WEEKLY NEWS ROUNDUP – 05/11/2021
A roundup of the week’s top property and proptech news stories in partnership with Proptech-X
- Propertymark September housing report suggests house prices stabilising
- RICS swiftly appoints new chair following recent scandal
- London rents bounce back in the private rented sector
- Propflo property platform is open for business
- Build to Rent demand is growing says Foxtons
- Meet Parker chatbot can now discuss green mortgages
Propertymark September housing report suggests house prices stabilising
In its latest report, Propertymark has stated that the mood has cooled and properties are currently not selling above the asking price at the volume they were earlier in the year, indicative of a cooling phase in the market.
The report states, “In September, the majority of homes agreed sales at the original asking price (47 per cent). This is a shift away from properties predominantly selling for over the asking price in August. In August 37 per cent of homes sold for over the asking price.
“Conversely, in September, just 27 per cent of properties sold for more than asking price. Before March 2021 it had been the norm for the majority of properties to agree sales at under asking price.”
Propertymark CEO, Nathan Emerson said: “Figures from September tell an interesting story of a market that may be beginning to shift. Sales being agreed has increased, but the number of sales achieving over the asking price has reduced, meaning we may start to see an end to the bidding wars that have been so prevalent.
“It’s also interesting to note that although the number of properties available to buy is lower than we have seen before in September, it hasn’t dropped since August meaning that just enough properties are coming to market to satisfy demand.”
RICS swiftly appoints new chair following recent scandal
Mike Driver has been announced as the new Chair for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, filling one of the many vacancies that exist after the Levitt QC report. His role will primarily be to oversee its audit committee.
This will be good news as the Levitt enquiry castigated RICS for not having credible financial oversight for some of its corporate bodies in other parts of the globe.
There are of course other empty chairs, not least the CEOs, and it will be very interesting to see who the corporate head hunters are talking to, and what skill set they will be bringing on board.
London rents bounce back in the private rented sector
The latest property market analysis by London lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves shows rental values across the capital have not only bounced back versus the pandemic dip experienced in 2020, but have also breached pre-pandemic levels in all but three areas.
The research shows that between 2019 and the initial pandemic year of 2020, the average London rent fell by -3.4%. With Camden seeing rental values plummet -20.7% in a year, while the City of London was also one of the hardest hit with a -12.6% reduction.
However, as London has slowly returned to business in 2021, tenant demand has also returned, and current rental values now sit 9.4% higher than they did during 2020.
The pandemic continues to have an influence, with London’s more peripheral boroughs still seeing the strongest performance. Rents are up 20.1% year on year in Kingston, with Bexley (18.3%), Newham (15%), Croydon (14.1%) and Hillingdon (13.6%) also amongst the largest increases.
The City of London remains the only area yet to recover, with rental values still down -11.4% annually. The real positivity lies in the fact that the average London rent is now 5.7% higher than it was in 2019, prior to the market slowdown.
The report noted that the volume of properties they are seeing let to tenants is up 67% year on year and 22.7% versus pre-pandemic levels, while landlords are now securing re-let rental prices some 10% to 20% higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. With a further revival now coming in the form of foreign tenant demand.
Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented: “The London rental market has arguably been the worst hit as a result of the pandemic … Demand for rental homes evaporate almost overnight during the pandemic causing a surplus of stock on the market while rental prices plummeted. But the London market is nothing but resilient and when the tide starts to turn, it turns very quickly indeed.”
Propflo property platform is open for business
Propflo, a Bristol-based proptech start-up, today announced that it is open to consumers and property professionals for pre-registration, bringing a new approach to trust and transparency when buying or selling residential property.
Powered by machine learning, Propflo was founded by entrepreneur Luke Loveridge and geospatial data scientist Dr Daniel Moyo.
The business has a strong advisory team including industry expert Verona Frankish, who has worked at the Mortgage Advice Bureau as head of business development.
The platform itself features a dynamic property scoring system, as well as support to get buyers and sellers prepared. Propflo also enables professionals to have more meaningful interactions, allowing buyers and sellers to see key information when searching through property portals.
Luke Loveridge, founder of Propflo said: “There are over 225,000 property fall-throughs per year in the UK costing over £600m; and I’ve been one of those! Our research shows that some of the main reasons for these failures is people not having key information earlier on in the process and both buyers and sellers not being prepared enough.
“I’m also shocked by our research showing that most people rank sustainability, including energy efficiency, last when searching for a new home. There are transparency and sustainability awareness issues we need to address. Our mission at Propflo is to empower people to make the best and most sustainable decisions when buying or selling their home.”
Other features of the Propflo platform include a sustainability investment checker, so users can see how much work is needed to improve energy efficiency and what the financial return is, and also Improve My Score, a feature where strengths and weaknesses on the property and your readiness are highlighted and recommendations are given on how to improve them.
After pre-registering, the platform will be available to consumers and property professionals in 2022.
Build to Rent demand is growing says Foxtons
Sarah Tonkinson, the head of Foxton’s Build to Rent arm, kicked off their latest quarterly London Lettings Report with a bold statement.
Tonkinson said: “There’s a rental revolution happening here in London and across the wider UK, and it’s called Build to Rent (BTR)”
For Foxtons, that may indeed be the case. It says that 8% of its long-lets in 2021 were BTR developments, up from 2.2% just four years ago.
However, the truth is that BTR makes up just 1% of the private rental market in the UK, so it’s not exactly a precious commodity just yet with renters feeling the pinch.
BTR carries a premium mainly because the buildings are new, plus the developers build around the idea of community. It is often seen as a distinctly American approach, but it’s also very popular in Holland and Germany.
Now it looks as though the Foxtons of this world are starting to amp it up this side of the pond, with keen-eyed developers looking to get a piece of the pie, too – one that is an $80 billion market stateside.
Meet Parker chatbot can now discuss green mortgages
AI technology provider Meet Parker is pleased to announce that Parker, their AI mortgage chatbot, has taught itself how to engage with clients and brokers about green mortgages.
Parker can now recognise various permeations, sayings and terminology linked to the topic of green mortgages, conversing with the user in order to help educate and better understand this area.
With Parker enabled on a website or social media, clients or intermediaries can now ask Parker questions about green mortgages. No matter how simple, complicated, or random the question, Parker can analyse the conversation flow and knows how best to respond to the chat.
Managing Director, Phil Bailey said: “With the interest in Green Mortgages on the rise, it was only a matter of time before we began to have lenders and brokers both asking if Parker can pick up and respond to these types of queries. Triage and make first contact with those that require help in this area of lending.
“Parker is more than capable of handling not just the out of the box Green Mortgage questions, but many of the variations that could be asked. Parker has been learning the different sayings, terminology, acronyms and phrases a client or Intermediary may ask.
“This could be a simple “What’s a green mortgage?” through to something a little quirkier and “How do I apply for a hippie mortgage?”. Everyone has their own unique way of saying or asking for something, Parker is designed to break down those barriers and no matter how strange, direct or randomly worded the question – Parker knows how to respond or when to escalate to a real person.
“We gave Parker the outline of a Green Mortgage, product and criteria. Then, with the help of his AI, has taught himself the best responses for each scenario and the various ways someone could ask for help on this subject.
“There is a smarter way to assist both client and intermediary channels, much if this is through the use of AI. Parker is designed to be first contact with your customers from the moment they locate your brand. Using intelligent chatbots to increase customer engagement, extend your business, tone of voice and services through the use of AI and chat”
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.