Updated: September 29, 2021
When venture capital for Technology and Real Estate companies collided, a new industry buzzword was born: Proptech. Proptech can be defined as solutions that make planning, managing, trading, and using real estate more efficient and easier at every stage of a property’s life cycle. This classification pertains to both commercial and residential real estate businesses, properties and products.
During the beginning of 2017 through June of 2020, venture investments totaled an enormous $67B in Proptech companies. This level of investment signals massive market potential and hyper optimism that significant market inefficiencies will be eradicated, while generating substantial incremental income.
Over the years, a wide range of proptech solutions have been offered for future and existing homeowners within the main stages of homeownership: Buying; Maintaining; Renovating; and Selling.
For the sake of this article, we dramatically reduced the scope of proptech and redefined it to indicate innovators (AKA risk-takers) that are providing new services and products of direct relevance to homeowners. However, we did add a new stage of homeownership, “Monetizing”, as we regard this as another emerging trend that is here to stay.
We also did not include indisputably well-known examples of successful proptech firms (e.g. Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, Airbnb), as we chose to highlight companies of which homeowners are less familiar.
The following firms are a representative sample of proptech companies that homeowners should be aware of, some of which, if not already, may soon become household names, grouped by the following phases of Homeownership:
As a pre-existing homeowner knows, purchasing a new property used to be constrained by the timing and sale of a current home. There are several new proptech companies that allow pre-existing homeowners to make cash offers on homes, thus allowing one to focus on the purchase end of their dual transactions, rather than have attention divided to one side. Cash offers are also attractive to home sellers for the same reasons, which improve the chances that cash buyers will land their preferred home.
Streamlines the mortgage process to reduce stress, eliminate fees, and reduce time to homeownership, while providing the best mortgage rates available. Leveraging automated technology, they have reduced the time to get pre-approved from “3 weeks to 3 minutes”. The market they are addressing includes over 7M US consumers that purchase a home on an annual basis.
Provides a platform to browse, compare and purchase prefab modular homes online. Product and manufacturing innovation has reinvigorated the modular space in response to interconnected macro trends consisting of: ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units); Aging-In-Place; temporary rental marketplaces such as Airbnb; vacation & weekend homes; sustainable tiny homes; and a shortage of affordable housing.
Enables buyers to make cash offers on homes, while they work to secure a mortgage at a competitive rate for the newly purchased property. Also offers a Trade Up program that allows homeowners the ability to buy before they sell their current homes. Current markets served: Seattle; Portland; San Francisco Bay Area; Southern California; and Boston.
Allows buyers to purchase a home before selling their existing home using their Home Swap program. Advances up to $25,000 to cover home prep costs on the existing house, in order to achieve top dollar on the sale. Current markets served: Austin; Atlanta; Charlotte; Dallas-Fort Worth; Denver; Houston; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham; and San Antonio.
Keeping your home or rental properties in top shape, by adhering to maintenance schedules for HVAC, kitchen appliances, and washers & dryers, has become easier with the advent of IoT, the Internet of Things. There is a recent trend of offering more options for maintenance contracts, either through home warranty companies or via insurance companies that offer major appliance warranties as part of a standard policy.
Smartphone apps and websites allow homeowners to source qualified and experienced professionals that have been thoroughly vetted for virtually any home maintenance and repair category. This convenience will allow older homeowners to remain in their homes longer, with trusted assistance readily available for complex or physically demanding home projects.
Offers property management software to allow owners to track investment property maintenance, leasing and expenses. Helps attract higher quality tenants and increase retention rates.
Offers portable, ultrasonic pest repellant products to fit every budget. Founders are young engineers and designers who were frustrated by the ineffectiveness of existing pest control solutions. Devices are effective against both flying and crawling insects, and are safe for humans and domestic animals.
Offers personalized homeowners insurance with smart, modernized coverage that better meets homeowners’ emerging needs and preferences. Additional protection can be chosen, including: appliances; consumer electronics devices; gas; water & sewer service line backups; and local ordinance changes. They also take a proactive approach to insurance by incentivizing homeowners to use smart home products that can detect water leaks, for example.
Also see: Hippo Homeowners Insurance: Personalized Convenience using Insurtech.
Provides a one-stop shop to source a professional within a wide range of home maintenance and service categories, complete with ratings, reviews, and license information. The listings are comprised of Neighborly’s large and comprehensive family of home maintenance companies, that includes: Molly Maid; Glass Doctor; Mr. Rooter; Window Genie; and Mr. Handyman.
Offers a virtual appliance repair service that connects homeowners to pre-screened, certified technicians via video chat or text. If the technician cannot diagnose the problem, the homeowner will receive a full refund. Appliances available for virtual repair include: refrigerators; ice makers; washing machines; dishwashers; stoves; and stove tops.
Provides a home rental platform that connects tenants and landlords, and simplifies the relationship for both parties. Streamlines the entire rental process from: applications; credit & background checks; e-signing lease agreements; online payments; and property repair requests.
