PropTech has become increasingly prominent in recent years as digital tools and services continue to transform the lettings experience for both consumers and professionals.
With our daily lives increasingly being led by technology, PropTech solutions are helping to make property transactions quicker, easier and more accessible for all parties.
The PropTech boom is clear for all to see across the globe there are now over 6,000 companies classified as offering PropTech services, according to Unissu, an online directory of suppliers.
But what trends could we see in the PropTech sector this year?
Mature PropTech still dominates
Despite being around for a while, older PropTech solutions such as automated valuations, live chat, virtual viewings, repairs management systems and cloud software continue to dominate the sector.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp UK, an automated rental payment platform said, “These well-known services have the recognition and understanding of consumers, which is vital. This has led to competition between suppliers intensifying in recent times.
“We often hear about the emergence of things like blockchain and artificial intelligence assistants, but it will take a few more years for these concepts to truly gain traction and market share.”
While the above services have been gaining trust and traction over the last few years, the suppliers providing them have been able to establish longevity and become synonymous for a specific service with consumers and professionals.
Cobbold explained, “In 2018, we saw leading suppliers consolidate their gains. This shows that PropTech is meeting real needs and is here to stay.
“However, too many products are still being launched without a clear market need. A lot of people think they can come up with the next ‘big thing’ due to a problem they’ve personally faced – this type of one-size-fits-all solution rarely works.”
Increased regulation encourages PropTech solutions
The government continues to professionalise and regulate the property sector with policies including proposed mandatory qualifications, immigration checks and tighter energy efficiency standards, thereby increasing the compliance burden on professionals.
This has led to a rise in the number of PropTech, FinTech (financial technology) and RegTech (regulation compliance technology) products designed to help with these additional obligations.
Cobbold said, “The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says it is committed to improving the home buying and selling process by making it quicker, cheaper and less stressful. Its spokespeople Matt Prior and Heather Wheeler have frequently confirmed that they are keen for technology to help bring about this change.
“It’s likely that the government’s endorsement of PropTech will continue to be mirrored in the lettings sector following the success of the Rent Recognition Challenge last year.”
Consumers want technology, but human contact remains important
As we’re able to complete entire activities online, it’s understandable that landlords, tenants, sellers and buyers increasingly want to use apps and online services when carrying out a property transaction. However, consumer research regularly reinforces that a human presence is still required.
Cobbold concluded, “Of course, consumers want to have the option to manage their property dealings at any time from any place and PropTech suppliers continue to facilitate this.
“That said, the nature of property – dealing with people’s homes and large sums of money – means that no matter how many tech solutions you have, these services need to be supported by professionals who can provide expert advice and guidance.”