Professor Andrew Baum (above), who is an academic at the Said Business School at the University of Oxford, gave the opening keynote speech at The Negotiator Conference last week, revealing his key thoughts on how tech will transform business on a wider scale, including the residential property sector.
It was a highly engaging romp through the past, present and future world of digital disruption that many agents have, and will, be facing. This included how apps and the financial crisis have led many younger consumers to question intermediaries and enabled hybrid and online agent to prise open an opportunity for themselves.
One prediction that ruffled feathers in the room was that within five years nearly all home valuations would be completed accurately online, with only a handful of specialist homes requiring manual, human visits. He also suggested that Amazon could be plotting a move into house sales.
But Professor Baum questioned one area of proptech development often hailed by tech experts – blockchain – which he said is ‘many, many’ years away from having a direct impact on the industry. He also cautioned listeners not to assume everything tech is good.
“Just because tech makes something possible doesn’t mean it will happen,” he said, citing video calling which, although being available for many years, has only proved popular for business meetings.
Some £31 billion to £39 billion has been invested in proptech so far, he reckons, spawning an estimated 8,000 proptech companies worldwide. He also said that the “impact of digital technologies in the property industry” is not a simple challenge and understanding where we are and how we got here in the first place is complicated.
Professor Baum also said that many agents may not realise they are living through the beginning of a third revolution in tech that began between 1995 and 2005, helping create initial pioneers including Zoopla, Rightmove, Trulia and Zillow.
The second revolution has been taking place over the past ten years including the rapid development of new businesses such as Airbnb that have challenged established business models and threatened the survival of traditional sales and lettings firms.
So what next? Professor Baum predicts that by 2025-2030 we’ll all be co-living and co-working in smart homes in smart cities, being chauffered by driverless smart cars and, it seems, not going out that much as everything is delivered to us by drone.
In the more immediate future, Professor Baum says proptech has to catch up with its financial cousin fintech, which is now driving seismic change in banking with challenger banks such as Monzo and Starling in a way yet to be witnessed within property.
We hope to hear more from Professor Baum in the next few months – watch out for it in the Negotiator Magazine.