9 Proptech innovations transforming the property sector

OPINION · Property / 9th October 2017

The property sector is one of the last to be hit by the digital revolution and now it is finally happening, investments in Proptech companies are going up dramatically. New and innovative digital solutions to old age problems are being launched each month. So, here we’ve highlighted just a few of our favourite start-ups who are shaking up the property industry and bringing it into the modern age.

acasa: Formerly known as Splittable, acasa allows renters in the UK to set up, manage and split the cost of their energy, broadband, water and TV license without the need for any one person in the house being responsible for paying all the bills. Created and set up by Nick Katz, the app acts as a digital magnet for each utility supplier. When a bill is due, the magnet tells each household member how much they owe, and each person is automatically charged the agreed portion of the bill. Money is collected by acasa and sent to the supplier in one lump sum. Since launching in 2015 more than 150,000 apps have been downloaded and the app now tracks £5 million in-home costs every month. In addition, acasa offers a peer-to-peer money transfer service, which averages £50,000 a month.

Built-ID app & website: This newly launched app, created by Savannah de Savary, has been dubbed the Shazam for buildings. The app allows users to look up any building (registered on the site), in any city around the globe, to find out who the architects were, who the design team were and who built it. So far, Built-ID has amassed 19,000 developments and listings across 110 countries. It has 600 architects, engineers and property professionals registered. Built-ID acts as a matchmaker for anyone doing a real estate project – a hotelier, a restaurateur, or a property developer, to professionals who are the right fit for that project – such as architects, engineers, lighting designers or even transportation consultants. It works on a freemium model, in a similar way to LinkedIn, in that it’s free to be on it, but users have to pay to deep dive its database.

Goodlord: Is a London start-up that has been set up to improve the way that renters, estate agents and landlords transact through a suite of tools on its cloud-based technology platform. Goodlord wants to modernise a number of the stages along the chain of renting a property, starting with putting down money, signing contracts and referencing – all processes that still tend to need to be done in branch and on paper. It has built its own e-signing capability for contracts and use Stripe and GoCardless to facilitate payments. This means rental properties will come off the market faster than before as paperwork and deposits could all be done at the viewing itself, on an iPad. The startup has more than 300 estate agents already using its service. It says it aims to save them between 50% - 75% in admin time and IT spend.

Hubble: This London-based start-up, focuses on trying to solve the shortage (and vast cost) of office space for young companies in London and Manchester. Hubble HQ is like an online marketplace that matches companies who need flexible office space with landlords and commercial space providers who have properties to rent out. It even finds small companies co-working spaces, serviced offices, as well as helps larger companies to rent out any spare space that they may have. Most contracts are offered on a rolling monthly basis, and only require one month’s notice to terminate. Hubble HQ does all the contracts, manages payments, and only makes money if it finds a successful match. It then takes 10% of the monthly rent for up to 12 months.

HUG: The Home User Guide, created by NHBC, is a secure online portal that acts as a middleman between house builders and their customers. The portal negates the need for paperwork, and provides the homeowner up to date information about their property’s build stages and site plans. Once complete the owner can use the portal to store, amongst other things, electronic manuals for all their appliances in the home.

Movebubble: Is an app that has been designed to put the renter first. It lists residential properties that are currently available to rent, in real time (to prevent the disappointment of seeing listings that are already off the market). Its algorithm also learns about users’ preferences as it goes, providing them with more tailored results each time they search. Renters can book viewings, and make offers through the platform and the app claims to save renters an average of 20 hours of research. Despite it only covering London, the app has 10,000 users per month and has 30-40 new downloads each day. It’s currently free to search but agents are charged £80 per successful move.

Nested: This London-based Proptech start up says it will guarantee to sell any property on its books within 90 days for 95-98% of the property’s value, or offer sellers an interest-free cash loan instead. The tech-enabled service, which launched in January 2016, aims to put chain buyers, dependent on mortgages, in the same position as cash buyers. Nested charges a 2.5% fee, plus takes 30% of the share of the sale over the guaranteed sale price.

Purplebricks: Is the first online-only estate agent that uses “local property experts” to aid the buying and letting of houses. Purplebricks is able to charge lower fees (charges £798 to sell a property outside of London, £1,158 in the capital) than other agents, as it doesn’t have a physical presence on the high street. Its customers can log-on to oversee every aspect of their property transaction as it happens, at the touch of a button, rather than waiting for an estate agents office to open. This hybrid model is gaining in popularity, despite only 4% of homes being currently sold this way. Property experts estimate that this figure will go to 50% by 2020.

Virtual Commercial: This start up badges itself as the “UK’s first online commercial estate agent” or a “Purplebricks” for commercial property. The incumbent property management model currently charges 10% of annual rent, 2% of freehold sales and includes a raft of additional fees. Whereas Virtual Commercial sets a flat fee, starting at £999 for a starter pack and access to the online platform.

Join ORM and guest speakers – including acasa, mentioned above – at our Connecting People to Property in the Digital Age event on 11 October, to understand how best to harness digital solutions in your business.

Jason Bell Jason Bell Solution Consulting Director Jason Bell