Ritam Gandhi, director and founder at fintech firm Studio Graphene, gives an insight into how innovation and technology are transforming the property market but proptech has not yet reached anywhere near its full potential.
There’s no denying the transformative role technology is having on the UK property market. With more and more consumers relying on smart devices within their daily lives, the demand for seamless, responsive services and products is rising. This is particularly true when it comes to the buyers, sellers, renters, landlords and agents that make up the real estate sector.
The term proptech is now used to refer to the tech and digital innovations that are developed for, and implemented within, the property industry. These innovations are being driven by the country’s bustling collective of tech startups and scaling SMEs who are taking technologies that already exists and applying them across the various sub-sectors of the property market.
Digital trends such as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are opening up a world of new opportunities, and businesses are starting to take note.
According to Property Week’s 2018 Power of PropTech survey, almost half (49%) of property professionals quizzed said they have already built a digital roadmap that will help their business move towards a digital transformation.
Having worked closely with a number of scaling businesses in the proptech space, I have seen first-hand just how technology, when cleverly applied, can change the way simple tasks are completed or managed.
Importantly, proptech has not yet reached its full potential, and there are some really exciting prospects on the horizon, which begs the question: how is technology likely to transform the property market in the coming years?
Taking the marketplace online
One of the core reasons consumers are eagerly taking up new trends is due to their frustrations with traditional industry practices, which often prove inefficient, time-consuming and difficult to manage. The process of buying or renting a property, for example, traditionally meant countless phone calls and email chains in the hope of securing a viewing, which was then at risk of being cancelled right up to the last minute.
Digital platforms are transforming this seemingly archaic process, and the effects are there to be seen. The aforementioned Power of PropTech survey revealed that 43% of people believe technologies like digital-first estate agents have had the greatest effect on the property industry over the last five years. This should come as no surprise – online marketplaces can aggregate huge numbers of property listings and offer suggestions individually tailored towards a client’s needs.
Purple Bricks is a prime example – over the last six years the online real estate agent has transformed the way people are able to search, buy and list property by creating a digital platform that facilitates quick and transparent conversations between buyers and sellers. In taking the process online, it has also been able to alter the pricing model usually applied by agents; charging a one-off fee rather than commission.
Studio Graphene has also applied such platforms to the rental market, supporting the creation of student lettings app SPCE – a product specifically designed to link university students with landlords. Again, this solution speeds up the process of finding a suitable property, while also then enabling users to pay for and manage their tenancy through the app.
In terms of our day-to-day lives, one development that has really changed the way industries operate is sensor technology. Smart sensors have experienced a period of accelerated innovation, and businesses working in the commercial and residential sections of the property market have been readily embracing the advantages they offer, particularly when it comes to building and facilities management.
Building management involves a series of repetitive and time-consuming tasks, and while important in maintaining the health and regulatory standards of a building, there is plenty of room for these tasks to be done much more efficiently.
For example, small sensors can be placed on bins to monitor how full they are and send out an alert once they are near capacity. Xelba is one tech company making some noise in this space, delivering hardware and software tools across a range of sectors, including facilities management.
What these examples show is that tech-based solutions, when applied to the property sector, do not need to be radical or promote a concept that aims to completely disrupt the market. Rather, there are plenty of simple processes that can be greatly enhanced by the clever inclusion of digital solutions.
Using AR and VR to improve the user experience
The recent emergence of AR and VR has already had a significant impact on the property market, with the virtual viewings industry starting to take off. In fact, one in eight real estate companies say they are likely to invest in AR and 360-degree videos for marketing purposes over the next five years.
The appeal of AR is evident. Without having to make the trek to visit a property in person, companies like Matterport allow house-hunters to view a potential property remotely through a smart device. What’s more, this innovation allows people to view a large number of properties in a short amount of time – and viewers can easily rule out unsuitable ones without committing precious time to visiting the property.
However, AR and VR are not just restricted to people looking for a property. Designers, architects, engineers can use these technologies to enhance their understanding and knowledge of a building they are creating, giving them a first-hand perspective on what the final product could look like.
Unlocking the full potential of tech
These are but a few examples demonstrating how tech is transforming the various sections of the property market, be it for homebuyers looking for their dream property, or companies responsible for facilities management. Yet most importantly, the full potential of PropTech is nowhere near close to being realised. As available technology improves, we are bound to see a new wave of innovation taking hold of the property sector.
The businesses responsible for this modernisation will be no doubt continue to be tech startups, offering creative new solutions that will overthrow tired processes and deliver a faster, more transparent and superior experience.
As someone who works closely with proptech startups, there are some truly exciting innovations on the horizon.
Source; Mortgage finance Gazette Author; Admin
Date; 8th of January 2019
Mr Hanson from the British Landlords Association said “There is no doubt proptech startups are changing the way we will transact in the property industry in the very near future. The change in the proptech is frighteningly rapid. We have some member know have supported one proptech called “My Backyard”. My backyard is a typical example of things to come”.