With real estate tech investments hit record-high levels in 2015, ‘proptech’ company Disrupt Property published a list of the Top 20 Real Estate Tech Investments in 2016, summing up the year by pulling together a collection of companies ranging from ‘just got funded’ to ‘unicorns’, stretching from San Francisco to Melbourne, London to Singapore.
There are more than 25 categories included, with selection criteria based on the following:
- Leadership in its category
- Ability to change the industry
- Quality and sector knowledge of investor
- Investment size
Disrupt Property said, “Selecting a top 20 was fun and it forced us to focus, to drown out the hundreds and hundreds of ReTech startups out there. Like any list, there will be some obvious omissions or companies we simply don’t know.
“However … we hope it’s a bit like a Christmas Countdown of the year’s best music hits. Always fun and always a few included you didn’t see coming.”
Blend’s mission is to approve mortgage applications in minutes, not weeks. In the US, the average time between applying for and closing a mortgage is 40 days, and one estimate is that it costs the banks US$7,000 each time. With Blend’s software, lenders can process the application in minutes by integrating data from salary statements, tax forms and saving accounts. It also allows the process to be done via mobile. Blend puts their software directly into the hands of brokers and lenders.
ISAs, or Individual Savings Accounts, were first introduced in the UK in 1999 as a way to encourage savings via a tax free account. Bricklane, launched in 2016, is the UK’s first property ISA, enabling investors to use their tax free allowance to invest in property for as little as £100 ($169 AUD). They own a share in residential property selected by the Bricklane team and earn capital growth and rental returns that reflect their percentage of ownership.
Comfy is an app that allows a mobile phone to act as an air-conditioning remote control. Office workers use the app to regulate the temperature of their offices to match their individual comfort levels. Comfy links personal comfort with productivity, claiming that 60% of occupants reported being more productive while using the app.
It also promises energy savings, with HVAC savings of approximately 20%. The app is currently used in over 3.5 million square feet of office space throughout five countries.
New York-based Compass, which markets itself as ‘a revolution in real estate’, is a platform which focuses on broker listings, and unlike other property portals, it takes a cut of the transaction rather than charging on advertising. Despite only being available for properties across a handful of US cities, the company claims to process US $7 billion in sales annually.
Compass sets itself apart from other property searches by providing broker profiles that are more user friendly, with richer content than the agent’s own website. They have also launched features such as ‘Compass Markets’ – an app that provides market reports in real time and up-to-the- minute housing data.
Singapore’s DataStreamX wants to help anyone monetise their real-time data resources. Their marketplace, which currently has 200 data products for sale, is a potential avenue for real estate owners to sell such data. Landlords are increasingly looking at ways to enhance their user experience, by investing in mobile apps and other sensor technology such as beacons, facial recognition software and even occupancy detectors. DataStreamX aims to create a marketplace so that landlords know what data to collect and what’s valuable, making a direct impact on valuations.
DroneDeploy is a cloud-based mapping and analytics platform that allows users to upload imagery from any drone to create high resolution maps and 3D models. While applicable to many industries, on construction sites this allows for instant measurements including distance, area and volume.
What makes DroneDeploy stand out is its own app store that allows third party developers to add their applications directly onto its interface. There are currently 19 apps are already available enabling specific features such as tree counting, damaged crop identification, roof condition verification and airport advisories on nearby flight activity.
Enlightened is positioning itself at the intersection of building management and Internet of Things (IoT), claiming to be the only company that provides the complete technology value chain. It includes sensors for lighting control, HVAC monitoring (energy saving), space utilisation and asset tracking. This provides a one-stop solution for building owners wanting to collect more data, and avoids the typical route of cobbling together different sensors from different providers.
Equiem is a leading tenant engagement platform out of Australia that connects landlords with occupiers, providing them with local amenity, convenience and information. It was created out of an increasing focus on office worker satisfaction and productivity. Equiem’s platform provides commercial landlords with a way to attract tenants by offering their staff tailored services. It provides a portal to communicate with the entire building community, connecting them to local retailers and building facilities (such as End of Trip, storage, postal etc.) as well as measuring satisfaction.
HomeLight has developed a unique process for homeowners and sellers to find the ideal real estate agent. The portal uses advanced data algorithms and machine learning to analyse millions of residential property transactions across the US. Then, using this information, it matches home buyers and sellers to the estate agent who most closely meets their needs.
The variables measured include knowledge-ability of price bracket, home sales conducted in the local neighbourhood, time taken to sell, possibility of closing the deal, and responsiveness time.
