Ropa Old Before Its Time & Propertymark – Project Fear
The chief architects of RoPA are over 80 years old and 75 years old. Real estate is nearer the needs and buying habits of Gen-Z who now populate over three quarters of the global population.
Maybe instead of trying to reverse engineer real estate, and put in place a set of gatekeepers, kick over the silos, and start with what real estate will be in five-years’ time powered by 5G and Satellite technology and stop focusing on new statutes that do not exist dreamed up by committees who are out of touch with front line agency.
I say all of this as I have taken the time over the last 4-years to listen to in person over 300 Proptech founders and nearly 100 real estate CEO’s in the UK and globally, and I know the direction of travel in this sector. I was also from 1986 to late 2016 selling property, so I have a pretty good grasp of the day-to-day realities of what agency is.
And it is not red tape and more regulation, if agents need to know how to be compliant ask Alexa. My thoughts are if agents want to trade effectively in 2030 and not become another casualty of e-commerce and Amazon, then focus on the future, innovation not regulation.
‘Project Fear’ was a feature of the Brexit or no Brexit campaign, a similar ‘Project Fear’ has also been sustained by sectors of the UK real estate establishment who want to ‘regulate’ agents. In reality this can be seen as certain bodies having the golden ticket to charge agents for certification, a great money spinner for them and their company coffers, but I am not sure of the value to the hard-pressed agent.
I am all for training, development, and regulation, but not at the cost of creating fear and unease. Also the pandemic has shown that nothing will quite be the same again, including video conferencing rather than meeting in person, WFH rather than being in the office, and people doing property, more and more online, aided by software, rather than face to face with property professionals.
What anyone who is looking to ‘help’ agents, which I hope is the underlying thrust of RoPA, must understand is that it is the UX – the customer experience that is central to this. Not red tape, and arbitrary structures.
Property consumers are looking for an omni-channel, clickety click fast journey, they are digital locusts, searching out the simplest, easiest way to do things. The shared and Gig economy is very much here. Uber, Deliveroo, they want it now and they want it fast and the want it cheap. To cope real estate businesses need to be more digital than analogue, more efficient and offer what the consumer seeks.
I also have severe reservations with regard to Propertymark being the chosen deliverer of RoPA if it ever actually hits the statute books post 2025 or beyond. As clearly it has proved of late that it has no credibility.
One can hardly be the agents ‘regulator’ and gatekeeper of financial probity, instructing agents how to run their businesses, if your own organisation under pays HMRC over several years and kept this hushed up.
Add to this the revolving door of key hires leaving, many only lasting months in post, and all leaving with no explanation and silence, this points to a ‘gagging’ democracy being in place. Hardly the type of organisation that is transparent and open to its fee-paying membership.
If you have a view – please let us all know by emailing me at [email protected] – Andrew Stanton Executive Editor – moving property and proptech forward.