Letting agents are next in line to have their world transformed by property technology. Proptech start-up No Agent‘s founder and landlord, Calum Brannan, says he wants to see a significant improvement in the sector. He does not want letting agents to become extinct, but regenerated through technology. As a frustrated landlord, Calum set up No Agent to change the way landlords rent their properties. The firm uses technology to make it simpler to manage the rental process, for a monthly fee. Since starting up less than a year ago, No Agent has 20 in-house staff and 500 consultants to look after viewings.
No Agent is not the only proptech shaking up the multi-billion-pound property sector. Traditional estate agents, both in the sales and letting side, have had to rethink their strategy after Zoopla and Rightmove arrived on the scene. Now much of the buying and letting process is transacted online. Other online companies, such as Purplebricks and Housesimple, are also affecting the market by charging a fixed fee, rather than taking a percentage of the sale. They also manage viewings and offers online.
There is still a long way to go, according to Professor Andrew Baum of the Saïd Business School, at the University of Oxford. He will soon be publishing a report on the future of real estate and feels there is great potential to change the way houses are bought and sold. He feels money can be saved whilst proptech platforms can make transactions more efficient.
This includes the private rental sector, which is growing because more people are unable to get on the property ladder. Property firm, Savills, says the sector was worth £1.29tn in 2016 – a growth of 55% in five years. One company which has found a gap in the rental market is Movebubble, whose app lets potential tenants search for properties which are updated in real time. This avoids the disappointment of finding properties you want to view, only to find they have already been let. Tenants can book viewings and even make offers through the platform, which is estimated to save about 20 hours of research. Although it only covers London at the moment, there are plans to roll Movebubble out nationwide.
In another innovative move, RentalStep is aiming to be the Airbnb for home renting. This online service lets tenants and landlords leave reviews of each other and their rental properties in much the same way as you would on TripAdvisor. It also provides a passport for tenants who can log their payment history online. Their credit score will improve for every rental payment made on time. The concept of a TenantScore has also been introduced, to make it easier for landlords to look at whether tenants are suitable.
Altogether, the growth in proptech and online transactions will continue and will change the way buy-to-let investors conduct their business. Online services and apps will make it simpler, and more cost-effective, to advertise properties to rent, check out tenants and keep control of the administration involved in the letting sector.
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