September 1, 2022

RPA in Real Estate - Automate Complex Tasks

Real estate being a heavily demanding industry calls for automation for various use. RPA in real estate is one thing that can help fulfill that demand. Read more to get a detailed insight over the topic.

Just like any other business sector, real estate companies are now applying current technologies in their daily business to boost the efficiency of their workforce. Robotic process automation or RPA has a key role to play in the transformation of the real estate industry. Robotics can easily automate tedious and repetitive tasks that consume a considerable amount of time, and improve the operations. By relying on a robotic process automation company, the real estate industry can increase customer traction, and manage operations and payments seamlessly.

Real estate organizations also face many challenges in dealing with their back-office processes such as document management, invoice processing, data extraction from diverse documents etc. Such processes are, no doubt, time-consuming and applying RPA in real estate  can enable them to automate many tasks, thereby helping them save their staff’s time for other services.

What is RPA? Here’s What You Need to Know

RPA is a technology that is easily scalable and versatile. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)  was created to relieve people of the robot’s role that taps the same data on the keyboard and clicks the mouse hundreds of times in different windows, handling the same processes. In a nutshell, RPA is there so that people can spend more time doing creative, value-added work rather than simple, repetitive tasks. 

 For example, a robot can support an accountant who normally spends most of the day entering data from invoices, bank statements and other financial documents into a system. RPA would allow such a skilled employee to do more creative work (e.g. cost optimization) rather than retyping data. RPA robots simply replace people in their role as human robots, taking over many simple, time-consuming and repetitive activities.

RPA technology has already been deployed across many industries and looking at the typical tasks performed by property managers or realtors, we can say that the vast majority of these activities can be automated by implementing RPA in real estate:

Where can we use RPA in the Real Estate Industry?

  • Finance and accounting – processing of invoices, account reconciliation, performing background and credit checks, accounts payable and receivable, tax reporting

  • Property management – customer data management, tenant onboarding, portfolio management, communication with tenants, processing lease agreements

  • Marketing and sales – NAV calculations, chatbots, email marketing, data analysis, syncing the leads. All those things used to be done or are still done by people, but thanks to implementation of RPA in real estate they could be supported and streamlined by software robots.

The Present Day Scenario in the Real Estate Industry

Till now the real estate industry has been linked to inefficiency in back-office processes. This means 

That even today a majority of real  estate organizations — like many in traditional industries — face a challenge when it comes to driving efficiencies in back-office processes. Some activities, such as document management, invoice processing and the extraction of data from these documents, require a lot of time and focus. These tasks are, of course, extremely important, but they consume a considerable amount of time and labor to complete them.

Hence real estate companies are now consistently looking for ways to improve these inefficiencies, at the same time reducing the cost and also improving the turnaround time for these activities.And one of the best ways to achieve this is through the adoption of RPA or robotics as it can allow organizations to easily automate such tedious and repetitive tasks that consume a considerable amount of time and human capital

Applications of RPA in Real Estate

Realtors can apply RPA to various real estate and financial operations when speaking about real estate. These tasks include extracting, migrating and completing, updating, and validating data to improve the efficiency of a real estate business. It decreases the risks of making mistakes and the amount of workload on employees.  A few use cases of applying RPA in the real estate industry are-

Tenant Onboarding

Tenant onboarding is an aspect of real estate operations that can benefit from implementing RPA. The tenant onboarding process requires quite a few diverse manual and time-consuming tasks. These tasks can sometimes lead to a poor customer experience, ultimately resulting in rejection by the prospective client. Real estate agents can implement RPA to extract and process standardized information regarding the tenant onboarding process to prevent this from happening. Specifically, they can employ RPA to create a new tenant application. Besides that, agents can also utilize it for the criminal background check and verify income, references, and employment. Based on all this information, RPA can automatically approve or disapprove the applicant, shortening the whole process considerably.

Payment Processing

An essential aspect of every business is payments. Realtors can run RPA to set reminders for payments, and a real estate agent can set up a bot for checking payments that can send reminders when specified. Furthermore, ranking as a plausible and preferred option deals with non-paying clients since it can be taxing for employees.

Rent Payment Reminders

Late payments can impact real estate management a lot. RPA bots can automate the payment reminding task. It verifies the payments made by tenants and sends automated reminders on non-paying tenants, so that clients can do the needful.

RPA tools can assist not only in maintaining property rentals, but also establishing rental rates, creating contracts, paying bills, developing annual budgets, and more.

Handling Portfolio

Another key aspect of the real estate industry is the portfolio of all the properties. Real estate agents can adjust RPA to automate updating crucial information on sold or rented properties on various websites. Professional real estate agencies, such as Ben Bate Real Estate, are mindful of keeping all the information updated. Keeping the information outdated at times when updating takes merely a few clicks is quite unprofessional.

Net Asset Value (NAV)

Another application of RPA includes net asset value (NAV) calculations. Moreover, it also incorporates Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance.

