Advice and Opinion PropTech

Transforming commercial property transactions

Lakeview 1 tenanted by Nedbank.
Lakeview 1 tenanted by Nedbank.

PropTech is by no means new to the world of immovable assets, but it is evolving at a rapid pace as an exponential technology that has an impact on the commercial property industry.

Its acronym has been bandied about with increasing regularity of late, often accompanied by terms such as ‘disruption’ and ‘digitisation’ but in basic terms, PropTech is essentially the implementation of exponential technology to streamline processes and to make property transactions more efficient and it is rapidly accelerating the commercial property sector.

It is a powerful new level of tech that is increasingly merging the digital world with the commercial property environment, and it is poised to impact every aspect of the sector” says Wayne van der Vent, co-founder of Quoin Online. “It streamlines commercial property transactions as online transactions in a cost-effective manner with access to detailed information which reduces deal time and failure rates”.

Quoin Online operates within the online transactional space, building technology for the rental and sale of commercial property and providing solutions to landlords, tenants, and buyers.

Technology moves fast and if there was time for PropTech to take centre stage, it was during the national lockdown.

The office sector may need to look at more flexible leasing arrangements, not only offering space but services. It may be necessary for landlords to adopt the same methodologies as shared office operators. Using the Quoin Online rental platform will allow landlords to seamlessly manage multiple flexible leasing options” explains van der Vent.

Before virtual meeting spaces and no-contact interactions became a requirement to make the world a safer, healthier place, we saw this as the future of conducting efficient, convenient property transactions, so when the lockdown was enforced, rather than having to roll out completely new systems, we simply had to make minor changes to processes that were already in place.”

We wanted to transform how property is transacted,” shares Karen Miller, co-founder of Quoin Online, which has pioneered online commercial property transacting, disposing of hundreds of commercial properties on behalf of listed and private property funds, banks as well as corporates.

It is a specialised web-based property transactional business software system that allows buyers and sellers to transact property anywhere in the world.”

The entire process from viewing the property to its history as well as the contractual, commercial, and legal requirements of the transaction are all managed digitally through the secure blockchain.

Our innovative software solution ensures a fully transparent and auditable process by tracking and reporting on data,” says Miller. “We provide the tool for buyers and brokers to register with us online, enabling them to access the draft sales agreement and view essential ‘due diligence’ information online so as to make offers through a process that is accessible, fair and transparent.”

Online, buyers are given access to photographs, virtual tours and the full scope of due diligence information needed to make an informed decision before submitting an offer online. 

We have been able to punch way above our weight class, having used our systems for the disposal of some of the largest funds and institutions in South Africa,” she says. “In addition, we were recently selected by Nedbank to handle the online sale of 10 commercial properties.” 

Quoin Online is providing and administering an online transactional tool for Nedbank Corporate Real Estate, which announced it had made a strategic decision to dispose of a top-rated portfolio, creating a rare opportunity for investors to purchase properties in desirable areas.

Redefine, who are co-owners with Nedbank in the Lakeview office park, the large office development directly opposite to the MTN campus in Constantia Kloof, Roodepoort, have also partnered with Quoin Online and Nedbank in the disposal of this 36 000m2 office complex. Redefine has previously utilised the Quoin Online system to successfully dispose of properties in the Fountainhead portfolio when they acquired ownership.  

The global trend of corporates to utilise their balance sheets differently has created a purchasing opportunity for investors and developers which is why Nedbank is offering a sale and leaseback option, which is inviting and financially viable for various property investors ranging from real estate investment trusts (REITs) to private investors.

With the commercial sector under pressure, this is an opportunity to purchase good income-producing properties with strong blue-chip tenants. Each of the properties has the potential to be turned into a multi-tenanted, multi-use property that will enable an investor to mitigate single-tenant risk over time.

Online commercial property trading is attractive because it tends to reflect a more realistic market value and can be coordinated as a one- or two-stage process at the discretion of the seller. The ability to incorporate the buyer’s conditions means that a full picture of the offer is provided.

A closer look at the properties

While there are software solutions available to the broker market, we believe that landlords should be utilising technology to showcase their vacancies to let and properties for sale directly to tenants and investors,” says van der Vent. 

Lakeview office park consists of two properties, the largest being a freestanding unit of approximately 23 000m2 of gross lettable area across three floors. The building has a four-star green building rating, with improved energy and water usage, an important sustainability requirement for both landlord and tenant.

Very much like Lakeview 1, Lakeview 2 offers the same green building rating and both properties are fully tenanted by Nedbank.

The largest of the Nedbank properties is Kingsmead in Durban, north of its central business district. The building offers approximately 30 000m² of gross lettable area across the six floors. A new landlord, or tenants, will benefit from the existing green four-star rating, with improved energy and water usage. 

Another sought-after property, located in Sandton and surrounded by corporate offices, at 105 West Street, is also up for sale. The building offers approximately 22 000m² of gross lettable area with excellent infrastructure and backup facilities. As an ideal corporate head office, this property is being sold vacant with an existing data centre. Its design creates the ideal footprint for developers of residential and hospitality to repurpose the building for apartments and a hotel.

The other properties are smaller in size but offer equally good investment opportunities.