Real estate companies harnessing demographics and data are operating at higher standards and are playing a “complete” game Canadian-listed real estate software heavyweight Altus Group chief executive Bob Courteau says.
Courteau told The Urban Developer the way global markets develop and invest in properties – from shopping centres in Los Angeles to residential apartments in Sydney – has changed dramatically in recent years, with global real estate data and analytics now very much at a users fingertips.
“The combination of new market entrants, new technologies and changing demographics have created disruptive models within commercial real estate,” Courteau said.
“This is having a profound impact on portfolio planning and decision-making and at the same time, presents new opportunities for organisations who rapidly embrace innovation and proptech to reduce complexity, increase efficiency and drive performance.”
Altus, which provides global data on commercial real estate and consulting options for everything from property tax to investment feasibility, currently boasts 6,000 software customers and 70,000 services customers managed by 2,500 employees across 75 offices worldwide.
“We work with nearly 250 of the top 300 real estate companies in the world.”
“It is now all about big data. Whether it's AI, machine learning, the aggregation of public and private data into business models or new data lakes, it is all vital for any commercial real estate player and this is where it is rapidly heading.”
Early technology adopter Altus has now become known for partnering and investing in emerging proptech companies with the potential to enable and drive the consumption of technologies much faster for clients.
In early 2017, Altus moved quickly to acquire Australian property software provider, EstateMaster. At the time the software was a market standard for the production of development feasibility reports in Australian real estate. Software users included firms such as CBRE and Colliers International as well as the major banks.
Altus also acquired cloud-based data management platform Voyanta and Paris-based global investment management software provider Taliance.
Big data is now mapping demographics, and understanding shifting appetites and demands around the world.
Altus released Argus in order to centralise data in order to help developers and investors find innovative solutions to achieve stronger yields on a global network all while creating a unified standard for how property is valued.
“The world of real estate is driven by demographics and generational changes, the risk in assets, type of investors, and lower yields, is all part of a technology game.”
“Professional sports has changed in North America with the advent of ‘Moneyball’.
“The importance of data, analytics and software in decision-making is critical.
“A lot of commercial real estate companies haven't really embraced that and are over-weighting the traditional way of doing business.
“This is why companies like Blackstone and Brookfield are growing dramatically, they are putting this kind of thinking to work.”
“It's now about creating next-generation business models. With the amount of data that is now available to us, the ability to project the performance of an asset is becoming more clear.”
“More and more you will start to see systems that will be able to see trends in a market. We will be able to marry big data and demographics to be able to understand trends and trajectory. The people that will be good at this will be the people who will make money.”
Corteau started his career in emerging tech at Hewlett Packard. He subsequently moved on to other tech companies including Xerox, EDS and SAP.
At Altus, Corteau set in motion the idea of taking the company's product offerings to global capabilities, expanding internationally from being North American centric to being a global player.
The Toronto-headquartered company is now one of the top real estate portfolio advisory and consulting firms having made over 50 acquisitions itself globally.
“We are taking on the complexity of global data to make sure people can maximise investment, particularly from a development perspective.
“We have now sold Argus Enterprise in 70 countries and right now, all 10 of the top 10 global service providers are using our platform.
“More and more real estate is going into institutional hands. This means they want standardisation especially when they are operating on a global basis.
“Technologies coming into the marketplace in the next few years will be based on AI, automation, better risk management and will measure value more similar to the way equity and financial markets already do now, but essentially it will be all about the data being used, analysed and managed in more powerful ways.”
Altus continues to strengthen with its bullish approach to streamlining global real estate data, reflected in the company's performance with its share price rising 300 per cent in the six years Corteau has been at the helm, from $C8 to $C32.