Technology is rapidly changing the way the property industry operates. From blockchain and cryptocurrencies to artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), the industry is rapidly evolving and adapting, with property businesses large and small currently undergoing a digital transformation.


Source: Shutterstock/ SFIO CRACHO

The exhilarating rate of change and attitude towards technology among members of the property industry is reflected in Property Week’s latest Power of Proptech survey, supported by Freeths.

When the survey launched in 2017, 91% of respondents said investment in technology would have a positive impact on their revenue over the next five years. Last year that number grew to 95%, but this time around 96% of respondents stated they expect investment in technology will have a positive impact on revenue - 54% said they expected it to have a ‘significant impact’.

There was also a considerable increase in the number of respondents stating their business with more than half of respondents (52%) say they are willing to innovate and trial new products, with 49% stating technology gives their company a USP over rivals. 

Unsurprisingly, the technology that respondents believed had had the greatest impact on the property industry to date remained digital-first estate agents such as Purplebricks and Emoov. However, perhaps reflecting some of the well-documented woes  of some of the leading operators in this sector, only 10.9% said they thought that over the next five years digital-first agents would have the greatest impact on the property industry - a big drop on the 20% who predicted digital first agents would continue to grow in year one of the survey.

The technology that was anticipated to have the greatest impact on the sector over the next five years was AI followed by VR. Correspondingly, a growing number of respondents believed their business would invest in these technologies in the same time period.

Freeths proptech chart 1

It was heartening to discover that 41% of respondents work for companies that had already started to develop a digital roadmap and a further 38% of respondents stated their company had not developed a digital roadmap just yet, but was in the process of doing so.

Freeths proptech chart 2

On the flipside, a significant number of property companies still appeared to be reluctant to embrace change. Thirty-nine percent said proptech solutions  were not fully developed and although they would like to innovate and embrace new technology, they always faced teething problems.

A further 30.4% stated the most frustrating thing about proptech solutions at the moment was that they took too long to migrate and adopt, with 18.5% saying their biggest frustration about proptech was the speed of internet connection and/or a loss of internet signal.

Freeths proptech chart 3

Despite these issues, Darren Williamson, national head of real estate at Freeths, says: “The survey clearly shows that year on year, more and more businesses are expecting proptech solutions to have a marked impact on the bottom line. These solutions are an essential part of providing a USP and as a result businesses are embracing technology. It is a question of making not just any investment but the right investment.”