Fintechs: Complementing the real estate ecosystem

Real Estate Predictions 2018

Fintechs have made rapid inroads into the real estate (RE) industry. That is why you need to: change the mindset from defense to engagement, examine your company strategy of working with fintechs and begin taking steps to operationalize how you engage with them. The Real Estate Predictions series and this content was developed by Deloitte in the Netherlands.

08/02 - Written by Jim Berry and Surabhi Kejriwal, Deloitte Netherlands

Fintechs by the numbers

An in-depth analysis of Venture Scanner data reveals that the number of RE fintechs globally rose exponentially from 176 in 2008 to 1,318 through the first three quarters of 2017. Startups focusing on property development and management far outpace the number of fintechs launched to target financing and investing or leasing and purchase-sale transactions (see figure 1). Geographically, the US is a clear leader in terms of the number of fintechs, followed by India and Germany.

During the 2008-2017 period, cumulative investments in RE fintechs soared from $2.4 billion to $33.7 billion. While venture capital (VC) remains the dominant funding source, there is substantial capital flow from non-VC investors as well, including REITs, established RE services companies and investors, private equity firms, and high net worth individuals. Geographically, while the US and India are the top two countries by investments, China outpaces Germany for a third spot.

How to engage with fintechs?

The general notion is often that startups are a threat to incumbent RE companies as they are offering innovative solutions and enhanced user experiences at a relatively lower cost and faster pace. However, traditional RE companies can leverage fintechs to drive operational efficiency, create powerful tenant experiences or even diversify existing business and generate new revenue sources. Additionally as RE companies have typically lagged certain technology adoptions there exists an opportunity to leapfrog current capabilities.

Companies can consider various approaches to tap into the fintech space. We’ve listed a few for your consideration:

Launch or participate in corporate accelerators: Independent or corporate accelerators would allow RE companies to capture relevant ideas and solutions at an early stage. This may be an effective and a relatively economical way of capitalizing on the new ideas developed by the startups. For instance, European retail and office RE owner, Unibail-Rodamco, has a startup accelerator program called UR Link. Through UR Link, the company provides financing, coaching and mentoring, and collaborative workspace to startups and co-develops prototypes for its large portfolio, with an aim to digitize its shopping centers and improve user convenience.

Use fintechs’ services: RE owners, developers, and investors can use the fintech platforms for a variety of services—including activities related to leasing, acquisition and disposition, managing the underwriting process, and accessing detailed financial models for property financing. As an example, Assess+RE provides cloud-based services such as property-level valuation models and related financial analysis.

Invest: Companies that have a fair understanding of the startup business, substantial funds, and the appropriate risk appetite can invest in fintechs with a strong value proposition. In some instances, companies may want to create value for the startup by sharing their expertise, relationships or even contributing to the startup’s business by being customers for its products or services. For instance, in 2016, a group of large mall owners invested in Deliv, a startup offering same-day delivery to shoppers.

Acquire: Companies with deeper pockets and understanding of startups could make strategic acquisitions to reduce future competition and also increase their capabilities and reach in terms of clients and markets. As an example, in December 2015, JLL acquired Corrigo Incorporated, a provider of cloud-based facility management solutions, in an attempt to improve transparency, enhance productivity, and leverage advanced analytics. Venture Scanner data suggests that within the RE fintech space, acquisitions in the property development and management space has grown significantly over the last four years. Total acquisitions swelled from 2 in 2012, to 35 in 2016 and 19 in the first three quarters of 2017.

How to evaluate your journey with Fintechs?

In summary, we would recommend reflecting on a few questions, which will perhaps help you evaluate your journey with fintechs:

  • Change the mindset, from defense to engagement. Do you still regard fintechs as a competitive threat?
  • Examine your company strategy of working with fintechs today. Has there been a priority on investment or acquisition? What is your current collaboration strategy and engagement model?
  • Begin taking steps to operationalize how you engage with fintechs. What is your ability to match the fintechs’ pace of development, from contracting to development of proofs of concepts and pilots, to demonstrating results?

For a more in-depth understanding about fintechs, please read our reports: Fintech by the numbers Incumbents, startups, investors adapt to maturing ecosystem and 2018 Real Estate Outlook Optimize opportunities in an ever-changing environment.


  • For the purposes of this report, we have defined “fintech” as the ecosystem of (perhaps initially) small technology-based startup firms that either provide RE services to the marketplace or primarily serve the RE industry.
  • UR Link website
  • Ibid.
  • Assess+RE website, accessed on August 4, 2017.
  • Venture Scanner.
  • “JLL to Acquire Technology Pioneer Corrigo,” JLL News Release, December 2, 2015.
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