Breaking Property News – 16/11/2023
Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Proptech-X.
West Sussex agency Alex Harvey are the latest company to join the FIA growing membership
Graham Lock, CEO of the Federation of Independent Agents commented that, ‘We are really excited that Alex and his team at Alex Harvey, based in Billingshurst, have joined the FIA family having securing membership exclusivity in their local. They are what great agency is all about, a professional attitude and hyper focused personal service which creates value.’
Alex Harvey, an extremely experienced property professional with many years in the industry has built up a highly respected agency in the Horsham district of West Sussex area, says, ‘We joined the FIA as we believe it is important to be part of a network of like-minded professionals who are committed to the highest levels of service and support for their clients.’
‘We are committed to supporting and guiding both our buyers and sellers along the moving home journey and will always do all that we can to ensure a successful outcome. Whatever your situation may be, we promise to deliver an appropriate level of empathy and understanding required to ensure a smooth and swift process.’
Speaking with Alex, it is clear that his philosophy of business totally entwines with that of the FIA. He explained that, ‘We are not just an agent who does a transaction and moves on to the next … we are agents for life … there is a family locally and we have helped family six members with their property needs … we understand their lives, we stay in contact and feel that when we see them in the street we are all part of the same family’
‘Agency is all about good relationships and professionalism … we guide vendors and buyers through a journey using our knowledge … and after completion we nurture that relationship.’
‘Our philosophy is to create a win-win scenario in every transaction and put the client’s needs above all else to attract and develop long term trusted relationships – we are not transactional but relationship driven.’
Graham Lock CEO of FIA comments, ‘Alex and his team will greatly add to the collective knowledge and professional standards of the industry, as it is FIA’s mission to improve the reputation of our industry. Where respected, high calibre estate agents join forces to create a modern network like no other. With a natural desire to demonstrate consistent quality and professionalism that’s universally recognised.
Members are proud to display the FIA brand, a unique seal of approval exclusive to one agent per area that satisfies our strict entry criteria. We also provide a wide range of products and services that empower our members to deliver more in every vertical of their business.’
The UK property market reflects resilience and stability in Q4 2023
As the year draws to a close, the UK property market is entering into a calmer and more stable landscape. This is according to Nicky Stevenson, Managing Director of Fine & Country, commenting, “Based on the data, we seem to be entering a more settled landscape in the final months of the year. The market continues to display resilience in the face of the wider economic environment, with month-on-month property transactions fairly consistent, supported by committed movers and realistic pricing.”
According to data from Nationwide, house prices saw a 0.9% increase in October, marking the largest monthly rise in over a year. Stevenson adds, “Pricing sensibly remains key, as purchasers are cautious not to overpay. Rightmove data further reveals that 37% of properties have had their asking prices reduced since the beginning of the year. Good quality properties in sought-after locations continue to attract strong interest, with the average price of a prime property standing at £1,258,671. On an annual basis, there has been a slight softening of 0.8.”
The property market appears to be entering calmer territory with unemployment figures and inflation remaining same, and the bank rate being held at 5.25%. According to HMRC, property transactions have remained stable since June this year, although they are down compared to last year. The Royal Institution of Surveyors reports a decrease in homebuyer demand compared to last year, but it has improved since August.
Mortgage approvals dipped to 43,300 in September, below the long-term average. However, according to the Bank of England data, this is a 9% improvement from the start of the year. Although activity from mortgaged buyers is down, the number of cash buyers remains steady and is set to be the second-largest buyer group this year, following first-time buyers. Zoopla statistics indicate that cash buyers accounted for one in three sales in 2023, compared to an average of one in five over the last five years.
“Looking to next year, with anticipated falling interest rates and inflation tracking to reach its target of 2% in the first half of 2025, the property market’s momentum is expected to gather pace. Combined with pent-up demand and the usual springtime uplift in buyer interest, we anticipate a positive shift in market activity,” Stevenson comments.
Inventory Base explains the importance of Open Property Data Association
Sián Hemming-Metcalfe an executive member of the Open Property Data Association (OPDA) and also Operations Director of Inventory Base, sums up what OPDA is all about, ‘In an industry where trust can sometimes be a rare commodity, the impact of transparent and actionable data cannot be overstated. It’s not just about cold numbers and dry statistics; it’s about something far more profound – the restoration of trust and confidence in real estate transactions. But this is not solely about innovation.
