The British Property Federation ( the "BPF") announced on 17 April they would merge with the UK PropTech Association (the "UKPA"), a clear signal to all stakeholders in the property industry that PropTech plays, and will continue to play, a vital role in driving innovation within Britain's real estate sector.
What is 'PropTech' and what role does it play in the property industry?
In its most basic form, PropTech is digital technology that is used to assist with the purchase, sale, letting and management of real estate. Examples of PropTech include:
- Platforms enabling property owners to list the available desk space within a building and for individuals to be able to book this space directly (the AirBnB of offices, if you will).
- Drones providing monitoring and inspection services for property portfolios.
- Technology which combines sensors with the internet of things, to enable property owners to monitor buildings remotely and work out vacancies / footfall within buildings; the technology may report or make decisions in reliance of the monitoring data (e.g. it might turn off lights and air conditioning in unoccupied parts of the building / it might instruct the cleaners to clean only those desks that have been used that day).
- 3D modelling in designing and constructing buildings.
- Technology designed to monitor and reduce emissions / a building's carbon footprint in order to support a property owner's ESG initiatives and achieve net zero emissions.
What does this merger mean for the real estate industry?
The BPF is the trade body representing the real estate industry within the UK. It performs a variety of functions:
- it provides advice and insight to its membership base which comprises property owners, developers, funds, agents and their respective advisers;
- it works with government and regulators to arm them with knowledge to make decisions;
- it gives a voice to its members by responding to consultations; and
- it promotes innovation to help the real estate industry grow and thrive.
The UKPA is a not-for-profit organisation who, in its own words, is "set up to drive the digital transformation of the property industry by promoting engagement between PropTech and Property businesses, and creating an environment conductive for PropTech innovation". Its membership base comprises PropTech companies, property companies, PropTech investors and their respective advisers.
It is envisaged that the BPF / UKPA are hoping, that in bringing their respective membership bases together, they will be able to provide a collaborative environment which will see further strides being made in PropTech in order to further grow the property industry. In addition, we would hope as the UKPA become firmly imbedded within the BPF, there will be a real drive to increase the usage of PropTech within the real estate industry and to reduce the barriers to its adoption.
Like the BPF, the UKPA also represent its membership in policy and legislation. It seems likely that the BPF / UKPA are hoping that by working together, they will be able to provide better regulation in the use of PropTech within the industry.
The next step
News of this merger has only been recently announced and the integration is not expected to be crystallised until June. We look forward to seeing how this merger benefits the real estate sector.