Offers a mobile concierge platform for multi-unit communities. Their platform offers on-demand services to residents, including: housekeeping; laundry; pet care; and miscellaneous chores. For property managers, Spruce reduces the complexity of managing numerous service providers, while providing security and oversight for the entire property. Though they are currently solely focused on partnering with apartment communities, we think their services would be also ideal for condominiums and homeowner communities with HOAs.
Delivers a tech platform that enables their business partners to provide state-of-the-art virtual customer service, by diagnosing and resolving issues remotely. In June of 2020, Lowe’s launched a free, video chat service that allowed Lowe’s Pros to conduct virtual home visits with customers, using Streem’s backend solution.
Provides an easy-to-use local services marketplace that helps customers locate and hire skilled professionals. Matches local service pros from a wide range of home improvement categories: handymen; electricians; house cleaners; painters; HVAC technicians; etc. Also includes service categories beyond home repairs, such as: wellness; fitness; nutrition; lessons; event planning; pet care; and business services.
TruBlue Total House Care
Offers extensive and affordable monthly home maintenance service packages, primarily serving two huge markets: aging seniors and busy families. Services include: home maintenance; landscaping & yard work; cleaning; repairs; and special projects. Their catchy phrase quickly and effectively conveys their value proposition: “One Company. One Call. TruBlue handles it all”. Currently in approximately 40 locations, mostly in the mid-eastern corridor, but they have franchise opportunities across the country. We see great growth potential for them given their focus, timing and market demand.
Provides an insurance marketplace based on billions of data points and smart technology to better equip homeowners to compare and purchase the right policies for their unique needs and circumstances. They make it easy to discover and include vital add-on products for situations requiring increased liability coverage, such as home daycare centers and short-term rental units, like Airbnb listed properties. They are especially helpful for homeowners that have properties in hard-to-insure zones, susceptible to fires, earthquakes and floods.
See also: 4 Reasons to Use Young Alfred To Purchase Homeowners Insurance
Renovating your property can be both exciting and daunting, especially if you choose the wrong contractor. Our experience demonstrates that a well-planned project, with the right, well-vetted partners, will alleviate any anxiety before, during and after your project. PropTech companies exist for all phases of your project from design to clean up.
See description under Selling section.
Provides low-stress, affordable all-in-one renovation solutions to homeowners through hands-on project management and partnerships with vetted designers, architects and contractors. They specialize in ADUs, Accessory Dwelling Units. Currently serving the San Francisco Bay Area market.
Makes Neo, an all-in-one 3D interior design & visualization platform, which enables designers and homeowners to quickly and easily unleash their creativity. Comes with a globally curated collection of pre-made designs for home interiors, kitchens, offices, and more, dramatically reducing the time to produce design comps.
Provides an easy-to-use crowdsourcing design competition platform that delivers quality design concepts for your renovation project, from highly trained and experienced architects and designers from around the world. A highly effective way to compare truly fresh and diverse perspectives for your project.
Also see: Crowdsourcing Your Renovation Design with GoPillar.com.
Provides a platform to allow homeowners to hire an interior designer for affordable virtual design services, including curated furniture and decor accessories.
Also see: How to Use Havenly for Your Interior Design Needs.
Offers an online marketplace that specializes in designing and building ADUs within the state of California, including: zoning analysis; architectural design; permitting; and sourcing qualified contractors with ADU experience.
Offers an online interior design service with curation of furniture and decor from over 100 retailers.
Enables cash-strapped homeowners to quickly liquidate a portion of their home equity that, among other things, can be used to fund major renovations. Unlike traditional loans, no recurring payments are required. Full payment is due at the sale of your home or by year 10, whichever occurs first.
Also see: Financing Your Home Renovation with Noah Shared Equity Contracts.
Provides a marketplace of vetted contractors where homeowners can submit renovation projects and select proposals. The Sweeten team checks in at different points during a renovation to ensure everything’s on track and to answer any questions the homeowner may have. Currently operating in the following metro areas: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
See description under Maintaining section.
Consumers have been more engaged by proptech companies which have helped them monetize their existing real estate, with Airbnb being the prime example. Over the last three years alone, several new companies have further enabled property owners to monetize their largest asset, their homes, by renting out space, swimming pools and even sofas.
The digital streamlining of the rental process is another area that has grabbed both property owners and renters interests. Touchless processes continue to gain adoption, from submitting applications, to remitting payments, to requesting repairs.
Sites that help find compatible roommates are also being used by homeowners that are “house hacking”, which is the process of renting out a portion of your property to subsidize your mortgage payment.
Provides Rental Management Software, which allows property owners to: screen applicants; check credit histories; sign leases and collect rental payments.
Provides an online matching service for roommates who share similar lifestyles and requirements. The company’s proprietary algorithm finds and ranks the best options for each individual and allow users, who find a mutual fit, to communicate safely and anonymously. Can be used by homeowners looking to subsidize their mortgage payments.
