic process automation (RPA).

Let’s explore what opportunities RPA adoption brings for real estate companies and how companies can ensure successful implementation.

 

Technology landscape in real estate 

 

Despite digitalization, real estate operations haven’t changed much over the last years, especially compared to other sectors. Many real estate companies still use spreadsheets when collecting and analyzing data for property evaluation, invoices, lease administration, and so on.

This can be explained by the common view that interpersonal relationships between agents and customers are crucial for the business. 

For example, according to Statista, home buyers named honesty and trustworthiness the most important qualities of real estate agents in the U.S. Therefore, many professionals may be reluctant to delegate a share of their duties to software.

Still, the sector is no stranger to new solutions. These advancements, which may be grouped into what the industry calls proptech, can be found in many different business aspects and processes.

The first major innovation was the shift of residential listings from print to digital media. Now, we are seeing a new round of real estate technological progress, which involves the growing adoption of automation solutions, such as RPA.

 

How real estate agents can leverage RPA

 

RPA involves deploying software robots programmed to mimic typical human actions and fulfill a wide range of repetitive administrative tasks. The business operations best suited to RPA automation in real estate involve the entry and processing of huge amounts of data, like:

  • Client account setup
  • Tenant credit processing
  • Compliance
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Invoicing
  • Report generation
  • Supplier management
  • Maintenance scheduling
  • Contract entry

The cost savings companies can achieve by investing in robotic process automation of the processes above can be impressive. According to Deloitte, 45 per cent of the companies surveyed expected cost savings of 10 to 20 per cent, while 27 per cent of these agencies were even aiming for savings of 20 to 40 per cent.

RPA implementation in real estate can also result in significant time savings. For example, Riyad Capital, a leading investment services company in Saudi Arabia, reduced its transaction processing time by 66 per cent after deploying software robots to automate business-critical operations.

 

Pros and cons

 

People can feel fatigued or frustrated doing the same task repeatedly, leading to mistakes and sometimes expensive resolutions. In contrast, RPA bots never get tired, so they accurately and quickly perform the tasks they were programmed to do. 

RPA solutions are also comparatively easy and cheap to implement and scale up because, as non-invasive technology, they don’t require corporate systems replacement or extensive development.

However, RPA is not a silver bullet. Unless complemented with more advanced technologies, a bot, a computer program following predefined algorithms, can execute only rule-based, repetitive tasks using only structured digital data.

To make bots more intuitive, real estate companies need to supplement them with AI-based technologies. Fortunately, many popular RPA platforms include AI-powered functionality to ensure more accurate and efficient automation.

 

Implementation best practices

 

RPA opens numerous opportunities for performance improvement before real estate agencies. Still, companies should consider these three factors to properly deploy bots in their business workflows:

 

Employee resistance

Unfortunately, automation of day-to-day processes can provoke resistance from staff because of the fear that bots will take their jobs. 

To mitigate this, real estate companies should properly introduce their employees to the technology, explain the principles of collaboration with bots and offer upskilling programs to help workers secure positions that cannot be replaced with machines.

 

Tasks suitable for automation

For an RPA solution to prove the most effective and generate maximum return, it should be applied to the most suitable business process. 

This is why real estate companies should weigh their automation options and cherry-pick the most high-value one. 

For example, it may be worth automating high-volume tedious tasks that can be streamlined even more in the future using bots’ exceptional scalability.

 

Process optimization

Having chosen the process for RPA automation, companies should prepare it by improving its logic and solving all inefficiencies. 

A good practice is to shadow operations or hold interviews with process owners because they are most knowledgeable of the process’s nuances and can share them with RPA developers.

 

Conclusion

 

The real estate sector still employs many traditional, outdated and inefficient business practices, and automation can prove an easy and inexpensive way to improve the efficiency of back-office processes and turnaround time. 

The implementation of even a single bot can drive tangible improvements, lay the foundation for larger-scale automation down the line, and grant you a competitive edge in the market.

 


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