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The Belgian real estate was for long known as an industry that did not embrace change. This year more than ever, as presented by the PwC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate®: Europe 2021, the real estate industry is a sector in flux. The COVID-19 pandemic; government responses; the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) agenda; and push towards net zero and the acceleration of blurring of previously distinct asset classes are all driving significant change.
In the era of the Zoom meeting, it is no surprise that increasing use of technology, or digitalisation, runs a very close second to environmental risk as the trend the industry believes will have the most significant, long-term impact on real estate. “Technology will make certain jobs and industries redundant, but it will create lots of new roles which we don’t know yet,” enthuses one investment manager.
As universally acknowledged, the continuing dependence on technology for remote working will have lasting influence on the future of the office but also implications for how and where people choose to live. The shift from physical to online retail has escalated beyond all expectations in 2020. Data centres top the sector prospect rankings for 2021, followed closely by logistics.
One way or another, the transformative effects of technology are there for all to see across real estate. The industry is also energised by the possibilities for proptech – now fast-tracked because of COVID-19.
A remarkable 91 percent of survey respondents of PwC Emerging Trends in Real Estate®: Europe 2021 report, believe the crisis will accelerate the use of technology in their organisations’ broader operations. On a cautionary note, one global player observes: “Technology means a lot of different things, but it is a trend that is not going away, and in the real estate industry we need to be a lot smarter about how we use technology for information gathering and information analysis". “COVID-19 has already accelerated a lot of proptech initiatives,” adds a pan-European investment manager. “I think over the course of the next 30 years how proptech will influence us as a business, from investing all the way through to occupancy, management, and the consumer interface of technology. It will have a huge impact and we’re only really at the tip of the iceberg".
In Belgium, as well, innovative players have multiplied and multiple digital initiatives have seen the light of day. To gain insight into this environment, PropTech Lab together with PwC are pleased to publish this new edition of the PropTech directory. In line with last year, this document contains a selection of the PropTech solutions currently on offer in Belgium, based on positive outreach responses. This directory aims to generate awareness of PropTech in the construction and real estate industries, and to help all practitioners increase their innovation maturity.