What is proptech?
Proptech, short for property technology, is a broad term that covers basically any technology designed for property or real estate.
The property industry is huge: it covers residential and commercial spaces from development to sales and rentals. Startups have every part of the process covered, from funding new builds to managing existing tenants.
Airbnb is one example of a proptech startup hitting it big. By applying the sharing economy to holiday homes, Airbnb made it easy for anybody to run a bed and breakfast—and the company is now worth over $31 billion. A wealth of startups have popped up specifically for Airbnb hosts short on time, with Airsorted alone raising £10.3 million in venture capital since 2015.
Zoopla is another success story: it was founded in 2007 by Alex Chesterman and Simon Kain, both of LoveFilm. In 2017, the property listing site’s revenue was £244.5 million.
While we often equate proptech with residential property, a huge chunk of the market is represented by commercial spaces such as shops and offices. Shared workspace provider WeWork was valued at a whopping $47 billion in an investment round this year; it’s been a market leader since its inception in 2010. On the retail end, pop-up space provider Appear Here has raised $21.4 million since 2013, and boasts a customer base that includes Google, Apple, LVMH and Netflix.
How much is the proptech sphere worth?
Proptech investment is climbing fast: while global investment in the sector was less than $1 billion in 2011, startups pulled in a record $12.6 billion in 2018, according to a report from research firm Venture Scanner.
Proptech-specific venture funds are beginning to emerge, too: Fortune 500 company JLL launched a $100 million proptech fund just last summer. The JLL Spark global venture fund’s focus is on commercial real estate startups from Seed to Series A, and a dozen companies including Hubble have already benefitted from funding.
The British proptech startups to watch
Arthur Online offers a complete cloud-based solution to property management. Keep track of rent payments, contract dates and maintenance work in one place; Arthur can even post vacancies to Zoopla or Rightmove for you. Arthur also integrates with thousands of popular accounting, management and workflow apps, including Xero, Signable and Experian.
Looking to buy? Hipla‘s Home Buyer Passport shows estate agents that you’re serious, while helping you to strengthen your buying position. The proptech startup’s smart analytics compare you to other buyers in the area and calculate your standing, based on finances and property for sale; the platform also offers a maximum price based on your data and tips for improving your position.
Flatfair hopes to make rental deposits a thing of the past by securing leases with debit cards, much like when you stay in a hotel. Rather than paying a hefty deposit, tenants pay a membership fee equal to a week’s rent and earn a trust score as they keep up rent payments. Landlords can see tenants’ references immediately and receive protection for up to 12 weeks’ rent.
Homie bills itself as a concierge service for time-strapped Londoners: for a flat fee of £199, its team will find properties that fit your needs and schedule an efficient viewing tour over a couple of hours. Once you find the perfect property, Homie offers guarantor alternatives and will even arrange move-in services.
Lavanda is an award-winning short term rental platform. The proptech startup recently launched a new venture that tackles illegal Airbnb sublets by letting landlords and tenants work together; landlords can set a number of days per year for the tenant to sublet, in turn benefitting from a portion of revenue generated.
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Nested promises to sell your house in 90 days and give you a cash advance with which to buy your next home—even if the selling process hits delays. Smart tools and expert insights help you to achieve a higher sale price, and Nested’s team can negotiate up to 5% off your next place.
REalyse provides rich data and analytics spanning 20 years to help property professionals make smart, evidence-backed decisions. Developers, investors and agents can identify trends, risks and opportunities in the market in moments, where independent research often takes weeks.
RentProfile offers a network of verified renters, landlords and agents to help tackle rental scams. It works like this: landlords claim their properties and undergo identity, license and accreditation checks, as well as verifying their contact and banking details. Tenants undergo a similar process, and both parties can vouch for past tenancies.
ThirdFort helps property professionals to verify home buyers’ identities and the source of their funds, fighting fraud. In turn, buyers benefit from a more streamlined, transparent and secure conveyancing process.
Whether you’re buying or remortgaging, Trussle trims the fat and helps you to find your best deal in just 20 minutes. By cutting down on traditional paperwork and rigid requirements, this proptech startup caters to self-employed, retired and low income buyers, too. Once you’re on board, Trussle checks the market every day and notifies you when you could be saving money.