Technology is proving to be the answer to the Covid-19 problem faced by companies all over the globe. Proptech trends were already influencing the UK housing market, but will coronavirus accelerate the use of different forms of tech to help drive the property market forward post-Covid-19?
Proptech Trends: 5 Technologies That Will Emerge After Covid-19
Proptech and estate agents have a curious relationship. The emergence of online agents put traditional ones on the defensive, fighting against tech while championing the human touch not found in the digital model.
Fast forward a few years, and estate agents are now more open to tech-led initiatives. The reason might have something to do with the high-street model making up for 92.1% of the entire market. 58% of agents now say they have a digital strategy.
Fifty-eight percent is an improvement from the previous years’ 52%, but it still doesn’t suggest there’s consistency across the sector. That might all change, however, with Covid-19 forcing many agencies to review how they run day-to-day.
The industry could witness a new-found enthusiasm for technology — with readily-available tech emerging as a vital component in a post-coronavirus world. Here are five tech-related trends that we think will pick up steam in the coming months.
1) Virtual viewings
There’s no doubt that virtual viewings have become essential components for many agents trying to navigate social distancing measures. But what happens when this is over? Physical viewings are unlikely to disappear into oblivion, yet virtual viewings could end up becoming the “new normal”.
As tech improves, so too will the ability to view a house virtually. The result is likely to be a growing number of buyers opting to take a virtual look around someone’s home. With 98% of people starting their property search online, it makes sense that virtual viewings could become the logical next step after identifying a potential new home.
2) AI and Machine learning
There’s so much data about property out there. The only problem is trying to access it — or, at least, condense it into digestible insights. Enter AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, the expected operating systems for all tech solutions… including property.
Machine learning’s ability to use algorithms that automatically learn from data and make predictions could be a game-changer. It will give an array of sectors in the UK housing market better access to information, from estate agents to property developers.
Estate agents will be able to provide even more accurate valuations, property developers can gather critical information for their next project and property managers will use automation as part of the process, making the lives of their clients much easier.
3) Build to rent and smart buildings
Build-to-rent continues to pick up pace, offering Generation Rent a modernised way to rent properties. Towards the end of 2019, there were 148,046 build-to-rent units across the UK, many of which incorporate smart tech features.
From managing every aspect of the maintenance process through an app to smart locks, build-to-rent is thinking with a tech-first approach. It’s no surprise to see mega agents like Savills invest in the build-to-rent sector as it embraces tech and grows exponentially.
Many business owners will be looking at ways to shape their estate agency when some form of normalcy returns. The result could be more integration between office culture and working from home, which may transform the industry.
Plenty of home-based agents are finding they can still perform their day-to-day duties from a remote location, thanks to technology. When all the doors around the UK start to reopen, it might be that some of the workforces stay behind and sells homes remotely — with tech being the enabler.
iBuying isn’t the latest product from Apple. It involves the implementation of technology to make instant offers on homes without the seller needing to go through the route of sourcing a traditional buyer. Instead, iBuying companies purchase the property from vendors directly, which allows the seller to become a chain-free buyer.
iBuying is still a relatively new concept in the UK. In the US, however, it’s proven to be popular with people selling their home. Like most trends in the US, iBuying could become a regular feature here in the UK, especially if social distancing measures last for a little while longer.
A real estate marketplace?
With so many estate agents working from home, one of the biggest questions surrounding the aftermath of Covid-19 centres around whether there will be an increase in self-employed estate agents. It’s not easy to predict exactly what the landscape will look like in the next three months, let along next year.
But an Uber-type model where estate agents belong to a marketplace as self-employed contractors could become a reality. Coronavirus has shown how fragile many industries are, and the crisis may well shape the property market by making it change direction.
The tech is already operating, and it could champion more estate agents to become fully self-employed. It will be interesting to see if there is a new way of thinking in the not-to-distant future.
Finding the best agent with Helmsmen
Here at Helmsmen, we’ve embraced technology to help you find the best estate agents. Our database of agents lets you search for criteria specific to your property needs. See aspects such as how quickly agents sell homes, which property types they sell the most, fees and qualifications to narrow down the best agent for you.