While fintech changed the face of the finance industry, the emerging proptech sector is gaining momentum as more people look for digital solutions.
Like the rest of the world, the property sector is being swept along with the rapidly changing digital landscape as demand for new technologies increases.
There’s been a wave of companies using technology to provide services for buying, selling, renting, building, and even heating and managing residential and commercial buildings. Crowdfunding also comes under the proptech bracket, as investors back a project using an online platform, and the property is built and rented out once the total sum has been raised.
Online platforms like Rightmove and Zoopla – now in app form – which list properties for sale and rent, have long ago removed the need for a visit to an estate agent’s to see what’s on offer. More recently, Purplebricks launched as the world’s first digital estate agent offering users round-the-clock access to information and a bookings system.
More than half of email enquiries to view a property are made outside of most estate agents’ opening hours, and these round-the-clock services will appeal to millennials in particular.
Traditional estate agents will need to get on board with the proptech trends in order to keep up, particularly after Phillip Hammond promised to ban letting agency fees, a further blow to many agents’ bottom lines.
One technological advancement linked to new-builds is the rise of smart buildings. Although not a new concept, they have been developed and improved in recent years, with the aim being to improve and enhance the experience of the occupant as well as the property manager through automated processes.
Smart buildings can offer built-in services for occupants to improve lighting, thermal comfort, air quality, security, sanitation and more, with a low cost base and reduced environmental impact.
Connecting a series of systems together, conditions in a building can be optimised – for example, matching occupancy patterns to energy use, running less and saving money when there are less people inside.
Augmented reality (AR) has also come on leaps and bounds in the proptech market, with Microsoft teaming up with the Trimble SketchUp for the RIBA Stirling Prize to create a viewer allowing architects to see their buildings come to life in the world’s first self-contained, holographic computer.
Aviad Almagor, director of the Mixed Reality Program at Trimble, said: “Microsoft HoloLens transforms the way architects interact, and communicate their designs. Using this technology to explore complex projects shortens design cycles and improve communication.”
Today, investors or buyers interested in purchasing a property off-plan must rely on an artist’s rendering or perhaps a promotional video to get an idea of the finished product. If a device such as the HoloLens were to be adapted to wide-scale use, it could allow architects, engineers and construction workers, as well as potential buyers, to gain a greater understanding of the architect’s designs.