PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’ Weekly Roundup: RICS | Meet Parker | Hubble

Daily bite-sized proptech and real estate news in partnership with Estate Agent Networking. Today, Andrew Stanton looks at RICS, Meet Parker, Hubble, and more.
proptech news in brief

Bank of Ireland UK offers green mortgages for green homes

Exclusively for specialised investors who are buying rental properties, the Bank of Ireland UK is offering green mortgages on properties with a high EPC rating of C and upwards. 

George Higginson, Bank of Ireland’s Managing Director UK Mortgages, said: “This green buy-to-let range is just the first step in our plans to launch more green initiatives in the months to come.”  

The bank also wants to flex its green credentials, as Higginson explains: “The bank has a commitment to make its operations Net-Zero by 2030 and so we want to make sure our products reflect that commitment, as well as help customers achieve their own personal energy-efficient and sustainability goals.”

Hubble tops up investment and offers wider services

Hubble, a digital marketplace for flex office working, has just received another round of investment and has pivoted its offering to align with the fundamental change in how people work. As well as enabling clients to search for workplaces, it is now offering a nurturing service to keep home workers in the loop, as well as other services. 

With the extra £2 million in the kitty, CEO and Co-founder Tushar Agarwal made what may be an understatement: “The last 14 months have completely transformed the relationship between work and the workplace. Office space is a $22 trillion asset class, which will see its biggest change in a generation in the next five years.

“Hybrid working will become the new normal, as employers and employees seek to find the right balance between office and remote working. We’re proud to have been continuously backed by the biggest proptech investors in the world, to make hybrid working easy and accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

Well, with the 19th of July being the day that restrictions are lifted across the UK, we are about to see if flex or conventional consumption of the commercial real estate space prevails.

RICS gives reasons why raw materials for building properties are rising

In a recent Modus report, the publication arm of RICS delved into the reported shortage of raw materials to construct buildings. This is a concern because it has both an effect on pricing and puts significant pressure on supply chains if scarcity is at play. 

According to the experts tasked with explaining the problem, the consensus was that the pandemic had frozen many supporting industries and, simply put, not enough raw material was ready to be shipped around the world.

From timber shortages in America to shrinking steel production in China, as well as a loss of iron ore from South American mines, the delays in getting materials up and running does of course lead to inflation in the cost of the product, anything from 2% to as much as 10%. The question is how long will this uptick in cost take to level off?  

Purplebricks announces ‘strings attached’ cashback model for unhappy vendors

Purplebricks has stated, via CEO Vic Darvey, that it will still employ a pay upfront model, but will refund the fee if no sale is agreed upon after a certain period. 

In my view, there will be a tiny amount of vendors getting a refund. Having personally marketed over 18,000 properties across 30-years as a traditional agent, what I know about residential sales in the UK is that 95% of properties marketed will get a proceedable offer 10% below the price.

Purplebricks also announced £6 million in profit for this financial year, coming off the back of over £15 million from Purplebricks vendors who failed to sell last year under the old scheme.

Proptech genius reveals that gov’s Help to Buy cash finances defective property

Freddie Savundra, the founder of proptech company Meet Parker, is a very clever man.

Meet Parker is, in his words, an “AI Assistant that connects seekers with experts through the latest conversation platforms. Built on a fully customizable conversational platform that uses machine learning and unbiased algorithms. It helps mortgage, insurance and property seekers understand their options before connecting in real-time with an expert.”

In a recent conversation, he stunned me by saying that there are tens of thousands of people trapped in property that is not fit for purpose. Following the cladding scandal lenders will not lend on them. 

That amounts to not being able to sell the property or re-mortgage with a different lender while being stuck with huge bills to make the properties conform to standards that will allow them to be bought and sold. 

The kicker is, as Freddie pointed out, that we the taxpayer, via the government, had underwritten from 20% to 40% of the mortgage loans on the government-backed Help to Buy scheme. The Rt Hon Mr Jenrick will have some explaining to do, as the taxpayer has shelled out and the security for the finance has been drained of all its value.

I think we will get a new housing secretary and probably a new housing minister too. After all, we have had a dozen of those in recent’s like a revolving door. Unfortunately, the taxpayer gets left holding the bag, and the CEOs of the big developers walk away having caused the trauma in the first place. If BMW shipped faulty cars they’d get recalled or money back…the regulator enforces this. Why isn’t the same for property?

As Freddie puts it: “A lot of Govt Equity loans secured against these properties too… Tough position. Let’s see what happens.” 

In partnership with Estate Agent Networking

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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