OPINION: PropTech – Is there anyone who actually cares about this?

Technology is reshaping the world, particularly in the way that the internet has facilitated instant communication and the rapid dissemination and usage of data. It’s pivotal stuff.

Russell Quirk

The geeks that were pushed around at school and bullied for attending lunchtime Computer Club as well as for their ten-quid Tesco anoraks, are now the tech barons of the universe – our modern-day land-owning gentry. Having turned lines of code into multi-billion dollar lines on a bank statement, some have even managed to find romantic partners, an accomplishment that pre the 1990’s, none of them realistically thought they would achieve outside of the confines of their ‘specialist’ magazine collections.

Zuck, Gates, Dorsey, Page, Brin & Co rule over us from their Silicon Valley lairs and not only own and dictate our day-to-day digital existence but now even decree what is news and what is not, what is true and what is not. Their latest move to censor world media content to a political flavour of their liking is an achievement not seen since the days of Stalin, a feat of which I am sure he would be proud. Like them, he was also a maniac too of course.

Technology is the bouncer-like grip around our collective throats that this small handful of spotty nerds increasingly control. Except, it seems, within the UK property industry…

‘PropTech’ is a term born relatively recently, technologically speaking, in 2012 or perhaps 2011 – although no one particularly cares which.

Because you see, despite there being 700 or so PropTech start-ups in the UK, the sensation that is PropTech itself is simply not a thing, per se. It’s a misnomer.

In and of itself, applying technology within the property industry is an important ingredient. CRMs, lead nurturing, digitally constructed floor plans, virtual tours, front ends that talk to back ends, APIs, data cross-correlation…. Yes, they are all important products and innovations that do the heavy lifting for agents and, sometimes, the consumer. They save time and improve user experience.

But ‘Proptech’ as a sector, as a separate entity, as a physical genre? No, no-one gives a toss.

Like with all things new and shiny, a community of consultants, influencers and little helpers has exploded onto the scene to ‘make sense’ of this PropTech phenomenon (even though it is no such thing). This then being a sub-incarnation of the ten-quid Tesco anorak brigade but one which has advanced somewhat in that they have realised that if you create a sector, or hopefully an actual ‘movement’, and make it appear complicated and inaccessible, you can charge the luddites a small fortune to assist them in understanding, interpreting and applying said complexities. See also naked Emperors’ stylists; psychic mediums; and retired footballers’ property investment seminars.

I ask you, do you think that the top-tables of the UK property industry regularly huddle together desperate to work out the nuances of this so-called space? Are the board rooms of our sector full of chatter about the direction that this PropTech thing is taking, what is PropTech and what is not? Or how this generic label can be applied to their companies as some magic bullet to success? No, none of that happens. Yet the thought-leaders and consultants in this made up, mythical arena of all that is technology wrapped into property, will insist that if you’re not down with PropTech, then as an estate agency, portal, management company, commercial property owner, conveyancer or surveyor – you’re toast.

It’s the equivalent of the Wild West snake-oil salesman that would pitch-up his caravan town by town and convince the naïve and the gullible to buy his worthless potions. “Adding tech to your business model will multiply your exit valuation several times over” etc.

You understand that I am not saying that technology in property firms is worthless, or that it’s not important. No. That is not my contention here at all because tech advancement is important – vital even. But what I am saying is that the sub-sector itself that has been dreamed up as the generic label to encompass the principle of digital innovation is both unnecessary and fabricated. It simply serves as a masturbation-fest for those that seek to be pound-shop Steve Jobses of the property world, with their digital-twins, built environment chit-chat and big-data drivel serving as the pornography which they are desperately trying to peddle to the rest of us for day-rate cash.

The next time a PropTech Clark Stanley type extolls to you the virtues of digitising the entire property industry and all of the processes within each of its sub-sectors remember that whether they actually believe their own fantastical hype or not, there is always an angle to it that ends in an invoice.

Meantime, the adoption of technology within estate agency in particular remains sloth-like. There is neither the appetite nor copious spare cash enough to break the inertia of the established vendors’ offerings because the industry simply sees the likes of Reapit and Rightmove etc as ‘good enough’ even though in reality, as products they languish as the Nokia and Blackberry equivalents of our profession – outdated and cumbersome. That will change, although very, very gradually.

The rise of useful innovation in property will not come from these fake potion salesmen but as a consequence of the cautiously slow and conservative adoption process that our industry is famous for.

