A few years ago, the term “Property Tech” began popping up around every corner. Few could imagine the strides to be made in the technology world within the past 10 years. If you had asked an estate agent about the use of technology in selling property in the year 2007, chances are you’d be met by a blank stare.
In its base form, proptech emerged as a solution to a problem people didn’t know they had: access to property services in a convenient and easy-to-use package. Online platforms and mobile apps had revolutionised how the world viewed “simple”. It was no longer acceptable to make your way to a store to buy food or clothes: just order it online (and hope for free next-day delivery). Travel agencies had become relatively redundant to many people, with countless online booking sites like AirBnB a few clicks away. The lack of reliable public transport in many cities was addressed by ride-hail giants like Uber and Lyft.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the world became accustomed to having relevant information and services at their fingertips. This change didn’t just affect users and customers but also, critically, service providers and professionals. In much the same way that the food, hospitality, and transport industries have been forced to adjust, so too the property world has begun a dramatic transformation. Tech startups are no longer limited to messenger apps or gaming. While these are still very much growing and expanding, the world of property has started to realise that these technologies – new and existing – can be used in innovative new ways.
Think outside the box
In order to develop a new app or software for any form of technology, you need sufficient backing or funding. A particularly prominent example of this is European based Property Innovation Labs (Pi Labs). Having seen the gap in the property market for new technology, Pi Labs decided to invest in early-stage development of industry-altering software and ideas. Many of these may seem unrealistic in the South African landscape, but they prove that there is a market for new ideas and fresh approaches.
Standout trends in proptech
Possibilities for new ideas are truly endless. What we can surmise, however, is that transparency, convenience, communication, and accessibility are determining factors in whether or not an idea takes off. Here are some examples of the most exciting new names in the property tech industry:
The rise of co-working and office sharing has lead to an overwhelming demand from start-up companies to find suitable office space. This London-based company serves as a platform where those with office space and those seeking it can connect. Shifting the focus from merely renting a space to also matching the types of people that work together, this may just be the solution the modern professional is looking for.
An interesting concept, Nested offers users a comprehensive estate agent service. Guaranteeing to sell your property within 90 days of a valuation, they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. If a property hasn’t sold within this time-frame, Nested pays the seller the cash. Largely operated online, this UK-based company highlights an interesting opportunity for the South African property market.
Matterport 3D Showcase
Virtual Reality (VR) may not be groundbreaking anymore, but its use in the property world has been fairly limited. Recently, however, more and more people are beginning to see the benefits of using VR for showing houses to prospective buyers. Creating a more immersive experience, sellers are able to showcase their properties in a way that’s much more likely to lead to a sale. A forerunner in the South African market is Niche VR 3D Showcase Tours, powered by Matterport. Simple to implement, it promises a new age in the property landscape.
An online platform aimed at tenants and landlords, Propoly removes the need for a middleman in the letting process. Arrange viewings, generate reference checks, pay deposits, and send direct messages for enquiries.
This nifty online tool makes the search for suitable land a whole lot easier. Integrating traditional maps with added layers of information, the user is able to learn about the opportunities or potential of a property. Offering users data on the surrounding buildings, the planning history of the land, along with prices of similar properties. Armed with this information, you’re able to choose the perfect spot on which to develop or build your property.
As more and more younger and tech-savvy buyers move onto the property ladder, the need for new ideas and revised applications of old ones becomes apparent. With the rapid development of technology worldwide, it is only a matter of time before the property industry looks entirely different.
Hubble, Nested, Niche, Matterport, Propoly, ExpoReal, Land Insight, Pi, Huffington Post, ProvidensAI, TechWorld, The Telegraph, FinTech Ranking.