The future of property is virtual

Guest post from our series of Property Futures by Edouard Bessire of PropertyScape:

The future of property is virtual

Edouard Bessire - PropertyScape

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” Mark Twain said. And technology’s journey within the property market has definitely started. In the last few years technology has taken an increasingly central role in property, and it will disrupt the entire industry over the next twenty years. In the last year alone PropertyTech startups worldwide raised a record high of $1.7B across more than 190 deals. We see this momentum not only in NYC, the world’s largest commercial real estate market and auto proclaimed epicenter of PropertyTech innovation, but also in Europe and especially in the UK with London leading the way.

A technology which is getting a lot of media attention at present is virtual reality. Like many new technologies it is easy to see virtual reality as just another cool piece of tech or marketing gimmick. But let me be blunt: virtual reality will become central in property within the next 10 years. Millennials will use virtual reality when buying their first property.

Virtual reality is the opposite of teleportation. Instead of you going somewhere, it brings the place you want to see to you, whether real or imaginary. You wear a headset which is basically goggles with a screen. That virtual reality headset tracks the movements of your head and adapts the view very quickly. So you look around and feel like you are somewhere else, totally immersed. The first functioning virtual reality environment came in 1968, and we saw the first virtual reality products in the early 90s. But it is the recent technological developments made primarily by the mobile industry that has brought virtual reality back into the foreground, and it is here to stay.

Although the technology has yet to reach mass market, virtual reality is already relevant in property today. Buying a property is one of the biggest decisions in people’s life. Therefore using virtual reality already makes sense from a business perspective even if it is not part of everyday life just yet. At PropertyScape, we launched a virtual reality solution that allows property developers to market off-plan properties. We convert architectural models into virtual reality experiences. Prospective buyers and investors can walk through a property before construction has even started, and our application lets the agent take control of the viewing by changing light, furniture, etc in real-time. We also provide virtual reality viewings of existing properties for estate agents and are already working on how the technology will reach mass market.

Virtual reality not only solves some of today’s problems but has great potential, especially in the second-hand market. It is often said in property that agents don’t sell properties but viewings. That is because many prospective buyers do not know what they are looking for and are waiting for that magical ‘feeling’ when they will ‘just know’ it’s the right home for them. And that makes the job of the agent difficult, as they need to get their clients across the door of as many listed properties as possible. That is why virtual reality viewing is not just the new generation of property visualization, because the experience and immersion it provides allows buyers to get that magical ‘feeling’ without physically going to the property! After just a quick tour of one of our virtual reality viewings, users feel as if they have been in the property. They can even draw the floorplan from memory.

Virtual reality still has a lot of progress to make and we will see significant technological improvements and consumer adoption in the next decade. Today property developers and estate agents can market off-plan properties better with our solution and there is so much more to come. PropertyTech is going to deeply transform the industry over the next decade. Virtual reality will have a key role in that transformation and we want to be ahead of that change. So at PropertyScape, we got started.

A company bio: PropertyScape


PropertyScape was founded by computer engineers and business graduates of the Imperial College London during summer 2015. They have developed a one-stop-shop virtual reality viewing solution for property developers. @_PropertyScape_

Linked In: PropertyScape Facebook: PropertyScape

A contributor bio: Edouard Bessire, Co-Founder & COO at PropertyScape

Edouard graduated in Applied Mathematics & Computer Science in France before undertaking a Masters from Imperial College Business School. With a great understanding of technology and business, he then co-founded PropertyScape. 


Need for liquidity will drive #proptech adoption

Guest post from our series of Property Futures by Nicolas Kint at Rialto:

Need for liquidity will drive #proptech adoption

There are 2 big trends that I foresee happening in the commercial property industry: 1) demand for more liquidity, and 2) property technology offering room to the commercial property market to consolidate. Let me explain:

Increase in Liquidity:

A non-changing, uncertain, macro-economic climate and low interest rates will shift the investment mindset. Capital will no longer search for surplus returns, but will pay a premium for market liquidity.

By nature of real assets, they offer limited liquidity relative to other investments and are highly cash flow dependent.  A vast increase in predictability of cash flow will make the property market more liquid over the next 20 years. This will be achieved through fast access to accurate data and the ability to communicate in real-time.

A concrete example for this trend is the success of leasing management tools such as Rialto which help asset managers monitor and forecast net operating income (rent minus costs, including interest). Outside of the rent, the other income sources such as debt financing or tax shelters are less predictable, given they depend on macro-economical factors.

In summary, if the traditional property industry doesn’t manage to answer the capital market demand for liquidity, their products will lose traction. This leaves room for adopters of technology that provide real-time information facilitating faster transactions and control to better hedge against risks.


According to the Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2014 by JLL, only a couple of markets such as the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and France are fairly transparent in terms of real estate investments.

