The establishment of Airbnb.com in 2008, and its explosive growth sent a strong signal that the real estate industry will never be the same again. The subsequent decade witnessed the emergence of an unprecedented number of startups whose innovations are intentionally or unintentionally changing the face of the industry forever. Words such as blockchain, fintech, big data, predictive analytics, and machine learning are now the standard in real estate. Without further ado, here are six of the top startups that are leading the revolution within the real estate industry with their ideas and technologies:
1. Atlant: Decentralizing the real estate marketplace
Launched in 2017, this blockchain platform uses tokenized ownership (with real estate tokens representing shares in individual real estate assets) to facilitate investing in and trading with property assets, making the process liquid and transparent. In addition, the London-based startup offers peer-to-peer (P2P) flat rentals globally which reduce drastically fees for both tenants and landlords and eliminate the possibility of fake reviews and ratings. Atlant has definitely disrupted the industry reducing the cost of buying and owning real estate assets severalfold, and terminating the monopoly of real estate agents through a truly globalized platform.
2. Roofstock: Disrupting investments in single-family homes
This Oakland-based tech startup was founded in 2014 as the first online marketplace for single-family rentals, a sector that was awaiting disruption. Roofstock leveled up efficiency and transparency in transactions with leased single-family homes, and took them outside the Multiple Service Listing (MLS). The technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning used by the startup allows buyers to market their rentals without affecting renters or losing income. Simultaneously, buyers can invest in vetted properties with established potential for positive cash flow and return. The final result comprises of enabling property investors to concentrate on asset management, forgetting the day-to-day aspects of property management.
3. Fundrise: Introducing crowdfund investment to the real estate market
In 2010, Fundrise made possible the synergy of two major industries: crowdfunding (expected to exceed US$300 billion by 2025), and real estate. Real estate crowdfunding disrupted the notion that property investments are accessible only for rich individuals with extensive experience in the industry, by allowing entry-level investors with no previous knowledge to start making money in real estate with as little as $500. In 2015, the Washington, D.C.-based platform introduced electronic Real Estate Investment Funds (eREITs), giving small investors access to commercial real estate as well. This startup paved the way for treating real estate investments like online stock investments which pay quarterly dividend distributions and asset value appreciation at the end of the investment term.
4. Buildium: Automating the property management process
Founded in 2010, Buildium proposed an easy-to-use, cost-efficient solution to the challenges faced by all those in property management, a niche which has reached $76 billion in revenue in 2019 in the US alone. The Boston tech company has developed a cloud-based software that allows users to manage all day-to-day property-related tasks from a single platform. In this way, the startup disrupted the way in which landlords, professional property managers, and condo and homeowner associations used to do business, giving them advantage in the ever-accelerating race towards time- and cost-efficiency in the 21st century.
5. Rentberry: Bringing innovation to the rental market
Rentberry was launched in 2014 to disrupt the traditional way in which the rental business used to work. The San Francisco-based startup created an online rental marketplace bringing landlords and tenants together, eliminating the need for real estate agents in the rental niche. This alone has not only sped up the process for both landlords and renters, but also minimized costs and maximized profit for both groups. Using a decentralized ledger, property owners list and market their rentals, while tenants search for and rent properties, in addition to completing all steps of the application process in a transparent and efficient manner. Landlords and renters can negotiate the rental rate directly, reaching a mutually acceptable rate.
6. Flip: Changing the face of leasing and subletting
Since its establishment in 2015, Flip has revolutionized subletting for both parties involved. On the one hand, the platform allows the original leaseholder to sublet a room or an entire apartment temporarily, for a minimum period of one month. Moreover, leaseholders can get out of a lease legally and efficiently by assigning it to someone else. On the other hand, the New York company helps renters find a flexible place to live for any period of more than one month. Ultimately, Flip has automated the entire process, including digital qualification of tenants, legal documents, security deposits, rent payments, and others.