Therefore it came as no surprise to our team at Toop&Toop, when last week it was announced that Airbnb are looking to expand into the long-term rental space. It seems like the next logical step for the tech-giant, and one that could allow them to capture a significantly larger portion of the housing market.
So looking at the likes of Uber and Netflix, the big question is... will traditional Property Managers or real estate agencies cease to exist?
We think the industry will survive, but traditional processes of real estate will have to change. There will be those businesses that adapt and shift with the times and those that don't. Of course, everyone will be aiming for the former.
Looking to the latest announcement, Airbnb has the capacity to connect Property Owners to Tenants. They are already doing this for holiday accommodation so it won't be difficult for them to enter the long-term rental space.
But what happens once the Tenant is placed in the property?
Common issues can include the house being damaged, the rent not being paid on time, or there might be ten people living in the property and not the professional couple that was stated on lease. This is where the tech-giants typically bow out and wipe their hands clean.
Once a Tenant collects the keys, we understand that by law they have taken possession of the home, creating certain rights to the property and triggering the tenancy legislation. We envisage changes to the current arrangement - for example I imagine all the terms and conditions traditionally in a lease would become available online. However I believe the current extensive rights and responsibilities is something that will be difficult to push to one side. If not because of the formal legislators, but more importantly because many Tenants and Landlords will want to continue to receive the protection it offers. Unlike Uber, where consumers are simply taking a 10-minute taxi ride, these rights are governing where someone lives (the Tenant) and someone's biggest asset (the Landlord).
So where will it all fall?... I don't think anyone knows exactly.
Nonetheless keeping an eye on what is happening in this space is important. Being nave to changing consumer needs, or believing that a tech-giant won't be able to enter the market has already proven to be the wrong way to think.
If businesses can adapt and use tools and online platforms to create greater efficiencies, we believe they will survive, so long as they continue to add value to their customers. At the end of the day, the consumer is the ultimate decider. Tech-giant or no tech-giant - customers will decide to move where they feel the best value or service is offered.