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Meet this new Australian property tech startup that is killing the real estate agent

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Grant Philipp

Significant adoption of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and automation technologies in the flexible workspace industry is helping tenants save 30 per cent of the cost of their workspace rental and secure leases 17 per cent faster.

A new cloud-based technology called Abacus, developed in Australia by workspace marketplace Office Hub, combines elements of AI and automation to allow tenants to bid and negotiate rental agreements with workspace operators. Using Abacus, tenants achieve an average discount of almost a third more than they do without the technology.

Other technologies are reducing the length of the transaction process, which now stands at 19 days compared to 23 days six months ago.

  • Virtual assistants are intelligently answering search queries with machine learning,
  • advanced software matches tenants with suitable workspaces using web data extraction and analysis.
  • Some prop tech developments, including Abacus, enable operators to provide personalised rental proposals faster than ever before – it now takes just 8 minutes on average for a tenant to receive tailored pricing and rental quotes from multiple workspaces, a process that previously took days or even weeks.

The flexible workspace sector is advancing fast due to the provision of technology in both the transactional process and the physical coworking offices people can rent.

Here are some coworking fast facts

The number of coworking space around the world has risen by more than 20 per cent in the last year, and there are 1.8 million coworking members around the world, a figure expected to rise to 3.8 million by 2020.

In contrast, slow uptake of prop tech is damaging the success of real estate agents. Although they have ranked among Australia’s three least trustworthy professions since 1975, more recent research shows that it is the lack of openness and transparency that puts people off. These are two key areas that many prop tech developments aim to improve, but only a minority of commercial real estate executives recognise disruptive technologies as having the potential for major industry change.

As working styles evolve towards more flexible solutions, the movement away from commercial offices – and real estate agents – is set to continue. In 2018, only 26 per cent of startups worked from a commercial office, compared to 71 per cent that utilised flexible workspaces. And they plan to make use of the flexibility on offer, with 24 per cent of startups planning to move in the next 12 months compared to only 4 per cent who intend to renew a lease.

“It’s no surprise that both established businesses and startups are moving away from the commercial industry,” says Grant Philipp, CEO & Founder at Office Hub. “The efficiency, transparency and cost-effectiveness of technologies that help you find flexible space make far more sense than employing a real estate agent and securing a commercial lease. Flexi operators have the advantage over real estate agents in that they can combine search technologies and in-house technologies to attract and retain tenants.”

“Commercial agents who don’t adopt new innovations, and the sector as a whole if they don’t adopt on a large scale, will be wiped out.”

Regus, WeWork, Servcorp and Hub Australia are some of the big names in coworking set to adopt Office Hub’s Abacus as it gains momentum as one of the country’s most notable prop tech developments ever.

“We are excited to say that Australia is the first country IWG trials Office Hub’s new platform Abacus,” says Damien Sheehan, Country Head of Australia and New Zealand at IWG, the holding group for Regus and Spaces. “The transparency and simplicity for our clients to review their workspace options is a real game changer.”

Abacus is a free tool available to every tenant and workspace operator working with Office Hub to find or lease office space.

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