Portfolio Management

Managing the status of property information across platforms or websites is important to ensure your inventory is current. Staying up-to-date can improve user experience, making it easier for prospective buyers to browse without seeing out-of-date listings.

RPA services make it easy for agents to identify rented or sold properties from their business network. Real estate organizations can even upload this updated data on diverse sites, improving visibility and reach to their properties. Buyers can also easily validate the accuracy of data for properties and leases.

Tenant On-Boarding

Tenant on-boarding process involves many manual tasks such as collecting the tenant information with an online or paper application, screening the applicant via landlord references, credit checks, or income verification, collecting the security deposit, lease signing and more.

To ease this process, real estate agents can implement RPA to extract and process standardized information. RPA services can also automate the creation of a new tenant application, perform criminal background checks, and verify income, employment, and references. Robots can also handle rule-based tasks in the tenant admission process.

Challenges in Adopting RPA in Real Estate 

Despite the obvious benefits, as demonstrated above, there are a number of challenges in adopting a relatively new technology like RPA into a traditional industry. There are late adopters when it comes to emerging technology, because in a sector like real estate the focus is on buying, selling and leasing out space — there is little focus on the technical side of things from a board level perspective and throughout an organization, unless you are in the IT team.

The term robotic process, automation intimidates people working in the real estate sector, and there are some other major deterrents in adopting these new technologies. One is change management that requires organizations to have a champion who can drive the change of adopting something like RPA throughout the entire organization.

Another challenge focuses on identifying the right process to activate, because there are certain rules which you need to follow when you’re implementing RPA. To overcome this challenge, it is suggested to implement RPA in a modular fashion which means starting small and automating low-hanging fruits. Once the rest of the business understands the benefits in these quick wins and sees the incremental improvements, wider adoption of the technology will be more seamless and experience less resistance. 

There is no doubt that despite there are challenges, RPA is gaining momentum and it’s getting a significant foothold in the real estate sector, primarily because the idea is to deal with improving process, and the business users are able to relate to this.

Some Potential Areas Where RPA can be Applied in the Real Estate include-

Benefits of Implementing RPA in the Real Estate Industry include- 

Using RPA increases efficiency of many finance and accounting tasks, including lease accounting and administration, invoice processing and payroll management by:

Cost Optimization: RPA can decrease costs drastically and may even be cheaper than hiring and training employees for monotonous tasks. RPA software can enable document processing round the year 24/7.

Speed and accuracy: Data extraction and digitization from property documents such as lease contracts, invoices, property deeds etc. can be done faster and with more accuracy. Moreover, studies suggest four and hour times more efficiency can be achieved in extracting meaningful information from unstructured documents using cognitive technologies such as RPA.

Record management: In the real estate industry, documents for maintaining records are either in hard copy or scanned formats. Optical character recognition can help convert them into meaningful information ready for reporting and analysis.

Compliance and risk monitoring: Reviewing lease contracts and tracking invoices for compliances are an everyday activity for real estate companies. RPA can automate these processes and provide you with timely notifications to avoid potential risks of tenant defaults.

Informed decision-making: Gaining data from unstructured documents & converting them into analytical insights is the core driving reason for real estate companies to turn towards RPA. For example, extracting and analyzing data from lease agreements, invoices etc. can provide valuable insights to property management, lease administration and billing processes.

How to Analyze your Need for Automation?

You may start by evaluating the processes which are monotonous and repetitive. Certain parameters to keep in mind while analyzing the processes are:

  • Huge volumes of documents
  • Repetitive tasks
  • High errors due to manual process
  • Important data needed to generate business insights

The next thing that you need to take into account is the technology implementation acceptable for your real estate company. This can be decided based on:

  • Budget available for technology implementation
  • Web application technology currently used in the company
  • Estimated return on investment
  • Data collaboration policies within departments

Last but not the least, is the people factor. The employees of your company will play a crucial role in the successful implementation of RPA in your company. Real estate companies should consider the following factors during implementation:

  • Take a collective approach for the implementation process
  • Breaking the existing silos amongst departments
  • Train employees to do more analytical work as they will have time on their hands.

Wrapping it Up.

Manual processing of property documents has been the SOP for Property Managers, an inefficient and time-consuming methodology. Automation techniques such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are now coming to the forefront as property managers have started to look for efficiency, error reduction and compliance in processing property documents. Real estate companies of today are left with no choice but to incorporate automation techniques into their age-old manual processes. 

RPA can help real estate companies save cost and time by creating an automated error-free, efficient and compliant process which will help them better utilize their resources, get better marketing insights, and streamline processes creating an arsenal ready for the competition of tomorrow and real estate companies that don’t adopt RPA, and similar technologies, will struggle to compete with other companies that do adopt the tech. By implementing RPA, the forward thinkers will be more efficient than their competitors.

RPA is primarily a very low risk, non-invasive technology. Organizations don't have to make a big change to their systems, and this improves a company’s efficiency, the quality of work, the turnaround time, the customer satisfaction and a lot more. There's a lot to gain by deploying RPA, but minimal risk.

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