Michael Beckerman is the CEO of CREtech, the largest global consulting, media, and conference company devoted to technological innovation in the real estate sector. 

CREtech’s mission is to help the industry embrace, adopt and future-proof their businesses to inspire the next generation of ideas, processes and people to champion the world’s largest asset class. Beckerman also leads CREtech’s newest initiative, CREtech Climate, which is the “voice” of the real estate industry’s commitment to climate tech. 

CREtech Climate aims to galvanize the real estate industry to reduce its carbon footprint throughout the entire Built World. Beckerman previously spent 25 years in the public relations industry having built Beckerman Public Relations into the largest firm in the industry specializing in commercial real estate.

Main takeaways: 

  • Technology will play a fundamental role in helping CRE evolve into an industry more customer-centric than ever
  • The real estate industry isn’t likely to embrace the Metaverse in the short term as there are simply too many other pressing challenges
  • By 2030, the single biggest technology marketplace in the Built World will be Climate Tech

The real estate industry is changing constantly, being influenced by factors such as the pandemic, new emerging technologies, or sustainability goals. If he were to have a magic wand and change anything in the industry right now, Mr. Beckerman says:

There’s a need for an increased focus by the industry on areas within the Built World that are presenting some of the most challenging societal issues, such as the global shortage of affordable housing, the lack of industry DE&I initiatives as well as its role in the climate crisis. And, as a result, the real estate industry becomes a catalyst for good in addressing many of these global issues confronting society today.

Some of these challenges can be overcome by the use of technology in real estate. Mr. Beckerman emphasizes how unlikely it is for real estate to have a future without it and furthermore, the essential benefits it can have from its adoption:

Technology will help solve many of the challenges that are confronting the industry, as well as create greater operating efficiencies, lower costs, healthier and safer living and working environments. Technology will also play a fundamental role in helping commercial real estate evolve into an industry that is more customer-centric than at any time in its history.

We cannot talk about new technologies without approaching the topic of the metaverse. Are we witnessing a transition towards a mostly virtual reality or a mix between the brick&mortar and virtual? How long is it realistic to expect this transition to take? 

While I am incredibly excited about the future of virtual real estate, in the near term I believe it’s greatest impact will be in the formation of an entirely new community of startups, VC’s, real estate companies and individual investors that will be new to the PropTech sector. 

That’s a good thing that will ultimately drive innovation in the Metaverse. I do not, however, see the real estate industry embracing the Metaverse in the short term as there are simply too many other pressing challenges confronting the industry, such as labor shortages, supply chain crises, materials shortages and climate all taking center stage in PropTech.

Technology – adopted at a slower or faster pace, depending on its implications – shares a central role in the future of the real estate industry with ESG goals. As Mr. Beckerman leads the CREtech Climate initiative, we wanted to learn his take on the matter:

With the climate crisis, the real estate industry concurrently faces its greatest threat as well as the greatest opportunity it has ever faced. With 40% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emanating from the industry, governments, tenants, consumers, lenders and insurance companies will all converge on the sector to demand it reach Net Zero with a great sense of urgency. 

What we need is widespread information and knowledge to both (a) understand how the industry contributes 40% of GHG emissions and (b) to drive more action and investment leveraging technology solutions to both retrofit the existing building stock and improve the development of new buildings to reach Net Zero. 

As we have helped build the PropTech ecosystem globally at CREtech, this is where myself and the team are very focused on building next.

By 2030, Mr. Beckerman imagines that the single biggest technology marketplace in the Built World will be Climate Tech:

Proptech as we know it will be dwarfed in size compared to Climate Tech, in which trillions of dollars will be invested annually in the race to Net Zero.

Two other trends that I believe will emerge as dominant in the next phase of the real estate tech sector will be the emergence of construction tech as a massive industry as well as an entirely new category of hybrid tech and real estate companies i.e. OpCo/PropCo structures.

Finally, to conclude our interview, we wanted to learn more about future plans for CREtech:

Global expansion. A greater focus on new emerging categories, i.e. rent tech, construction tech and residential tech. But for me personally, it’s climate, climate and climate! That’s both my personal and professional mission – to decarbonize the entire Built World, and I won’t stop until genuine, measurable and tangible progress has been made – no greenwashing!

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