Property buzz: all you need to know about real estate tech

In the past, real estate has often been seen as a business of relationships, reliant on contacts and personal connections. While that's still hugely important, software trends are also becoming increasingly vital to the real estate industry. In the past year alone, venture capitalist projects have raised over $1.5bn US dollars towards software that could streamline your experience in the real estate market. Here’s a quick breakdown on what’s been going on.

What's real estate tech about?

The first wave of real estate tech focussed mainly on the consumer-facing side of the business, with companies like Redfin and Zillow enabling sellers to post and sell their homes online. However, the rise of new cloud-based tools have begun to disrupt the real estate industry even further. Companies like CompStak can analyse complex data that's otherwise difficult to find, from lease information to building specifics. Other start-ups, such as Faira, act as digital agents when it comes to buying and selling – helping property owners list their homes through to handling the contract process.

Is tech really disrupting the property market?

Real estate tech start-ups may still be a long way from dominating the property market – in Britain, for example, conventional agents still sell roughly 95% of homes – but competition against traditional agents is heating up. For example, some start-ups now provide virtual viewings, removing the need to meet up with an estate agent during office hours. Crucially, this creates flexibility – potential homeowners and investors can now view properties at their convenience (even if they're not in the same country). List and search start-ups, such as NoBroker in India, create broker-free listings that link customers and property owners directly, eliminating the need for an agent completely.

What does this mean for investors?

If you're considering investing in property, digital start-ups could make a big difference to the process. You might choose to cut out agency fees completely and go direct to the source, buying from sellers advertising through these online platforms. To help you plan ahead, start-ups like Zillow in the US allow you to calculate the mortgage you might qualify for, and detail what the repayments would be like. If you’re thinking of buying to let, some real estate tech start-ups now allow tenants to easily log and request repairs through an integrated online system (taking another step out of property management for landlords).

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