The multi-billion dollar real estate industry has always been labeled as the hardest market to disrupt due to its long-standing convention and status quo. In 2014, Zoopla’s 1.6 billion IPO has successfully brightened up the future for real estate startups and also created the phenomenal buzz word: Real Estate Tech.
By definition, Real Estate Tech refers to innovative technology that empowers the participants in the real estate industry, including agents, investors, buyers, owners etc.
Real Estate Tech, aka RE Tech, is gradually transforming this massive industry. Besides the traditional marketplace model, startups are attacking other aspects of the industry ecosystem. Here are the 11 types of RE Tech.
1. C2A Marketplace
A marketplace that connects consumers to agents. This model facilitates the process of property search, including buy, rent, residential or commercial entities. HK-based Spacious focuses on Asian markets and has raised more than USD$3.5M to date.
2. C2C Marketplace
A consumer-to-consumer model cuts out the broker in between consumers and landlords. An example is Bangalore-based NoBroker which has raised USD$13M to date.
3. Tech-equipped Agency
This commonly refers to startups that combine stunning technology with listing platform-based service and in-house agents. HK-based startup Okay.com is a fine example.
4. O2O Agency
These Online-to-offline startups combine platforms, in-house agents as well as offline storefronts. This model is commonly adopted in Asia. Shenzhen-based QFang falls into this category.
5. VR Viewing
Startups that provide virtual reality viewing. Developers engage these startups during new projects launches but there seems to be a prevailing trend of incorporating VR into the second-hand property market as well. HK-based startup Parrallax, an HK Finalist in MIPIM Startup Competition , is one to look out for.
This refers to startups that operate in the form of a crowdfunding platform, allowing investors to participate in real estate investment by debt or equity financing. An example is Beijing-based Meiaoju which has raised over USD$8M.
7. Mortgage Solutions
This refers to businesses that provide mortgage solutions to consumers and agents. With the success of raising USD$98M to date, SF-based LendingHome is a fine example in this area.
8. Property and Leasing Management
The aim is to streamline the property management process, as well as make renting painless.Portland-based Cozy has raised over USD $9M operating with this model.
9. Sales & Marketing
Some businesses provide powerful sales & marketing tools to real estate agents. South Carolina-based Boomtown is leading with their rather unusual positioning and has raised over USD$20M to date.
10. Agent Matching
Agent matching, rather literally, connects consumers directly to quality agents. An example is SF-based HomeLight, which raised over USD$15m to date.
11. Big Data & Analytics
By collecting and crunching data, startups provide analytics and insights to owners, agents, and investors with the real estate industry. NY based CompStak, raising over USD$14M, falls into this category.
Ever since starting in real estate technology in 2012, I am grateful to have been involved (directly and indirectly) in 6 of the above categories. My prediction is that the real estate tech ecosystem will grow organically couple years down the road whereas startups will focus more on niche and segmented markets, resulting in more innovative RE models/Categories to spin out. Let us keep a close eye on the future’s development.