Property Technology (PropTech) is the use of information technology to help individuals and companies research, buy, sell and manage real estate. It uses digital innovation to address industry needs and covers smart building construction, space management and architecture.
PropTech is designed to streamline and connect processes for participants in all stages of the real estate market – buyers, sellers, brokers, lenders and landlords. Examples of such startups in Nigeria are Eden life, Estate Intel, Rent Small Small, Spleet, Yahshud property, among others.
The technologies deployed include virtual reality software that allows website visitors to virtually walk through properties; software for reporting repairs, splitting rent payments and crowdfunding new real estate projects.
These applications are further shaped by social distancing requirements and regional lockdowns introduced as part of measures to check the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many firms trying to target every segment of the property market chain, attempting to disrupt and improve how the players (developers, buyers, sellers, renters, investors, and real estate professionals) design, construct, market, discover, transact and operate real estate.
Hostel.ng is Nigeria’s new property tech startup that promises to ease the difficulties students experience in their search for quality hostel accommodation in tertiary institutions.
The Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Davidson Okafor, said it is structured to save students from fraudulent persons posing as hostel managers. Davidson disclosed to TechDigest that the platform followed his harrowing experience in securing hostel accommodation as a new student in the university.
“It was difficult finding one. Even after I did, I almost lost my rent to scammers posing as hostel managers. I discovered that many of my friends in school had similar experiences and decided it was a problem that needed to be solved.”
Okafor explained that the initiative will not only tackle crime and criminals, but also impact the economy in terms of employment opportunities and revenue generation.
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“It will create wealth for students as they can sublease their rooms. The financial burden on sponsors can be reduced with our ‘rent now pay later’ feature. Our solution ensures students, hostel providers transact smoothly and sell more rooms for more income.
“We have partnered with Kwaba for rent financing. This enables students to access money for hostel rents. Our partnership with De-experience agency in Anambra is recoding successes”, he said.
However, the major challenges PropTech startups face are low adoption of products, services as well as difficulty in acquiring funding. Relevant government authorities are advised to streamline regulatory frameworks to guide property management operations to curb quackery.
There should be creation of an all-encompassing platform where the IT regulators, especially National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), land/housing authorities, financiers, and private investors and property management companies can synergise and adopt appropriate technologies.
The government and financial institutions should do more in making funding accessible to PropTech startups in order to strengthen the capacity of digital economy and address the shortage of decent housing across the country.
Abbas Badmus writes from FHA Lugbe, Abuja.