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The Impact of Technology on the UK Real Estate Industry


Canary Wharf - London

The UK’s property market is a febrile one and in more ways than the most obvious. Though the market has been mercurial of late, between successive spikes and dips in property value and the unprecedented hiking of mortgage rates, it remains a relative constant with regard to long-term growth and high demand – making it one of the most robust markets in which to engage as an investor, as well as one of the most important markets an individual or household will ever engage in.


It is also an industry, which, as all other industries do, benefits from the advancement of technology. The art of buying and selling property may not be the most immediate candidate for technological revolution, but innovation on numerous fronts continues to change the game for real estate companies and the wider sector. What are these technological shifts, and how exactly are they impacting real estate in the UK and beyond?


Virtual Tours

The most tangible technological advancements in real estate are experienced on the consumer-facing side of the equation; the property market is more accessible than ever with thanks to the ubiquity of internet access, for one. Of course, going online to view digital listings for properties is nothing new. However, it is the bedrock for continued innovations in presentation of listings and access to information.


One such innovation is that of the virtual tour. High-definition 360-degree cameras have become commercially available and financially accessible in recent years, allowing even independent estate agents to effectively image a property from within. This means prospective buyers can ‘walk through’ a property without having to visit – removing barriers to sale and increasing the likelihood of a successful transaction.


 
 

Blockchain and Digital Transactions

UK Real Estate Industry - Blockchain and Digital Transactions

A slightly more complex industry advancement surfaces in the form of fintech innovation – particularly, the adoption of blockchain technology. Blockchain describes the building blocks of cryptocurrency, a decentralised peer-to-peer networking solution that enables the transfer of unique digital assets with immutability baked in. Blockchain allows for the purchasing of tangible items with a decentralised currency, but it also enables the safe and secure transfer of information via smart contracts.


Conducting the purchase or sale of property via the blockchain can introduce some legal considerations, but can make high-profile transactions safer; blockchain can also make coordinating international transactions safer and easier.


 
 

The Onset of AI

Finally, it is impossible to talk about contemporary tech advancement without acknowledging AI. AI tools have flooded the market in recent months and years, starting with the commercial availability of OpenAI’s ChatGPT language model.

ChatGPT, and other competitor models like it, is a powerful AI system that can converse with users. It uses the information on which it was trained to inform itself, and can be instructed via prompts to carry out certain exercises – including greeting online customers or facilitating the receipt of property buyer or seller information at the start of a given property journey.


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