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What is proptech?

The internet has made many aspects of life easier, from connecting with loved ones to speeding up banking transactions. And thanks to the emergence of property technology, often called “proptech,” even real estate has become a little more accessible than it used to be. If you’re wondering, “What is proptech?”, think of it as real estate’s answer to fintech: technologies and services that help to optimize certain aspects of the industry. To better understand this concept, let’s take a closer look at what proptech really is, its history and some examples of proptech companies and services that are helping streamline the real estate industry.

Understanding proptech in real estate

At its core, proptech simplifies various functions and stages of the real estate life cycle, from property development to sales. Proptech seeks to improve accessibility, efficiency and transparency in the worlds of both residential and commercial real estate. While paperwork and time are inevitable investments when buying, selling or managing a property, proptech may help to simplify or even eliminate some of this work. Due to the expansive nature of real estate, there are many different digital solutions to the industry’s myriad processes.

A brief history of the proptech industry

While technology has been leveraged by real estate for decades, the proptech industry really emerged during the dot-com boom of the late 90s. At this time, online property listings and real estate marketplaces grew in popularity, giving people and businesses easier access to available properties or new ways to list their own. By the mid-2000s, newer technologies made photo-heavy listings and virtual tours a standard, allowing renters and buyers to view properties remotely.

Since then, startups, apps, blockchain technology and AI have all contributed to the changing, tech-driven landscape of the real estate industry. Today there are many examples of proptech that businesses and individuals can use to simplify their buying, selling or search experiences

Examples of proptech services

To better understand the wide range of proptech offerings, let’s take a look at how the proptech industry assists users navigate key areas of the world of real estate.

  • Property listings and search platforms: Online property listings and search platforms allow renters, buyers and sellers to easily list and locate properties remotely.
  • Property management services: Managing property can be time consuming, especially if you own several of them. Thanks to proptech, property management software has made it easier to connect landlords, tenants, contractors and agents with one another. This could mean more efficient communication, maintenance, accounting and more.
  • Short-term rental companies: Those short-term vacation rentals that have become popular over the last decade? Yep, they’re considered proptech. These sites and apps give renters and vacationers alternatives to expensive hotel rooms that may lack amenities such as a stove or space for a large group.
  • Smart buildings and home automation: Smart buildings and home automation are ways homeowners can improve efficiency, security and even comfort or aesthetics in the home. This could mean controlling the color of your lights with your phone, automating the temperature inside the house or being able to check security cameras while you’re on vacation.
  • Property transactions and financing: Buying, selling and financing are typically hands-on processes that may require a lot of paperwork. Proptech that assists with property transactions and financing by taking them online, potentially saving you some of that effort and speeding up the process.
  • Data analytics and market insight: Another type of helpful proptech tool would be services that gather and analyze real estate data from market trends to property values. This data and analysis may help everyone from renters to developers make more informed decisions.
  • Virtual and augmented reality: VR and AR technology have allowed for immersive property tours no matter the distance between prospective buyers and their desired properties. This could mean touring a home thousands of miles away from your couch or using augmented reality to help you figure out the best place for said couch once you move into your new space.
  • Payment solutions: Whether you’re paying rent, paying for property management or dropping a down payment, sending large sums of money has been simplified via proptech. Online payment portals expedite the transfer of funds and may even eliminate the need to send any physical checks when payments are due.
  • Tenant services: If you’re a tenant or a landlord, addressing an issue may involve some deft navigation. Thanks to proptech, there are quite a few services that create a hub for tenant services, whether you’re looking for a portal to access and resolve maintenance requests or a safe place to keep that lease agreement.
  • Construction technology: From project visualization software to project management tools, any technology that increases the efficiency and effectiveness of a construction project may be considered a form of proptech.
  • Real estate investment platforms: Much like stock and cryptocurrency marketplaces, proptech has emerged to increase accessibility to real estate investing for all sorts of investors. With some real estate platforms, you can purchase shares of a property with an investment as low as $10. This makes investing accessible to people with lower incomes who may not be able to invest in a property outright.

In summary

Proptech has had a major hand in optimizing many areas of real estate over the past few decades, and has even changed the standard for how buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords go about their responsibilities. In fact, you’ve probably engaged with proptech without even realizing it. From the accessibility of online property listings to the speed and efficiency of online payments, property technology has made life easier for anyone who even dabbles in the world of real estate. With the way technology is going, who knows what new innovations we’ll see in proptech going forward?