Houses really have not changed all that much in the last century. Sure we may now place more importance on having an internet connection than a phone line, but the basic elements of your modern house, windows, doors, walls, floors, roof, heating and plumbing were present in houses in the Edwardian era. People feel perfectly comfortable living in houses built a hundred years ago once they get their wifi up and running because things really have not changed all that much. That is until now. As technology has disrupted other traditional sectors like finance, travel and transport we are seeing the first signs of the disruption that is coming to the property sector. These change are being called Proptech and they have the potential to completely turn property management on its head and completely change how people buy, manage and use property.
So what exactly is Proptech? It is how technology is changing not just the way traditional services like property sales and letting are delivered and how the appearance of inexpensive sensors and tools are changing how people manage their property but how technology is changing the way that people actually look at real estate and how their changing lifestyles are creating different way for them to “consume” property. Perhaps the best definition is that Proptech is the wave of startups that are looking to disrupt how things are traditionally done across many verticals including real estate, smart cities and buildings, the sharing economy, construction and finance.
We have already seen the first wave of this technology as the internet has changed how people look for homes to both buy and rent. No need to actually go see the house first as the technology now allows you to explore the neighborhood and property from your home and then only actually go see the ones you might want to make an offer on. This is becoming even more a reality as the increasing use of 360 degree video and virtual reality may make actually visiting the property before closing the deal a thing of the past. This has certainly disempowered agents and put pressure on commissions as property owners can also use these technology changes to market their properties directly to potential buyers and tenants.
The coming wave will be even more disruptive, the emergence of a highly mobile tech savvy workforce that works from project to project means that people are starting to consume property in different ways including short term rentals, shared ownership and the emergence of housing as a service. People may still own their own home but they will probably be renting it out to other short term renters while they travel from project to project themselves and monitor and manage their property remotely. The growth of the gig economy into more and more areas of business means that is one of the fastest growing sub groups in the property market that creates lots of opportunity for the startups that can meet their needs.