How Proptech is Redefining the Real Estate Industry
Among the many industries that weave together the fabric of the American economy, real estate has consistently ranked as one of the most impactful. Indeed, as the world’s population continues to grow, the need for housing has steadily strengthened, which has simultaneously prompted a surge in real estate jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to jump by seven percent between 2018 and 2028 — an outlook that transcends that of all other occupations. As reported by Forbes, real estate ranks as the largest asset class in the world, contributing $3.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP. And it’s this overwhelming economic promise, in addition to its expected growth, that makes real estate one of the nation’s most popular sectors.
While real estate has been subjected to economic uncertainty over the years, the industry has managed to hold its own. Earlier this year, when the world shifted to a state of self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, real estate experts predicted the worst for the housing sector. And although real estate activity is still mostly at a standstill, many markets across the nation have witnessed a small spike in housing interest, signaling a relative return to normal for this integral industry. Perhaps owing to real estate’s resiliency, the tech world has witnessed a rise in disruptors across the industry over the past several years. This rising wave of real estate tech innovation, known as proptech, has the potential to radically transform the housing market on a global scale.
What is Proptech?
Despite its more recent rise in popularity, proptech has been taking shape over the past several decades. According to Forbes, proptech first entered the tech scene in the 1980s, during which time real estate institutions began searching for more efficient ways to handle investment and portfolio management. While Excel had long been relied upon throughout the real estate industry, software companies started seeking new ways to tackle tasks like underwriting and analytics, paving the way for housing market innovation.
The early 2000s served as a pivotal moment for the cultivation of proptech, as internet usage skyrocketed and tech companies began to reshape the future of online sales. During this time, real estate tech companies such as Zillow, Redfin and Trulia emerged, establishing themselves as proptech frontrunners. Organizations such as these saw the housing market as a hotbed of disruption, leading to proptech’s rapid and prosperous transformation.
The Proptech Market And Its Impact
Many of the efforts made by these early proptech pioneers can still be felt today. Over the past decade, startups and tech companies across the country have cashed in on this capital-rich sector, conquering challenges at the residential, commercial and industrial levels. While proptech encompasses several areas within the real estate sector, many housing innovators focus on home buying, selling and financing. Much like their predecessors, these newer organizations have their sights set on making the housing sector simpler to navigate and ultimately more financially rewarding. For the nation’s many proptech competitors, tech innovation is vital to the disruption of the real estate industry, whether that involves changing the way people buy a home or modernizing the closing process.
We’ve rounded up 15 of the nation’s most promising proptech companies to give you a closer look at this robust and fast-paced sector.
Proptech Companies to Know
Location: San Francisco, CA
What they do: HomeLight offers a simpler approach to the home buying and selling experience. The company’s software helps users locate real estate agents in their area, discover pre-approved cash buyers, apply for home loans and receive home estimates. HomeLight offers its services in cities across the country including Atlanta, Houston, Portland and Seattle.
Location: San Francisco, CA
What they do: Zumper aims to reinvent the real estate rental process by granting people easy access to verified properties across North America. Their platform enables users to reserve available apartments, condos and houses on the spot and lease them entirely online, granting them the opportunity to apply without competition and receive approval feedback in as little as 24 hours. Zumper also offers access to virtual property tours and real-time alerts about new listings.
Location: San Francisco, CA
What they do: Founded by Aaron King, Snapdocs has developed a digital platform designed to make mortgage closings simple and efficient. The company’s platform allows users to automate their closing workflows, connect with notary signing agents and attorneys, increase the loan capacity of their closers and gain access to mobile and remote loan signing opportunities. Snapdocs aims to help its users close more loans by reducing emails and phone calls and providing one central place for sending and receiving loan documents.
Location: Palo Alto, CA
What they do: Point is dedicated to helping people unlock their home equity. The company invests in a portion of people’s home equity without being added to the title of their property, thus enabling homeowners to free themselves from monthly payments, eliminate debt and repay in proportion to their wealth. Point is guided by the aim to allow cash-constrained Americans to tap into their homes’ wealth to attain greater financial freedom.
