Ensuring quality checks using tech, Property Check helps buy/rent the right house in UAE

Founded by Michael Widgery and Liam Ketley in 2022, Dubai-based Property Check is a tech-powered startup which provides property inspection facilities in the UAE.

Ensuring quality checks using tech, Property Check helps buy/rent the right house in UAE

Monday January 16, 2023,

5 min Read

Former advertising executive Liam Ketley had just moved into his new apartment in Dubai when one of his worst property nightmares came true—his apartment got flooded. This was followed by three weeks of disruptive repair work, and back and forth with contractors. 

Over the next few days, Liam dug deeper into the problem with his colleague Michael Widgery. They observed that there was a lack of transparency around infrastructure quality in the region, and recognised the need for a home inspection model.

“Most people buy a property in the Middle East without home inspection and are either not aware of any technical faults or do not have the right skill set to do the appropriate checks,” explains Michael.

With personal experience in construction, renovation, and maintenance work, the duo began the groundwork in 2020. After 18 months of research and product building, they launched Property Check in 2022. It is a tech-powered startup which offers property inspection facilities. 

The startup assesses everything property related—ranging from plumbing, electrics, water quality, cosmetic flaws, walls and ceilings, pests, flooring, and so on.  

Tech-backed home inspection

The services include inspection using advanced equipment such as infrared cameras, moisture metres, and endoscopic cameras, with the startup’s proprietary app. 

Liam says, "The app is for internal use only for our inspectors to create the reports in real-time inside properties. No customer ever downloads it." Post real-time inspection, the customer gets a detailed digital report card within 24 hours. 

“The report is shareable. In case of any fixes, the owner can share it immediately with the selected partners,” co-founder Liam explains, illustrating, “For example, if the AC is not working, the homeowner with one click can send details to our solution partner. The partner, in turn, will give a quote and timeline.” 

Each report card is hosted on an individual URL and sent to the customer via email once the inspection is complete.

At present, the team charges AED 999 for apartment checks and AED 1,499 for villas. The founders say that the pricing is lower than the market standard, which gives them a competitive edge. 

He says, “We feel that the market is overpriced and inaccessible. So pricing ourselves low was a strategy to make ourselves accessible and gain volume.”

Why home inspection?

Being in a desert country, Dubai’s temperatures vary from 50 degrees Celsius in the summer with 100% humidity to 18-20 degrees with zero humidity in winter. 

“These conditions play havoc with the building structure. A building will expand and contract with the seasons over here and that's due to temperature as well as moisture,” co-founder Michael explains.

“The region is working on building [properties] on artificial islands, sand, and these things affect buildings because they are almost constantly in motion due to expansion and contraction,” he adds. 

Michael also mentions that the building standards are not up to the mark in most cases. He says, “Many developers like to cut a lot of corners to save money and they are not heavily monitored. The quality of your build goes down as well and you start incurring problems with waterproofing or quality of materials.”

Liam also adds that there is an added problem of inconsistent build quality. 

Focus areas

The 14-member team built the overall product with the help of government-approved developers hired on a contract basis who built the inspection software, the backend and the frontend. 

Liam says, “We looked at a few of our previous connections who had also been working with many government entities and have been approved for helping government apps and websites get off the ground.” 

The founders have also kept a close watch on the cash flow and customer relationships. 

Liam says, “We see ourselves as their [customers’] property partner, in essence, not like a broker, making sure that everything in terms of the build of the home is great. For us, it is treading that fine line between scaling as demand grows, while also retaining that customer relationships being at the front and centre of what we do day in and day out.”

To build the relationship, the founders offer free merchandise to their customers after house inspections. These include products such as candles, incense sticks, t-shirts, and baseball bats. 
Property Check

Property Check Team

The scope of proptech 

According to Future Market Insights, the global property tech market was valued at $18.2 billion in 2022. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.8% during 2022-2032, driven by innovative tech solutions and services.

As per Research and Markets, evolving tech solutions are driving increased real estate transactions and better management of real estate assets in the UAE. 

A 2022 real estate report by Property Finder Zeitgeist 2022 highlighted that there were more than 88,000 registered sales in Dubai’s real estate market as of November 2022—a 46% jump from 2021.

Property Check competes with companies such as ProperScan. While not in the home inspection segment, the startup also competes with the likes of Property Finder, Emerging Markets Property Group, Huspy, and Nomad Homes in the region. 

Michael believes that the region has significant red tape and the overall process of starting up remains difficult. Getting licences, imports, registration of employees, vehicles, and getting premises can be time-consuming.  

“However, once you are off the ground, there is really no limit to where you can go,” Liam quips.

Future plans

Property Check is bootstrapped and the founders are not actively looking for funding at the moment. At present, they are working towards establishing a significant presence in the UAE market. 

The startup’s goal is to expand to the rest of the GCC region as well as explore international markets.

“We're open to partnerships with investors or developers to move into other regions and this is something that we'll be looking at in the near future as well,” Michael concludes. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh