PropTech (property technology) is the use of information technology (IT) to help individuals and companies research, buy, sell and manage real estate. Similar to the way FinTech focuses on the use of technology in finance, PropTech uses digital innovation to address the needs of the property industry.
One of the inventions that we have always envied to the North American real estate agents, and that we have never been able to implant in Spain (although it has been tried) is that of the lockboxes, some cacharritos that allow to deposit in its interior the keys of an uninhabited house, allowing this way the access in any moment of the Agents of an MLS. The box is opened by means of an alphanumeric code, or more recently with an encoded card. The card makes it possible to identify the Agent and thus keep track of visits by the Agency which holds the exclusive. If we bear in mind that an MLS, such as the one in Chicago, is made up of more than 50,000 Agents, we will agree that the invention of lockboxes is frankly convenient.
The case of real estate portals
Real estate portals, for example, have undoubtedly managed to make the most of the Internet, web and mobile age. The impressive development of these platforms facilitates the fluid encounter of offers and demands. They are increasingly usable and offer more information of higher quality along with complementary services to the sale, although they often do so through agreements with third parties. They are the black beast of some real estate agents, and that which has not yet appeared developments such as those of Zillow.com in the United States: the Zestimates (instant valuations made by the portal itself) or the Instant Offers (semi-automated offers of a pool of investors with whom the portal has reached an agreement). And the Agencies here do not have to endure the irritating direct promotion of a competitor’s Agent (who has contracted that service with the portal) that automatically reaches our owner as soon as we publish their property.
But it should also be borne in mind that real estate portals have substantially reduced the cost of contacting an interested buyer, and therefore have become essential for the same real estate professionals who denigrate them so much. In the United Kingdom, local real estate agencies have joined forces under the leadership of large consulting firms to create their own exclusive portal for professionals: onthemarket.com. Here it is difficult, although not impossible to achieve, due to the lack of unity and leadership within the sector. And in any case, it is difficult to know if this model is really viable, even in the United States, where the portal of the NAR, realtor.com, loses positions against the increasingly distanced Zillow and Trulia.