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Are these PropTech disruptors game-changers for property investment?

PropTech has been something of a buzzword in recent years – a rising trend which sees internet-savvy startups launch digital and technology solutions to property-based problems.

A wide range of products have entered the market, aiming to revamp, revolutionise, enhance and better the commercial and residential property sectors.

It’s a phenomenon that has grown rapidly in popularity and is now virtually part of the mainstream.

Annual PropTech conferences are held in London, with FUTURE: PropTech the best known of these. Alongside this, a growing number of PropTech events, talks and roundtable discussions take place on a regular basis across the country, while our sister publication – Estate Agent Today – has its own dedicated column penned by leading PropTech guru James Dearsley.

On Tuesday, the latest PropTech event – hosted by Women in Property and sponsored by chartered accountants firm Kingston Smith – was held at Devonshire House in London, chaired by real estate entrepreneur Angelica Donati.

Here, Property Investor Today takes a closer look at the five startups showcasing their products to an audience of around 40 keen observers.

PlaceMake.IO

Set to launch soon, PlaceMake.IO is the brainchild of Dr. Chlump Chatkupt, a mathematician, AI scientist, economist, engineer, writer, artist and musician who has previously worked as a researcher at LSE and as a strategic advisor to Abbott Laboratories.

Now he is aiming to enter the property market with his AI-led product, described as ‘Google for location and mobility’, which allows users to identify places or residential opportunities according to certain criteria. This could include residential property prices, transport links, price trends and data, social media trends, development potential and availability of coffee shops and restaurants.

The platform would also enable people to search for undervalued properties in London, potentially identifying investment opportunities in areas that have – for one reason or another – been ignored up until now.

Users can also see the correlation between various measures – whether it be residential property prices and interest rates or residential prices and transport links, with the ability to see how prices change depending on how close you are to a station.

It aims to help property developers and investors to work out the markets which could yield the highest returns – as well as why, when and how much.

What’s more, it can identify trends – such as how many people are drinking coffee in a given area – which might help property investors to work out if a location is suitable for the demographic they are targeting.

Furthermore, the search facility allows locations to be ranked by filters such as value, centrality, popularity, traffic, connectivity, business activity, healthcare, parking and safety.

It’s set to initially launch in London and other global cities, but Chatkupt said there was no reason why it couldn’t be extended to the rest of the UK at a later stage.

Datscha

Launched in Sweden in 2000, Datscha is a property search tool that aims to offer fast and easy access to data for all registered commercial property in England and Wales.

While it’s primarily focused on data for commercial property, there is data for residential property, too – although this isn’t as detailed or comprehensive.

It aims to bring ‘transparency of ownership and a level playing field to landlords, agents and investors looking for key property information in the UK’.

It also enables users to find and validate off market deals, search for comparable transactions, assess planning applications and discover who is buying and selling assets, all in a simple to use map interface.

It has operations in Sweden, Finland and the UK, where it launched offices in London and Manchester in 2016, and counts Savills as one of its clients.

Olly Freedman, sales director for Datscha UK, said he had seen a huge change in attitude towards PropTech in recent years, with a wide range of products and startups springing up all over the place. 

District Technologies

A PropTech company in the smart building space, District Technologies offers an app product which ‘enables landlords and large occupiers to create seamless and unique building experiences for their end users by connecting people, spaces and services’.

It believes every building should have its own identity and USP, with the app aiming to connect tenants with services, spaces and smart building technology as well as providing property owners with the data to improve their bottom-line and outdo tenant expectations. According to Hannah Prideaux, head of business development at District Technologies, the landlord-tenant relationship has changed in recent years – with tenants now expecting much more from their landlord and building.

Co-founded by Vanessa Butz and Patrick Morselli, and headquartered in London, it is initially concentrating on commercial property but is actively looking to move into residential property at a later date.

In some ways, it seems tailor-made for the growing Build to Rent and co-living market, with a focus on community and smarter buildings to improve the tenant experience.

It’s already working with Knight Frank, Cushman & Wakefield and Blackstone, and aims to expand rapidly – not just in the UK, but globally – in the next few years.

Dalux

Founded in 2005, Danish company Dalux aims to improve the construction industry through digitalisation – making it smarter, more efficient and more sustainable.

Already a big name in Scandinavia – its headquarters are based in Copenhagen – it’s fairly new to the UK but aims to transform construction by making the process of building an asset, from design, tender and construction right through to the handover, smoother and more tech-enabled.  

It places a big emphasis on automated processes and being cloud-based – allowing users to make changes and track progress of a development from their office, home or phone – while also providing a free BIM viewer app for Apple and Android devices and a BIM-based Augmented Reality (AR) for mobile phones, allowing developers/investors to see what developments look like and walk around them as if they were really there. The company is also experimenting with drones and robotics AR to further enhance its offerings.

Fusion Building Systems, which has operations in the residential housebuilding sector, was the first company in the UK to use the Dalux Field App, with the firm hoping to grow its UK operations in the coming years.

PRODA

Co-founded by Peter Bredthauer and Charles Williams, PRODA harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to ‘instantly capture and consolidate flawless versions of your data, unlocking its true value’. It aims to standardise data, in turn removing one of the major barriers – namely fragmented, unstructured data in endless different formats – to the digitalisation of the property market.

It is aimed mostly at anyone who works with rent roll data – including asset managers, real estate lenders and investment brokers – and aims to automate previously manual processes to save on time and hassle.

It recently announced a tie-up with agency giant Knight Frank as a beta testing partner.

The buzz surrounding PropTech currently shows no signs of abating, so there is a strong likelihood that many more products will continue to enter the market in the short to medium-term. 

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