Real estate industry invited to contribute to PropTech future

The real estate industry is being invited to have its say on the future of PropTech after REACH Australia unveiled a group of Australasian PropTech providers who could revolutionise the sector both locally and overseas.

Known collectively as the REACH Australia Class of 2020, the companies included in the cohort range from property management platforms to integrated smart lock providers, strata management solutions, and innovative navigation systems.

Each has the potential to offer benefits to the real estate space, but in some instances could be used more broadly across other sectors as well.

REACH Australia director Julian Brockhurst explained the innovators which made the list were at later stage scale-up, and as part of the REACH program would be given assistance to expand further.

REACH Australia launched late last year, with the aim of fostering innovation in the Australian real estate space.

The concept is part of a global initiative which stemmed from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the US.

“The NAR has around 1.4 million members and they were seeing a lot of technology come into the residential real estate space,” Mr Brockhurst explained.

“They wanted to help good companies and good businesses who were looking to elevate property performance, so launched a venture arm which is now the second largest venture fund for PropTech in the world.”

Since the accelerator program first commenced, it has enjoyed immense success at picking, scaling and elevating PropTech, with big names in their growing portfolio ranging from BoxBrownie, to DocuSign, RealScout and ActivePipe.

Explaining the decision to launch REACH Australia, Mr Brockhurst said it was clear there was a wealth of local talent, but often these companies were forced offshore.

“REACH wanted to help,” Mr Brockhurst said.

After assessing thousands of PropTech companies, the team selected six as their Class of 2020, and are looking to continue this support with new classes each year.

“Initially we have committed to at least three years, but the likelihood is it will extend well beyond that,” Mr Brockhurst said.

The cohort was selected on the benefits they will offer the industry in providing a better customer service experience, but often there are advantages that may extend beyond real estate.

“DocuSign was a good example of this,” Mr Brockhurst said.

“First and foremost it is legal technology, but its benefits to real estate are crystal clear.”

The Class of 2020 
The REACH Australia Class of 2020 comprises igloohome, PAM, Really, Sorted, UbiPark and Uxtrata.

Described as a ‘keyless access solution provider’, igloohome specialises in smart door locks, padlocks and key boxes, but without the requirement for Wi-Fi access.

In real estate, the technology is set to allow for improved access to both rental and sales properties, whether entry is required for a showing, or maintenance and repairs.

The technology also allows agents and property managers to generate unique access codes for each guest, providing a record of who has entered the property.

Mr Brockhurst noted igloohome’s unique technology was likely to appeal to agents and property managers alike, but would also prove a game changer for the short-term letting arena.

In the interim, it has also seen interest from government agencies.

PAM is a unique and innovative navigation system that’s designed to remove the white noise and complexity of navigating new environments.

It is aimed at ensuring users and an environment “better understand each other”, so guests enjoy a more personalised and pleasurable experience of a precinct.

Mr Brockhurst likens it to the Netflix of physical spaces, noting it understands people’s preferences and helps direct them where they’re likely to want to go.

“Basically, it helps people get around and find what they’re looking for, but along the way it can help with suggestions of things they might enjoy.”

Whether it’s project management or property management, Really is designed to digitise the tendering process and reduce the legwork required of managers.

The business-to-business service allows projects or maintenance jobs to be posted and then tendered for, with the process offering clarity and transparency.

Mr Brockhurst said Really was likely to appeal to agents and property managers when it came to tasks like maintenance, fitouts or assisting with client renovations.

Described as a digital customer service platform that’s purpose built for residential real estate agents, Sorted offers agents a branded experience where they can manage a single property or portfolio in one simple place.

For tenants, it simplifies the property journey, allowing them to apply for a property, connect services, manage maintenance requests and vacate a property using one platform.

For property managers, it enables them to streamline the management process and provide a branded experience throughout, while increasing revenue through add-ons. It also integrates with current software and property management ecosystems.

UbiPark is a unique parking solution that allows a motorist to search, navigate, access and pay for parking directly from their smart phone. The technology also allows users to open gates, sliding doors, and barriers to gain access to parking.

Its benefits include parking site efficiency and touchless service. 

Mr Brockhurst explained UbiPark’s popularity had been accelerated by Covid-19, but the technology is also proving popular with city councils who are looking to maximise the efficiency of their carparks and reduce congestion.

Targeted squarely at the strata and rental management sector, Uxtrata utilises artificial intelligence to cut down on repetitive tasks like invoicing, accounts receivable and accounts payable. For example, it can auto search unpaid invoices or automatically pay bills.

Join the Insight Panel
REACH Australia and the Class of 2020 are now seeking feedback on each of the offerings in a bid to provide services and solutions that are even more relevant to the real estate sector.

Mr Brockhurst said industry professionals could assist by reviewing each company’s service, or putting forward the problems they need solved.

Feedback is open until the end of June, 2020. Meanwhile, Mr Brockhurst noted companies with big PropTech ideas for the future could also reach out to be part of accelerator programs in the future.

You can view the Class of 2020 here.

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.