New York based Latch is a smart home product specialising in designer smart locks. The Latch lock connects to any IOS or Android smartphone and features a camera, touchscreen and Bluetooth. It allows access to anyone, anytime via a time-limited passcode. It also tracks comings and goings, keeping a log of who has entered the property and for how long.
Latch is answering the long time problem of needing to be home to let someone in, and is particularly relevant for the growing Airbnb landlord market. According to company reports, a number of real estate developers and owners have already piloted and invested in the product, although they declined to provide names.
LendInvest is an online peer-to-peer lending platform allowing both institutional and retail investors to fund short term mortgages. From its launch in 2013, more than £800 million has been raised to finance over 2,600 properties with 70% of investments made by individuals and the remaining 30% by small companies.
Because LendInvest focuses only on borrowers who require short term capital (either bridging loans or development loans), the returns are at least 5% and LendInvest takes security over the borrower’s property meaning they can take possession in the event borrowers can’t keep up with repayments.
Online home design company, Livspace, has pioneered the end-to-end home design process in India. The service allows consumers to design their home with the click of a button, create an instant 3D view, and have all the items delivered from their catalogue. Livspace also takes care of installations with a special focus on its extensive range of Modular Kitchen and Wardrobe systems. Since launching in December 2014, it has built a community of more than 600,000 interior designers and is targeting US$100m revenue by the end of FY2017.
They are also investing in technology to bring contract manufacturers, modular furniture companies, home design services and a decor marketplace onto the platform.
Matterport is a real estate 3D/VR leader and unlike many of its competitors which work off 2D plans, its technology uses a camera to quickly scan internal spaces before converting to photo quality 3D renders. This results in complete digital representations of a real-world environment allowing users to create, modify, distribute and navigate immersive 3D images on web, mobile and via Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard VR headsets.
The Opendoor platform aims to redefine the US home buying market by guaranteeing to buy a home within hours of listing. The seller uploads details and the Opendoor team sends through a valuation sight unseen, based on their proprietary algorithim which calculates more than 150 factors. If accepted, they follow up with a third party inspection and require executed contracts within seven days.
This simplifies the home buying process, removing the need for online listings, agent fees, multiple inspections and negotiations, and the risk of not closing. Opendoor then renovates the property and sells it on their platform, with a 30-day money back guarantee.
ParkiFi is a Denver-based platform that provides real- time occupancy and analytical data tailored for parking and property management. It works by placing small sensors in parking spots, giving drivers parking availability and directions to help them find an empty spot (promising to help reduce traffic). For property managers, it shows bay by bay performance data, income forecasts and notifies when someone has overstayed their park so they can send a parking inspector to issue a ticket.
Plentific is a home services marketplace that sources tradesmen based on qualifications and project histories, stepping in to become the ideal middleman and offering more than 75,000 tradesmen across 700 services. Profile pages for the listed tradespeople include services offered, qualifications, customer reviews and past projects.
Profiles can be verified, helping to strengthen tradesmen appeal, and tradesmen can pay to become gold partners giving them greater exposure and increasing their inquiry rate.
17. Property Partner
Property Partner claims to be ‘the world’s first stock exchange for residential property’ and gives individuals the ability to invest for as little as £50 ($84.50 AUD). It sources the property, pays the deposit and underwrites the deal. It then lists it on its website, allowing individuals in the UK and abroad to invest.
In return, they receive rental income proportionate to their holding and benefit from any capital gain. Investors can opt to sell their holding at the price of their choice at any time, or exit at market value after five years.
VTS, originally ‘View The Space’, is the markets leading commercial real estate platform moving a range of functions previously tracked using excel onto a comprehensive, cloud-based platform. It was formed to help commercial real estate brokers and owners lease space more efficiently and streamline workflows. The platform includes everything from deal analysis to CRM, stacking plans to marketing tools and is currently used to manage 2.7 billion square feet of real estate.
Yopa is a described as a ‘hybrid estate agency’ as it combines technology with the help of an assigned real estate agent. Homeowners can sell their property for a fixed fee and Yopa provides a valuation as well as professional photos, floorplans and a description before listing on all major UK portals. Inspection requests are organised directly by the seller via an online dashboard and once a buyer is found, the agent will step back in to help finalise the deal. Online agents currently represent only 5% of the UK residential market with a host of similar platforms.
Zumper claims to be the fastest growing home and apartment rental service in the US, with revenue increasing 500% since the beginning of the year. The core idea is to allow users to apply on the spot, avoiding the traditional process of manual verifications and drawn out acceptance timelines. This is enabled by instant verifications using Experian and a 5 minute application process.