Technology has revolutionised nearly every aspect of our daily lives and property is no exception. PropTech (property technology) is playing an integral role in the expanding digital transformation of the real estate industry.
The latest PropTech innovations are making it easier to be investment-savvy when buying property. Opening doors for first-time buyers wanting to save money and make smarter investment decisions, these advances are changing the housing market and streamlining application and buying processes.
Here are our top four PropTech innovations to watch that can help you make smart property decisions:
1. Scan the property using virtual reality (VR) technology
Spending your Saturdays going from one open house to the next might be fun for some, but tedious for others. VR technology cuts this out, saving you time while allowing you to make a well-informed decision uninterrupted by agent bias. Aspiring homeowners can view a property, and its surrounding neighbourhood, digitally via an online 3D-model and drone imagery. A VR-headset also enables you to virtually walk through the property.
SpotaHome gives you a full map of the property with detailed home and neighbourhood descriptions, while local innovations like Virtual-Reality.co.za, have tapped into the real estate community by offering property tours
2. Turn to virtual estate agents for help:
Previously, South Africans had two choices when it came to buying, selling or renting a house; doing it either through an agent or yourself.
Virtual real estate agents save you the cost of traditional agents’ mark-ups by directly connecting you to a buyer or seller. Services like PropertyFox ask as little as 1,5% commission, saving you up to 80% of traditional agent costs, whereas services like HouseMe takes the hassle, cost and risk out of managing long-term rentals.
“HouseME’s PlaceME tool improves vacancy rates and ensures fairer pricing as it allows for tenants to place offers either higher or lower than the landlord's asking price. This ensures that a property doesn’t fall vacant or earn too little based on market dynamics. For the tenant, this tool removes unfair discrimination and poor pricing,” says HouseMe CEO and Co-founder, Ben Shaw.
While start-ups are beginning to phase out the traditional estate agent, banks are also latching on to the trend and connecting buyers and sellers directly on their apps and platforms.
3. Financing your decision smartly:
Once you’ve made your decision, it is a good idea to investigate the financing options available to you. Financing your home can be a stressful procedure filled with heavy paperwork and endless negotiations with lenders. The new digitised bond aggregator, MortgageMe, a first-of-its-kind in South Africa and the most recent innovation in the country’s PropTech space, eliminates the hassle of applying for a home loan the traditional way. It automatically streamlines the services of third parties such as mortgage lenders, banks and real estate agents so that you don’t have to deal with them directly to get the best deals.
4. Storage made trendy:
Regardless of Marie Kondo's famous method, storage space is still extremely popular and even more so when moving. Traditional storage units, however, are often rented for set periods of time and situated in inconvenient, far-off places. Fortunately, PropTech is changing that. A South African online platform that is making moving a breeze is the Cape Town-born peer-to-peer marketplace, Sxuirrel. The platform helps you find and share local, affordable and flexible storage space by connecting you with others in a nearby community. Benefits include only paying for the actual space you use, no long-term commitments or fixed monthly lease and you get to determine the time period you can commit to.
PropTech is a revolutionary shift in the current real estate setting and is already showing strong transformations in the way people approach property. Its potential to disrupt the traditional property investment business model holds exciting outcomes for South Africans who are eager to claim property ownership sooner than later. The key is to be on the lookout for rising developments in this technology sector and continue matching your needs with the tools available to make the smartest investment.