WEEKLY NEWS ROUNDUP – 04/03/2022
A roundup of the week’s top property and proptech news stories in partnership with Proptech-X
- Valocity partners with Frabrick to speed European mortgage market lending
- OnTheMarket CEO Jason Tebb turns around its fortunes
- Sanctions a reminder to estate agents to review risk assessment procedures
- nurtur.group Accelerator Programme inundated with innovator applicants
Valocity partners with Frabrick to speed European mortgage market lending
Fabrick and Valocity have agreed to a commercial tie-up, bringing Valocity’s Australasian-based property valuation solution to Europe. The solution, which has already powered over $1 trillion worth of lending decisions, will now be available to European banks, enabling them to streamline mortgage approval for a seamless customer experience.
Fabrick, a leading Italian fintech company that operates internationally to promote Open Finance, and Valocity, a world-leading provider of data-driven solutions that help banks to speed up property valuations in the mortgage approval process, announced their new sales partnership last week. The two firms are bringing the best in Australasian and APAC property valuation technology to the underserved European and MENA market.
The transformation and digitisation of the property valuation process is becoming increasingly important. Globally, lenders and brokers are experiencing two growing frictions; the increasing regulatory compliance in parallel with rising customer expectations.
These challenges are made all the more significant by the fact that purchasing property is typically the biggest financial decision that an individual or organisation makes. So, reducing friction in the property valuation process, which is estimated to have high associated financial and time costs, is a significant benefit to both banks and end customers
Through the partnership with Fabrick, Valocity will expand its geographical footprint in Europe and MENA by leveraging Fabrick’s platform and established presence encompassing relationships with top tier European banks and over 200 fintechs.
Fabrick will be able to enhance its Open Finance ecosystem with the addition of an innovative solution that harnesses technology to improve the lending services of banks and institutions. The partnership will culminate with Valocity joining Fabrick’s Open Finance platform integrated as an API producer in early 2022.
Valocity is delivering a global industry platform that connects valuers and lenders digitally across multiple markets to enable an entirely digital valuation experience that dovetails with Open Finance and connected ecosystems.
Streamlining the mortgage valuation process by creating a connected ecosystem for brokers, valuers and lenders and includes tools for all participants such as a remote valuation inspection tool which negates the need for a valuer to enter the property, as well as data capture tools which enable valuers to capture new data.
Marco Casartelli, Co-founder and Deputy CEO of Fabrick, said: “We are proud to partner Valocity and make its transformative service available in Europe through our Open Finance ecosystem. The process of digital transformation that has improved and created more efficient customer experience across multiple industries has only just begun in the mortgage lending ecosystem and as an early pioneer and now market leader, Valocity is poised to offer a sought-after solution in Europe’s marketplace.
“As all banks have to certify a property’s value before agreeing a loan there is a large addressable market and opportunity for European lenders to offer seamless process that customers increasingly demand … it enables all operators to easily integrate new services and quickly respond shifting customer needs.”
Carmen Vicelich, Founder and CEO, Valocity, said: “We’re very excited to partner with Fabrick to work with their innovative lenders and support their significant ecosystem, to enable end to end digital mortgage lending solutions that put the customer first, and to continue the expansion of our globally proven mortgage valuation products.”
OnTheMarket CEO Jason Tebb turns around its fortunes
If there’s one thing we don’t do here at Proptech-X, it’s pulling punches. Equally, we heap praise on spectacular acts that benefit the industry. In this case, the transformation of OnTheMarket’s business by its formidable CEO Jason Tebb.
Prior to Jason’s steady grip on the portal’s business, OnTheMarket had become marginalised despite having noble aspirations from its inception. It also had a less-than-stable business model and had many agent clients scratching their heads as to the value of being onboard.
In the shortest amount of time, and during a period of lockdown, Jason Tebb took up the mantle and did three key things. First, he opened his door to all, listening to his agent members and making it easy for new potential members to get access.
Then he put a commercial mindset to the business, seeing that OTM could be a powerhouse technology platform helping its agent client base, as well as being just a property portal. The large number of business partnerships that have been put together in the last year shows not only will more revenue be driven through the business and profits are up, but agents will get useful technology to run their businesses more efficiently and make more profit for themselves.
Speaking as a property technology consultant to some of the largest enterprises on the globe, take it from me that most estate agents need saving from themselves. They are vaguely aware that the digital transformation of real estate is happening, but only have a foggy idea of how to go about it.
Jason Tebb has cured that by sifting through the best in class, the software services that have a real value add, and formed great business alliances with them so agents do not have to.
The last key thing Jason has done is to show he has a plan. What’s more, he can articulate it and, perhaps more importantly, carry it out. The recent financials show that OTM’s group revenue enjoyed an uptick from £23 million to £30.8 million, with underlying profit rising to £2.6 million for the period.
In his own words, Jason Tebb says it is great that OnTheMarket has “achieved a year of further financial and operational progress…We’ve received great feedback from our customers regarding our new strategy and our enhanced suite of product and service offerings.”
Tebb continues: “We look forward to continuing to deliver greater value to both advertisers and consumers during the year ahead.”
