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PropTech Today: Addressing the housing crisis through technology

Under the strain of a housing crisis, the UK faces a severe shortage of affordable homes. This is further emphasised by an increasing number of households relying on emergency and temporary accommodations, alongside an ageing housing stock that urgently requires upgrades and retrofitting.

Although the UK government has set ambitious targets to construct 300,000 new homes annually, the real estate sector has struggled to meet this demand, delivering only 212,000 homes in 2023. Additionally, over 34,000 homes remain ”long-term vacant,” highlighting the system's failure to provide energy-efficient, secure, and affordable housing to meet the growing needs.

So, how are we addressing the challenge? The answer lies with PropTechs - innovative companies leveraging technologies key to delivering energy-efficient, secure, and affordable housing at scale.


The United States has set a valuable precedent in addressing similar challenges through the emergence of the single-family rental (SFR) market. US PropTechs have played a crucial role in professionalising and institutionalising the sector by using AI, machine learning, and data analytics to develop innovative solutions that optimise existing housing stock, streamline property management, and promote sustainable practices. The UK can gain valuable insights from this, adapting them to enhance its own housing market.

Just as FinTech revolutionised the financial sector by leveraging technology to improve access to financial services and increase efficiency, PropTech has the potential to transform a traditionally slow-moving industry and address the housing crisis.

Implementing sustainable solutions through retrofitting

With residential properties accounting for 26% of the UK’s emissions, the housing sector is a noteworthy contributor to the nation’s carbon footprint. In addition to worsening the climate crisis, neglecting housing sustainability will lead to energy-inefficient living spaces that are costly to maintain and harmful to residents' health. Poor housing conditions are estimated to cost the NHS approximately £1.4 billion annually, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable and healthy living spaces. Rising demand for housing combined with the government’s ambitious construction targets underscores the relevance of establishing sustainable practices moving forward.

Retrofitting marks a viable solution to this problem. Given that 80% of the housing stock projected to exist by 2050 is already standing, retrofitting existing properties needs to be a critical component of the UK’s eco-friendly strategy. Retrofitting can drastically enhance a building’s efficiency, with potential reductions in energy consumption reaching up to 78%. In contrast, even the most energy-efficient new builds tend to have a large carbon footprint due to the embodied carbon in the construction process.

In addition, to assist in the urgent need for sustainable practices, proptechs can now leverage advanced technologies help navigate EPC concerns. For instance, AI-driven energy assessments can streamline EPC compliance and enhance the overall energy efficiency of properties.

Streamlining real estate processes

PropTech companies are addressing the housing crisis by leveraging technological innovations to enhance the efficiency of various aspects of the real estate process. For instance, IMMO’s AI-driven solution ‘KnoX’ is streamlining legal due diligence and reducing the time spent on property acquisitions. Another example is IMMO’s CompsAI, which automatically identifies the most relevant comparable properties for a given property, significantly reducing the time and effort required. These innovations collectively make real estate processes faster, more accurate, and less resource-intensive.

PropTechs' utilisation of technology is also placing them as leaders within property investment. One example is the use of AI-powered predictive modelling, which analyses variables such as commute times, rental growth rates, local employment rates, and school quality to provide insights into local supply-demand dynamics. Advanced analytics add to this by incorporating information on neighbourhood development plans, green spaces, and local amenities. As these factors play a significant role in determining residential desirability and investment performance, this information is invaluable to stakeholders who can pinpoint investments in locations with the best prospects.

The next steps for institutional investment

The growth of the UK's housing market relies significantly on the involvement of institutional investors. The adoption of cutting-edge technological solutions by PropTechs opens up avenues to tackle the housing crisis, focus on retrofitting older properties, improve energy efficiency, and develop sustainable housing. Utilising data-driven insights and AI-powered tools allows investors to enhance asset management, make informed decisions, and maximise returns. Embracing these innovative technologies is essential for institutional investors to succeed in the evolving housing market, positioning them to thrive in this dynamic sector.

  • Trevor Cooper

    All of which comes at a significant cost, especially at the lower-economic scale of the property market that might like to but in reality can ill-afford it.


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