Location: San Francisco, CA
What they do: HouseCanary aims to help people make better decisions when buying, selling and financing their homes. The company predicts the future of the residential real estate market through the use of AI and image recognition, therefore empowering financial institutions, investors, lenders, mortgage investors and consumers to fuel acquisition, underwriting, portfolio management and more. HouseCanary operates a next-gen platform for lenders and loan servicers called ComeHome in addition to a variety of valuation products.
Location: New York, NY
What they do: Ribbon has developed a transparent alternative to the home buying and selling process. The company enables home buyers to make a purchase before they sell, move into their new home quickly and wait up until 180 days to secure their mortgage, while agents are granted access to guaranteed closings within 14 days, free valuations and full commission. On the other hand, Ribbon helps lenders convert more pre-approvals into funded loans, providing them with tools such as a personal account manager and a client dashboard.
Location: Chicago, IL
What they do: Launched by Thru Shivakumar and Nik Patel, Cohesion offers an intelligent buildings software solution with the aim of disrupting how buildings operate and how people engage with them. The company’s platform allows building owners to maximize asset and portfolio value by seamlessly connecting building systems, workflows and people. Cohesion also enables owners and managers to quickly respond to changes in building usage and tenant behavior.
Location: El Segundo, CA
What they do: Endpoint is a full-service title and escrow company dedicated to creating a modern closing experience. In an effort to help brokers and agents offer their clients the best possible home closing experience, the company provides a variety of features such as real-time notifications, progress tracking, in-app messaging and document management. For home buyers and sellers, Endpoint facilitates secure funds transfers in addition to real-time updates and notifications.
Location: Boston, MA
What they do: Reggora is reinventing real estate valuation with its software for mortgage lenders and appraisers. The company’s software is designed to automate manual tasks like order processing and underwriting, thus granting lenders faster turn times and lower costs while enabling a better borrower experience. Reggora is dedicated to helping streamline tedious and time-consuming workflows for all parties involved in the appraisal process.
Location: Denver, CO
What they do: Founded by Ernie Graham and Ira McMahon, Homebot is dedicated to driving repeat and referral business for real estate agents and loan officers. The company’s portal allows users to deliver personalized, actionable insights to their clients while engaging renters, investors and new leads with valuable market data. Homebot’s mission is to empower consumers to build wealth through homeownership by facilitating meaningful engagement with their loan officers and real estate agents.
Location: Irvine, CA
What they do: Better.com aims to make homeownership simpler, faster and more accessible. The company has streamlined the mortgage process, eliminating extra fees and commission while providing transparency and instant loan estimates. Better.com is guided by the mission to make it easier for people to buy homes and receive the best rates available.
Location: Austin, TX
What they do: Orchard seeks to make the home buying and selling process fair and straightforward. The company uses its own cash to make a contingency-free offer and reserve homes on behalf of buyers, so they don’t have to pay their mortgage until their old home sells. Orchard then takes care of the home selling process, transferring each buyer’s new home into their name while allowing them to use “Orchard Home Loans” or their choice of lender to finalize their mortgage.
Location: Greenwood Village, CO
What they do: Engrain offers a suite of software solutions in an effort to change the way people find, lease and manage property. The company’s products include SightMap, an interactive map that allows people to search for available units within a property, as well as TouchTour, which enables leasing and sales centers to engage customers and empower on-site teams to lease and sell faster. Engrain partners with a wide range of developers in the multi-family, senior living, student housing, single-family and commercial markets.
Location: Santa Monica, CA
What they do: Luxury Presence offers marketing software intended to help real estate agents build up their online presence. The company’s all-in-one platform allows luxury real estate agents and companies to build websites, offering features like an intuitive page builder, blog publisher, listing manager and an IDX home search tool. Luxury Presence also offers managed SEO and Instagram plans, and copywriting and video production services.
Location: Chicago, IL
What they do: Enodo has developed an AI-assisted underwriting platform for multi-family real estate. Their platform enables users to identify the performance of an asset, measure the competitiveness of similar properties and quickly analyze apartment deals. Enodo’s multi-family underwriting tools allow users to upload and analyze PDF rolls, generate rent and expense surveys, and quickly underwrite deals.