Yesterday afternoon the UK’s leading property software supplier Reapit officially launched its new proptech app platform to an audience of 300 agents and tech companies including LiFE Residential, Goodlord, Callwell and ViewMyChain.
The Negotiator attended the event in East London to interview its CEO Gary Barker (pictured, above) to find out whether all the razzmatazz surrounding its Foundations plug-in platform matches the reality.
Reapit, which claims that 25% of all portal listings are uploaded via its platform, says the new App Marketplace will be available for free to any agent using its software. It is best described as an ‘App Store’ for proptech and, if it gains traction, could be an industry game changer. But it has some way to go – and plenty of agent scepticism to overcome first.
Estate agents keen to use the 200 proptech apps that Reapit hopes will appear on Foundations when it goes live in January will be able to choose which apps to sign up to and pay for although, as on a smartphone, some apps may choose to be free or very cheap.
Barker also says the initiative could hugely boost the UK proptech sector by giving tech companies access to the thousands of smaller independent agents who otherwise wouldn’t use them because they lack the in-house IT teams larger agents have.
He says the platform has taken three years, ‘millions of pounds’ and an army of 20 developers to build and that Countrywide – where he used to work as its Chief Information Officer – is to be one of its early adopters.
When Barker describes the initiative it sounds risky, as he is also inviting property software competitors who have already developed their own proptech products to upload them as apps to Foundations including, he says, Zoopla.
“We don’t have competitors any longer – we just have potential partners,” he says.
“The days when everyone kept their technology close to their chest and guarded it jealously are becoming a thing of the past.
“Our app platform invites everyone in the industry to collaborate in a single ecosystem and offer agents the widest possible range of technology available in one place.
“Also, it will encourage more proptech companies to build and develop new products and services because they’ll be able to target the Reapit customer base.”
Barker claims agents on average have 15 different proptech services running within their businesses, and that Foundations will bring them all into their workflows via one platform.
“We will have some control over important issues such as app security, but otherwise we’re opening the platform up to everyone including our competitors,” says Barker.
“But its still quite scary – Reapit is going from a platform that has been quite locked down and controlled, to a platform that’s open to anyone to open-source our product.”