Digitisation will see the property market’s power balance shift away from big companies in favour of customers – leading to the eviction of outdated practices
The property industry has for years been resistant to change, stagnating in endless paperwork, dated professional practises and rotating government schemes. Yet there have been signs that this is shifting. And the first group to embrace this change are those with the most to gain – property developers.
London-based startups LandInsight and UrbanIntelligence have slowly been revolutionising the land market by providing online, accessible land data. Instead of exhausting themselves trying to navigate the research needed for buying land, developers are now able to access all the information they need in one user-friendly place. The data-driven maps these companies produce not only save their clients time, but remove the burden of data sharing from local authorities, which previously had to offer these services.
UK councils certainly play a big role in housing, but if these land services show us anything, it’s that local authorities cannot be relied on to provide the innovation that the housing market needs.
2019 will be the year when emerging businesses recognise the need for market innovation, and utilise data to turn this into capital gain. Evidence of this is already apparent in the rise of online versions of traditionally offline services, such as architects. Online architects are still in their infancy, but are already proving a powerful disrupting force.
Startups such as Cardiff-based Arkiplan and my own company Resi are using data to remove the need for initial site visits, meaning extension or renovation designs can be produced remotely, and in half the traditional time. A small pocket of developers are already using this at property auctions. With quick turnarounds, they’re able to assess the development potential of existing buildings, and can therefore purchase with confidence.
It won’t be long before the other giants in the space – estate agents – see the potential in a more digitised industry. In 2019, homeowners will have access to an unprecedented level of property data, as estate agents seek to partner with online services.
Much like the developers at auction, homeowners will be able to see a home’s complete history: past, present and future. They’ll be able to see previous planning applications, as well as mock-ups of what their home could turn into. 3D modelling is already in use within the architecture field, and with the right investment, homeowners will be lured in by VR tours in proposed loft conversions, rather than just some pretty photography.
Population experts have already observed that people are moving home less often than they did 40 years ago, seeing a ten per cent drop in the amount of people moving within a ten-year period. With an unstable housing market, and costly stamp duty for all but first-time buyers, homeowners need to know the long-term prospects of the properties they’re buying. It’s no longer enough to buy the two-bed you need right now, nor is it financially advisable to purchase extra space that won’t be used until five years in the future. Homeowners need spaces that can grow with them, while also knowing they can see a future profit when it comes to selling.
If data and digitisation are able to lay down some roots, 2019 could be the year that homeowners finally get what they need from the property industry, with the power balance shifting away from big companies to the customers who generate their profits.
- Source: WIRED