Every sector has repetitive, manual processes that can be automated to improve productivity and the real estate industry is no different. There are several data processing tasks in real estate and property management processes such as accounting, inventory, procurement, document management, and so on.
All of these processes are time-consuming and reduce the productivity of the employees and the business. And by automating them, real estate companies can focus on more important tasks. An automation technology that’s increasingly popular in the industry is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). For those not familiar with this technology, we’ll like to point out that there are no actual robots involved. Instead, RPA is a piece of software, an advanced one for that matter, that can simplify a lot of processes in the real estate industry and significantly boost productivity. More information and applications of RPA in real estate to lead your business and reduce costs are described thoroughly below.
Let’s begin with a definition of RPA.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
RPA is all about instructing a computer program to carry out mundane and repetitive tasks. These repetitive tasks tend to be tedious and time-consuming when carried out by humans which results in lower productivity of employees and ultimately that of the business. Using RPA, however, increases productivity as the software can perform high volumes of tasks with high speed and accuracy.
RPA is especially useful for processes and tasks that don’t require human intervention. Take for instance that you regularly input tax numbers into a spreadsheet which you use to generate reports with specific search criteria, you can use RPA to automate the process. “This means the bot will fill in the tax numbers for the run, run the search criteria, and generate the report just like you would do. You just need to teach the software workflow with several steps and applications,” explains Ruban Selvanayagam of Birmingham auction house Property Solvers.
How is RPA Relevant to The Real Estate Industry?
Real estate agents and realtors are already using the automation power of RPA for data entry, data migration, data extraction, data validation, and data update.
This has resulted in reduced errors and workload of employees and the entire operation of businesses is faster and more efficient.
Real estate isn’t the only industry benefiting from the RPA. Other sectors like banking, insurance, telecom industries, financial services, supply chain, and mortgage lenders have already adopted the technology.
Real estate businesses should also strive to adopt RPA and enjoy its benefits as doing so is cost-effective. RPA can also be embedded within the existing IT structure, so the adoption should be quite straightforward for most businesses.
Applications of RPA in Real Estate
There are several processes in the real estate industry that RPA can automate. Here are some of the applications of RPA in real estate:
1. Tenant Onboarding
Tenant onboarding is one of the most tedious and crucial processes for real estate businesses, especially those that manage a lot of properties. The experience of a client during the onboarding process can make or break a business as most real estate transactions are referrals. A customer with a bad experience is unlikely to recommend a business, right?
From carrying out background checks to verifying income, identity, employment, references, and insurance details and providing concise information during lease signing, there’s a lot to achieve with RPA during the onboarding process. Through the power of automation, RPA can make the onboarding process and tenant management, as a whole easier. Most of the onboarding processes can be easily automated which will make tenant processing quicker. Tenants will also have good experience which is important to running a successful real estate business.
2. Payment Reminders
Late payments. Two words real estate companies do not like and for good reasons. Unpaid invoices can make businesses incur huge costs due to loss of operating capital, time and energy spent chasing overdue customers (time is money, after all), paid interest on loans to cover cashflow shortfalls, and so on. However, late payment is something many real estate companies will encounter from one point to another. And chasing unpaid invoices can lead to lower productivity.
Generally, processing invoices is a paper-intensive task that requires a lot of working hours and has a high scope for errors. RPA offers the opportunity to automate invoice processing by setting up bots to extract key information from purchase orders to create invoices. The invoices generated and processed by bots are of higher quality since the number of human errors in the data and the entire process is reduced. This frees up significant working time and allows employees to focus on more important tasks. Also, clients are billed on time and automated reminders can be sent to those that are yet to clear their invoices.
3. Portfolio Management
Many real estate companies invest a lot in static assets and as such, must monitor these assets to ensure they become profitable or generate revenue. This may involve selling or renting out properties. To achieve this, assets are listed on several websites. Sometimes, there may be a need to change some information or the status of the asset. For example, if a property has been rented or sold out or if the asking price has changed.
Any of these changes will have to be effected everywhere the property is listed and this can become very tedious for those with large holdings. By using bots through the power of RPA, the process of editing property information across several platforms can be automated.
Also, real estate businesses collate information about assets from different sources for intensive analysis and insights. Data may be collected from email applications, internal spreadsheets, investment management IT systems, and external websites. Instead of workers manually collecting information from these sources, bots can be trained to do so resulting in fewer errors, reduced workload, and improved performance of employees.
4. NAV Calculation
One of the best ways to calculate the value of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is to calculate the Net Asset Value (NAV). NAV is calculated by subtracting outstanding debt, the cost of planned expenses, and the cost of any fixed expenses from the total value of an asset.
NAV calculation is tedious and monotonous at best for large companies with several assets. But by using RPA, NAV calculations can be easily done with minimal errors, and employees can focus on more important tasks like NAV validation and providing their insights on other aspects of the business.
This improves employee morale and productivity in the real estate industry.
5. Bank and Account Reconciliation
Reconciliation is an important financial process in the real estate business. Bank statements need to match with the business ledger dollar for dollar, and cent for cent. If they don’t tally, then there is an issue somewhere. Reconciliation can be done weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the size of the business.
The process, which is generally tedious, can be simplified through RPA. RPA can extract different bank statements and put them in a single folder for reconciliation with a business ledger. And this can save the real estate business precious time.
Benefits of RPA for Real Estate Businesses
The benefits of RPA in the real estate industry can be easily deduced from all that has been discussed above. They include:
1. Significant savings in working hours
The several hours previously spent on high-volume and repetitive tasks by employees are freed up when the process is automated. This results in lesser workloads and allows employees to focus on more critical aspects of the business.
2. Increased Productivity
Bots can run 24/7. There is no overtime and no increased cost. They do not need rest.
3. Increased Accuracy
Not only are repetitive and manual processes time-consuming, but they are also highly prone to errors. RPA eliminates the human errors associated with tedious and repetitive tasks thanks to the power of automation.
4. Process Transparency
RPA can create transparency for many real estate businesses as there’s a single track record of activities. The real estate processes become more transparent by way of providing a detailed report on how the RPA has been working. It also provides an audit trail so that you can see what, when and how much work is done. This makes it easy to account for and trace any activity thereby increasing transparency in the business.
Challenges of RPA in Real Estate
Despite the benefits RPA has to offer real estate businesses, there are a number of challenges to the adoption of the technology. The main challenge for leaders and forward thinking executives is the adoption of the change. Organizations need someone to lead the adoption of innovations and RPA.
Also, there is the problem of which process to automate with RPA. Many organizations automate the wrong process or even attempt to automate the entire process.
Real estate companies need senior leadership committed to transforming the business with the power of RPA. These types of leaders tend to have a great appetite for improved productivity and efficiency in business processes. To avoid the pitfall of automation the wrong process, companies can consider automating one or two of the most recurring tasks and scale up from there. We’re not saying that you should automate everything from the get-go. The first step is to identify one or two tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive, and frustrating for your team. Automating these tasks will give you a quick win, and make it easier for your team to focus on more important projects. Once you’ve got automation down pat, the next step is to automate end-to-end all of your core processes. This will allow you to manage all of your day-to-day business operations, reduce costs and boost business productivity.
The best software solution powered by RPA features is the one that provides comprehensive training and support. Our platform is not just a place for automation, but also a place for knowledge and experience. We have a team of experts that are ready to help you get started and take your business to the next level through intelligent automation. Contact us today and get started with Comidor.