30 May A futurist’s view of property – Michael McQueen
Time is running out for credit cards, iTunes, car parks, call centers, and service stations according to futurist Michael McQueen. As disruption continues to upend industries, to change employment opportunities, and alter the way the world communicates, what lies ahead for property. Michael gives us an insight.
Kevin: Time is running out for credit cards, iTunes, car parks, call centers, and service stations according to futurist Michal McQueen. As disruption continues to upend industries, to change employment opportunities, and alter the way the world communicates, what lies ahead and how do you stay relevant?
We’re going to look at that today in the show as it relates to real estate because in Michael’s new book, How to Prepare Now for What’s Next, he draws on a decade of research into future trends. He joins me now as our guest.
Michael, congratulations on the book and welcome to the show.
Michael: Thanks so much. Good to be part of it.
Kevin: We’re going to work through a number of things that you say are going to become redundant – we’ll ask you why – and we’ll look at trends in real estate, too, and how our living may be changing the way we build houses, I guess.
Michael: Definitely, yes. It’s an amazing time, I think, for every industry, but real estate, we’ve talked a lot about disruption over the years but I think we ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s going to be a very interesting next few years for the real estate sector.
Kevin: You say that car parks are the top on your list in terms of what’s going to become redundant. Tell me why.
Michael: The big thing driving this is driverless cars. It’s autonomous vehicles. A lot of my time is spent working with and speaking to the people who are in this space and who are even developing the technology. The smartest minds right now anticipate 2027 is when driverless cars will become somewhat mainstream.
At the moment, we’re seeing some pretty advanced testing happening in Phoenix, in Arizona, and other pockets around the world, but that’s the epicenter of it. This is going to be a gamechanger once it hits mainstream roads for a couple of reasons.
It would impact on industries like the auto insurance industry, for instance, roadside assistance, all of those businesses. But from a car parking perspective, the need to park your car will disappear the moment an autonomous vehicle can, say, drop you at work or drop you at dinner, then go home and wait for you to finish or come back and pick you up, or drops you and then goes in the pool of other driverless vehicles Uber-style earning you cash while you’re at work or at dinner. So, that’s the world we’re looking at in the next five to ten years, certainly in the next ten years.
I think the impact on real estate will be interesting. People will be able to move further and further away from city centers. We’ll see the design of homes change. The need for a car port, for instance, potentially disappears within the next generation. Even the whole notion of car ownership will disappear as we move into using Uber-style driverless vehicles as the norm.
The interesting impact just from driverless vehicles is one to watch.
Kevin: Surely, these cars, even though they’re shared, will have to be parked somewhere, won’t they?
Michael: They need to be parked somewhere? Where they’ll be parked is the cheapest, easiest spot and it won’t be in CBDs. This is an interesting thing. You look at most CBD areas and we’re clogged up full of these multi-story car parks in really high value real estate. And the reality is that this is a poor use of resources and space, so we’ll see a lot of that free up.
But we’ll also probably see a lot of these cars will run almost all of the time, and so the need to be stored and parked somewhere… They may be stored and parked for a certain amount of time in the day, maybe between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., but realistically, they will all be used throughout the day continuously because there’s no need for them to have a rest, unlike having a driver in a vehicle.
It’s going to be very interesting to see the knock on impact of how cities are designed. In fact, we saw in Chicago just a few weeks ago, a building opened, a new apartment block, with a car park built into it, and they actually built this car park with the express desire to create it so it can be repurposed in the next decade when the car parking space is no longer required.
And so even developers and architects have got this on their radar right now.
Kevin: I notice, too, one of the other things you say will disappear will be service stations. Understandable, I guess, because we’ll probably move toward electric vehicles.
Michael: Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s a more interim one. In fact, that’ll be one will see really bite in the next five to seven years. The impact on that from electric vehicles is huge, and we have a long list of car makers who are frantically working to get electric vehicles into the mainstream.
At the moment, we have a fairly low adoption if you look at Australia against other benchmark countries around the world. But we’ll catch up very quickly as soon as these vehicles become accessible pricewise. Tesla has still pitched itself as a luxury vehicle, but we’re seeing a flood of vehicles – in the next few months, even – coming onto the market from GM. We’re seeing Mercedes, Volvo, each focusing on this area.
Electric vehicles will be a very interesting one to watch because there will be no need to fill your car up at the petrol station the moment you charge it overnight at home. And there’s an interesting flow-on effect on a whole lot of other industries – mechanics, for instance.
In the world of mechanics, electric vehicles have 10% of the moving parts of an internal-combustion car. That’ll have a massive impact on the whole supply industry for mechanics and the professionals in that space.
