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The Real Future of Real Estate: Smart Cities and Green Real Estate

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

How much time have you been spending at home lately?

If you’re like most of us, your answer is probably “much more time than I usually do.” Between quarantine, social distancing, restaurant and shop closures and increased remote work implementations, most South Africans have been spending more time at home than ever before.

Pre-COVID-19, the real estate industry had been experiencing an increased demand for smart cities and green real estate. However, since the pandemic, these demands have only been increasing. Spending more time at home has allowed us to look further into the future and prepare.

What does the future look like?

Coronavirus has shown us that fully or partially remote work is not just a trend- it’s a productive and viable alternative. I myself have been working from home for the past few years while running my real estate investment company and it’s become my normal!

Now more than ever, people are looking for homes that are all-inclusive and economically friendly. We don’t just want somewhere to have Sunday lunch and sleep after work. We want homes that can serve as both comfortable and productive workplaces and tranquil relaxation spots. We want properties that come with built-in smart devices- like HVAC control- but that also leave the smallest carbon footprint. We want energy-efficient lighting, eco-friendly paints and energy-efficient appliances.

Not only do we want environmentally-friendly and technologically-advanced real estate, but we also want it to be affordable. These demands have and will continue to drastically impact the South African real estate industry. These forward-thinking trends need to be both developed and implemented quickly while staying affordable for working-class South Africans.

But is that possible?

Absolutely. In 2019, South Africa spent over R430.2 billion on construction works and the sector employed more than 8% of the labour force. However, these numbers are expected to increase this year. The country’s construction industry is expected to be worth R100 billion by 2024- due in part to its ability to quickly and efficiently construct smart and green buildings.

There are several countries paving the way when it comes to sustainable real estate and Spain is one of them. Spain, recently named one of the top 10 countries with the most sustainable buildings, has seen green real estate save tenants between 30-70% on their energy bills and 40% on their water bills. Not to mention green homes have a 10% higher appraisal rate.