Digital transformation is disrupting every industry across the world. The real estate sector is no exception, with residential and commercial markets seeing a large number of techprop and proptech start-ups each year.
Tech giants are increasingly undertaking major property and real estate developments (techprop), while existing property incumbents are starting to invest in tech innovators (proptech).
These developments are unlikely to slow down, says Arnold Pretorius, Director at API Property Group Tshwane, who believes that proptech companies in South Africa are simplifying the property market for property owners, consumers and agents.
‘Innovators are challenging the status quo and disrupting traditional real estate businesses. Proptech companies are using big data to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to behaviour and interactions. Having access to this information enables property owners and developers to make educated decisions regarding the future of their assets. Property agents can use big data, together with their traditional skills, to work smarter and faster. The goal would be to have agents and clients collaborate to meet their property needs,’ he says.
Financing a home can be a stressful procedure. The new digitised bond aggregator, MortgageMe, eliminates the hassle of applying for a home loan the traditional way. It is a free, simplified and paperless method for finding the best bond.
Andrew Price, CEO of MortgageMe, explains how the MortgageMe platform initiates a digitised application process that efficiently automates multiple submissions to the country’s major banks and lenders on a customer’s behalf. This process, which would typically take five days’ worth of paperwork before being submitted to a single ‘preferred lender’ via a real estate agent, is completely transformed. The application process is fast and easy, presenting results as quickly as 72 hours.
In addition to the full digital home loan application process, MortgageMe offers an affordability calculator and bond certificate services (which can assist buyers in being taken more seriously).
PropertyFox, which has been a digital disruptor in the real estate world since 2016, has now launched a PropertyFox agent division. This new division allows agents to reduce admin and paperwork considerably as well as giving them access to a very competitive commission structure.
CEO Crispin Inglis says he found that, while the real estate industry was evolving rapidly, a significant portion of the agent market was being left behind. ‘We have diversified our offering to allow agents to benefit from our data-driven and innovative sales model,’ he says.
The challenge the traditional industry faces is the high cost of the infrastructure required to support an agent, explains Inglis. As a digital-only company, PropertyFox doesn’t have local offices or shopfronts. It is a virtual agency with a very lean business cost structure.
Inglis says that, per sale, on average, PropertyFox Agent offers agents 49% more commission compared to traditional estate agencies. ‘This increases earning potential and, in addition, our virtual support gives the average estate agent 50% more time to engage in revenue-driving activities by cutting down on administrative tasks. Through the model, it is possible to increase income by up to 100%.’
Flow is a new app that rewards tenants in South Africa for registering on the app, adding their property details, paying their rent on time and looking after their homes, among other functions.
Tenants can use the app and be rewarded for good rental behaviour even if their landlord isn’t active on the app. Great tenants can earn thousands of points every month, increasing their Flow score and accessing rewards.
For these rewards, Flow has struck partnerships with several leading brands in the lifestyle, entertainment, homeware, fashion and travel space, plus a selection of airtime and electricity providers.
Flow, co-founded by Gil Sperling, Daniel Levy and Jonathan Liebmann, some of South Africa’s biggest disruptors in the property and technology industries, has raised R20 million in seed investment.
With communities placing ever-greater emphasis on safety, security and neighbourliness, tools that foster these qualities are in high demand. This is precisely what Realist, an app developed by Open Vantage in collaboration with Steyn City, offers.
The app allows residents to book for events and make reservations at the lifestyle resort’s golf club and restaurants, and offers services such as au pairing, plumbing, fault logging and tracking lost property. Going forward, Realist will even enable a cashless society by allowing residents to pay for goods and services using an in-app service similar to SnapScan.
Open Vantage’s Jacques van Niekerk says that the app so impressed the company that it decided to co-fund its development.
Having partnered with Open Window, Inhance and NewGX, Open Vantage is now making the solution available for white labelling, and is talking to interested parties the likes of Simbithi and other gated communities, so it can be applied to other estates that wish to foster a spirit of cohesion and enhance security.
These clients will be able to customise the app by selecting the solutions and modules that best suit their needs.
These exciting start-ups illustrate that there is a lot of confidence in the future of the proptech business space, with South African experts saying that funding from venture capital, locally and internationally, has been huge. One thing is certain: the future of real estate is nearer than you might think.