‘It’s about the promise of a more dynamic and trustworthy real estate sector, one that sets a new standard for professionalism and reliability. This is why I am proud to represent property professionals and encourage them to put their best foot forward, join the OPDA and be part of lasting change. Inventory Base proudly supports the OPDA in its mission to drive the industry forward and make property data accessible for all.’
The Open Property Data Association (OPDA) is more than just a name; it’s a beacon of hope for the property industry. Formed by a collective of forward-thinking industry professionals, property data providers, Proptech visionaries, and established organisations who share a common goal, the OPDA champions the cause of open property data for the greater good.
Mission Unveiled: The Heart of OPDA The associations launch was driven by a desire to ignite innovation, nurture trust, foster collaboration, and unite property market professionals. It beckons property professionals to join its ranks, but it’s no ordinary club. It challenges prospective members to change tomorrow.
Once a member, you’re expected to be a torchbearer of common standards and data-sharing best practices, not just within your own services but across the entire industry. The challenge that OPDA has taken head-on is the lack of a universal language to describe property data. Existing approaches fell short in terms of tracing the roots of property data, so OPDA wisely decided to tackle this issue with open standards and an open API.
The cornerstone of OPDA’s efforts is the trust framework, which provides a secure channel for sharing data among its members and the wider property sector. This ensures that data handling is a responsibility taken seriously. But that’s not all there are grander ambitions, including implementing open data standards and sharing consumer-centric insights. As it collaborates with key industry players like the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG), the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Residential Logbook Association, and the UK PropTech Association (UKPA).
Maria Harris, the Chair of OPDA, sums it up beautifully, saying: ‘By harnessing the power of data and fostering collaboration, we have an incredible opportunity to drive innovation, improve decision-making, and create a more transparent and efficient property ecosystem.’
Benefits of Joining the OPDA Joining opens a gateway to a treasure trove of benefits and deep insights. From rubbing shoulders with firms reshaping the property industry to gaining access to the latest trends in open data and trust standards, the perks are plenty. And let’s not forget the chance to participate in projects that are already shaping the future of property data. But above all, it’s about making a difference in the homebuying process, together.
Upfront Information: The Key to Confidence OPDA recognises the importance of providing property data upfront. It’s a shield of protection and a source of confidence for prospective buyers and tenants. Open data sharing lays the foundation for more informed decisions, giving buyers insights into property history, alterations, and disputes. The consensus is clear – upfront data sharing can expedite property transactions, enabling buyers and sellers to identify issues quickly and take responsive actions for smoother processes.
A Vision for Improved Home Buying and Selling Building on the commitments made by OPDA, the HBSG has offered a roadmap for enhancing the home buying and selling experience in the UK. Having collaborated with a wide range of industry experts. Their discussion paper offers insights on how to improve home buying and selling in the UK and recommendations on how to address issues such as the high proportion of transactions that fall through after a property offer has been accepted.
Solutions have also been offered to ‘urgent problems’, such as the need to extend the Stamp Duty Land Tax discount and issues associated with the Building Safety Act 2022. It’s not just wishful thinking; it’s grounded in data and industry expertise. The focus is on three critical issues: A) The average duration of the buying and selling process (210 days). B) The stress of sales falling through (24%). C) The lack of certainty in late or delayed moves
To boost efficiency and transparency, the HBSG calls for the regulation of property agents, the consistent sharing of information, and standardised data. They also propose single digital identity verification and the implementation of leasehold reforms. The ultimate goal is to make home buying and selling a smoother, safer and more predictable process.
Aiming to increase property sector efficiency and transparency, the HBSG have made calls for the regulation of property agents, to supply one source of home-moving truth via the Property Data Trust Framework, the consistent sharing of information to empower property buyers and sellers, and mandated standardised information of vital importance to home buying and selling decisions.
In addition to these, they have signalled a need for the approval of single Digital Identity verification for sellers and buyers via the Department of Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (DIATF), the transfer of keys to all new owners no later than 1 pm on the day they complete, and the implementation of the leasehold reforms recommended by the Law Commission and announced by the government.
These recommendations are supported with an action plan, highlighting the changes that buyers, sellers and the home moving industry are able to make now. Proposals have also been made for the testing and adoption of standardised products and services, together with revolutionary changes that will require government and media backing. Such proposals include the digitisation of data needed for exchange and completion, which may be achieved through the use of quality platforms such as Inventory Base.