South African proptech startup Flow – the best-funded proptech startup on the African continent – has released the second iteration of their world-first app. Flow 2.0 will provide a full-stack rental platform for the property rental marketplace, matching great tenants with top-rated landlords. The new version of the service lays the rails for the future of the platform, adding more data science layers and providing more tools for both renters and landlords. The arrival of ‘Behavioural Search’ is set to revolutionise the rental property space and make finding the right property even easier and more rewarding for ‘Generation Rent’.
The Behavioural Search functionality matches highly-profiled renters with the right properties and gives landlords the tools to retain good tenants. The ‘always-on’ functionality removes the need for phone calls in the rental-hunting market – the properties a tenant sees are available, in real-time, and the app’s functionality allows them to instantly connect with landlords for a quick turn-around on viewings and sealing the deal. The matching process maximises efficiency for landlords too, with up-to-date listings of their ‘unlet inventory’ constantly being served to the right rental prospects. This helps mitigate against price pressure in an unbalanced market which suffers with oversupply in some areas, and tremendous scarcity in others.
“We’ve solidified the concept of rewards for sound rental behaviour – and now we’re looking to unlock the full Flow journey,” says Co-Founder & CEO Gil Sperling. “By harnessing the power of behavioural economics to unlock all aspects of the rental marketplace, we’re re-inventing the classifieds and offering unprecedented ease of rental for would-be tenants, and helping landlords manage their properties and relationships with tenants, more efficiently”. Sperling says that the ‘rails’ laid for the evolution of the platform will include the potential to add value-added products like insurance and deposit loans for tenants, and additional tools for landlords. The ‘one-stop’ approach targets the millennial market, with ease of use and a comprehensive rewards scheme that puts money back into tenants’ pockets, as major benefits.
‘Generation Rent’ is a generation of people aged 22-35, who are opting for the flexible benefits of renting property – a lifestyle choice also linked to affordability. The trend is growing in South Africa, on the back of a global shift towards the rental space – home ownership has dropped from 55% to 45% in the past decade in the UK and 82% of residential properties in Berlin are rentals. Projections are that South Africa’s current rental rate of 55% within the developed economy will reach Berlin-like levels within the next 10 years. It’s a hugely valuable sector, too, with the country’s 2 million formal rental properties generating in excess of R168 billion per year – rentals are easily the most valuable asset class in South Africa, as they are in the rest of the world.
Flow has already racked up over 80 000 registered renters and 4 000 registered landlords, who are taking advantage of the platform’s benefits. Leading behaviours tracked include the fact that Flow tenants pay their rent earlier, associate greater value with their landlords – meaning they stay in their properties, longer – and that Flow is unlocking greater value for tenants, with the top tier of performers saving an average of R350 per month.
“We’re a platform approach to drive innovation within the proptech space – we’re not looking to disintermediate anyone. Our focus is on putting things together in an optimal way using technology, which will provide the most innovation and value for everyone, overall,” says Sperling. “The additional functionality is going to change the way the South African rental property space functions, which is hugely exciting for us. Our focus for the next few months is on properties in the Johannesburg CBD, but we’ll be looking to expand rapidly into other areas and regions as more and more users sign up to make use of the platform”.
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