Kevin: Let’s talk about technology and the impact in houses. You only have to look at things like Google Home, and I saw Google develop a chat bot just this week, in fact, that talks and can actually make apartments for you.
It makes me wonder about the design of houses in the future. You talked there about having no garaging, but are they going to become almost remotely controlled, our houses, so things can be done when we’re not even there?
Michael: Yes, that’s already happening. That’s definitely a feature, already, of home design. We’re seeing a lot of homes being built with remote control capabilities, so you turn the oven on from an app on your phone, change the lighting, change the temperature, thermostats. The company Nest has been a big part of that in the last few years and has been at the forefront of that technology. That will continue to grow.
Our homes will be far more connected and that line between the digital world and the real world will become increasingly blurred. The idea of opening your computer to go online, for instance, that being something you have to delineate – “I’m going to jump online now and do something” – that will disappear. It will be a seamless interaction.
You’ll be just going about your daily life and you’ll talk to your Google Home speaker and just ask her to do something and it’ll do it instantly. That’s already a reality. It’ll become far more embedded in daily life in the next few years.
Kevin: Yes, we have Google Home. We’re already doing that. It is wonderful technology. It freaks me out a little bit when I can see that she’s listening to me when I’m not talking to her, though. But anyway, that’s a whole different thing.
iTunes, you say, also will change. And I think, too, this is going to be one again with houses, a lot how we get our news. Even television news is changing, and I notice out of America some new sites that are developing that are delivering news to us when we want it.
Michael: Yes, definitely. I think the media space is really interesting to watch. And the iTunes shut down in the next 14 months of digital downloads will be very interesting – very telling, I think, of a change in the times.
Apple Music now has 38 million subscribers, so that’s a lot of people no longer purchasing music to download and own. And so, in typical form, Apple cannibalizing their own business and they are shutting down what had been their own disruption to the music business a few years ago.
That’s probably very indicative of how technology and media is changing, and we’re seeing the same thing in the real estate space. When you look at an app like Snaploader, for instance, and Snaploader is often described as the Shazam of real estate, with its ability to drive down or walk down the street and snap a house, hold your phone up, get advanced digital recognition of what you’re looking at, identifies where you are, gives you viewing times, auction times, status of the listing, 3-D image of the internal structure of the home, all using augmented reality on your smart phone.
And across a whole lot of different areas, that digital devices prices in our pockets, that’s the thing that’s the biggest game changer still. Apple watches have been great – and smart watches, generally – but still, it’s the smart phone that’s driving a lot of the technology change.
Kevin: Yes, the changes in how we build houses, we’re going to have to become a lot smarter, because councils all over the country are calling for more infill. Our houses are going to have to become a lot smaller so that we can fit people into them, so therefore, we’ll have to use all of this technology to save on space, I would have thought, Michael.
Michael: Yes, definitely. And it’s interesting, too, saving on space, but even the functions of the rooms we’re in will change. Not only will we find in the next few years that homes not have garages but you’re seeing the whole purpose of different rooms changing.
One of the trends in the last few years has been the emergence of every home having a media room, which is something that was unthinkable 15 years ago. And so, the design of homes is always changing. We’ll probably see that continue to change over the next few years as this technology becomes embedded in daily life.
Kevin: Obviously, architects are behind all this. They’re keeping up with it. What are some of the other trends you see that we’re going to see in the next decade with our houses?
Michael: I think with our houses, specifically, we’ll probably see that the way we use land will be one of the biggest things driving house construction and the changes there. Even in Sydney, my hometown here, within a solid 10K radius of where I am, the lower north shore in Sydney, we’re seeing now zones being re-zoned plus blocks being re-zoned so that anything over a certain size, you can actually get permission much more easily. They’ve streamlined the process to be able to do townhouses on the traditional large-scale blocks in suburbs like Ryde and Gladesville, for instance.
This is a very deliberate push by the state government to try and increase density population, because we all know that property is expensive, and that’s going to mean that not only is it just a case of put a granny flat at the back of your house to try and subdivide your land, but actually, you can in a far more easy way, use your land in different ways. And we’ll probably see a lot of new, very innovative approaches to building homes in that townhouse format because the cash incentives will be there to do so.
So, that streamlining of the process for development applications, that’s going to be a game changer, certainly in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. They will be the three big cities that we’ll see that impact the most.
Kevin: Wow, some big changes on the horizon. If you want to catch up on that, the book is called How to Prepare Now for What’s Next. My guest has been Michael McQueen. He is the author of that book.
Michael, thank you very much for your time.
Michael: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.