Estate agents have found virtual viewings and tours are now the practical way for people to look at the properties they’re interested in. The homeowner prefers this as it means that they only have one visit to tidy up for and then the buyers see their home at its best.
A decent 360° video camera gives a really good idea of the layout and size of rooms.
For the investor it means many more properties can now be viewed virtually, meaning that they can see more properties in less time and extend their reach far beyond their local area. There’s no need to buy ‘blind’, you can see what your investment is going into.
This has been one of the key technologies to keeping the property market positive during the long lockdown periods.
Moving made easy
The UK’s big three property portals have been around for ages - and your local estate agent probably lists their properties on those sites and others like them. But Purplebricks took a step further and offered a commission-free virtual estate agency service.
Now there are companies like Emoov and Nested that offer a streamlined digital approach to selling your existing property and moving into your new one.
Then there are companies like Settled that functions a bit like a serviced accommodation agent, but for sales.
The money men (and women) are catching up
You can get mortgages digitally with the big comparison sites - but only a few options for an entirely digital service.
Habito and Trussle started the trend for offering an online mortgage broking service and Shawbrook are in the process of offering a ‘one-click’ mortgage.
Target the hotspots for growth and yield
As an investor, finding properties that deliver a really good return on your investment is the key to success. Whether you’re buying to sell or buying to let, you want to get the best returns.
Now you can consult heatmaps that will give you information on where the best places are for maximum value growth and also for maximum rental income.
This kind of information extends the investor’s reach and ensures that investment decisions can be made faster and with confidence.
Find deals that match your strategy
It wasn’t too long ago that your investment strategies required you to do a considerable amount of legwork to find properties that worked for your strategy.
If you were interested in repossessions, you needed significant detective skills. If you were looking for auction properties, you’d need to trawl all the auction sites. If you wanted to get into HMOs or serviced accommodation, you had to do your own research.
Now, with companies like Property Deals Insight, all this is available in one place. You select your strategy and you can find all the properties that fall within that in one place. How much time does that save?
Due diligence made easy
If there’s one thing that property investors find a drudge, it’s carrying out due diligence. It’s labour-intensive and takes time to do all the research - but, without it, purchasing decisions are based more on gut instinct than hard fact. That’s hardly the way to ensure a profitable investment.
Today you can go online and, instead of trawling dozens of websites and having to amalgamate the information, you simply click a couple of times and all the data about a property is available on a single screen.
Project management for property professionals
When you’ve got several projects on the go, having a platform where all the tools you need to stay organised and in control are essential - and now these are available online too. No more searching the filing cabinet or expander file for that piece of paper, it’s all digitally recorded.
However, like anything else, the output reflects the input - so it’s up to you to get the habit of entering the data in the first place. Think of it in the same way you do your accounts!
Finding a fixer
There are plenty of platforms that make it easy to find qualified trades to carry out refurbs. Probably the best known is Checkatrade, but there are others - some with the ability to search, book, schedule and pay all in one place.
This makes life a lot easier for property investors who have properties in a range of locations, so a local team isn’t always the answer.
PropTech 3.0 and beyond
We’ve got access to lots of really useful tools - but you still need to remember your passwords and can find yourself skipping from platform to platform to do all the things you need to.
How do we give the customer a truly world-class experience end-to-end? Integration is the answer. The demand for all the tools in one place will grow as property investors and property businesses want streamlined services.
So, the next move for PropTech would involve partnerships and collaboration leveraging APIs and data services, allowing companies to offer an increased range of options and better customer experience.
Some services still aren’t available digitally. Most of the conveyancing services still slow the purchasing process down. Things like searches that are necessary before completing on a property are still done on a one-by-one basis, when there’s no reason why the information couldn’t be digitised so searches could be done instantly.
The transformation of the property market is developing fast - the smart investor will stay tuned in to the changes coming to gain and retain that all-important competitive edge.
*Nitin Aggarwal is the Founder and CEO of Property Deals Insights, specialising in providing data and analysis for investors and property businesses