Whilst some estate agency branches still have fax machines in them, peddling AI as ‘the utopia of customer experience’ will fall on stony ground. Whilst the estate agency industry clings on to the Dickensian principle of branch offices themselves, not just the fax machines within them, then the climb to the top of Mount Automation will be a long and drawn out one for sure.

Those that seek to force that natural evolutionary process for their own personal gain are on the wrong side of progress and are increasingly exposed as such.

The companies themselves that have utilised technology to innovate the property space such as Fixflo, Howsy, OpenBrix, GetAgent, HouseScan and Matterport et al should be embraced, applauded and their wares adopted. This opinion piece is not about denigrating such important, innovative firms.

However, the parasitical faux commentariat obsessed with intellectual *****-measuring in their elitist chat groups, extolling the merits or otherwise of these businesses whilst purporting to practice ‘Proptech alchemy’ as leaders in insight and wisdom?

They are indeed anoraks… Empty anoraks.


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  1. Countrybumpkin

    Russ you lost me in all that nonsense 🙂

    1. Ed Mead

      I would contend that there’s never been a more necessary time to have someone with PropTech and Agency experience help guide you through the maze of ‘700 companies’?

  2. Mrlondon52

    Some prop tech is good, some not. It is not a panacea but certainly in letting the quality of your tech will hugely influence your productivity.

    The core packages (reapit, veco, mri, etc) are all too slow to adapt and improve their products compared with the tech we use in our private lives (FB, wattsapp, etc, etc) or even salesforce.

    What is interesting is how few prop tech firms have had big exits.

  3. linsy13

    Did you write this article in the 90s Russ and only remember to post it now?

  4. MisterP76

    Do you still use a cloth measuring tape, wait patiently for the man to bring the photos to stick to your details and sit by the phone the night the local paper gets delivered?

    Evolution happens, those not so accepting of it tend to become somewhat extinct!!

  5. AlwaysAnAgent

    If you read this piece and do the complete opposite you won’t go far wrong.


    There’s always a razor sharp undercurrent to most of Russell’s comments which is worrying. Some of his comments seem vengeful and bitter, and excluded. Unless I’m reading too much into it.


  6. Cyberpunk35

    Are they paying you by the word Russell? This is the longest suicide note in history. Next week Russell Quirk tells us why breathing oxygen is so overrated.

  7. Andrew Stanton Proptech Real Estate Strategist

    JLL or in case you have never heard of them Jones Lang LaSalle (they have only been around since 1783) who turn over about $20 BN a year and have about 100,000 employees globally, defined proptech as “the utilization of technology…to [address] challenges in the real estate sector”. In their 2020 – there is this telling quote –  The winners in the fourth industrial revolution will be those who are able to participate fully in innovation-driven ecosystems by providing new ideas, business models, products and services. —— Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

    If you were to take 10 minutes to read JLL’s whitepaper Russell, just on China from Q3 2020 you would see a likely blueprint of what is going to be happening in your high street. I do not mind Russell the fact that you wake up and some fantasy grabs your imagination, but my advice – do some proper research before showing how little you really know.

    This proud Proptech Anorak has just been sent the first draft chapters of a book also on proptech in China, written by someone who lives there who wanted my educated and analytical views, it is a good job he did not contact you. Proptech Norway will be hosting a joint programme on my views of the global reach of proptech in two weeks, and I am advising a client in America on a cutting edge multi-million dollar CRE commercial real estate project, I also am working on several whitepapers and looking to co-fund a proptech enterprise in Russia.

    Given that there was 7.5BN of investment into proptech, the Anoraks favourite, in the UK last year, and the estate agency industry is only sized at 6.5BN – I think you will soon see who is selling snake oil and who is a lone voice with probably a lone reader. Oh and Keller Williams – I think you might have heard of these Russell as you part own one of their franchises – here is a soundbite from your ex CEO who invested $1BN into proptech in 2019, ‘The ultimate measure of our success is the health of our people’s business, a direct result of our unwavering commitment to the agent-led Labs process which delivers technology that grows their businesses.’

    1. Dick Value

      TRANSLATION: Why oh Why oh Why don’t PIE come to me for these pieces? I am far more intelligent and connected than Mr Q.
      P.S. Beware anyone quoting Klaus Schwab and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They are not your friend.

      1. nick tadd

        (Dick Value) TRANSLATION: Why oh Why should I allow someone who knows detail get away with commenting without my belittling of them.

      2. AlwaysAnAgent

        No, please! He’s another one who has done nothing and achieved nothing in his property life and apart from having a keyboard he’s as useful as chocolate teapot.

        1. Dick Value

          Living rent-free in your head?

