The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the professional world and will continue to influence our actions and decisions for a long time to come.
One industry that has been considerably changed is that of property and real estate. Where – in the past – this sector relied heavily upon face to face interactions, including regular visits to properties owned by others, it’s clear that we’ll need to seek easier ways to operate for the foreseeable future in order to maintain employee and client safety.
As a result, we are now relying on tech entrepreneurs to develop tools and systems whereby property specialists can continue their work and the market can fight its way back to normality.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the different PropTech solutions that may provide the protection and the alternative approaches we need to take in order to remain safe and keep the virus at bay.
Virtual Property Tours
In order to prevent the unnecessary mixing of multiple households or the exposure of estate agents to infection, the implementation of virtual tours may be the way forward for property viewings.
They may be as simple as a well-made video showing different routes through the house, entering different rooms and focussing on key features or as complicated as a computer generated 3D model with which the user can interact.
Property agencies may display these virtual tours alongside the relevant property descriptions on their website or include them in an app. Whatever the level of complexity chosen, this approach will allow prospective buyers to “see” a property without risking their health.
It is vital for landlords and property managers to maintain a safe and healthy environment for their tenants. The implementation of automated footfall monitors are a great way to prevent the overcrowding of corridors and common spaces and to support social distancing.
These motion activated tools can count how many individuals are likely to spend time in a space together at any one time, and may assist those in charge of the property to determine safer systems and adjust the flow of traffic in order to protect tenants and visitors.
Door handles are regularly touched with bare hands by numerous different individuals, and house keys may be handled by their owners after spending time outside, before they are able to wash their hands or use sanitizer.
As a result, these surfaces are some of the most likely to carry a viral load or infectious bacteria.
One way to prevent the spread of diseases is to reduce the use of these tools altogether, instead using biometric systems such as retinal scans or implementing smartphone scanning to allow secure entry – along with other intelligent solutions.
Video Conferencing, Remote Communication and Online Sales
Whatever your field of employment, it’s likely that you’ve been involved in more video calls than ever before over the last few months.
This appears to be the way forward for the property industry too, with more and more meetings between clients, estate agents and conveyancing solicitors happening remotely.
The use of e-signatures and remote or virtual checks and valuations are also on the rise, resulting in less face-to-face exposure.
It is possible for entire sales to be completed online without a single in-person interaction – although great care must always be taken when determining the validity of legal documentation and the condition of the property that is being bought and sold in these cases.
According to James Durr, co-founder of UK-based ‘we buy any home’ specialists Property Solvers: “over the last few years, we’ve been working on digitising a lot of our processes with the aim of delivering our service in a more streamlined manner. COVID-19 has effectively accelerated this whole process and we’re expecting that things will continue in this direction.”
With cleaning stations and sanitizer dispensers set up throughout supermarkets and hospitality establishments, we’re now used to regularly washing our hands in order to combat the spread of the virus.
As this becomes more and more commonplace, PropTech specialists will no doubt be considering how to make the process second-nature to homeowners and tenants.
In some locations, robots have been employed to automatically mist surfaces in hospitals and other public spaces with disinfectant after every use.
Using automation saves time and also helps to protect individuals from coming into contact with the virus. It is likely that we will soon see more innovations like this – particularly within HMOs, flats and rental accommodation with shared common areas.
It is vital for the property industry to continue to function during this difficult period. Any slowing of the processes involved could be catastrophic to a country’s economy and – as a result – the wellbeing of its people.
However, we cannot ignore the current dangers to both estate agency staff and their clients.
July 2020 saw the highest number of property sales for more than ten years. PropTech development related to hygiene and sanitization must strive to keep up with any potential boom.
That is why investment in this field must continue, to enable new and innovative tools to be developed that will protect individuals and ensure that as many processes as possible can be undertaken remotely.