As reported in the earlier chapters of this report, the US leads the global PropTech industry in several key indicators. The US has the highest number of PropTech companies with a total of 1,287 companies which account for 58% of all PropTech companies in the world. Furthermore, the US attracts the most investors with a total of 3,030 which make up 64% of all investors in the world. Consequently, the US also leads the way in attracting the most investment in PropTech companies at $67.32 billion for the period of 2021 to 2022, and this amount ounts for 62% of all investment made in the PropTech companies. For all these reasons, we include a separate chapter in this report focusing on trends and patterns of the industry within the US.
In Texas, many major cities (El Paso, Dallas, Houston, Ft. Worth, College Station) have high tax rates, which drive up valuations, but the state itself has very low tax rates in an attempt to attract businesses to the state. In Washington, Seattle is a secondary tech-hub, comparable to Silicon Valley. In Massachusetts, the market is driven by Boston, a location of “old money” – by American standards – where luxury housing drives much of the market, as in New York City. Similarly, in Illinois, the major economic center of Chicago attracts much of the business of the real estate market. The drop in California’s share of the market (from 38% down to 36%) reflects the overall growth of these other areas, in the case of Texas and Washington, as well as the diffusion of PropTech into more traditional real estate markets, in the case of Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York.
While it is not a surprise that the distribution mirrors the distribution of technology companies in the United States, it is notable that Silicon Valley seems to be on the decline as a proportion of the market share. However, we have not yet seen the growth of unexpected new market centers. Instead, technological innovation in real-estate seems to be creeping into and influencing some of the more traditional – and previously slower to change – real estate markets of Boston, New York City, and Chicago.
Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, and Silicon Valley have several features in common: They all have a high-density of highly educated potential real estate investors. They also feature some of the world’s leading research universities nearby and have been centers for young businesspeople to flock to seeking opportunities for decades. Thus, they are considered safe bets for potential start-ups in the PropTech sector. We might combine these factors to underscore factors that PropTech startups should look for when seeking a potential market: a robust supply of well-educated labor, potential investors, steady markets with strong guarantees of returns, and environs that are generally conducive to business. However, the question becomes will these innovation hubs also become increasingly decentered following the trends of the Real Estate industry in the United States as a whole. Being a PropTech disruptor for industry leaders could mean throwing caution into the wind and seeking out establishing physical offices in areas that are not where business has been traditionally conducted.
Being a disruptor means more than just trying to do something a bit differently. You fundamentally have to be willing to look past existing practices and norms to find solutions that could be significantly better for customers than currently exist. The innovator’s dilemma is powerful in that incumbent players have little incentive to disrupt businesses in which they enjoy a dominant position. By not being constrained by how things are currently done, entrepreneurs can delight customers, reduce costs and friction, increase transparency and make things simpler. At Roofstock we’re working to make the process of real estate investing ten times better.
Figure 24 shows the distribution of US PropTech companies in each category. There are a total of 387 PropTech companies in the U.S. measured in the 2021-2022 data. The Living category accounts for about 33% of the market in the past year, compared to 41% in the long-term trend for 2000-2022. Managing represented 35.9% of the market in the U.S. in the past year, while it represents a very comparable 33% of the market in the long term data. In the past year, where we have seen the growth in companies is in the Building and Investing categories, which grew from about the 25% of the marketshare ey represent in the long-term data, to a total of 30.7% of the market in the past year.
In part, the low number of companies involved in the building category in the US may also be a reflection of a systemic problem of the market, where the US faces a shortage of new affordable housing. On the other hand, the relatively large number of companies involved in Living and Managing may also reflect the ease of technology integration in these categories. Regardless, the data shows that companies entering into the building and investing categories in the US will face less competition than those companies entering into the living and managing spaces.
Figure 26 shows a similar distribution for US PropTech companies when compared to the global market trend. We see some familiar players in the 2021-2022 update and the long-term data. For instance, in the Managing category, we see WeWork, Picasso, Ribbon Home, Sonder, Vacasa, Entrata, and Orchard. However, we do not see AirBnB, Expedia, or OpenDoor. In Investing, we see Better.com, Divvy, Doma, and Easyknock, although Roofstock has clearly increased their investments received. Although View was represented toward the top in long-term data, we do not see them toward the top of the 2021-2022 fiscal year. However, we do see familiar players like Hippo Insurance, Service Titan, and Thumbtack retained significant attention from investors.
