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PropTech 2017: Evolving Property Market in Singapore

Posted on 06 Apr 2017

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PropTech 2017 Davin Wong Evolving Property Market

Thank you Sam and Julian for the kind introductions. Good morning everyone!

My name is Davin Wang and I am a faculty member at the Department of Real Estate in NUS. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Streetsine Technology Group and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for organizing this seminar on PropTech.

I would like to draw everyone’s attention to this beautifully scenic backdrop of buildings around Raffles Place in our downtown CBD. It wasn’t that long ago that this area looked dramatically different.

Davin slide 2

For contrast, examine the cover of the book, “Singapore’s Real Estate: 50 Years of Transformation” that shows what the same area looked like in the 1960’s.

This book by my colleagues, Professor Sing Tien Foo, Professor Yu Shi Ming and Dr. Seek Ngee Huat at NUS documents the transformation of Singapore’s real estate industry from one focused on building properties mainly for owner occupation to one that is now a leading global investment destination that is highly integrated with capital markets.

More importantly, real estate industry players such as yourselves, through a strong public-private partnership with the government, have helped make this spectacular evolution of Singapore’s real estate the success story it is today.

It’s important that we do not rest on our laurels! Singapore’s real estate must continue to evolve and will likely be forced to do so at an even faster pace due to disruptive technologies and digital innovations. Without further ado, let’s examine some future trends that are already now impacting our local landscape.

Davin Slide 3

Technology is changing the way physical real estate is being used. For example, consumers now often visit shopping malls not to purchase products but to engage in “showrooming”.

E-commerce allows consumers to shop for and compare a great variety of products and prices online from the ease of a chair. This change in retail trend threatens to make some shopping malls obsolete. In response, Singapore malls are now focusing on using new technologies that can create richer customer experiences. Property managers use indoor positioning systems to track shoppers and offer relevant promotions in real time depending on the shop that they are near to within the mall.

In the past, executives had designated office desks and meeting rooms for each department. Today, smart offices adopt “hot desking” concepts where all office resources including work desks and meeting rooms are shared as a common resource. Next generation sensor networks allow office users to quickly locate available office resources such as vacant meeting rooms on the go and quickly customize the environment such as lighting according to the user’s preferences.

Overall, more workers can use a smaller amount of real estate, thereby increasing the productivity of office spaces.

Davin Slide 4

Technology is also disrupting the way real estate services are delivered. Big data and advanced analytics allows for richer insights into all types of transaction data. For example, my fellow distinguished speaker Jeremy will later share more about how data analytics is impacting the valuation process for properties.

Data analytics is also changing how service providers and end users interact. For example, ongoing research collaboration between NUS and Orange Tee, a leading property brokerage, studies behavioral implications of customer ratings and reviews for property agents and its impact on improving customer experience and agent service quality.

Davin Slide 5

In line with Singapore’s quest for a green and sustainable built environment, government agencies such as the Building Construction Authority (BCA) have championed environmentally friendly building solutions that focus on energy efficient designs, technologies and practices in buildings. In line with greater emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), companies often now include green buildings as a requirement when selecting new commercial space.

NUS has also embraced this trend with the launch of our own Net-Zero Energy Building in the School of Design and Environment, a building that produce the energy it consumes.

Research collaboration with Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) likewise seeks to improve the HVAC efficiency of building using new machine learning technologies that actively “learn” occupant requirements for cooling throughout the day.

Davin Slide 6

Disruptive technologies also seek to shape the real estate finance sector through new funding models such as real estate crowdfunding that create new opportunities for developers and investors alike.

For example, Wanda, a prominent developer in China, recently raised USD$800 million in 3 days using a crowdfunding application instead of relying on traditional capital raising methods.

Real estate crowdfunding brings a greater variety of quality real estate assets with lower barriers of access is now available to the man on the street.

For example, with homegrown crowdfunding platform Fundplaces, investors can invest as little as S$1000 in a high quality real estate mixed development project located in Australia, an example of a project that was previously available only to high net worth individuals or corporations before.

Davin Slide 7

Lastly, but perhaps most important, is the trend towards education, where the next generation of real estate professionals must be prepared for the evolutionary challenges that technology will bring. This includes ongoing training and executive education programs that help current industry professionals reskill and reposition themselves in an evolving real estate industry.

Davin Slide 8

I close with the observation that what has worked in the last 50 years may not necessarily work for the next 50 years.

As one contemplates the challenges and opportunities that disruptive technology brings, the resilience and growth of Singapore’s real estate industry depends on its participants – that means all of us here today - embracing a spirit of innovation and adaptability.

In short, we must map out both our own personal and organizational path to complement the evolving property market in Singapore.

That way we will continue to be part of the force that not only shapes Singapore into the City of the Future, but also prosper with it through its next 50 years of transformation. Thank you.

Davin Slide 9

To download the powerpoint slides, click here PropTech 2017: Evolving Property Market in Singpaore

o find out more about PropTech 2017, check out

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