Why Property Firms Should Embrace Proptech

For years now we’ve been witnessing smart technology impact a range industries, from logistics and construction through to retail and finance. And with more devices and software emerging on the market for businesses and consumers, the property sector is the latest to be disrupted by these developments, triggering the era of Proptech.

Property firms have been under increasing pressure in recent years for multiple reasons. Including greater tax burdens, uncertainties over Brexit and controversy surrounding letting fees. These in turn have contributed to less transactions in the industry and consumers losing confidence in how property firms operate.

One overarching factor however is the emergence of online competition. Who are offering clearer property transparency to consumers via digital platforms. As a result, these platforms are gaining more traction in the marketplace. In addition to being considered as more viable alternatives by digital-savvy individuals.

As a multifaceted sector where consumers typically engage with a range of organisations, including estate agents, mortgage brokers, property surveyors and property managers, disjointed communication amongst these parties can unfortunately increase costs, slow down processes and reduce confidence further.

Queue, PropTech.

What is PropTech?
PropTech refers to businesses who are utilising the latest technology to refine, improve or reinvent services in the property industry for consumers, including real-estate and property management. By creating and deploying digital solutions, as a property firm you’ll be making your services more accessible to all, whilst improving processes that are now regarded as outdated.

A consumer-led movement, PropTech has been influenced by individuals who are now relying on technology (such as mobiles, apps and wearables) to control all aspects of their lives, from managing their finances to booking summer holidays. This means that there’s ample opportunity for your property business to meet these individuals directly on their devices. As well as stand out from the traditional property crowd.

Flexibility, transparency and speed is key for these individuals. People wish to search for properties in their own time, manage their viewings, report maintenance issues and have complete oversight into their tenancy agreements. By not offering this, firms are finding themselves in danger of losing valuable custom.

So how can the latest technology bring opportunities?

For years apps have been simplifying the property searching process for consumers. Today, real-estate audiences are far more inclined to conduct searches through their mobile devices than on desktop due to their flexibility. Which in turn have a 225% higher reach than the latter. The popularity of mobile searching is also reflected in the success of online estate agent Purplebricks. Who’s revenues have increased considerably by 448% in the last year.

Apps have also been benefiting estate agents internally too. They have significantly helped to simplify processes and ultimately provide a better service to customers. We worked with one of the UK’s leading independent estate agencies Chancellors Group to create them an enterprise app. The app helps agents work more efficiently and reduce paper documents for their customers.

AI & Machine Learning
The emergence of AI and Machine Learning is helping property firms automate experiences and learn from valuable consumer data. Which is creating more personalised and immersive experiences. According to the BBC there is a 64% chance that real estate will be fully automated in the future. As businesses continue to look to reduce overheads without jeopardising consumer relations.

From a real-estate perspective, firms can now automatically display more relevant properties based on user behaviour. As well as previous email enquiries, geo-tracking and even social media profiles. Chatbots are also ensuring 24/7 communication with consumers. Enabling queries to be answered instantly without requiring human assistance.

For property management, AI can provide you with key actionable insights before any potential problems arise for your customers, such as data based on usage and life cycle of a boiler. Tenants are once again able to utilise chatbots to pay rent, extend their leases and report issues in real-time.

IoT is playing a key role in decision making for consumers whilst choosing a property. According to a survey, 81% of current smart-home device owners stated that they would be more willing to buy a home which has connected technology in place. Which should be acknowledged by developers, dealers and managers everywhere.

IoT is also simplifying property management as a whole. Enabling owners to manage their properties easier, cheaper and more efficiently than ever before. For example, smart sensors which monitor equipment to capture and analyse household data such as air quality, temperature and humidity can be deployed. These reduce administration and allows for better decision making on future tenants.

To conclude…
Until now technology-led disruption in the property sector has been marginal. And despite being regarded as the world’s wealthiest sector in terms of assets, it’s been the slowest to adopt to consumer demand. The emergence of apps, artificial intelligence and IoT are proof of how technology can help your property business diversify. Operate more efficiently and remain competitive in today’s digital age, as technology continues to transform every industry for the better.

Written by emma.humbey@sonin.co.uk

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