- For an industry as large as real estate, you'd expect proptechs to abound
- They have been developing slowly over the past twenty years
- More money and interest is now appearing, so 2021 may be the year they emerge
After many years being the ‘also ran’ tech category to the fintechs, agtechs and medtechs of this world, 2021 may be the year that proptech receives its fair share of attention.
For an industry as large as real estate – with $8 trillion of Australian wealth tied up in residential property alone – one would have thought that proptechs would abound.
After all, proptech is supposed to be about finding clever technological solutions to property problems, and property problems are everywhere, and run deep.
The 1990s saw the advent of the internet, and with it the first property websites and portals. REA Group – then known as realestate.com.au – started out in 1995, listed on the ASX in 1999, and has since grown to become valued at more than $22 billion.
Along with way, we’ve seen property CRMs (client relationship management databases) move into the cloud, together with property management software, virtual tours and video.
However, the day-to-day practicality of doing real estate is still as old as the hills. It’s phone calls, it’s meetings, it’s relationships, it’s human. Person to person.
At the fringes, there have been some minor revolutions. The introduction of fragmented or fractional property investment has occurred over the past few years.
The Roaring Twenties?
Last year, ASX-listed Real Estate Investar rebranded to Proptech Group, acquired VaultRE (CRM) and has seen its share price quadruple. Around the same time, the Proptech Association of Australia was formed, last month holding its first-ever annual awards night.
Sites such as ListingLoop (the off-market property marketplace) have popped up, raising funds from basketball star Andrew Bogut among others. Airtasker’s cofounder Jonathan Lui set up Soho, recently acquiring HomeSales.com.au, and is taking on the major property portals.
The original backers of AllHomes have now got behind a new industry-backed site in Canberra – Zango – to try to take the capital city’s property portal crown.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making a move, with Propic picking up a $6 million investment and landing MRI software as a distributor.
Openn Negotiation – the online property negotiation site – is listing on the ASX, having seen $2 billion of deals completed across it platform.
Over in Perth, a Proptech Hub – a co-working space for proptechs – has opened, and has already filled up all its places.
Covid may have had something to do with these movements; technology can take you places if you are physically restricted.
Top 6 Proptechs 2021
The inaugural Australian Digital Technology Awards were announced recently by Momentum Media, showcasing the best tech companies in various categories: law, wealth, accounting and property among them.
In the property category here were the top 6:
- Realtair – automation of real estate process; REA Group is an investor
- Agentbox – real estate CRM
- Managed Platforms – property management
- Console – property management software
- Rex Software – real estate CRM
- Openn Negotiation – online property negotiation
Are these the best proptechs in Australia? The judging was decided partly via brand performance (20%) and a written submission (80%). Time will tell if these six will win, or other challengers emerge.
Perhaps the biggest winner will proptech itself. 2021 may be the year that the category finally gets going.