    2. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      I suspect any faith in Klaus Schwab and his Ilk…may prove to be misplaced.

      He is (based on his ideals and ‘vision’) a dangerous (and sadly, very influential) neo-marxist sociopath, who believes that you are neither capable nor worthy or self-determination.


  8. Vanessa Warwick

    Russell Quirk – sounding like a horse and cart salesman five years after the motor car was invented.

  9. James White

    Agency for now, is still a human business.

    A lot of prop tech is not needed, we all know that.  Much of what agents do, can be done with a mobile phone and a great CRM, property portals, and a few useful digital tools (floorplans/photos etc).

    Technology that is an enabler to the agent is welcome.

    What occurs to me is that the next revolution in the property sector that really makes a difference will come on the transaction side.

    Speed that up, reduce fall throughs and enable transactions to progress at lightning speed, now that’s what clients want……but that too is the greatest threat to agents…….


    ps…. I know a lot of people who would be really offended by the remarks in paragraph two of this article/post/rant, whatever it is…..

    1. RedRebel

      100% agree James

    2. MillicentBystander

      Hallelujah!….this is spot on. Tech enabled agents with a ‘fit for purpose’ conveyance process would be manna from heaven.

  10. AgencyInsider

    I think I read this that Quirk is not anti technology but that he is taking a swing at the BS that surrounds much of it. Seems about right to me.

    1. Robert_May

      Is  there a pattern here AI? Not for the first time you are explaining what a Quirk  diatribe  is attempting to say with  a single sentence that’s a 2.9% precis of another overly long attack on someone or something

  11. FUDGE53

    Please for the love of God learn how to write.  I have no issue with opinion pieces but this is awful.

  12. EyeOutsider

    May I try to comment for a third time without it being deleted.

    Russell, please can you clarify if you have an interest in any of the companies you named.

    PIE, please can you clarify if these editorials are paid for?

  13. GeorgeHammond78

    The better Headline might have been:

    Russell Quirk– Is there anyone who actually cares about him?

    1. Probably Pork in the Pie

      Or a better headline:

      “Russell Quirk – No one cares about him.”

      Or my personal favorite:

      “Russell Quirk – Who?”

  14. AgentQ73

     “parasitical faux commentariat” Wow, think Mr Quirk needs to try to peer through the bitterness and self loathing and take a long hard look in the mirror. This whole rant/article could equally apply to those selling certain franchises.

  15. RedRebel

    Interesting that you liken Prop Tech as ‘Snake Oil Salesman’ I can think of a better person that that moniker fits…..he wrote this article

  16. Andrew Stanton Proptech Real Estate Strategist

    George Hammond – classic ‘Russell Quirk– Is there anyone who actually cares about him?’ – I think he is writing that piece now. 

  17. KByfield04

    Is it me, or do the comments slung at those Rusty disapproves of become more snide and nasty with each column? I think, like many reading this, the irony of a man attacking PropTech that blew millions on an online operation is not lost- in fact it just sounds like a bitter loser. Julia HB and the other antagonistic click bait entities will be proud of Rusty’s embrace of the ‘saying anything about anyone is fine as long as as it gets clicks- even hypocrisy’.

    Yes there are 700+ PropTech firms in the UK but this is across every aspect of property from data & land analysis through planning and construction through sale, lease disposal and even demolition- both resi and commercial. When you think of it like that I think 700 sounds quite small- there are 24k agencies let’s not forget. Yes lots of these will fail, that’s a part of evolution and innovation.

    If you think 20 week sale transactions that can fall apart at a whim at any time, if months of planning applications, if flooding land, slow construction, convoluted process and hundreds of man hours simply entering data is all great then Rusty is right- PropTech is nonsense. If you aspire to something else then PropTech is a vital role in the transformation of these process although most of the time many of these products will fail if they don’t have a rich and deep understanding of the segment they are seeking to evolve and transform.

    I like that Rusty pulls at snags and makes antagonistic comments however the snide and vindictive name calling in this piece feels like little more than bullying from the big simple kid who can’t even start to understand what the geeks in the playground are talking about let alone hoping to create.

  18. PropMan97

    I don’t even know what I just read.

    “It simply serves as a masturbation-fest for those that seek to be pound-shop Steve Jobses of the property world, with their digital-twins, built environment chit-chat and big-data drivel serving as the pornography which they are desperately trying to peddle to the rest of us for day-rate cash”.

    That is one of the longest and most nonsensical sentences ever published.
    I also don’t particularly like reading about “masturbation” and “pornography” over my morning brew.
    I honestly can’t understand how in the 21st century, an article is being published about how Prop Tech has been “dreamed up” and is “worthless”.  Then again I could be wrong, this article basically made no sense and could really be about anything.

