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Will proptech save the property business?

Sheila Manchester discusses new technology with the UK’s leading authority on the subject.

Sheila Manchester

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Meet the professor of proptech

Andrew Baum will be a keynote speaker at the Negotiator Conference on 30th November.

If you take an interest in the future of the property business, this is a not-to-be-missed event.

He is author or co-author of books with sales of over 60,000, and Proptech 3.0: The Future of Real Estate was the most downloaded document produced by the Saïd Business School in 2017 leading to Baum being named one of the three most influential people in proptech.

Property has always been regarded as a ‘people business’ but it is also a complex business, with process, legislation and finance, making – and sometimes breaking – deals that can take months to complete. Technological advances have triggered massive change, speeding up and simplifying our communications, replacing employees and service suppliers with automatic systems and, in the process, drastically changing the way we run these businesses.

Many business sectors now have a ‘tech’ movement. The financial world has fintech, retail has retailtech, the travel business has traveltech… we have proptech. It’s all very exciting, bringing new breeding grounds for exciting ideas, handy little problem fixers and time saving miracles.

So is proptech going to save the global real estate market? Or could it damage it by removing the personal contact? Could it distract agents from their core work and values? And are we ready for it? Do we understand how to make it work for us?

A recent survey by the RICS, which spoke to 200 surveyors, focusing on how they manage their capture and storage of data, found that only 33 per cent of those questioned actually knew what proptech is.

Fifty three per cent have, said the report, captured data using what the RICS refers to as an ‘electronic tool’ (you may well call it a ‘phone), but 66 per cent still collect data with pen and paper.

Make no mistake though, we are all using ‘proptech’ in our lives, with remote lighting systems, home security systems, apps for almost everything – even toddlers are yelling at ‘Alexa’ to turn on the TV.

However, proptech is most definitely not for small children, it is attracting the interest of property professionals on every level in the real estate world.


As previously reported in The Negotiator, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford has launched the Oxford Future of Real Estate Initiative to research and predict the changes faced by the property industry over the next decade. The initiative is led by Professor Andrew Baum – a real estate industry veteran and author of the 2017 groundbreaking PropTech 3.0 report (soon to be updated). The initiative will bring academics together with industry experts from leading businesses across the global real estate community. It will enable Oxford Saïd to employ a variety of research methods to understand the technology and innovation drivers of change in the real estate industry, and the research findings will be available to the public.

Thousands of very clever people, backed by billions of dollars in investment are working hard to change the way property is traded, used and operated.

“From Blockchain to Smart Cities, the real estate world is going through a period of extraordinary change,” explained Professor Baum. “Thousands of extremely clever people, backed by billions of dollars of investment, are working hard to change the way it is traded, used and operated. 93 per cent of tech start-ups fail to last more than three years, but those who prosper will have a radical impact, and it is of vital importance for companies to understand exactly what changes they will bring. This initiative will enable both the academic and commercial real estate communities to work together in preparation for a period for unparalleled challenge and opportunity.”

Six companies currently support the Oxford Future of Real Estate Initiative, including Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, CBRE, EY, Redevco, TH Real Estate and UBS, and the initiative intends to sign up four more by the end of 2018.

“We are extremely proud to have these companies join us,” said Professor Baum. ‘They are funding world-class research into the future of the industry. The research we conduct will be publicly available, so the whole global real estate community will benefit from the work we do here in Oxford. This initiative will run for four years and there will be regular publications during this period.”

Andrew Vaughan, Chief Executive Officer at Redevco commented, “We recognise the enormous structural changes taking place in our sector. We believe these will be both positive as well as disruptive, will come at an astonishing speed and will significantly impact our business.

“We are delighted to join the Future of Real Estate initiative working with like-minded partners to learn about and anticipate the impact of such technologies and innovations at an early stage.”

As well as commissioning research, the initiative partners will meet twice yearly to discuss continuing research development.

October 3, 2018

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