Indeed, real estate is very much a local affair, which gets reflected in a largely fragmented industry. I predict, though, that in the next 2 decades, due to the increased liquidity, there will be an increased opportunity for real estate investors to consolidate. On the one hand, intra-organisational transparency – enabling teams to collaborate and build together for success – will allow organisations to to adopt a multi-local approach. On the other hand, property technology will be key in unlocking the current challenge of access to local accurate information knowledge.

In summary, assuming technology will help create more transparent real estate markets, I believe the opportunity lies with investors cutting indirect investment lines and directly investing in those local markets.

What that means for now:

It’s time we all face today’s reality where well educated property professionals are left with tools from last century to operate their businesses. They need to manually hunt for information, dig through PowerPoints, coordinate their business over email and report over Excel. Businesses that are not ready to adopt technology, will see their market share shrink away by other companies that do embrace property technology to eliminate human errors and save time.

Existing powerful data processing already allows for visualisation of historical information. Mobile and cloud technology allows cross-organisational interfaces that protect the privacy of all companies and users. The mission of Rialto is to work on top of these ever more powerful technologies, to build a toolset for the commercial property leasing industry to collaborate over; therefore not only facilitate transactions faster, but also to build up business intelligence over time.

Company bio: Rialto

RialtoRialto is London & Europe’s Preferred Commercial Leasing Platform. Rialto helps landlords and agents in commercial properties collaborate on leasing activity in real-time. @getrialto

Twitter: – Linkedin:

A contributor bio: Nicolas Kint

Nicolas is a 29-year-old millennial, part of generation flux. He holds a double MSc degree in economics and entrepreneurship from top-ranking universities, and is founder of Rialto. For the last 5 years, Nicolas has been working as an internet entrepreneur in the property industry, interviewing 200+ industry specialists, which resulted in bringing several innovative #proptech business models to this market, including Rialto, a leasing collaboration platform for landlords and agents in commercial real estate. @nicolaskint  


Why we need #plantech

Guest post from our series on Property Futures, by Stefan Webb at Future Cities Catapult:

Why we need #plantech

Planning and planners are often the focus of ire from politicians, developers and communities. The task of mediating space and making place is one that involves many interested parties, all of who are equally passionate in their belief of what should (or should not) happen. What is not equal is the tools and information that those parties, including the planners, have at their disposal.

The method by which cities develop, design and communicate how they intend for the city to change has remained essentially the same for the past 70 years. Since Abercrombie’s London Plan of 1944 the process of gathering evidence about the city, how it has changed, how it is today and how it could change in the future, remains paper (or pdf) based. There have been similarly glacial changes in how the resulting plan is consulted on and communicated to stakeholders and citizens. The only process that remains as stubbornly analogue is the one by which planning applications are submitted and communicated.  

A recent report by McKinsey evaluated the extent to which different industries are digitised and their productivity. Unsurprisingly the construction industry is close to the bottom of the table on both accounts. Whilst developments in BIM may raise this, productivity will be limited unless the accompanying planning process can help in realising construction quicker.

In the same way that robotics offers the opportunity to remove the ‘dirty, dangerous and demeaning’ jobs in construction, data science, data visualisation and digital transformation in planning offers the same potential for planners, with the added bonus radically improving the speed and transparency of the process for all.

Future Cities Catapult has been working with the Greater Manchester Infrastructure Advisory Group to explore how investment by Government in the Open Data Infrastructure map could be leveraged to support the evidence base for the first Greater Manchester Spatial Framework but also collaboration and coordination between different stakeholders. We began by conducting user research with a variety of city planners, infrastructure providers and developers.  

As soon as you begin to scratch the surface of what information and tools these professionals use, how they currently communicate and collaborate and how they make decisions, it’s clear how much the sector requires digital transformation. Just thinking about the information in the Open Data Infrastructure Map, we generated a long list of over 30 use cases. We prioritised three of these and have developed a working prototype for one, a tool that fuses utility capacity data and planning pipeline data, to forecast likely future demands on infrastructure networks.

This short piece of work has opened our eyes to the scope and value of potential innovations within the plan making and planning application field that could reduce risk, increase certainty and critically increase the speed of these processes. By thinking of the city plan as a digital spatial platform, there is the opportunity to deliver a radically more efficient and transparent process, which would deliver both better market information but also stronger democracy.


Future Cities Catapult

Company Bio: Future Cities Catapult @futurecitiescat

The Future Cities Catapult accelerates urban ideas to market, to grow the economy and make cities better. Bringing together businesses, universities and city leaders solve the problems that cities face.

Personal Bio: Stefan Webb @stef_w

Stefan Webb is Head of Projects at the Future Cities Catapult.  He has a background in planning, public policy and politics, previously working at the Greater London Authority.


Land Insight Goes Nationwide

Who Owns The Land

Alongside going nationwide with our product this month, we have also introduced a new £50/month pricing tier. Now anyone can access un-precedented levels of land ownership transparency, served up through our easy to use interface. Give up on using clunky interfaces and annoying payment methods – get instant access to free ownership records on our map now.

