UK Proptech businesses to watch out for in 2021

2020 was a big year for technology and the housing market, given that everyone was forced to work remotely. In this environment we’ve seen some proptech businesses come to the fore. Here, we round up some of the key ones from this year.

Moda Living – build-to-rent specialist

Moda Living is a build-to-rent developer that’s forming some high-profile tech partnerships.

For example Moda signed an agreement with tech giant Samsung in November, to provide 60,000 smart home appliances across its pipeline.

In August is was announced that the developer partnered with Utopi to build a complete digital infrastructure and optimise smart building technology across its development portfolio.

It seems Moda is gearing itself as a built to rent developer for the future, by empowering tenants to control a range of aspects of their homes from their mobile, from thermostats, to speakers, to lighting.

The company, founded in 2014, is fast developing into a name worth watching.

Here’s Oscar Brooks, director at Moda Living, talking about build-to-rent and proptech during Covid-19 back in November.

Skrap – construction hire company

Skrap is a startup looking to revolutionise skip and construction hire services.

Users can hire a skip, grab, cage or construction materials on their mobile, while the startup is currently operating in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

The company, which was founded in 2017, secured £1.2m in seed funding in August, as it looks to expand to more cities.

Gleensite – property prediction specialist

Predicting whether an area is going to flourish and drive house prices up is something that’s challenging for investors.

Gleensite is a software company that aims to use technology to make these predictions.

The company has built a proptech platform that offers predictive analytics for real estate – effectively it uses big data, AI and experience from partners to determine where you should buy, build or even rent.

It’s early days for the company, which started in 2019, but it could act as a helpful tool for landlords if it catches on in the years ahead.

Here’s our writeup about the firm’s launch.

RentProfile  – tenant screening company

RentProfile is a company that specialises in landlord and tenant screening checks, which was founded in 2016 after one of the co-founders became a victim of a rental scam.

In September the company launched its OnBoarding product, which enables tenancy agreements and the transfer of deposits and rent payments to be completed electronically.

Given that the pandemic has taught us to keep our distance from another, the product launch seems very well timed – by enabling landlords and tenants to get things done quickly without physically interacting.

Coadjute – connecting up property transactions

Coadjute is a UK-based blockchain network that envisages connecting all areas of a real estate transaction together using technology.

This is solving a problem that’s been in the market for some time – estate agents, conveyancers and brokers can operate in siloes, with the consumer being caught in the middle.

Coadjute has made the lofty claim that it will be able to double the speed of UK property sales by connecting all the parties involved in property transactions together.

Whether this comes to pass remains to be seen, but in a year where property transactions are taking many months to go through, that claim is surely music to people’s ears.

Here’s our writeup on the company receiving funding from US venture fund Collab+Currency in December.

Proportunity – equity loan provider

London startup Proportunity, founded in 2016, certainly has money behind it, as it received a fresh debt capital injection of up to £7.5m to fund more loans to first-time buyers in December.

The company offers more generous equity loans in areas where it expects house prices to rise, so the company’s profits could snowball in the years ahead if it made smart lending decisions.

This isn’t the only company offering equity loans, but offering a privatised version of Help to Buy seems a very smart move at a time where people are struggling to get a high loan-to-value mortgage.

To be successful companies like Proportunity likely need to continue piggybacking on the success of the government’s Help to Buy scheme, though I’m sure the likes of Proportunity hopes its own name becomes well-known enough to speak for itself in the years ahead.

Lendlord – mortgage and insurance recommendation tool

Getting a mortgage and insurance as a landlord can be a tricky and complicated endeavour.

Lendlord is a company that looks to make that process simpler. How it works is you enter your personal circumstances and portfolio, while the automated hub recommends a range of products based on what’s on the market at the moment.

You can see buy-to-let mortgage options, as well as bridging finance, secured loans, revolving credit for portfolios, commercial finance and landlord insurance.

The company, which was only founded in July 2019, launched its ‘finance hub’ in November.

Canopy – digital rental ecosystem

Canopy, which launched in 2016, offers a screening service for both tenants and landlords, as well as a deposit free insurance policy for tenants.

The company has raised over £10m from Experian, Direct Line Group, and West Hill Capital and Vision Blue, so there’s plenty of money behind the company.

Canopy is continuing to search for partners, as it secured a number of insurers to join its digital rental ‘ecosystem’ in December.

Flatfair – deposit free renting

Another company offering deposit free renting to tenants is Flatfair.

Notably back in March the startup launched a free online tool to help landlords and their tenants to agree on payment plans due to Covid-19 related rental arrears.

This is a problem that hasn’t gone away, so launching such a tool was a smart move.

Flatfair unveiled Boost in August, allowing landlords to add up to six weeks of damage protection to their properties, on top of the maximum of five weeks.

Goodlord – streamlining the rental process

Goodlord enables referencing and tenancy agreements to be conducted digitally, while since 2018 it’s been led by founding director of Zoopla, William Reeve.

The company has gone on to focus on helping tenants set up utilities, as it has a partnership agreement in place with Virgin Media.

While the company was started in 2014, it raised $13m (£9.65m) of fresh funding in March 2020, signalling that its appetite to become a big player remains undiminished.

It implemented facial recognition technology in October.