Building a prosperous company in the real estate industry resembles building a house. First, you need solid foundations: people, resources, and funds. Without them, the entire structure slowly cracks and crumbles or—if things go south—completely collapses.
With COVID-19 and current political and economic turbulence, the foundations of many real estate companies have become all but solid. The property industry is marred by issues such as:
- inflation and economic slowdown,
- supply chain inefficiencies,
- political and regulatory uncertainty,
- labor shortages,
- declining consumer confidence.
Despite these hardships, the real estate market growth forecasts project a slow but steady CAGR of 1.9% in the next five years. This shows that the growth potential is still very much there for those willing to face these challenges. One way to lessen their impact is by maximizing the output while minimizing costs and effort through Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
If you’re unsure what RPA is and what processes in the real estate industry are good candidates for automation, read on. You will learn how RPA implementation can benefit your real estate business and see two examples of companies in the sector that have successfully launched their automation projects.
Learn more about using Robotic Process Automation in other industries, like RPA in insurance, RPA in logistics, automation in e-commerce, or automation for consulting.
What is RPA?
Increased productivity is the holy grail for all businesses, regardless of size and industry. No wonder any reasonably priced tool that can lead even to a slight efficiency boost is in high demand.
Enter RPA. It’s a scripted automation solution that excels at dealing with mundane, rule-based tasks. RPA platforms like UiPath are perfect for data-heavy workflows, and they scale well as more tasks are added to the pipeline. We’re not talking about a “slight efficiency boost” anymore here; if implemented correctly, RPA can independently handle many repetitive tasks and save businesses thousands of hours.
It is no surprise then that recently, RPA has been finding use in increasing sectors. In some, like healthcare and finance, it’s become a staple solution and an excellent driver for growth, with plenty of hard data to back this claim up. In healthcare, for instance, RPA is estimated to help cut costs by up to half. And in finance, a sector closely intertwined with real estate, Juniper projects a 60% year-to-year growth in automated investment until 2023.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “if RPA worked there, would it work in real estate, too”? The short answer is ‘yes,’ but let’s see why that is the case.
RPA in real estate — opportunities
It is estimated that even 50% of RPA opportunities are missed. That’s because a successful RPA launch requires a clear vision and an inside-out understanding of an organization’s workflows.
You can think of the first stage of an RPA implementation as recruitment. Ideally, you’re looking for a candidate that suits all your requirements. In the case of RPA, the perfect “hire” is a manual routine that’s time-consuming, repetitive, performed frequently, and involves heaps of data. Fortunately, in the real estate industry, there’s no lack of processes that check all these boxes, like:
Introducing each new tenant consists of several subtasks: creating an application, verifying the tenant’s income, employment, and criminal history, and finally, accepting or rejecting the applicant. Rules can be easily set for all of them, allowing RPA bots to extract and enter data and run the necessary checks.
Bank and account reconciliation
Reconciliation is another task focused on simple, repeating activities such as extracting bank statements and comparing them with your ledger. Again, why not spare your employees the effort and leave these tasks to pre-programmed scripts?
In property management, there’s no escaping payment delays. But what you can do to reduce them is to automate reminders rather than tracking and verifying payments (or lack thereof) and then sending notices to tenants all by yourself. You can go even further and let bots handle other standardized communication, such as contract renewals or rent increases.
The Net Asset Value is an essential indicator of ROI potential in CRE. Calculating NAV involves collecting, verifying, and processing market data—and all these tasks are perfect candidates for automation. Bots will handle them faster and more efficiently than humans. Plus, they will leave no room for error.
As you list more and more properties, following their statuses and values and then updating them on all your sites will quickly become a dull but necessary chore. Since portfolio management lies in data checks and entry, you can easily avoid the frustration by relaying it to an RPA bot.
Here’s one more task that becomes nasty as the number of properties in your portfolio grows. Once again, RPA comes to the rescue, enabling automatic maintenance scheduling and requesting and utilities reporting.
Handling payments and invoices is tough enough as it is, so your accountants will greatly appreciate any help. And RPA is not just any help: bots can verify data, run forecasts, or pull payment details from invoices and upload them into your system. All that fast, error-free, and regardless of volume and format.
