Indispensable PropTech tools for an ever-evolving market | Everything Property

Indispensable PropTech tools for an ever-evolving market


Real estate industry professionals must embrace PropTech, developing apps to help them keep pace with consumer demands and grow their business.


Real estate apps enable brand growth by providing valuable market intelligence, facilitating trendspotting, and enabling targeted marketing campaigns.

The app environment has exploded since the first consumer platform for app downloads launched in 2008 with fewer than 600 choices. Today there are almost nine million of them, which according to Statista will be downloaded 299 billion times during the year. The average smartphone has 40 apps installed, and the average smartphone user opens nine to 10 apps daily.

While the real estate industry, which trades in the largest asset class in the world worth $340 trillion, has been a late adopter of the digital world, it’s clear today that property professionals who don’t invest in technology will continue to see their business going nowhere slowly. According to Industry Arc’s predictions, the real estate software development market is set to reach a substantial $20.6bn by 2026, with compound annual growth rate projections ranging between 5.7% and 10.1% for the next five years. Notably, the most prudent investment lies in developing apps because mobile phones are the preferred digital connection worldwide.

Embrace mobile apps

DataReportal’s Digital 2023 Global Overview Report reveals that at the start of this year, approximately 5.44 billion people possessed mobile phones, accounting for 68% of the global population. This figure represented a year-on-year increase of over 3% in unique mobile users. In SA, the statistics are even more striking, with 112.7 million active cellular connections in early 2023, surpassing the country’s entire population by 87.4%.

Adopting a two-pronged app strategy is essential for real estate professionals to maximize the benefits of their tech investments. Embracing mobile applications will enable them to tap into the vast and growing pool of mobile users, offering new opportunities for engagement and growth in the real estate industry.

Joff van Reenen, founder and CEO of PropTech firm, The Chant Laboratory, says, “Phase One is to take the leap and brand your own app. Today the process is far less daunting because the market offers numerous industry-tailored, white-label apps for real estate companies to skin with their own branding.”

App vs website or both?

That means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; simply choose an app that is easy to operate on the back end, can adapt to the look and feel of your brand, offers your clients a few nifty functionalities like mortgage calculators, in-app broker contact or even secure channels for payments and document submissions, can push tailored marketing messages, is adapted for images, video and streaming, integrates your social media feeds and offers the best bang for your buck. “One of the most frequent questions I still field from property professionals is: “Why do we need an app if we already have a website?” adds the real estate industry veteran and auctioneer.

He says there are dozens of compelling reasons, but from a client perspective, apps provide an instant connection between broker and client. App functionality is up to five times faster than a mobile browser and was specifically designed for phones. Apps are, therefore, more straightforward and user-friendly; all the information users need is at their fingertips. In addition, apps offer instant new listing updates via push notifications.

Property agencies to take the leap

For a real estate business, apps mean information which in this industry is gold. Equipped with advanced analytics and big data capabilities, they offer many benefits to property professionals, including providing real-time insights into crucial aspects such as market trends, pricing dynamics, demand patterns, and consumer behaviour. By leveraging these data-driven insights, professionals can make well-informed property valuations, more intelligent investment decisions, and more effective marketing strategies. These apps can use predictive analytics to give industry players a competitive advantage by identifying emerging market trends ahead of time, allowing them to capitalize on upcoming opportunities. In addition, they enhance client reach, streamline transaction processes, and contribute to more accurate business forecasting.

“The next phase of a successful real estate app strategy comprises blasting your brand across other people’s apps. And no, hacking isn’t the way to do it,” says Van Reenen.

Consider the vast reach of social media platforms, with an impressive global user base of 4.76 billion, as reported by DataReportal. Even in SA, 25.8 million people were active social media users in January 2023, accounting for 42.9% of the population.

“Property companies need to reconsider their social media strategies. A mix of choice stock and consumer-resonant content will attract and retain loyal followers. It’s also imperative to innovate with multimedia and to have some fun. A corporate ethos is important in branding, but so, too, is being human.”

Quality will always trump quantity

Apart from social media, leading property search engines offer excellent opportunities for brand exposure. According to SimilarWeb, Zillow stands out with an extensive offering of over 135 million properties, positioning it at the top of the global rankings.

To stand out amidst the clutter on these competitive platforms, the recipe for success is simple: prioritize quality. Whether still images or multimedia, visuals should be professionally shot, showcasing every aspect of well-staged, tidy interiors and exteriors. The property narrative must be comprehensive, inviting, well-scripted, and meticulously grammar-checked to create a lasting impression on potential buyers and investors.

“My mantra through 30 years of working in real estate has always been that failing to plan, is planning to fail. This is how I see technology in the property industry; if we fail to plan for it now, we’re planning the roadmap to future business failure,” says Van Reenen. “Don’t get overwhelmed by it; embrace the change, because it offers new and better tools to service clients’ needs.”

Joff van Reenen

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