Pandemic providing push for proptech players

PHOTO: Offr co-founders Niall Dawson (left), Robert Hoban and Philip Farrell.


OVID-19 has accelerated the digitisation of the property sector, prompting local technology group PropertyMe to move on an international expansion after signing the millionth rental property to its books, while Irish proptech Offr is preparing an Australian launch.

Earlier this month, PropertyMe secured a four-bedroom home in the northern Sydney suburb of Riverview as the millionth property on its cloud based platform, which is designed to make rental management a seamless and transparent process for both renters and investors.

With around 2.3 million rental properties in Australia, PropertyMe is getting close to having 50 per cent market share, with the software assisting the processing of more than $1 billion in rental payments in each month.

PropertyMe director of customer success Lisa Pentland said the platform gave tenants greater visibility of the status of their accounts, with access to lease expiries, payment histories and maintenance requests all provided through a custom-built app.

For property investors, peace of mind is provided through the 24/7 visibility of the status of their investment.

Ms Pentland said the pandemic had accelerated the takeup of the platform from many agencies that had been considering it prior to the crisis.

“A lot of those businesses who possibly would have waited a little bit longer said ‘we have to go, we knew that we had to do it eventually but there has never been a better time or greater reason to move’,” Ms Pentland told Australian Property Investor Magazine.

“It’s all about the serviceability for the investor at the end of the day. They can see that their properties are being well managed and well looked after.”

Ms Pentland said property managers across Australia had been inundated with calls for help from tenants at the beginning of the crisis, a process that was smoothed by having access to PropertyMe.

“Imagine hundreds of tenants losing their jobs overnight within a portfolio, absolutely panicking and contacting property managers to work it out,” Ms Pentland said.

“For property managers were to manage that volume of enquiry, and similarly landlords were able to contact their property manager to ask whether their tenants will be able to pay the rent.

“Having PropertyMe meant that property managers could then have the conversations that they needed to have with their landlords, work out a payment program that everybody was happy with and was manageable.”

PropertyMe is gearing up to expand its operations to the United States and the United Kingdom, Ms Pentland said, with both markets having similarities to Australian property.

“The US is a huge market, we feel that our product would be very competitive in both the US and the UK markets, and with the cloud-based product, you can be anywhere 24/7, provided you have internet access, that’s all you need,” Ms Pentland said.

“There are still server-based products that are predominant in those marketplaces so there is an opportunity for a really neat cloud-based package.

“The needs of propeerty managers in any of these other countries are not hugely different, the core function is very similar as far as receipting money, managing inspections and maintenance.”

COVID-19 has also provided the impetus for Irish proptech group Offr to expedite the development of its digital platform, which digitises the buying, selling and leasing process for both sellers and buyers.

Offr has been in development for around 10 months and recently attracted $4.7 million in seed funding, with Barclays Bank leading the capital raising.

“COVID has changed the landscape completely, it closed off real-estate; we’re bringing it online,” co-founder Robert Hoban said.