Best UK proptech startups to help you get on the property ladder


Property tech (proptech) startups have grown in popularity recently as internet-savvy consumers, used to using apps like Uber and Airbnb, seek out easier ways to buy, sell and rent homes without dealing with pricey estate agents.

Here's our pick of some of the most interesting proptech startups on the scene today.

1. Purplebricks

We will start with the only company that has gone public on this list, Purplebricks. The online-only estate agent uses "local advisors" to try and smooth the buying and letting process. The company saves money by not having a physical presence on the high street.

What Purplebricks does differently is charge flat rates. It charges £798 (up from £599 pre-IPO) to sell your property (except in certain London postcodes where it is £1,158), compared to the average rate of 1.8% of the property price traditionally charged. This leads to average savings of £4,572 for sellers, according to Purplebricks.

2. Settled

Since its launch Settled claims to have facilitated £500 million worth of home listings on its platform, saving customers more than £6 million in estate agency fees.

Gemma Young, Settled's CEO, told Techworld: "We're very focused on homes rather than houses, so sellers that love their homes are enabled to have real conversations" with potential buyers.

This is where Settled comes in, by offering a more personal, transparent service: "There's lots of smoke and mirrors, and models built around a sale and volume of sales," says Young, "generally one in three or four properties will fall through after an offer, and we are finding it extremely low, less than 0.5%."

3. Nested

Launched in January 2016, London startup Nested, promises to help homeowners to sell their property in 90 days, or they will give you the money to make your next purchase interest-free.

Using algorithms built by Cowans Nested provides sellers with a property valuation within seconds and guarantees a minimum price from day one, promising to sell the house within 90 days or give them the money. Nested will review the quick valuation and organise an inspection before confirming a guaranteed offer and placing adverts on property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove. They even take care of the viewings.

Read next: London proptech startup Nested will sell your home in 90 days, or give you the cash

4. Movebubble

Cofounder and CEO of Movebubble Aidan Rushby has one aim: putting the renter first.

Movebubble started out with the lofty aim of cutting those pesky estate agents out of the process altogether, but, as many of the companies on this list have found out, inventory is key, and the agents are the gatekeepers. "Originally when Movebubble was created we believed that renters don't want to deal with agents," Rushby told Techworld, "the reality is they will rent the property from wherever it is. The way we look at it Movebubble is there for the renter, and the agent is there for the landlord".

The app learns your preferences and tries to filter out undesirable properties the more you interact with it and helps filter out bad agents using an Airbnb style feedback loop. Movebubble is also trying to bring more transparency to the rental business, which is traditionally a black box, so how many times the property has been viewed and if there are actually offers in place will be integrated into the app.

5. Rentify

Rentify allows landlords to post an advert, perform credit checks and issue a tenancy agreement all online. Landlords can also manage tenants through the platform including deposit protection, online inventory and rent processing, with 24-hour customer care on hand.

They take a 4% commission on a no rent, no fee basis, as opposed to a high street agent like Foxtons which tends to take around 15%. The company claims to have 200,000 independent landlords signed up to the service.

6. Appear Here

Appear Here works with both landlords that are looking to find short-term tenants for their space (for example Boxpark, Westfield or market stalls) and brands/retailers that are looking for the perfect space to display out of (such as Apple, Dior or even artists like Jamie XX). Getting established brands to use the platform gave Appear Here a solid portfolio of case studies to show off, and this helped reach the tipping point of convincing landlords to list their space.

Appear Here received £5.8 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital in November 2014, which will be spent on international expansion into "key retail cities" and expanding its customer service capability.

7. Virtual Commercial

Virtual Commercialset out to become the "UK's first online commercial estate agent!" back in 2016.

The startup became a fully registered commercial estate agent in 2017, offering three levels of service.

The 'free pack' provides complimentary marketing materials for anyone looking to list a commercial property on Virtual Commercial. Clients can then use the platform to book viewings and negotiate offers with interested parties.

Then for those looking to handle their own negotiation the 'marketing pack' provides listings across popular commercial property portals and 24/7 enquiry vetting for £297 per quarter.

Then the 'professional pack' includes all marketing, negotiation, drafting of the heads of terms and completion of the deal via a solicitor for a one-time fee of £798.

8. Goodlord

London startup Goodlord is looking improve the ways that renters, estate agents and landlords transact through a suite of tools on its cloud-based technology platform.

Goodlord wants to modernise a number of the stages along the chain of a renting a property, starting with putting down money, signing contracts and referencing, all processes that still tend to need to be done in branch and on paper. This meant building its own e-signing capability for contracts and using Stripe and GoCardless to facilitate payments. In theory this could mean rental properties coming off the market even faster than before as paperwork and deposits could all be done at the viewing itself on an iPad.

The startup is currently targeting estate agencies as customers for the platform, counting more than 300 already and claiming to save them between 50-75 percent in admin time and IT spend as a result.