  19. nick tadd

    This has all the hallmarks of someone who is being starved of attention – a colander argument that contradicts itself.
    Moreover, the liberal scatterings of ‘no one cares’ means that the Mr Quirke does and is very aware of his lack of control.
    I like it, writing like this serves two purposes:
    1. It shows that increasingly irrelevant people are courting their final hours.
    2. It a huge marketing boost to, in this instance, proptech.
    There are more rational people out there than extremists, thankfully, and those rational people are voting with their adoption of technology – writing like this, albeit in the ‘Quirke/y vernacular’ only serves to confirm the inevitable.

  20. SymphonyOfGreen

    For the average agent, any decent and worthwhile proptech investment can be seen on the Best Agent EA Masters guide; as voted by us. It’s as simple as that. Don’t let anyone sell you on an solution to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.Personally speaking, the below is all you should ever need or want:Decent CRM (Reapit, Alto, Agent OS, etc’)Overflow call handling (Moneypenny, Orca)Office 365 (Obvs)FixfloKeyzappDoctor PhotoMatterportCouple portals (Rightmove, OTM)Goodlord

  21. Whaley

    More Daily Mail than the Daily Mail Russell that’s some going !!

  22. smile please

    This is the same chap that valued the tech Emoov had at over £10 million. (think it sold along with the company and database for about 350k from memory).

    We all know it but this chap is clueless.

    1. Hillofwad71


      Smile 10x £10m!

      Sept 1st 2015


      “I can quite see that eMoov will have a valuation soon of £100m and if that sounds cocky, I apologise.””

  23. NeighSlayer

    Russell Quirk is like a god to me.

    1. NeighSlayer

      … as in does not exist.
       Apologies folks, whoever is censoring the comments section clearly can’t take as good as the column inches they give to this charlatan.

  24. Charlie Lamdin

    The old PR cliché comes to mind: The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. 🙂 Stay well Rusty!

  25. Youalreadyknowme

    You all owe Russell a thank you. 

    What the jesus would you lot be doing if he didn’t give you something to get worked up about once a week? 

    Being amped up every now and then is good for your heart – given how well I know a fair number of you, I know that this weekly shot of adrenaline is one of the few things keeping your body blessed with life. 

    I have worked with and for more than a few of the UK’s so-called influencers and industry leaders, including some of those who are commenting on Russell’s articles every week. And including Russell himself.

    While I do not see eye to eye with Russell on many, many issues, not least his troubling, archaic social views expressed during chummy appearances on Tory-noshing talkRADIO, I can say, honestly and without regret that he is one of the most insightful, creative, and proven professionals in this industry.

    Put simply, he gets s-h-1-t done. Do you?

    I lose count of how many of you are all **** no codpiece. As a freelancer, I am forever dealing with clients who have a lack of knowledge, a surplus of ego and send everyone on an endless misery march of indecision and procrastination before choosing to do nothing after all. 

    I have worked with so-called PropTech advisors, commentators, and consultants, and Russell is completely correct. They are opportunists who rarely, if ever, provide tangible, actionable insight or education. Instead, they speak in broad terms about digital transformation, efficiency, and changing consumer expectations. All the while, they deliver nothing of worth which causes conflict when it comes to invoicing which causes relationships to sour and partnerships to end. Then, the consultant goes in search of their next husk, muttering something about dinosaurs under their breath.

    It’s nothing new. But it’s more prevalent in this industry than any other I have seen or worked in. 

    You point at Russell and say he has no right to swipe at anyone else because he “failed” so badly with eMoov. Please. None of you actually believe this. In truth, you all admire Russell and envy his rising profile. More than anything, he scares the **** out of you. 

    No more proof of this is needed than those who comment on his articles with a list of all of the great and important things they themselves are working on at the moment. A book in China, an investment in Russia, a Dutch fck*ng rudder in Amsterdam. You don’t even know how to share a Google Doc, fool. 

    When I first started working with Russell, I was concerned that working with a troublemaking Tory motormouth would be hard, and while yes, I feel obliged to text him my views every time he talks with his fellow privileged mates about BLM or Covid on the radio, I have also never had the privilege of working with someone who is professionally so astute, so results-driven, and so capable of delivering on their promises.

    Also, you bunch of prannies, what do you think he writes these articles for? If you hate him so much, stop reacting in the exact fashion he’s hoping you will. Don’t you realise that he’s far more likely to lose this article if no-one comments than if 100 people comment saying ‘why does this guy still have a platform?”. This, more than anything, speaks to your intelligence and your ability to leave your emotions and ego at the door. 

