The idea of modernizing real estate is not new. It’s one of our biggest and oldest industries. There’s no doubt that there is a benefit in continuously improve the way we buy, use and sell property, it has always been slow to move due to the amount of red tape and risk involved.
Think back to the first wave of real estate technology in the pre-dot-com era. This was when listings moved onto the internet. This was revolutionary for its time, given that listings were traditionally on newspapers and real estate offices, and this innovation was readily accepted by consumers.
And while there has since been much development in the listing and portals space – with companies like Zillow (US), Rightmove (UK), and Domain (Australia) being the first thought when most people think of real estate, the remainder of the real estate lifecycle is still dominated by real estate agents and brokers facilitating the processes – and taking a cut in the process.
Proptech startups are challenging incumbent players by something a bit different, and are steadily gaining traction and gaining the attention of consumers.
Here’s how they are transforming the way we do real estate.
Ordinarily, a selling or leasing agent would conduct open houses or private inspections for prospects to physically inspect a property. With physical inspections banned across many countries due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, potential buyers and renters aren’t able to attend open houses anymore.
Buyers and renters still need to be able to perform their due diligence and inspect the interested property.
Here, is where proptech companies come in – with virtual and contact-free ways of allowing others to inspect their property.
Companies such as Matterport have developed a product where a camera can be used to scan a space, and then convert it into a 3D model. Its operation is simple: simply press a button and the camera converts images into 3D.
With 3D models in place, prospects can walk through properties virtually from their own homes, letting them experience it without even being physically there.
Leasing out a rental property is normally managed end-to-end by a real estate office. Tenants are constantly going to the rental office for all sorts of reasons including picking up keys, dropping off cheques, retrieve documents, and requesting maintenance.
Through technology, these startups are digitising manual processes. No more paper forms. No more cheques.
What’s more, they’re incorporating AI technology to handle and manage common tenant requests.
Landlords can replace a large portion of what a real estate office does with an app, to handle all parts of the tenancy lifecycle including screening tenants, processing payments, and managing maintenance requests, all from the comfort of their own home.
Processes and requirements regarding conveyancing vary depending on country and state, but the time between agreeing to buy the property to completing all the tasks to finalise the sale can take weeks, if not months.
The steps are often manual, involving paper shuffling and sending various forms to various government departments and counterparties.
Before settlement happens, there are often a number of in-person meetings.
Companies like When You Move in the UK and PEXA in Australia aim to change this by improving the overall connectivity between all parties through to completion to speed up the process and reduce risk.
With all parties using a single integrated platform, this enables real-time updates and full transparency to progress a purchase or sale.
Instead of waiting for forms to come through the post, everything is transferred digitally.
However, the systems only work with commitment from all parties to use electronic conveyancing. With social distancing requirements in place, this might be a good time to start.
Covid-19 has become a catalyst for consumers to want to try new approaches in how they deal with real estate, whether it is buying, selling, or renting.
Proptech startups are facilitating this, by providing innovative solutions for us to adapt to our new normal, and making it possible for us to step away from the traditional means of using a real estate agent.
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