Can Real Estate Companies Fill the Technology Skills Gap?


Every piece of technology requires new processes, and every time humans have to learn something new, there is a learning curve. The learning process can be short and straightforward for simple technologies with gradual advancements. At the same time, it can be much more complex for major breakthroughs that implement entirely new software systems. As the real estate industry transforms into something more data-driven and digitally delivered, there is a clear and expanding learning curve for professionals looking to enter the field. Real estate knowledge and technological competence in today’s market are synonymous with real innovation, so what can real estate companies do to ensure they are ready for the technological revolution?

Real innovation is happening right now. Deloitte’s 2022 Commercial Real Estate Outlook survey found that North American respondents expected their technology budgets will increase by 11% in 2022. Real estate companies need to ensure that they are properly equipping their staff to manage, refine, and reap the benefits of these expanded technology budgets, whether they are real estate professionals or tech experts.

Hiring a C-level expert to unite tech and data tools and connect siled information can be a big part of solving the PropTech skills equation. The role of a CTO can integrate good data practices and a long-term technological mindset into the more traditional analog considerations of other c-suite members. But it is not enough to define the strategy and unite the vision from the top down to prepare an organization for an innovative future.

While downward effort is important, upward effort is also essential here. Like war, technological strategy alone is not enough to win. Real estate companies need to think about how all of their staff are equipped to handle the new data and technology needs of the 2020s through high-quality hiring decisions and ongoing training of existing staff. Both of these are necessary to ensure that the entire organization is prepared to meet the skills equation.

According to Andrew Hanson, associate professor and acting department head in the real estate department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), data training is a big part of that preparation. Professor Hanson has played a leading role in UIC’s all-new Real Estate Major, which will soon become an official university offering. “One of the main thrusts of our program is the emphasis on data analysis. For us, it is very clear that students will need at least some experience in these skills, whether they perform them themselves or manage analyzes performed by others. The focus of the program’s data is deep. For example, a course offered by the department gives students the option of using the R statistical program to create their own house price index instead of simply learning to interpret existing ones.

By now, it shouldn’t be controversial to say that for the real estate companies of the future, data is the key. lingua franca that will unite everyone regardless of their type of ownership or strategy. Unlike coding or software engineering, this is also one of the areas where there is an apparent overlap in technical skills between real estate companies and the technology companies that market them. Maybe real estate companies can take a note or two of the world of hiring PropTech, which is an entirely different beast.

According to Xan Winterton, general manager of North America for recruiting firm PropTech LMRE, you don’t necessarily need a technical degree to advance to a technical position. “Some PropTech companies provide people with basic technical training information. If you are proficient in Python and Java, you can potentially take on a product role. If you have the capacity there are many courses that will provide a crash course in these languages, definitely do them. Taking a lesson here, real estate companies might want to offer training themselves or perhaps subsidize tech boot camps, night classes, or online classes for some of their employees.

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At the same time, organizing periodic training events to ensure that all technical employees understand the fundamentals of real estate is something else that could improve organizational communication and knowledge sharing as a whole.

Whether real estate companies choose to recruit new professionals in traditional real estate disciplines like finance or economics or in technological fields like IT or data science, we must ensure that these candidates have a exposure basis to the other side of the skills equation. a major priority for training. Xan added that some PropTech job applicants come to the table with real real estate experiences even though they are straight out of school, often working in brokerage roles. “Part of that is understanding real estate, making connections, but also understanding what certain terminology means, and applicants won’t need to have held any of these roles for very long to get there. ‘get. Likewise, hiring real estate workers who have dabbled in technology might be a strategy to consider.

Ultimately, technical staff don’t need to be able to execute entire real estate transactions on their own, and real estate staff shouldn’t be expected to be coding or development experts. But being literate in both worlds and understanding what technology can actually accomplish is key to training a resourceful and creative workforce that can help the real estate world transition to its digital future.


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