Q: Tell us about Vantage Properties
A: Vantage Properties now trades as Gosmartvalue, we believed that the change in name was necessary after our transition from just being a consulting firm to being a proptech company. It also followed that using our flagship platform made sense as we do believe that the future of the company anchors on the vision I have for Gosmartvalue.
Q: How have you through the GoSmartValue platform managed to incorporate use of technology in real estate?
A: We have transitioned all together in terms of how we engage and serve our customers. Our core services follow three paths – Valuations, Data and Consulting.
For Valuations, we have three ways customers can access this service. the automated valuations where they enter the details of the property and the value of the property is automatically generated, leveraging on the database we have of previous transactions of similar properties in a similar location. With the use of predictive analytics and machine learning is indispensable.
Hybrid is where customers can enter some information on the platform and request a quote from the valuers on the platform. Once accepted, a valuer would go inspect the property and during the inspection take advantage of the data on the platform, including sales trends, land rates and building costs. Once they have completed the inspection, they can automatically generate the report on the spot, saving both parties’ time and costs.
Virtualized valuation is where the customer provides all the information, including images and documents of the property. The report is generated automatically and a valuer reviews the report before it is released to the customer.
On the Data Insights services, we provide consolidated information from various sources, including the deeds registry, statistics and the police. We map them with use of various google apps such that individuals, real estate professionals and corporates can automatically generate reports that fit their needs as well as customised graphs, and compare locations and localities across the country to make informed decisions.
Our Consulting services are also completely digitised, from booking, payments, recording of proceedings and the analytical processes that our consultants use to advice customers. We service customers from all over the world; we consult virtually, so everyone everywhere can book and be assisted and pay online.
Q: How do you think smart cities can alleviate Botswana’s emerging urban challenges, e.g. overcrowding, overpopulation in towns, traffic congestion and crime?
A: Our core belief is that data is a very critical element to inform all the decisions made, especially in the real estate industry as our focus industry. Smart City development is driven by accessing as much information as possible on how people live and carry out their day as they use that data to improve their lives. So, when it comes to issues like overcrowding and overpopulation, a good implementation of smart cities would pick up the reason those problems exist in a specific community and the demographic that is affected. Then that data is used to determine the best ways to solve the problem.
For example, the traffic congestion issue in the morning when people go to work. Traffic is not the whole day, and so if we can determine exactly which roads experience high congestion, interventions such as the traffic light being green for longer during certain time periods to get more cars flowing in a certain direction can be implemented.
Q: Do you think Botswana stands to gain a strong position and the world economy by encouraging the development of smart cities?
A: Botswana definitely does. We have the capability and just need to start looking inward for development of solutions for our people and our cities.
Q: What are some of the new value chains that you think can be uncovered through smart cities?
A: There are many. A clear one is opening up an entire nightlife economy, increasing production by not having a generic work period, opening up to the gig economy, creating work where needed as and when needed, and utilising our well-educated unemployed youth.
Q: Does real estate have a role in the development of smart cities? If so, please elaborate?
A: Real estate is the bedrock of development of smart cities. Every creation of a settlement is real estate, every accommodation and how people interact with it and carry out their lives is real estate. There is a responsibility that the real estate industry has in building the accommodation of life that enable the cities to be smart.
Q: The smart use of digital possibilities, such as analysis and interpretation of collected data, offers potential for greater consulting efficiency by the industry. Do you think the real estate industry has positioned itself to benefit from these emerging business opportunities?
A: The real estate industry traditionally moves slowly. We have long project cycles and generally lag behind the economy. However, current times lend the industry the opportunity to lead the way because the time of using gut feeling to make real estate decisions is over. Today’s technology enables a higher level of analysis, predictability and risk management. So, though not yet in pole position to benefit from these emerging business opportunities, bit by bit there is movement in the right direction.
Q: What are the new skills and knowledge that real estate professionals can acquire in order to align with the concept of smart cities?
A: There are so many new skills and knowledge to leverage off technology but my top five are Big Data, Conversational AI, CRM Tools, Social Media Marketing and Video Marketing.