Often it is hard to be an innovator when you come into a business as a new CEO. When many stakeholders hope for a period of stability and status quo, Mr Tebb was brave enough to back himself and go for growth. A laudable feat that is paying off.
Sanctions a reminder to estate agents to review risk assessment procedures
Recent sanctions against Russia serve as a reminder to estate agents that they must ensure they are going through the process of reviewing all client identity information. If the potential buyer is from a country listed on the financial sanctions register, it could spell trouble for those involved.
This is according to Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at nurtur.group, the parent company of The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country. Offley adds that agents should be checking financial restrictions on a regular basis as part of their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) process.
“With regard to financial restrictions things are moving very quickly, so agents need to apply more frequent on-going monitoring to make sure they are following the correct procedures with the most recent information. If they haven’t already done so in the wake of the current events, agents should be reviewing their initial risk assessment. Be aware that UK Government have taken steps to effect restrictions from undertaking financial transactions involving the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the Russian National Wealth fund and the Ministry of Russian Finance. It is vital to review all transactions and take the necessary steps if you believe you have a specific case,” says Offley.
He adds that all client identity information should be checked against the UK Sanctions List. “If need be, request additional identity information to ensure you do not have a false-positive identification and you can more accurately rule out the possibly that the individual or entity is from a country on the UK Sanctions List. HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) also provides a consolidated list of all persons and entities that are subject to sanctions which are effective in the UK.”
Offley continues: “If an individual or entity you are dealing with matches the information on the consolidated list, the transaction must be suspended, and the matter should be reported to either your money laundering reporting officer or your money laundering compliance officer.”
Agents will need to keep a record of the fact that they have gone through the correct procedures and performed the appropriate checks.
“Making use of the digital platform such as movebutler from iamproperty will help agents to show the evidence required as part of their compliance with AML procedures. Apart from identifying any potential PEP or financial sanctions positions, these procedures also include identifying the legal owner of a property, a complete risk assessment on all sellers and buyers, appropriate and timely identification checks, and that the agent has kept accurate records. It is important that agents are able to show they have performed their due diligence and taken the necessary steps should they find themselves dealing with an individual or entity that appears on the sanctions list,” Offley concludes.
nurtur.group Accelerator Programme inundated with innovator applicants
As many readers will know, I hold several roles in the proptech and property space, from the CEO of Proptech-PR – a proptech consultancy for Proptech founders looking to grow and exit – to an executive editor at Estate Agency Networking, as well as the owner of this publication, Proptech-X.
I also moonlight as an advisor for real estate concerns globally, and I’m a cohort mentor for the REACH UK program. Also, in the interest of clarity, I am a non-executive director for the nurtur.group accelerator.
Why am I saying this? Well, it’s worth clarifying that position when writing these daily news briefings. Focusing on the nurtur.group accelerator is not favouritism, it’s a sorely needed part of the real estate ecosystem in the UK and further afield.
If we can help technology flow seamlessly into property-adjacent businesses, that can only be a good thing for all involved. I’ve maintained this position for years, even before the inception of nurtur.group.
Since the launch of the accelerator programme just over a month ago, nurtur.group has had almost fifty applications from innovative companies eager to launch their products and services. The demand is clearly there for what we do.
Gary Barker, nurtur.group’s Chief Investment Officer, adds that the high number of applications received highlights and tangibly demonstrates the exceptionally strong demand for strategic and targeted investment support within the property technology sector.
Barker says that the accelerator programme, an investment arm funded by nurtur.group, has been designed to make it easier for innovators within the sector to launch their technology and connect it to a vast network of ready agents, with the assurances and guidance of reliable and experienced advisors by their side, each of whom are heavily invested in their success.
“We have received applications from a number of various avenues within the sector, including sales, lettings, compliance, banking/payments, marketing and many others,” said Gary Barker. “The key feedback we have received from applicants is that working with nurtur.group would provide significant benefits, such as industry experience, target marketing to a network of over 2,100, direct board experience and strategic support and the ability to directly use the group’s resources, be that technology sales or operationally.”
The team at nurtur.group is currently in the process of assessing the applications, ahead of selecting the inaugural cohort we will take forward. A new investment manager with significant fund experience will be starting at nurtur.group shortly to further accelerate growth and investments.
“So far we have spent well over 150 hours of direct engagement with all businesses and are in the process of making our initial selections. We are extremely interested in a high proportion of the applicants we have received and are aiming to proceed with the first phase of launches as soon as possible. We are making every effort to ensure we are making the best decision for both the applicants and our networks.
“Our aim is to bring truly innovative products and services to our networks to ensure we are at the forefront of PropTech development and compliance. Providing support to PropTech disruptors will allow us to continue drive progression within the sector, while providing our network with the opportunity to access the latest technological advancements in the industry.”
Barker concludes: “To enable us to work with more applicants and progress the process faster we are growing our Accelerator Programme team. Through the Accelerator Programme and our growing team, we will be able to propel innovations through investment and will be able to develop new and exciting technology for property businesses across our network.”
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.