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The proptech revolution: Adapting to a new real estate landscape

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The real estate sector is undergoing a transformative shift, driven by technological advancements collectively referred to as “proptech” (property technology). These innovations are reshaping how we live and work, emphasizing sustainability, data-driven decision-making and adaptability to new lifestyle preferences.

Insights from industry experts Philip Major, investor associate at R-LABS, and Lynette Keyowski, managing partner at NAR REACH Canada, shed light on the evolving landscape of proptech and its impact on both residential and commercial real estate.


Adapting to new lifestyle preferences


Post-pandemic, the rise of remote work has significantly altered residential and commercial real estate demands. Major observes, “Remote work can alleviate density and affordability issues in urban areas. On the commercial side, the winners will be those who can optimize unused spaces.” He cites LOFT, a company offering flexible office spaces throughout cities, as an example of how businesses can adapt to these changes without relying solely on central business districts.

However, converting commercial spaces into residential areas, although a popular idea, poses significant logistical challenges. “It’s not always feasible or profitable,” Major notes. Instead, there’s a trend towards luxury rentals and condominiums that incorporate amenities such as daycare centres, restaurants and other services directly into the building, catering to the evolving lifestyle preferences of urban dwellers.


Sustainability and energy efficiency


The drive for sustainability is becoming increasingly prominent in real estate, particularly in commercial properties. “LEED certification will continue to be a major trend, driven by tenant demand,” says Major. Tenants with strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives are likely to prefer sustainable buildings, which can influence property values and development costs.

In this context, companies like Measurable, which tracks carbon emissions, are becoming essential. Developers are now considering the entire lifecycle of buildings, including end-of-life recycling options, to enhance the sustainability of projects.


Leveraging data and AI


Data-driven decision-making is revolutionizing real estate investment and management. Keyowski highlights a significant trend in the 2025 REACH Canada cohort: “AI is being leveraged to reduce costs, automate routine tasks and enhance backend processes.” This trend spans across the industry, supporting the personalization of real estate services, from property valuations to virtual tours.

Keyowski also mentions the “Netflixization” of real estate, where data is used to tailor user experiences. This trend makes the homebuying process more interactive and personalized, improving how consumers engage with listings and agents.

Major adds, “Commercial real estate will move slower to adopt AI compared to other industries, but this won’t stop AI from happening.” He highlights how companies like Hatch are acquiring AI-driven platforms such as Brainwave’s Mosaic to help developers understand zoning regulations and other complex data points. “It’s about pulling in multiple points of data, like zoning and school capacity, to centralize information and optimize property investments,” Major explains.

He also sees potential in AI democratizing the development process: “It could reduce costs and make the process more accessible, although the extent of this democratization remains to be seen.”


Addressing housing affordability


Affordability remains a critical issue in the real estate market, and alternative financing options are emerging as a solution. Keyowski notes, “Along similar lines, we have been seeing a surge in the number of ‘alternative financing’ options come to market. With affordability at all-time lows, these are just beginning to hit the radar of the industry but aren’t anywhere close to top-of-mind for the average consumer.”

These tech-enabled solutions aim to keep borrowing and administrative costs low, offering diverse options from Halal mortgages (Manzil) to creative down payment financing (Ourboro) and leaseback home purchases (Requity Homes).


Under-the-radar innovations


Despite widespread technological advancements, some tools remain underutilized by the broader public. Keyowski explains, “There are many backend tools, like online MLS systems and showing suites, that facilitate seamless real estate transactions.” These tools often go unnoticed by consumers but are crucial for the industry’s efficiency.

Moreover, there are innovative solutions not yet widely adopted but with the potential to streamline the homebuying process. Keyowski points to digital mortgage platforms and offer transparency tools, which can make real estate transactions faster and more transparent. “These tools expedite the process, but the industry is often reluctant to adopt them,” she adds.


Challenges and opportunities for traditional real estate players


Integrating new technologies into traditional real estate models presents challenges. Keyowski emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s value proposition: “Real estate is a relationship business. The clearer you are about your value, the more efficiently you can adopt technology that enhances that value.”

AI, while promising, introduces both opportunities and uncertainties. “On one hand … AI is allowing more to be done with less (and in less time). Real estate is about relationships … but it’s also about volume. This has the potential to create more competition among agents: for eyeballs, for listings, for differentiation, for partnerships and more. The ability for agents to reach their audiences faster and more effectively could impact business models and market share,” Keyowski notes.

However, the industry’s slow pace of change and potential regulatory hurdles may temper AI adoption. “On the other hand, there is no knowing (yet) how the space will be regulated, if at all. As it always does, this could certainly impact the rate of adoption — or even temper adoption until those frameworks are clearer. This is not an industry that moves fast at the best of times!”


Consumer readiness for change


One significant shift is the consumer’s readiness for digital transactions. A decade ago, some consumers were hesitant to put their credit cards online or engage in online banking. Now, it’s considered standard. The consumer in real estate has similarly evolved, having become extremely comfortable transacting digitally where there’s an element of immediacy. As Keyowski observes: ‘’I see what I want, I can access as much information as I deem necessary and I can make a decision and execute in almost everything.”

However, real estate transactions remain cumbersome and opaque. Keyowski illustrates this with a common scenario: “As an example, what the heck DOES happen to that agreement for purchase once you’ve signed it and “sent it back” to your agent? Who sends it to my mortgage broker? How’d the lawyer get involved? Didn’t they say you’d see the deal back in two days? It’s been a week …”

Proptech solutions are addressing these issues by providing transparency and efficiency throughout the transaction process.


Embracing the future of real estate


The proptech revolution is fundamentally changing the real estate landscape. From optimizing unused spaces and enhancing sustainability to leveraging data and AI for better decision-making, these technologies offer significant benefits. However, the industry’s traditional players must navigate challenges related to technology adoption and value proposition clarity to stay competitive.

As Major aptly puts it, “Darwinism is alive and well in real estate.” Those who adapt and innovate will thrive in this new era, while those who resist change may find themselves left behind. The future of real estate lies in embracing proptech to meet evolving demands and create more efficient, sustainable and personalized experiences for all stakeholders.


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