Overall, the US appears to be a microcosm of the PropTech sector, showing patterns reflected globally as well. The market concentration for the “Managing”, “Building”, and “Investing” categories is similar in the US, with just three companies dominating the PropTech category. Market concentration is more pronounced in the “Living” category with just six dominant companies (as opposed to 12 in the global distribution).
Europe: A Focus on the Future
The PropTech landscape in Europe faces distinct challenges when compared to North American markets in that the segmentation of countries and legal systems creates additional hurdles for transnational market cooperation. Furthermore, the increased separation between the markets of the EuroZone and the United Kingdom in the wake of the British government opting out of the European Union has mired some potential trans-European collaborations. Nonetheless, PropTech investments in European countries are also distinct from counterparts in other regions in no small part because the governments of the European Union have placed a more significant emphasis on addressing climate change.
The greater emphasis on incentives to address climate change is especially apparent when European Union markets are compared to counterparts in the United States, Brazil, India, and the People’s Republic of China. In Figure 27, we aimed to get a sense of how the PropTech market is shaped across Europe.
As we can see from Figure 27 PropTech companies are concentrated in the major
Western European economies, with Germany, as the fourth largest economy in the
world, unsurprisingly coming out near the top, just behind the United Kingdom.
We tend to be very digital centric. We use CRM tools. We use automation… and as a digital start-up company, we have far more agility to take advantage of whatever channels and platforms become available. If the new consumer behavior is TikTok, we will not say ‘No! We will not explore TikTok!’. If YouTube is the place to be, we will be there…
… We know Real Estate is not a very transparent industry. There is not a lot of knowledge about how valuations are being done, how the debt structures are operating, where is the capital coming from, how do you work together with the central bank. It’s the only asset class in the world where you can leverage up to 90-100%. There’s a lot in Real Estate that takes a long time to understand and people do not understand well, so what I think is what PropTech is really doing here. It is shining more light on the Real Estate industry.”
Innovative tech hubs in Berlin, Hamburg, and other German cities have helped to spur innovation, as has the governmental support of German universities, which provide solid labor pools of talented engineers to drive innovation. France and Spain have also become significant players in the PropTech market in recent years.
Colonies, founded in 2017, is currently one of the most successful PropTech companies in France, measured by total funding, focusing on a co-living model of housing, sitting at $213 million in funding, with their Series B funding containing $180 million alone. The second most funded PropTech company in France is an ESG strategy planning and consulting firm: Deepki.
Founded in 2014, they are headquartered in Paris and emphasize helping real estate stakeholders make transitions toward ESG efficiency, along with developing sustainable buildings. Luko, a Home Insurance company headed by Benoit Bourdel and Raphael Vullierme, remains a top contender in French PropTech, having secured $85 million in funding. Notably, all of the top three companies by funding in French PropTech take consideration of European government discussions about climate change policy seriously and all three have incorporated addressing climate change into their business models.
One of the advantages that European PropTech companies have in international markets derives from one of the aforementioned challenges they face. Because European companies are already used to markets with substantially different tax requirements, and other forms of regulations, they have a competitive advantage. Additionally, their leadership tends to be more cosmopolitan than American companies, with more adept language abilities, and a more honed sense of how to work internationally. Furthermore, there are specific markets in Europe (such as Vienna, in Austria, for example) where the Real Estate sector has been relatively strong, but the potential of PropTech to break into the market remains virtually untapped. We see similar circumstances in Scandinavian countries, and also Portugal.
Because of the nature of the landscape of the Real Estate market in Europe, combined with the realities of the European PropTech market, there are three clear potential avenues for growth for European PropTech companies. The first is to break into existing innovation hubs, while considering extensions to “Second cities,” which is an approach that would be best suited for markets in Spain, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The second is to expand into untapped European markets, where existing PropTech competition is light, but the potential for Real Estate profitability remains relatively stable, such as in Scandinavian countries, Portugal, and Austria.
