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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’ Weekly Roundup: Boris Johnson | MoH | 5G

19th July: No facemasks and back to the office for agents?

Since March last year, vast swathes of the UK real estate industry (and every other industry) have been in some form of lockdown. In less than two weeks we are going to be back to normal. Or are we?

Now, Boris has spoken…again. On the 19th we all get our “freedom.” 

Putting aside the Delta variant moving through the population at an alarming rate, the property market is in rude health. All while thousands of estate agents and letting agents have been conducting their work from home.

The pandemic has forced estate agencies to go digital; Face to face out, software and video conferencing in. Some 60% of lettings agents have said they acquired new tenants via virtual viewings, without ever being present at the property. 

Interesting times, indeed. With more and more SaaS rolling out, it remains to be seen if the estate on the high street will be brimming with people anytime soon, or if canny owners will be looking to cut overheads and branch numbers.

Is the 5G revolution fact or fiction?

It has long been heralded that 5G will superconduct the future, allowing the Internet of Things (IoT) to move at a much quicker pace, knitting our modern lives together with all of our digital requirements.

In the smart city sector, which is run on the interconnections of things that do and things that calibrate, there is now growing concern that the hype is beginning to overreach the actual reality. 

5G relies upon advanced satellite technology to power the whole network. Despite literally billions of dollars now reserved for fixes for the problem of getting 5G to every inhabited area, progress is slow. 

Ministry of Housing unveils building safety bill 

Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick and Lord Stephen Greenhalgh are behind The Building Safety Bill published 5th July. According to the Government website, it will “create lasting generational change and set a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be built and maintained.”

The remit of the bill will be to give residents more direct power and bring faster, biting sanctions on developers who have been lapsing in their duty of care whilst planning and constructing buildings. There will be a building safety regulator who specifically looks at buildings 18metres and higher, both new builds and those already constructed but found wanting.

With the necessity of a golden thread of information to be stored, it looks like accountability is high on the agenda.

Jenrick said: “This Bill will ensure high standards of safety for people’s homes, and in particular for high rise buildings, with a new regulator providing essential oversight at every stage of a building’s lifecycle, from design, construction, completion to occupation.

“The new building safety regime will be a proportionate one, ensuring those buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety swiftly, and reassuring the vast majority of residents and leaseholders in those buildings that their homes are safe.”

Following the huge salaries and bonuses that CEOs of national homebuilders have received in recent years, is Mr Jenrick realising that, after Grenfell, not everything is as it should be?

Hundreds of thousands of people are living in properties they cannot sell, re-mortgage, or let, and many are having to pay for fire watchers and remedial work – often as high as £50,000 – with no comeback for the original builder. 

Buying or renting a home of sound, lasting construction should be a given, not a building safety lottery.

If the bill becomes law, there will be a retrospective clause of 15 years, meaning developers would be in the firing line for a decade and a half.

According to The Law Society Gazette, clients have shown an uptick in the level of service meted out to them by the legal profession during the lockdown, with an 83% mark of satisfaction up from last year. Maybe this is in spite of, or because of the fact that many consumers of legal services did so virtually or via the web, so face to physical face time was at an all-time low.  

Proptech: Will it speed the return to physical offices?

According to a recent report, 300 commercial real estate operators were asked if their buildings would soon see full occupancy. Over 54% felt that in the next six months the capacity would be lower.

Others were more bullish, saying that modern tech was helping with controlling environments. Internal digital planning was helping for more efficient and safer work areas, and the use of touchless entrance systems and smart tech to minimise big meeting groups, utilising video conferencing etc, could hold the answer.

In partnership with Estate Agent Networking

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Andrew Stanton Founder & Editor of 'PROPTECH-X' where his insights, connections, analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are based on writing 1.3M words annually. Plus meeting 1,000 Proptech founders, critiquing 400 decks and having had 130 clients as CEO of 'PROPTECH-PR', a consultancy for Proptech founders seeking growth and exit strategies. He also acts as an advisory for major global real estate companies on sales, acquisitions, market positioning & operations. With 100K followers & readers, he is the 'Proptech Realestate Influencer.'

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