What is PropTech?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the better part of a decade, or blissfully travelling the world, there’s every chance you’ve heard of the term FinTech, but now there is a new double-barred, single meaning word cementing itself as commonplace lingo in the property sector.

PropTech, to use words that we understand, is the utilisation of technology for advancement in the property industry. With a surge in technology over the past 10 years, companies have transformed the way they operate and largely throughout the world (as is evident here in the UK), the property sector has been left out.

The buzzword has become a favourite with media outlets and its emergence has gained momentum quickly due to a few, let’s call them ‘early disruptors’. A new wave of companies in the property sector have been harnessing technology to rightly or wrongly refine, improve, and reinvent the services currently being offered, largely squaring up against the long-standing ways of doing this in the process. With a majority of these new players being start-ups, innovation in PropTech is tangible and exciting and when it gets it right, better the industry for everyone involved.

Why is PropTech important?

The way in which we live our lives has changed dramatically due to new business models centred around technology. We can travel via Uber, read on a Kindle, book a flight on our phones, crash in an Airbnb and get takeout from our sofa via Deliveroo. No industry can afford to stay stagnant in a world that is constantly logged on.

Just like FinTech companies improve financial services (and experiences) for their customers, PropTech companies seek to do the same in the property world.

Some services and areas covered by PropTech companies include:

  • Online property portals
  • Property rental apps
  • Data and Analytics platforms
  • Home services portals
  • Home automation products
  • Property management tools and platforms
  • Co-sharing office space rental apps
  • Flat mate seeking apps

When did PropTech first begin?

We did not know it back then, but PropTech was conceived when the internet became accessible by the majority of the world. Although merely a trickle in the mid-1990s, people recognised that technology could bring efficiency and transparency to the property industry.

The initial batch of first generation PropTech companies emerged in the early 2000s. Harnessing the capabilities of popular search engines of the time such as Yahoo and Ask Jeeves, Rightmove became the UK’s front runner. Property marketing and search was tapped into as an initial first port of call for improvement nearly 20 years ago. Today, PropTech firms are going above and beyond.

How does PropTech help agents to improve the overall customer experience?

Some PropTech products and services have in a way revolutionised the property industry, just take the bigger property portals for example. Some may argue that technology will never replace an actual showing and that might be true. But technology has already become a natural part of buying and selling homes. It will also give you as an agent new opportunities to improve the overall customer experience.

How will PropTech develop?

For any company that has a vested interest in the property industry, the new year looks to be exciting for the progression of property technology.

As the year progresses, it is predicted that some of the UK’s VC giants will invest in or merge with start-up PropTech companies.

Here to stay, and evolving at a faster pace, with a more customer centric focus, than ever before, the cream of the current and future PropTech crop will have a radical impact on an industry that has been infamously conservative and slow-paced for too long.