    You just can’t help it, can you? And that’s why Russell always wins. 

    And before you start, no I can’t help it either, I’ve fallen to your level and shall be scrubbing myself clean for weeks to come. I fear there’s not enough soap in the world.

    1. NeighSlayer

      Just confirming what we already knew.  Click bait tosh. 

      1. Youalreadyknowme


        1. NeighSlayer

          Clique in your case.  Get a room!  

          1. Youalreadyknowme

            Are you suggesting Russell and I have entered into, or should enter into a sexual relationship because I took a supportive stance on his article?

            1. NeighSlayer

              Confirming what we already knew.

    2. Chip Wiffler

      Pol Pot ‘got s-h-1-t done’.  I’m not sure what your point is?

  26. atheman94

    Lots of words, very little sense. This is a very bad and unreasearched opinion piece, full of awful takes. I also remember a piece by Russell last year about the online estate agencies where he said that they would fail to get any more market share and never achieve profitability – again awful takes.

    What I don’t understand is why Property Industry Eye gives a platform to this guy. He clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about and everything seems so personal with him. I don’t know why he’s is in any way meant to be a voice of reason or expertise when his track record in this space is very poor – he ran one of the few online agencies to bust. Surely it would make more sense to have someone with better experience and sense to write opinion pieces on stuff like this – or maybe PIE just want to run more traffic through aggravating articles like this.

  27. mywayorthehiway

    How on earth are Howsy on that list of innovators?. They are surely another begging bowl naive collective finding the real world of lettings tougher than they thought; terrible reviews, and as they put prices up they can no longer trot out the usual rubbish about saving the client 1000’s.
    I see not suprisingly they are extending the begging bowl out further. No amount of supertech they are apparently responsible for will help them reach profit. I see them going the way of Mr Q’s online efforts.

  28. r29woolf

    Look we all know Russell is being deliberately contentious but as with all stories like this there’s some truth amongst the soundbites

    Namely there are seemingly too many suppliers , there are too many PropTech companies who appear to be solving issues that nobody actually has

    But there is already a company out there helping out on this front , if you work with kerfuffle they help sort the wheat from the chaff. They’ve genuinely helped me massively on a lettings solution that I can’t wait to roll out- Richard & Paul have been first class.



  29. Andrew Stanton Proptech Real Estate Strategist

    For the sake of clarity – the  book – The Digital Transformation of Greater China ‘Finance, 5G, AI and Blockchain – authors Paul Schulte Dean Sun & Roman Shemakov. The Norwegian broadcast will be week commencing 15th of February – an audience of 4,000 hosted by Anders Danielle Brekke, as to the Russian connection commercially sensitive. So for for Youalreadyknowme – for sure I do, and perhaps you should use your own name before making a bigger fool of yourself than usual. PIE is a loveable bear pit, Viz meets the Beano, some great articles but reasoned comments – discussion  – not really.  Lots of hiding behind a false name yes – which is the level of someone who frequents the schoolyard and gets brave doing some graffiti when no-one is looking, my suggestion, why doesn’t (and I am going to paraphrase) a lot of folk on this site ‘put on some big boy pants’ and own their commentary with their real name. Then the partisan views will evaporate – you might even get some enlightenment. Or you can continue scrawling rude words on the playground floor, my bet is that staying anonymous is a much easier and safer option. Do I defend a person’s right to stay anonymous certainly, but if you want to hurl insults – and hide behind that anonymity that is just being a troll. And troll’s are out of fashion because their own agendas expose their insecurities and failings. As to RQ, ask him what our relationship is, that would surprise 99% of those reading this, and for sure graffiti boy Youalreadyknowme, probably you most of all.

    1. jan - byers

      Touched a nerve there! 

    2. KByfield04

      User names are a contentious one Andrew- many readers here will remember Chris Wood being penalised due to his comments made in his own name- a very real impact to commenting in an open and personal manner. Its a tricky line to tread- whilst ‘real name’ users would perhaps moderate some of the comments made it would also mean many would not speak the(it) ‘truth’ for fear of recriminations. That said, hiding behind a false name for baseless trolling- no one needs or wants that!

  30. jan - byers

    Shame is he does talk sense sometimes – but the constant pushing of his company is tedious as is his advice to estate agents by a guy who has never sold a house

    1. KByfield04

      To be fair- as someone who has been an agent in some shape or form most of his life- he has definitely sold plenty of houses.


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