By David Alexander, Joint Managing Director, apropos
For some time now, there has been a clear and pressing need to transform and modernise the residential property management process, and this has been heightened by the impact of lockdown. The digital advancement has reached our industry relatively late, compared with many other aspects of day-to-day life, and for too long the rental market has been reliant on a manual, paper-based process.
In May 2020, we successfully launched apropos, a revolutionary new digital property management platform. We’ve been delighted with the response to the launch of apropos from users, being landlords and tenants, as well as potential new agents. Following this success, apropos is actively seeking to grow its network of agents which covers 44% of the UK; the firm is subsequently ahead of the game in achieving its initial target to cover 50% of the UK by the end of 2020.
Designed to transform the rental experience, apropos enables landlord and Build to Rent operators to track and manage their entire rental portfolio – by monitoring all activity via a unique online dashboard delivering complete visibility of all transactions as the dashboard is accessible 24/7. Apropos’ platform enables Build to Rent investors to buy properties across multiple locations and manage them all centrally through the apropos dashboard.
Tenants can also make use of the bespoke platform to book viewings, share feedback on the property, submit and track their full rental application online, confirm their check in date and subsequently pay their rent online.
We’ve taken our four decades of industry experience and completely re-engineered the letting process with our team, bringing much experience and knowledge to apropos. There have been considerable changes to the property industry as a result of the pandemic, many of which we were prepared for and these changes will now be here to stay.
The rental market during lockdown – virtual viewings
During lockdown, virtual viewings are undoubtedly the biggest change the rental property market has experienced as a result of coronavirus. At apropos, we’ve seen a substantial number of tenants renting properties that they viewed on a virtual tour, going through the whole process without stepping foot on the property – and it looks like that will remain.
Working from home
Working from home has, and will continue to become, the ‘new normal’, and this will have a major impact on those working in the industry, but also for those seeking to rent or purchase a new property. It’s no longer necessary to visit a high street agent, with the ability to submit your full rental application using the apropos platform.
Perceptions are changing and there’s now widespread acknowledgement that individuals can work effectively from home. We’ve seen a significant increase in potential agents looking for self-employed opportunities enabling them to work for themselves and work from home.
A switch to longer term rentals
As a result of the pandemic, many sporting and cultural events have been cancelled or postponed, and it will be a long time before mass gatherings are able to take place again. At apropos, we’ve found that this is having a significant impact on the number of landlords switching from short term holiday lets to long-term rentals.
Although historically a short-term rental may have generated more income, at apropos we’re finding that even before the pandemic, a number of individuals were finding the day-to-day management was too time consuming – and it was more viable for them to secure a tenant that pays a monthly rental, which can be far more feasible in the long run.