In Portugal, for instance, half of investments in 2020 were from foreigners, rather than Portuguese, and Portuguese startup Relive recently raised €1 million in funding from early stage VC (Shilling Founders Fund, Accel, Bynd, Indico Capital Partners and Portugal Ventures). Finally, another potential for European PropTech expansion would be to tap the expertise of European leaders to work transnationally, such as expanding into enormous and competitive Asian markets, or developing markets of Latin America and Africa. The competitiveness of Asian markets should be taken into consideration, although the potential for capital growth in the region does seem substantial.
PropTech companies in Asia are an often neglected, but rapidly expanding subsector of the PropTech industry.
Figure 28 shows a comparison of the PropTech companies by country, from a continental perspective. Situated in the Levantine subregion of Southwestern Asia – also sometimes referred to as “the Middle East” – The PropTech Zone in Tel Aviv, Israel is becoming a new hub. In 2019, Flashpoint (from the UK) opened a Tel Aviv based office and decided to invest over $100 million in Israeli startups. Between 2018 and 2022, PropTech in Israel grew enormously, over 800% and reaching almost 100 companies, with almost twice that number of small startups reported in 2022 according to Israel’s ConTech Construction Innovation Zone.
Similarly, major markets have begun to grow across the region, from West to South, as well as from Southeast to East Asia. We saw major growth in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. However, the major players in Asian markets are naturally located mostly in Southeast, East, and South Asia: Indonesia, South Korea, India, China, and Japan. With an enormous property market, PropTech in India is expected to reach $1 trillion in 2030, compared to $120 billion in 2017. Similarly, China is a major player in the market, with a burgeoning PropTech industry securing footholds in major cities with 75% of all companies being located in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou, with Hong Kong and Guangzhou following closely behind, having 19 and 15 companies respectively as of 2021.
We think of ourselves as disruptors; we are finding a new way of doing things, as the older ways fall away. A better way of doing this is, of course, not without risk… We are disrupting how affordable homes are being financed. That is what we are doing next. In that, we are also disrupting how the disruptor can invest and generate yield. We make those elements connect in a better way that was not possible before.
In Southeast Asia, the PropTech industry is bolstered by a comparatively cheaper labor supply than in East Asia, making the region more comparable to South Asia in terms of concentration of potential high-value real estate nearby tech innovation hubs and affordable supplies of labor for construction. Recently, the Singaporean based PropTech startup, 99 Group secured $52 million in Series C funding specifically to expand into Indonesia. However, Indonesia itself already has a substantial PropTech market. For instance, CoHive, a locally founded provider of managed co-working spaces was founded in 2015 and secured $37 million in funding.
These sums may appear relatively paltry compared to major firms in the American and European markets. Yet given the opportunity cost comparison of Southeast Asia to the rest of the world, they are quite substantial. Gasoline in Indonesia is half the cost of gasoline in Spain, for instance, while a one bedroom apartment in a downtown area is about one third the cost. These distinctions in opportunity cost suggest that Southeast Asia’s megacities of Bangkok (Thailand), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Jakarta (Indonesia), and Metro Manila (the Philippines) will provide ripe opportunities for investment in years to come, although investors will also have to keep in mind there are particular pressures in the region that result from greater vulnerabilities to climate change.
As hinted at above, PropTech in East Asia is a major market to watch, simply because of the demographics and technology innovations available in major Chinese tech-hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. The story to watch in South Korea, however, is the development of Yanolja, a super-app that was launched by a former janitor, Lee Su Jin. Yanolja means, “Hey Let’s Play!” in Korean. They began with short-stay hotels in 2005, before adding transportation options to their app platform. Now, the company has begun to provide cloud-computing software to aid hotels and travel companies in the digitalization of their platforms, revolutionizing tourism and business travel in the country. In June 2022, Forbes reported that the 2021 valuation of Yanolja was $6.7 billion. While one might expect top 10 players to come from Beijing or Tokyo, Yanolja, building off of the major successes of recent years, broke into the Top 10 of our measures of “Investment Received by Category” for the Managing Category of the past fiscal year.