RPA algorithms are no strangers to compliance validation in other industries, and they’ll work just as well in real estate. Just have them scan customer information for potential regulation breaches or extract customer information needed for other compliance assurance duties.
The benefits of RPA in real estate
Having all the above processes handled by an RPA bot sounds sweet, but you’re probably curious about what’s in it for you and your business. Here are some tangible benefits of Robotic Process Automation in real estate.
Cut operational costs
Although automation systems require investment, the initial costs are bleak compared to the potential long-term savings generated by RPA. Property management and real estate involve high operational costs that can be significantly reduced thanks to time savings and a productivity boost. Note that the key to an RPA implementation that brings ROI is thorough planning and hiring the right people.
Growing your real estate company means more properties, and more properties mean more micromanagement. So you’ll soon face a tough choice: hire more staff or hold back on the expansion. RPA offers a third way, allowing you to scale up your portfolio without scaling up your recruitment.
Improve customer experience
RPA helps your real estate firm deliver its services faster, better, and with fewer errors. That’s why it’s hardly a shocker that RPA implementation makes your customers more satisfied—and more likely to return. It’s really that simple!
Every time a human employee repeats the same boring sequence of actions, the risk of mistake looms larger and larger. Regulatory noncompliance or payment error can cost you dearly, and we don’t mean money but something much more valuable: the trust of your clients and partners. The answer? Hand over arduous tasks to the algorithm that never sleeps and stays sharp at all times.
Even though it takes over some ‘human’ tasks, RPA isn’t here to replace your staff but to support them. With the jobs they hate to have to do now handled by bots, your employees are free to focus on customer outreach, negotiations, and high-impact projects.
RPA in real estate — real-life examples
With so much to gain, why hasn’t RPA become a standard tool in real estate yet? Well, “yet” is the keyword here. Even though the industry is somewhat slow in transformation, several top-tier organizations have already embraced the technology, showing the way for other businesses. Let’s see a couple of examples.
Avison Young — empowered real estate analytics
In the real estate business, data-based decisions and predictions are crucial for driving profit and customer satisfaction. That’s why Avison Young, a Canadian real estate advisory firm, decided to turn to UiPath, a leading RPA provider, to help boost the company’s analytical capacities.
The partnership allowed Avison Young’s agents to automatically collect and upload minute property details such as transportation, air quality, ceiling height, bike scores, and walk scores quickly and accurately. Additionally, UiPath’s RPA platform integrated smoothly with the company’s existing systems and was used to automate other back-office jobs. The result? Less time spent working with data, higher value delivered to clients.
Colliers Romania — streamlined invoicing
The Romanian department of Colliers manages more than half a million square meters of real estate space across the country and its capital, Bucharest. The company also offers property management consulting services.
Given its impressive portfolio, Colliers needed to reduce the time spent on repetitive invoice services and digitalize their financial operations. Again, RPA seemed like an obvious choice. With the help of UiPath (which, by the way, also comes from Romania), Colliers intends to hand over at least 70% of invoice-related tasks to bots.
Paramount Residential Mortgage Group — automated loan estimation and granting
Traditional loan processing is riddled with errors on the borrowers’ and underwriters’ end. And their number increases directly to the volume of loan applications submitted. When you are a market leader licensed in 48 US states, like Paramount Residential Mortgage Group (PRMG), manual data handling becomes unmanageable at some point. Especially when experiencing record volumes of loans.
That is why to streamline loan processing, unburden staff, and eliminate delays due to errors, the company expanded its team by five RPA bots built on UiPath. Together, they automated several key tasks, including retrieving and sending disclosure packaging, and data entry, transfer, and organization. And the results? Well, if $2 million savings on improving daily operations efficiency or 40 hours of labor saved EACH DAY don’t convince you, nothing will.
Sure, real estate may lag behind other industries regarding RPA adoption. Still, with all the manual, data-heavy, and repetitive processes involved, the sector holds huge potential for automation. Industry-leading companies have already noticed this opportunity and started to use it to their advantage. And you’re in the right place to join them.
At Flobotics, automation is our second name. From consulting services to RPA development, we have everything to make your processes faster, more efficient, and more accurate. So reach out to us, and let’s talk about how you can strengthen the foundations of your real estate firm with RPA.