Guy Windsor-Lewis, CEO & Founder of digital property management firm Locale, reminisces on the ever-evolving PropTech sector, and what the current climate means for its future.

From a basic communication and data solution to focusing on end-user access to the rise of hotelisation, PropTech continues to mould to shifting consumer patterns, economic conditions, and bridge the gaps in property sales and value. Its resurgence has typically come in waves.

PropTech 1.0 emerged in the 80s with the rise of personal computers and access to digitised information and data, with real estate professionals adopting early software such as Microsoft Excel as a more efficient way of working. This era was a completely new ball game for every industry. However, at this stage, real estate was reluctant to accept its benefits, and would still be questioning its worth for many years after.

PropTech 2.0 arrived on the scene in 2000 in the form of residential search platforms such as Rightmove and Zoopla, allowing consumers more control and transparency along their property journey as it became easier to buy, rent, sell and manage using online platforms. Whilst it became easy for consumers to engage with real estate on a virtual platform, there was still hesitation from property managers to follow their lead, despite the capability to connect, communicate and automate their spaces and the people within.

Finally, we have arrived at PropTech 3.0, which provides a multi-faceted approach to digital solutions, particularly with the rise of smartphone management and consumerism. It has become clear that the occupier experience has taken priority amongst property development and management with the rise in hospitality-like services (such as a concierge) within the home and office spaces. Furthermore, real estate has been keen to collaborate with occupiers to meet modern expectations, and create places and spaces that they want to live and work in through engagement and placemaking.

In 2021, tech is now fully embraced in all aspects of our lives as it has become critical to the fight against COVID-19, and helping us remain connected. It’s improving services and saving lives. This is an opportunity to fully embrace and push the digital services PropTech can offer and keep this momentum going as we find a new equilibrium in the attitudes of PropTech amongst real estate professionals.

If anything, the pandemic has taught us to have a plan A, B, and C in place, so at Locale, strategic thinking and execution will be a priority going forward, not just being a cliché with innovation for innovation’s sake. Having empathy and understanding that the whole world is in exactly the same situation – as well as knowing what we can do to help is vital. Appreciating what our clients need, what will actually work for them, and showcasing the proper return on investment enables us and the rest of the PropTech community to provide the best service possible.

Discover in our webinar here the key moments of the PropTech journey with a panel of three expert speakers. The session elaborates on the digital landscape of real estate in 2005, the eventual shift in acceptance, and my expectations for 2021 and beyond.

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