Proptech - Disruption or Collaboration?
has been hard to ignore the emergence of ‘Prop tech’, and indeed hard not to be
impressed by some of the innovative ideas coming through. There is no doubt
that our industry is changing because of it, and changing for the better.
is difficult to stomach however is some prop tech developers who appear to be
shouting loudly about (and I quote): ‘disrupting the shady role of office
agents’. This is a punchy statement from the co-founder of Hubble; Rohan
Silva. He continues.. ‘We are the future of the property industry as we
can automate so much of the agent’s role; which is fast becoming obsolete.’…
Whilst it’s a headline grabbing statement, is there any truth in it?
are a new online platform which matches people looking for office space with
those who have it. So a variation on the theme of co-working operations. They
undoubtedly have a point with regard to the automation. The basic function of
searching for offices needs to become automated and rightly so. The process of
walking the streets and phoning agents has become the archaic way of looking
for vacant offices, much like looking in yellow pages for an electrician.
However, and this is where Mr Silva is wrong – our role is significantly more
diverse than just searching and introducing office buildings to occupiers. The
search and selection of potential offices is just 10% of the commercial agent’s
an occupier has chosen their preferred floor (or building) then the process of
negotiation must take place. If every Landlord had the same aspirations and
criterias then the negotiation process can also become automated. But Landlords
all have totally different positions when it comes to managing their assets. A
fund manager for example will have vastly different criteria than a private
short term investor. Rent free periods, service charge caps, rent deposits,
alienation provisions, alterations…: all these points make up a large part of
what we do. We negotiate these topics to suit the client, and each and every
transaction differs entirely from the last. Can this be automated?
once the financial terms are agreed there is a whole lease document which needs
to be negotiated and settled over. And again, many leases content vary
significantly, subject to both the Landlord and tenants criteria. This is one
area I feel is crying out for advances in tech. Most leases negotiations are
long and cumbersome. Is there a future for a ‘1 size fits all’ lease?
this absolutely does not mean the Hubble’s of this world do not make valid
points and are disrupting for the right reasons. We are in total
agreement that AI and online platforms will help streamline our business model
and unquestionably take out the outdated aspects of our role. We welcome
this, and with the imminent intro of VTS into this office; we are already
seeing the benefits of using such platforms for our data management.
will be pertinent in the coming months and years is for the Prop tech
disruptors to work jointly with agents and Landlords alike, to see how everyone
can work together for the better of our industry. I’ll finish with a quote from
industry heavy weight Nick Leslau who sums up the tech advance perfectly:
a property investor it has become abundantly clear to me after too long of
ignoring the changing winds just how radically technology will change and
inform our decision-making in the future and how better information more
speedily accessed, will result in significant competitive advantage. There is
no a part of our industry prop tech will not touch.
is up to us now as Landlords & Agents, jointly with the Tech developers to
all work towards an improved, streamlined and more efficient way of doing our day
View All Articles