Scene from the experimental film Rexy (2018). Image supplied.
  • Proptech has been in circulation since the early 2000s
  • The Proptech Hub WA opened in Perth last year, supporting property startups
  • Artificial Intelligence to disrupt the sector

Property technology, better known as Proptech, has been in circulation since the early 2000s with the advent of online listing platforms and geo-mapping tools for development and zoning measures by the local councils.

In fact, one could argue that the creation of a national database of homeowners is in itself progress of technology in the property industry.

Gaining momentum from the successful multi-billion dollar industry of fintech (financial technology), proptech is slowly becoming part of the everyday vernacular with REIWA’s innovative programs and the success of Proptech Hub WA right in the heart of Perth’s CBD.

It is truly exciting to see the progress of technology assisting my stakeholders, clients and peers alike.

A local proptech story

In the early 2000s, a local entrepreneur co-founded and ran an online geo-mapping tool (technology borrowed from the mining industry – this predated both Google Earth and Maps) for local buyers and renters to search and find properties using a visual mapping system.

His name was Charlie Gunningham, and the site was

Not before long, it had earned an +80% market share of all real estate agencies in the western and southern suburbs.

After ten years, the site was acquired in a friendly merger by the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA). Charlie’s team joined him in taking up new positions at the Institute, and together they ran site, which is supported by more than 90% of all agencies in the state.

My clients absolutely love using in the pursuit of their dream property.

Fast forward to 2022, after a stint as CEO of Business News and working on a federal government start-up fund run out of Canberra, Charlie is now the Director of Innovation at the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI), in state government.

In this role, he and his team get to run the New Industries Fund, a WA government election commitment and suite of programmes to support local start-ups, emerging businesses and entrepreneurs.

Here’s a few words from Charlie on the WA property technology scene:

“Property is a huge industry in WA, $20B in size, and construction is another $24B,” Charlie said.

“And yet property is still transacted mainly face to face, manually, with people shaking hands and signing documents.

“Technology has made impacts around the edges, but if you took someone from the 1950s (or even the 1900s) in a time machine and showed them the job of the real estate agent today, they would recognise much – except perhaps all those fancy cars and smartphones. The transaction is quite the same.

“I think this will now slowly change. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies – perhaps the metaverse, or something else we’ve not yet heard of – is going to change things in the next 5, 10 or 15 years.

Charlie Gunningham. Image – The Property Tribune.

“Proptechs will be part of that, and with the Proptech Hub in WA, something I’ve been a fan of even before it was created (plus I visited before it even opened), perhaps Perth has a chance of being a centre of this exciting new industry.

“As an old proptech guy, I’d like to hope so!”

Personally, I concur with Charlie in his statement above.

AI and Proptech?

AI is fast approaching the nexus of its technology with the advent of quantum computing. Faster computers means more processing power for systems.

This drastically improves machine learning which in turn allows for automation of systems and procedures. In 2018, we started a project titled ReXY, which stands for Real Estate DNA ( XY ).

Visualising a future with Artificially Intelligent systems in an experimental film Rexy The Film (2018 ) and Rexy The Origin ( 2019 ) set in 2028 Perth.

A team of creatives and real estate professionals expanded on reigniting the culture of collaboration in the property industry augmented by the power of machine learning.

AI, Blockchain, Virtual / Augmented Reality will be soon part of our lives in more ways than one.

Understanding the technology, innovating your industries and sharing the knowledge will ultimately lead to a world of augmentation – just like how your smartphone is part of your daily routine today.

Charlie Gunningham was managing editor of The Property Tribune from Jan – Sep 2021.

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