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These 7 proptech startups will help you climb the property ladder

Scott Carey | July 12, 2016
The property industry is ripe for disruption, as the estate-agent led business model remains deeply ingrained in the way people buy, sell and rent properties in the UK. Here are the startups looking to change that.

Formerly there just wasn't a platform for flexible use lettings, according to Bailey, with lets taking six months on average to close. Bailey claims that on Appear Here that is down to 48 hours, as they provide all in one pricing (rent, rates, utilities and transaction fees) as well as an online payment platform and standardised legal approval through their partnership with Forsters LLP.

Bailey is now working on pushing Appear Here out into new "retail cities" in 2016 and finding ways to leverage their unique data. "We are the only ones out there with an understanding of where every brand wants to be, what they will spend, what the next street is, so we have a huge ability to aggregate that data and understand really interesting things around the market," says Bailey.

Appear Here received £5.8 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital in November 2014, which will be spent on international expansion into "key retail cities" and expanding its customer service capability.

6. Virtual Commercial

Another proptech startup focusing on more commercial property is Virtual Commercial. Former commercial property manager Andrew Vertes set out to become the "UK's first online commercial estate agent."

Vertes actually describes Virtual Commercial as "Purplebricks for commercial property" as he saw an industry resistant to technology. "Property, especially commercial property, is a dinosaur. It is considered an advantage if you can send an email really," he told Techworld.

For those not well versed in commercial property management the incumbent model looks a bit like this, according to Vertes: "You get an instruction, you market it, secure a tenant. The agent gets a fee on completion, some marketing costs upfront and a percentage of the value on the premium." This works out as roughly 10 percent of annual rent, two percent of freehold sales and a raft of additional fees.

Virtual Commercial on the other hand sets a flat fee, hence the Purplebricks comparison, starting at £999 for a starter pack and access to the online platform. The average London agent fee, according to Vertes, is closer to £5,000.

The starter pack consists of 12 months of advertising and a 4x3 ft Virtual Commercial board to fix to your property. The platform allows property owners to manage all leads and enquiries. Phone queries are answered by the Virtual Commercial 24/7 freephone service. All leads are held in one place, where you can manage viewings, track progress and add notes. Virtual Commercial also provides training, support and templates for the relevant paperwork and referencing processes so that property owners can become their own agent.

Virtual Commercial has bootstrapped its funding to launch this year and outsourced its developers to build the platform, so it is still early days. However, if they can carve out a niche in the very lucrative commercial property market they could benefit from taking this approach and being first to market. The main question will be if property owners see a £4,000 saving as worth the extra work of becoming their own agent.

 

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