Streamlines the process of finding a sublease holder for suddenly vacated residential properties, by providing background checks on prospective tenants, sublet agreements and rent payment guarantees. Flip assumes leases immediately and will find a replacement renter within a 30-day window.
Provides fitness, wellness and entertainment services to properties looking to promote communities amongst tenants, designed to reduce tenant turnover by fostering engagement. Though focused on multi-unit rental properties, these types of services should also be of interest to condominiums and homeowner communities with HOAs.
Enables homeowners to list rooms in their home as temporary vacation rentals, similar to Airbnb. However, Homestay differentiates their community of hosts and travelers by requiring hosts to welcome guests into their home and offer guidance and assistance during their stays. Currently offers a selection of over 55,000 rooms in over 160 countries.
Provides a peer-to-peer platform for hosting and renting storage space in residential neighborhoods. Referred to as “the Airbnb of Storage”. Hosts can offer: parking spaces; garages; rooms within a home; basements; outdoor sheds; etc. Renters, in turn, appreciate the lower rates and having their belongings stored nearby.
Also see: How Homeowners can Monetize Their Unused Space with the ‘Airbnb of Storage’.
See description under Maintaining section.
Provides a platform for your swimming pool as an asset that can be easily monetized. Hosts (pool owners) and guests (swimmers searching for a pool near them) are matched based on geography, pricing and scheduling. You might be surprised by the number of pools in your neighborhood already listed.
Partners with homeowners to transform underutilized garages and backyards into affordable, high-quality, income producing ADU rental units. The company handles every aspect of the process including: permitting; partnering with a contractor for construction; finding qualified tenants (that you approve); and managing & maintaining the property. Currently only serves the Los Angeles metro area.
Provides a marketplace for high quality, fully-furnished, long-term corporate rentals. Zeus makes money by charging landlords one full month, and taking the incremental portion of the increased rent charged to travelers. The benefits to property owners include higher, consistent rental income and no traditional landlord work, like cleaning, repairing or exchanging keys. Their long term visions is to enable a more mobile world for professionals.
Home Selling is another area that has had significant adoption by homeowners, largely fueled by the prevalence of iBuyers – firms that make timely cash offers for listed homes. Firms disrupting this area of the real estate industry are largely addressing timing issues (e.g. needing to sell your existing home to purchase a new home) and ROI issues (e.g. identifying the best homes to list and the precise improvements necessary to induce a quick and optimally profitable sale).
Uses proprietary technology and data to determine the correct pre-sales renovation for a given home to return the maximum ROI to sellers. Unlike other firms that solely pay for pre-sale renovations, Curbio uses licensed employees to manage and complete renovation projects, virtually eliminating the risk of any project delays. All associated renovation costs are not due until closing.
Also see: Home Sellers Guide to Curbio and Pre-Sale Home Renovations.
Buys your house, releases your equity funds, and leases the home back to you until you are ready to move. Through their sale-leaseback programs you can rent as long as you’d like with an option to buy your home back or move. A helpful and flexible solution for homeowners needing more time to purchase and transition to a new home.
Guarantees to homeowners, via their Trade Up program, that their existing properties will sell in 90 days or be purchased by the company.
Also see description under Buying section.
Uses millions of data points, including agent performance data, to analyze recent, local real estate transactions, to help home sellers find the best suited agent for one’s particular home and market. HomeLight’s overarching goal is to make real estate transactions certain, simple, and satisfying.
Helps sellers of existing homes use cash to make an offer on their future dream homes. Sellers can move into their new home before their old home goes on the market. Knock also provides funding to perform pre-sales renovations and repairs on the old house.
Also see description under Buying section.
Uses proprietary algorithms to generate an offer quote, sight unseen, within 24 hours, for homeowners to sell their properties. If sellers decide to instead list their homes, they can also opt for advanced funds and resources to update their property, as well as securing a back-up cash offer, that can be executed at any time. Currently buying homes in 14 markets.
Simplifies the home buying and selling process, by purchasing homes with cash, typically closing in 10 to 60 days. It then resells them via their app, backing sales with a 90-day guarantee: if the buyer doesn’t like the deal, the company will repurchase the property. Currently operates in 21 markets.
Offers an easy-to-use Do-It-Yourself virtual staging solution for tech novices. Their browser-based drag-and-drop solution makes it possible to stage room photos in minutes. Their library includes over 4,000 interior design and home décor items.
If you feel like we have omitted a lesser-known, innovative company, let us know in the comments section below. Thanks!
Home Sellers Guide to Curbio and Pre-Sale Home Renovations
Crowdsourcing Your Renovation Design with GoPillar.com
How to use Havenly for Your Interior Design Needs
Hippo Homeowners Insurance: Personalized Convenience using Insurtech
How Homeowners can Monetize Their Unused Space with the ‘Airbnb Of Storage’
Financing Your Home Renovation with Noah Shared Equity Contracts
4 Reasons to use Young Alfred to Purchase Homeowners Insurance
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