Property technology companies continue to excite investors with Carphone Warehouse founder Sir Charles Dunstone leading a £13 million investment into online estate agent HouseSimple. The firm’s name sums up its philosophy, with the objective of providing an easy way for property buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants to find homes.
Dunstone led the funding along with business partner Roger Taylor and an unnamed investor to bring the total funding to £18m. This follows on from upmarket estate agent Savills backing start-up Yopa, investor Neil Woodford backing Purplebricks and Aviva investing in Opun.
In the first three months of 2016, 56 deals worth £428m have been made in property technology companies around the world, particularly in New York, San Francisco and London.
The latest deal with HouseSimple will mean that the company focus on growing the business.
Founder Alex Gosling said that users have saved more than £20m since it was set up in 2007. The firm helps people to sell their homes for more money but for less than the cost of a traditional agent. HouseSimple also enables landlords or rental management companies to advertise their properties on a huge network of websites including Rightmove and Zoopla for a weekly fee or fixed fee.
Technology is helping to make life simpler for agents and landlords with interesting new apps and software coming on to the market. Many will also help with the back office duties, such as inventories, property inspections, contracts and rents, so that agents can get on with important tasks such as meeting clients and growing their business.
Software can deal with the time-consuming task of managing keys, for example, with Keyzapp having real-time tracking so that agents and property managers can track and manage keys at all times.
Propcision helps buyers to find out if a property in which they are interested is priced correctly, how long it has been up for sale and what rental income they could expect from it. Viewers can also see how many times the sale price has been adjusted, if any sales have fallen through, its marketing history and stamp duty costs.
Another interesting innovation is a property crowdfunding platform, Property Partner, where investors can buy a share in a buy-to-let property from as little as £50 and then get a share of the rent from it. This is great for investors who feel that property is the right place to grow their money but do not want to be hands-on landlords. Property Partner looks after the property for you.