There are a couple of important details to note. First of all, by “nationwide” we mean England and Wales. The second important point to note about our nationwide data is that we have not included planning applications. Planning applications are a core part of our product and we will be releasing these in stages across England and Wales over the coming months.

So, what can you do with additional land ownership transparency? As the image shows, you can now see who owns what land in an area. Among other benefits for land finding this allows you to:

  • Easily see the boundaries of a site without buying site plans
  • Spot problem boundaries and ransom strips
  • See who has an interest in a site before buying title deeds
  • Get a good idea of the density of an area and where more could be added
  • View all of the council owned land in your area
  • Spot where companies are potentially land banking

Our new pricing tier allows use in England and Wales for only £50. Other than the planning applications, this includes all data, tools, features, mapping – like Ordnance Survey’s Mastermap – and the “sites” area, in which you can save all the places you like the look of. These features work together to streamline your land finding and assessment process.

Ensure you are signed up to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with our product updates. You can also follow us on twitter and on facebook

Our Estates Gazette Article: Data Driven Property Development

land finding with data
Land Insight in Estates Gazette


Our CEO, Jonny, once again finding a place to spout his mouth off  😉 , ahem, to wax lyrical about property and technology. This time his article is in the Estates Gazette where he talks about the new waves of data that are entering the property industry and how they will change patterns of site finding behaviour.

You can find the article here:

Enjoy 🙂



RICS Modus Magazine: Proptech Innovators

Once again we were pleased to get some industry nice news coverage as one of the “Innovators at the forefront of the Proptech revolution”.

In great company, our CEO alongside SPD, Pi Labs, Splitabble, Juliette Morgan and Lend Invest

Visit the full article at: Modus Magazine on the Future of Property Technology

Sign up to our free trial now to get your competitive advantage in land finding and assessment!

Future of Property Technology Bloomberg Discussion

Jonny alongside Alex Chesterman and Russel Quirk at the Bloomberg property technology debate
Jonny alongside Alex Chesterman (Zoopla) and Russell Quirk (eMoov) on the Bloomberg TV property technology debate
Our CEO, Jonny, recently took part in a roundtable discussion in Bloomburg UK’s headquarters, organised by the venture capital fund Episode 1. Alongside him on the panel was Alex Chesterman, the founder and CEO of Zoopla, Russell Quirk the founder and CEO of eMoov and Daniel Ganesh the founder and CEO of Property Partner. Alex’s company Zoopla is probably the best known of the bunch, with it’s millions of monthly users and famous rivalry with Rightmove, but each one have very interesting businesses. eMoov are currently oversubscribed on their one million pound fund raise on Crowdcube to boost their growing online estate agency. Property Partner is a property-crowdfunding platform that lets more people invest in property, ultimately giving investors the ability to spread their risk by investing in a range of properties, as opposed to just one at a time.
Property technology (#proptech) is a very interesting space, as it is not as advanced as many other sectors, yet it affects the lives of each of us. New housing supply coming to the market is at drastically low levels which means prices are climbing at record rates. Among a wide range of ways technology has started to effect property (such as sharing bills, letting out your spare room, communicating more easily with tenants), our mission is to help expose new sites with the potential for housing to property developers, in a faster and cheaper way. With easier access to land viable for housing, more opportunities are presented for those wanting to enter the market. This was one of the main areas of discussion in the roundtable event and Jonny was able to press this point home. Technology enables new methodologies and workflows that drives new ways of thinking and behaving. It is not going away and as more data, and the ability to access this effectively, becomes available, we believe there is an answer to the housing crisis that doesn’t involve making un-popular and hard to implement policy changes.

Land Insight ready for lift off

Of the 250 businesses that applied, only 5 were selected to participate in Europe’s first property technology accelerator, Pi Labs. We were really pleased to be accepted and now we’re over the moon to announce that we’re the first to receive follow on funding. The funding allows us to grow our business faster, as well as having access to a wealth of experience with our investors having made early stage investments in Zoopla, Lovefilm and, recently, eMoov among many others.

Our company is tackling one of fundamental problems holding back the UK housing market: transparency of land information. It is simply too hard to find and assess land with the potential for housing and this slows down development. So we built Land Insight, which provides easy access to land and property data as well as providing a suite of features to extract the value. Currently, the data we use is spread all around the web, locked up in silos; it is difficult to extract and interpret. We use cutting edge technology to aggregate it, making sense of the patterns we find within it and serving it up in a way that anyone can understand.

The result is the ability to assess any piece of land for its viability for housing; the ability to locate new sites and, ultimately, create competitive advantage and huge business efficiencies.

If you’re not already on our mailing list, sign-up now. We’re inviting more people onto the platform as we expand our data coverage. Make sure you are on the list to wait inline for an invite.