Proptech’s growth over the last few years is staggering. The UK industry is one of the most dominant in the world, with London leading the way in technological development. Investment in proptech has now entered billions, with proptech innovators seeing huge market opportunity available for takeover. The original proptech process involved real estate companies developing property technology based on their own challenges. As the industry has grown, technology companies have adopted this change to pave the way for tech-enabled real estate.
To date, proptech has generated opportunities for business growth and competitive advantage. The use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) has enabled real estate to offer a revolutionary customer experience. Expanding proptech throughout every aspect of business, digital estate agents have moved much of the property industry online. In the back-office, automation and machine learning has improved processes by reducing time employees spend on administrative duties.
To keep accelerating at its current rate, proptech needs to steer away from these disparate technological systems. Most offices have dozens of devices operating at once, each solving an individual problem. On a smaller scale, separate systems are easy to manage and increase the efficiency and productivity of the real estate process. However, introducing a technological system for every element of real estate is counterproductive. The capacity needed for managing hundreds of assets, inputting data and analysing results isn’t realistic for many companies.
Connecting technology, workforce and process will enable proptech to make a significant economic, environmental and social impact. Rather than proptech being the solution to real estate challenges, it will be the tool for businesses to create future change.
Communication between tenants, landlords and property managers has always been limited. The amount of processes involved in managing property is huge. With checks and monitoring to conduct for every property on landlords’ books, hours of admin time is demanded. New apps on the market now allow tenants and landlords to easily chat, complete forms and payments online in a few simple clicks. Better communication between stakeholders creates transparency and improved relationships. Moving beyond transactional communication, proptech now has the opportunity to facilitate collaboration between businesses and communities.
Create social change
With the digitisation of real estate, it’s important not to lose the human aspect that powers such a successful industry. Understanding the buyer’s needs and finding their ideal property creates positive relationships between real estate businesses and the local community. But one of the main issues we face in our communities is the prominence of social isolation and loneliness.
There are 1.4 million chronically lonely older people living in the UK, with millions of individuals of other ages experiencing loneliness in their lifetime. Age UK also reported that millions of people in the country can go five or six days without any social contact. While these two issues are defined by different characteristics, the need to increase inclusion and create long-lasting relationships is a connecting theme.
The built environment is a huge contributor to this issue. People who rent property, live alone or are unemployed experience high-levels of isolation and loneliness due to the lack of community schemes accessible to them. As the built-environment can isolate those in lower socio-economic areas, proptech can break down the barriers and create a safe space for communities to connect. Online spaces for residents and businesses to communicate can be facilitated by landlords and property managers with the resources to support this.
Digital inclusion projects
Digital inclusion projects are appearing all over the world to encourage non-internet users and those experiencing loneliness or isolation to meet other people. Digital Angels, Log My Care and Built-ID are organisations using technology to improve communication between the elderly, lone workers, and communities. Ongoing connections facilitated by property technology and real estate helps people stay engaged with like-minded individuals. The accessibility of IoT for the elderly and low-income areas is the key to ensuring support is ongoing beyond initial communication.
Proptech can facilitate positive social change. The value added to people’s lives using technology can tackle huge societal issues that our communities are experiencing. The power that real estate businesses, landlords and tech companies hold when used for good can create integrated communities, improve mental and physical health and reduce social isolation.