Both letting agents and estate agents are very concerned about the disruptive effects of new technology, “proptech” as it’s been dumbed, for property, as opposed to “fintech” for the financial services world.
The disruptive effects of online delivery of both property sales and lettings, with the likes of PurpleBricks, and in lettings, Upad, are making quite rapid inroads into traditional ways of doing business.
One only needs to look into the travails of the likes of Countrywide and Foxtons, whose share prices have tanked since Christmas, to know that proptech is one of the factors behind the drop.
But Sheila Manchester, introducing a leading authority on proptech, Prof. Andrew Baum, who is to speak at the next Negotiator journal’s conference on 30th November asks: “Will proptech save the property business?”
Co-author of books with sales of over 60,000, and a report: “Proptech 3.0: The Future of Real Estate” produced by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in 2017, Baum is being named one of the three of the world’s foremost and influential people in proptech.
So will proptech save the massive global real estate market, or will it damage it beyond repair by removing the personal contact that most clients value today? Could it totally devalue what professional well trained agents strive for today, by entering into a cut-price race to the bottom?
Are traditional “people-centric” agents today “tech savvy” enough to adapt to the challenges of tomorrow before it’s too late? Will they succeed by harnessing the technology to their own advantage, using the best of both worlds – new technology to enhance their offering, a creative an efficient hybrid model, and their own personal touch, rather than let new proptech businesses take over completely?
A recent RICS survey shows how far behind many in the industry still are: only around one-third of a batch of 200 surveyors questioned had heard of proptech, let alone understood what proptech means, and 66 per cent were still collecting their data with pen and paper.
But change is on its way and as Andrew Gove onetime CEO of Intel famously said: “Only the Paranoid Survive.”
We could be on the cusp of yet another tech revolution almost as big as the Internet itself, as Blockchain enters the fray; a revolutionary new technology spun out of Crypto currency, Blockchain lends itself so readily to money transactions and contracts – as a dependable open access ledger. Thousands of tech people are working on systems backed by billions of pounds in investment, working to change the way property is traded and managed.
To simplify somewhat: a blockchain is a continuously growing and immutable list of records (blocks), which are linked (chained in sequence) and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and full transaction information. Together, these blocks form an online openly distributed, unchangeable, peer-to-peer (decentralised) ‘ledger’ of records between different parties.
The Oxford research initiative is bringing together academics and property industry experts from across the globe to research and understand the technology and innovation drivers of change for real estate. An updated report will make the research findings available to everyone, but in the meantime you should read the one published in 2017 – see link below.
Andrew Vaughan, Chief Executive Officer at Redevco, a company involved in the research, has said:
“We recognise the enormous structural changes taking place in our sector. We believe these will be both positive as well as disruptive, will come at an astonishing speed and will significantly impact our business.
“We are delighted to join the Future of Real Estate initiative working with like-minded partners to learn about and anticipate the impact of such technologies and innovations at an early stage.”
Proptech 3.0: The Future of Real Estate – here