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Proptech is Starting to Enter Our Homes But is it Just The Tip of The Iceberg?

Peter Hemple looks at digital disruption in the property world

My sister sent me an email a couple of months ago. It contained a link to a video of someone scratching a key along both sides of her husband’s Mercedes in the middle of the night. While there was no sound, the picture was very clear and the video has been sent to the police as evidence. The person being filmed didn’t know he was being filmed as the security camera has night vision. My sister had the camera installed because she has four teenage sons and wants to keep an eye on their activities. Whenever someone enters her driveway, the sensors on the camera are activated and it starts recording. Her mobile phone makes a wind chime sound and she is sent 30 seconds of video footage revealing exactly who is coming and going and at what time.

After watching the video I phoned her. “That security system must have cost you a fortune”, I said. “Not really,” she replied, “I paid £260 to have it installed and then just £2 per month.”

This is just one example of how technology is impacting property, offering cheap but very useful solutions to age old problems, like keeping a watchful eye on your children (or in this case the local hoodie!).

PropTech is basically any form of technology that is applicable to property in all of its forms. Short for Property Technology, the term now refers to the vast amount of new technologies cropping up in the real estate industry. Of course, PropTech has been with us for at least as long as the internet has, after all, a property search engine like Rightmove is also PropTech (and some of our older readers would probably argue that at one time a washing machine was also PropTech!).

Searching for properties online was obviously a service that everyone would appreciate 15-20 years ago, as it saved the traditional time consuming method of visiting numerous estate agents and then waiting for an estate agent to register your details etc. However, over the past few years, start-ups around the world have shaped their PropTech business models to focus on other advancements, including:

  • Organising, analysing, and extracting key data from lengthy rental documents
  • Virtually walking through homes and apartments online
  • Managing properties using simple digital dashboards
  • Crowdfunding real estate projects.

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