Business is increasingly being managed remotely, particularly in the property world. People can search online for properties to buy or rent. They can look at the area via Google Maps and find the location of the nearest shops or schools; how well the public transport system runs; and even what the crime rate is like.
It is also easy for them to research whether they are paying under or over the odds in rent.
This is great for businesses too because clients can look at their properties and make enquiries at any time of the day or night. Landlords and property agents can also use software to manage the back office and carry out administrative tasks ‘on the go’ via their phone or tablet.
But the advance in property technology or proptech also means increased competition. Even some of the big names are having to diversify.
Property portal Zoopla is investing £1 million in four property technology start-ups in the UK. This is a first for Zoopla which is tying up with online mortgage adviser Trussle; mortgage provider Landbay; a platform for highlighting repairs needed in rented property FixFlo; and PropertyDetective which provides statistics and reports on different neighbourhoods.
Zoopla CEO Alex Chesterman said the investments with the four proptech companies confirmed the company’s commitment to innovation and nurturing UK technology entrepreneurs. It also means that it can continue to be a leading player in the online property sector.
These four start-ups are all complementary to Zoopla which means that it can act as a ‘one-stop centre’ for property-related enquiries and services.
It also means that as well as looking for properties to buy or rent through Zoopla, this is not the end of a customer’s relationship with the property portal. If a repair needs to be carried out on a rental property or someone wants to research a location in which they are interested, they can continue working with Zoopla to get the information.
Estate agents Countrywide and Connells have also jointly invested in FixFlo to provide a wider service for tenants and landlords.
Zoopla’s main rival is Rightmove, another household name, but there is a relatively new competitor on the block, OnTheMarket, which is hoping to take custom away from the two established firms.
When OnTheMarket launched, Zoopla responded by taking over the comparison website uSwitch in a bid to become a one-stop shop for online residential property services.
According to a report in the Financial Times, Exane BNP Paribas analyst William Packer said Zoopla lost about 30 per cent of its inventory to OnTheMarket.
In turn, these companies have changed the way in which people buy and rent properties as customers no longer have to visit high street estate agents or property management companies in person.
They can visit the properties virtually through videos and virtual tours as well as take a look around the neighbourhood. That means that when they come to book a viewing, they are far better informed.