When COVID-19 struck and lockdowns left people everywhere stuck in their homes, housing markets faced deep trouble. It wasn’t just the closed borders that got in the way of property sales: it was also the general reluctance to get close to other people (with property visits suddenly viewed as unnecessary risks) and the drop in spending power due to job losses. It seemed entirely possible that international housing markets would collapse.
At this point, of course, we can look back and see that no such collapse ever occurred. In fact, property values and purchases stayed remarkably stable throughout the worst of the pandemic. So how did this happen? Well, much of it can be attributed to one industry: proptech. In this post, we’re going to explain what proptech is, and detail how it had such an effect. Let’s begin.
What is the proptech industry?
In a nutshell, the proptech industry — with proptech being short for property tech — seeks to achieve substantial changes to how the real estate industry is run, using technology to make it easier, faster, and more accessible. It’s populated largely by startups: companies that were started specifically to be revolutionary, addressing issues that had previously been overlooked by more slow-moving legacy businesses.
The rise of online operations
Core to the proptech world is of course the internet, with much of its success coming down to the movement of traditional services to the online world. Here are some key examples:
- Filtering options. When prospective homeowners want to find their perfect properties, they no longer need to pore over countless newspaper listings or drive around their ideal areas hunting “For sale” signs. Sellers can list their properties comprehensively online, tagging them to make it easy to tell what features they bring to the table. If you want a garden, for instance, you can select all properties with gardens in one click.
- Getting mortgages. Agreeing a mortgage deal used to require visiting a bank or mortgage broker, but it’s now possible to do it online. In fact, an online mortgage broker like Breezeful can rapidly return a range of quotes, taking much of the effort out of the process and making it possible to move ahead with ease.
- Viewing properties. Once someone has found a property that seems to fit their needs, they don’t need to view it in person. Through comprehensive online image banks, layout diagrams, and even VR tours through services like ViewScape, they can form a solid idea of how it will look and how they could furnish it without having to go anywhere.
The IoT’s impact on renting
The IoT, or Internet of Things, allows devices of all kinds to be electronically linked, and this has done much to help the rental industry. Unable to travel across borders and preferring to avoid hotels, many people have opted for staycations, using sites like Airbnb to book rooms, apartments and even houses from those who are looking to make some money.
In addition to providing the sites that allow this, proptech has made it easier for the bookings to be handled safely during pandemic times. Smart locks, for example, make it unnecessary for keys to be exchanged. Control can simply be granted or revoked when needed. This might not sound like much, but it was a huge help in areas where the virus was spreading rapidly.
Overall, proptech has saved international housing markets throughout the pandemic by making it possible to handle so many steps of buying, selling or renting properties through online systems. This has allowed people to limit the spread of COVID-19 while still pursuing their real-estate dreams.