Proptech companies continue to change the way people conduct business in the rental markets, while also taking advantage of new ways of investment.
Crowdfunding is proving to be a lucrative way for property technology companies to raise the funds they need to either launch or grow their products. Recently SPCE, which says it is the Airbnb of student accommodation, raised £185,827 within 24 hours, via crowdfunding site Seedrs. In total, the company, which produces an app to change the way students find and select homes to rent, is close to its target of £215,000. What SPCE does is bring landlords and students together, so they can either rent out or look for rental properties near university campuses, without going through estate agents.
Other news has focused on online property investment company Holiday Crowd, which has just raised £290,000 from angel investors, including Clive Sykes and Apadmi Ventures. This startup was launched in March, and allows investors to build up a portfolio of shares in holiday rental properties. Holiday Crowd has opened up the market to new investors, who can put in amounts from as little as £1,000 in properties throughout Europe.
As well as the holiday rental market, commercial real estate is also proving to be a popular investment. Research by NAIOP shows commercial property has risen from 4.5% of institutional investment portfolios to nearly 10% in the past 17 years. Again, proptech is having an influence in this sector, by allowing companies to use new technology platforms to generate more leads. Obviously, there are some roles which are better done by a person, such as negotiation and advising. Laborious, repetitive tasks, however, can be driven by software, such as managing a high volume of leads, gaining exposure for deals and reporting to clients. Software can also be used to look at how effective a business is. For example, a company could use software to track the leads they generate to see how effective their different marketing strategies are. They would then find whether social media, direct enquiries or their own websites generate the most productive leads.
Software development will continue to help the rental industry, with more innovative platforms in the next few years. Landlords and agents will need to assess which new proptechs to embrace to put them ahead of the competition. Agents and landlords will need to look at whether the technology will give a genuine return on interest for their business, produce real customers, have good data protection policies in place, and work well with other software. Any proptech investment needs to solve problems rather than add to them or be disruptive. Most property agents and landlords are already using data products and software systems at the moment, but they need to be confident that such applications work for their benefit while being cost-effective and easy to use. They should free personnel from labour-intensive tasks, so they have more time to meet clients and generate income, rather than dealing with back-office and administrative duties.
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