How are property tech services changing the rental market for the better?

From Uber to Airbnb, technology is disrupting existing and long standing business models in every corner of industry.

The property industry plays a fundamental role in our lives, for many, a large proportion of their net worth is tied up in their property. But as important as the property industry is, the customer and seller experience hasn’t changed that much in decades. In fact the property industry has been virtually standing still while innovation has been thriving in the digital space.

However this could all now be changing, the UK government published a report in 2013 stating the private rental market has now grow to over 18% of the total market, which accounts for a 24% rise in private renting between 2001-2011* – 1.6 million more renters.

There are 20 million people renting a property in the UK with nearly half (45%) of all prospective home buyers in the UK expecting to remain shut out of the property market, says the Post Office. Many agree that factors such as price and changing lifestyle requirements are behind this shift. This behavioral change towards renting is creating demand for new services that better fit the needs of the market, pulling innovative technology into the space.

PropTech companies make services cheaper and more convenient for consumers through the use of technology, which satisfies consumer needs left unfulfilled by traditional players such as agents and mortgage brokers; challenging the way they do business.

One business already making waves in this space is Fixflo. Their platform allows tenants to easily and quickly submit issues with their property, gathers the relevant information into one document and allows the agent to resolve the problem quickly without the need for lengthy email chains between both parties.

Convenience and efficiency is the name of game here. Within distributed and fragmented markets these two attributes will persuade even the most entrenched industries to migrate to new ways of thinking.

Take the utility industry for example, one renter living with three other housemates has to keep track of different suppliers, chase the financially unreliable housemate (there’s always one) and create some structure to the pile of letters and paper bills that terrorise our door matts. The entire process is painfully inefficient.

Having said that, BillHub already has the answer to this long-standing problem. Their digital platform consolidates suppliers and payments in one centralised Hub (no more letters!), tracks costs, bills housemates individually for their share and provides the user with one point of contact.

Exciting innovation like the ones mentioned, and many more, fundamentally mean renters are now spending less time dealing with problems and more of their free time doing the things that matter to them. In a world where time is arguably the most valuable commodity one can see why renting is becoming as much about lifestyle choice as it is a function of property prices.

* ONS. (2013). Home ownership and renting in England and Wales – Detailed Characteristics. Available: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/detailed-characteristics-on-housing-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/short-story-on-detailed-characteristics.html. Last accessed 20/09/2015.

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