Information overload starts as soon as you start researching property, finding properties that match your criteria, analysing prices and market data, creating a list of properties you want to inspect. Once you find and purchase your property it doesn’t stop there either – there are contracts to sign and paperwork to lodge. You want to lease your property? No problem! Here is the paperwork for the lease, inspection reports, tax return, and on it goes…it never ends…or does it?
Fortunately the tech-savvy have identified gaps in the market for property-specific applications and software, which is shaking up the industry and challenging traditional processes. There are now property apps available to help us in all aspects of real estate, from researching and analysing to buying and selling, as well as leasing and management. Here are a few of the hottest examples:
1. Property research
As two of the biggest online destinations for property search in Australia, both realestate.com.au and Domain now have apps which allow you to search for property to rent or buy. You can create alerts for new properties that match your saved searches so you are the first to know when new properties are listed. You can also set up a profile for your own property to keep a track of its value. Even if you are not looking to purchase more property, the market data available within these apps is useful for investors to keep an eye on the market.
If it’s property value you’re interested in, onthehouse.com.au (a subsidiary of CoreLogic, Australia’s largest provider of property data) offers “free property data on every property in Australia (over 12.5 million)”. Data includes calculated estimates, profile reports, sold history and comparable reports.
2. Property purchase
The days of attending an auction in person could soon be over. No more sweating palms as you clutch your paddle and eyeball your fellow bidders. GAVL Live Auctions is a live-streaming auction app created by Australian tech start-up GAVL to shake up the auction process. The app allows users to watch and bid in real-estate auctions in Australia and New Zealand from anywhere in the world, live and free in HD.
Since its launch in 2017, GAVL has broadcast over 5000 auctions. The app has been downloaded in 50 countries and has millions of views from around the world, demonstrating that you don’t need to miss the auction of that hot property because you’re out of town. The app allows you to browse and shortlist properties, follow auctioneers and communicate with agents. You can also track auction results seconds after they finish. This new approach to buying property at auction means your portfolio is not limited by geographical location, so you can consider property further afield.
3. Property management
Apps such as Propertyplus are designed to make life easier for landlords, tenants and agents by simplifying the communication process between all parties. The app can be accessed online at any time to track rental income, previous inspections and property statements.
In addition to recording information about your property, technology can be used in other ways to benefit property owners. Sending secure information online is not a new phenomenon. Most people have used internet banking, as well as online payment services such as PayPal. However, there are other ways we can utilise technology to transfer sensitive information.
4. Smart contracts
When leasing a property, traditionally a paper lease is signed, bond lodged and keys issued to the tenant. However, the term “smart contract” is becoming more familiar as businesses use secure computer code to facilitate a contract agreement.
For example, you decide to set up an electronic smart contract to lease your apartment. You agree to provide the door code for your property as soon as a security deposit is received. Both parties would submit their information to the smart contract. The information is then held within the contract until the exchange of security bond and door code on the agreed date. If neither party submits the correct information by the agreed date, then the door code won’t be issued, or the security bond is refunded. This system protects both parties and the need for third-party mediation is eliminated. There are further opportunities to use smart contracts for other property agreements, such as buying and selling property.
Going forward, documents such as title deeds are also expected to become an electronic process, using encrypted information. This will hopefully eliminate the manual handling of these documents, reducing administration time and potentially exchange time periods. This means the process of buying, selling and leasing property will become quicker and easier. All parties would potentially have visibility of where the process is at - especially advantageous for avoiding delays.
With the assistance of technology, many property transactions will become easier; saving everyone involved time and money. Electronic records will help reduce mountains of paperwork, and streamlined communication will permit information to be shared or actioned without both parties having to meet in person.
We are only just starting to realise the potential of technology within the real-estate space. It is exciting to think we will soon be able to control the entire process of property investment – from purchase to contract signing and management – all via our smartphone.
Maloney’s Property has integrated PropertyPlus to make life easier for our landlords.