The last couple of weeks have seen a number of relatively high profile online rental companies raising money to “disrupt” the UK property market. This term is often used for companies which look to reduce costs, directly link various parts of a deal and carry out the vast majority of their activity online. So, how much more disruption can the UK property market expect?
Not all disruptive business models work
While we have seen at least two high-profile online rental companies raising millions of pounds over the last few weeks, it is worth noting that not all disruptive business models work. We all appreciate the Internet, we all appreciate lower costs and we all appreciate direct contact with various parties in a deal. However, this ongoing reduction in prices is impacting the personal side of business and in many cases reducing the amount of advice available.
If you look back over the last decade you will see dozens if not hundreds of potentially “disruptive” business models targeting the UK property market. How many of these are actually profit-making or even in existence today?
What are these businesses disrupting?
The term to “disrupt” when talking about the UK property market is one we are hearing more and more often but what exactly does it mean? In simple terms it is a business model looking to tempt customers away from traditional UK property market business practices very often to an online model where costs are cut to the bone. There is nothing wrong in disrupting costs, there is nothing wrong in cutting out the middleman but there needs to be as much focus on practical quality advice going forward.
Ironically there are now so many “disruptive” business models in the UK property market, and other areas of the UK economy, that we are finding that these disruptive business models are actually disrupting each other!
Will traditional property market practices remain?
Many people seem to forget that while the so-called disruptive business models look to attack margins, cut out the middleman and connect each individual party using the Internet, there are ways and means for traditional online businesses to cut their own costs. The use of the Internet has been a godsend for buyers and sellers in the UK property market offering the ability to research properties online before deciding which ones you want to visit in person.
You only need to look at traditional estate agents in the UK to see the increasing focus on online advertising, online sales as well as offering in-depth information portals. It is easy to assume that the more traditional UK property market business models have been inflexible during this “disruptive” period but this is not always the case.
The ability to “disrupt” markets via online portals has attracted hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in an array of different businesses right across the UK economy. The simple fact is that if we look at the UK property market for example there are people who will deal online based on their own expert knowledge. There will always be individuals who require their hands held through the deal and advice along the way and then there will be others somewhere in between.
There are now so many “disruptive” business models in the online arena that we are getting to a stage where they are actually disrupting business each other. Not what they expected?