Buying or renting a house is becoming a digital process. Source: Shutterstock

Buying or renting a house is becoming a digital process. Source: Shutterstock

2020 to bring exciting opportunities to proptech companies in the APAC

PROPERTY technology, often abbreviated as proptech, is increasingly moving into a territory that both traditional real-estate companies, government agencies, as well as customers, are getting comfortable with.

According to the recent Urban Land Institute and PwC Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific (APAC) 2020 report, awareness of and investment in proptech strategies are growing rapidly.

Several developers have launched their own funds or incubators to gain exposure to potentially game-changing applications. This has become necessary because most innovation in proptech now comes from the technology industry rather than from real estate.

Truth be told, some of the customer-facing proptech offerings popular in the APAC seem to be dressed like classifieds or property listing sites and apps — but deploy really interesting technologies to delight customers and help them navigate the property buying or renting process with ease.

Ohmyhome CEO Rhonda Wong, for example, is constantly working on building a solution that streamlines the property transaction process into a single trusted platform.

“Buyers and sellers currently need to approach different service providers at every step of the transaction but we believe that the entire real estate transaction experience should be seamless and convenient.”

Aside from helping customers sell their homes quickly and at the best prices, Wong’s proptech solution has also brought together curated housing transaction services including agents, mortgage, conveyancing, and renovation to offer a “one-stop-shop experience”.

Operating in Singapore and catering to customers in both Singapore and Malaysia’s property markets, Wong believes Ohmyhome is in a good space — speaking from a regulatory angle — indicating that proptech companies have great opportunities ahead of them.

“I wouldn’t say that there are laws explicitly supporting proptech, but there’s also nothing too restrictive for innovation.”

Given Wong’s desire to bring all property-related transactions onto a single platform, however, the CEO believes that restrictions surrounding ‘collection of payments’ and ‘e-contracts’ in the region need to be revisited by regulators in order to help proptech firms like hers offer better support to customers.

Overall, however, the Ohmyhome CEO is extremely positive about the future of proptech companies in the APAC in 2020.

“With the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, I expect there to be a greater reliance on these new technologies to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions about their transactions, saving them time, effort and money.”

Ohmyhome, for example, is developing its own Singaporean-English or ‘Singlish-trained’ AI chatbot name JOY.

“The ultimate aim is to create a ‘virtual agent’ to assist do-it-yourself (DIY) buyers and sellers with their transactions, throughout their journey, allowing them to complete the entire transaction on their own.”

Over the past year, Tech Wire Asia interviewed key executives at other proptech companies in the region — including PropertyGuru and Domain (Australia) — all of whom are extensively using emerging technologies to delight customers.

In 2020, as customers get more comfortable with online platforms and regulators in the APAC remove remaining barriers to online property transactions, it is expected that the demand for proptech offerings will create new opportunities for businesses as well as customers.