Traditionally, the property market has been slow to adopt new technology. The most traditional of asset classes has, whether purposefully or otherwise, been slow to embrace and adapt to the ebbs and flows of technological innovation. This evident reluctance to do so, a lack of willingness to fully embrace change, must end if the property sector is to provide an all-round, more competitive and fulfilling duty to their customers and clients.

There is plenty of evidence, however, that attitudes are changing. A new generation of investors and buyers, more versed in and familiar with the technology, apps and tools are looking to inject the property market with much needed updates and innovation. Inevitably, the real estate market in the United States has plunged itself into the pool of PropTech. By the end of 2017, over $5 billion had been invested in PropTech, 150 times more than the $33 million that had been spent only seven years prior.

The latest research confirms this. There has been a 13% increase in property developers and investors who believe that embracing and implementing state of the art property technology (PropTech) will have an undeniable and lucrative impact in the short and long-term future. In just 12 months, 61% of investors and property firms, up from 48% can see the benefits of the long-term adoption of cutting edge technology.

Property Technology

The digital age informs us that we must comply or die. Even social media platforms, unheard of and unused by the general population even just over a decade ago, are now fundamental aspects of business. A company without social media profiles or any sort of presence will find themselves rolling boulders up a hill for eternity just to be noticed. It is the sign that not only do things change, but they do so more quickly than we can imagine.

With the UK’s property market booming, becoming bigger and more prosperous than ever, and facing higher and more stringent demand from expectant tenants and investors, there has never been a better time for the sector to grasp the nettle and plunge itself headlong into PropTech.

The buzzword emanating from the property market is “customer experience”, and the traditional model of asset management, described in some quarters as “buying an asset, collecting rent and hoping you never get a call from your tenants”, is moving onward and upward.

Technological Trends in Property Investment

Several property companies have already prepped the ground and implemented a digital roadmap to best assist them in meeting their clients’ new demands. Much of the focus on new property technology is aimed toward user interaction, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

But what kind of PropTech is available for property investors and firms to take advantage of? First, it must be understood that in the digital age, the concepts of virtual space and real space, and the difference and distance between them, has changed irrevocably. This is the perfect set of circumstances for the property sector to take advantage of the proliferation of PropTech, which can present real space in virtual space with adeptness and ingenuity.

One of the biggest innovations across the technological spectrum has been the rise of ‘big data’. Big data isn’t just simply a collection of numbers and statistics, but rather an indication of patterns, preferences, ideas and trends occurring across large groups of people or individuals. Utilising the wealth of big data, harvesting it effectively and using it as part of a long-term marketing strategy allows for insight into ways of thinking, the predicting of trends and allows for more focussed targeting of marketing and customer analysis.

Property can now be traded largely on a digital platform, granting unprecedented levels of customer and client access. Discounting even the notion of user profiles, electronic updates, mailing lists and other such digital communication tools, the notion of virtual reality and augmented reality is one big proponent driving the rise to prominence of PropTech.

The ascent of the concept of the virtual tour and its implementation is serving a world that is almost totally globalised. As the UK property market seeks and deals with growing demand and investment from overseas, dealing with clients and customers remotely is becoming more vital and normalised. The advent of ideas like Google Street View will soon be pushed into the home more and more as time goes on.

Artificial Intelligence in Property Investing

In a similar vein, artificial intelligence (AI) can be an effective tool for property companies to aid in decision making and assist with customer care and relations. Innovations such as automated chat systems that can request contact information from potential clients before they lose interest or click off the site.

It is the personal touch that means more to clients and buyers today; the desire to know that they are being treated right and their investments given due care and attention by the right people. In a market facing competition from online-only ventures, where ease and convenience can come at the cost of a more involved, individual and personal experience, it is more important than ever for property firms to take heed and adapt and evolve as the market, and the money, dictates.

Even what we know about money is changing. The face of the property investment market could be unequivocally changed by the rise of Bitcoin and associated cryptocurrencies. Many see it as a portent of doom; unregulated and unwieldy. Others see it as the natural progression of the digital age; a chance to circumvent the status quo.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency; a digital currency. By using cryptography for secure transactions, via a list of records known as a blockchain, Bitcoin users can perform limitless transactions that are verified through a system that is resistant to modification and fraudulent activity. Cryptocurrency traders remain completely anonymous. Only the transactions are visible to the public.

Many will see the benefits of widespread adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain across the UK property market. With Bitcoin having created a nouveau-riche class in the span of 12 months, many of them in the Millennial demographic, they will want property investment firms to meet them halfway and be able to conduct transactions with this new technology.

The property market has already felt the effects of these winds of change. Luxury homes are already being bought using Bitcoin by traders who have found themselves richer than their wildest dreams in this new asset class.

Bitcoin for Property Investment

In the rapidly changing world of PropTech, all involved cannot be complacent when it comes to such intricate and profitable business transactions. The fast-growing property market, its current leaders, competitors and the length and breadth of clients and investors out there, are always looking for ways to protect themselves, their positions and their assets.

The conclusion, and solution, is a simple one: more knowledge must be gleaned, and investment made, in PropTech. The desire is there, the rewards evident, and the property sector must act quickly and aggressively to take advantage of the brave new world before them.

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