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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’ Weekly Roundup: Chestertons Acquisition | Property Cybercrime

Independent estate agency scooped up by Chestertons

Stephen Govier has sold off his independent agency London Residential to Chestertons, who are themselves on the market. It is understood that the existing team will move to one of Chestertons offices in the locality.  

Guy Gittins, CEO of Chestertons, sees the purchase as a strategic move to strengthen the brand. 

Gittins said: “Our acquisition is a vital step to support Chestertons’ industry-leading organic growth and will further accelerate our market share of 31 offices across London.”

While noting that buying out the opposition and growing the physical footprint of the agency is a step forward, he also sees that further profit can be leveraged by the business through technology, which Gittins says it is actively investing in.

Together with enriching the abilities of the team, Gittins comments: “Our People and Culture department…recruits, trains and develops the best people in the industry to ensure that our clients always get the best advice and the best service.”

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Surge in cybercrime leaves property sector vulnerable

Recent events within the property sector have brought to light the significance of having a robust plan in place should you fall victim to a cyber-attack. With the increase of remote working, IT systems have become more vulnerable and cyber-related crimes have been on the rise. 

Figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reveal that between January and October 2021, around 24,000 cases of cybercrime have been reported, which amount to losses in excess of £11 million. Cases range from incidents of hacking, computer viruses, malware, and spyware. 

Paul Offley, compliance officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, says that the rise in cybercrime and the issues that have happened recently within the sector should be a warning to agents to be hyper-vigilant and ensure they have procedures in place to protect their systems against cybercrime. 

“Cybercrime is more prevalent than ever before, and given the fact that agents have a considerable amount of sensitive data they hold, it is vital that all possible precautions are taken to avoid a potential incident,” Offley said. “If large corporations are vulnerable to being infiltrated, how much more susceptible are small businesses such as an independent agent, who may possibly have less robust cyber defences.”

As a result of higher levels of cyber-criminal activity, The Guild of Property Professionals says that there has been an increase in cyber insurance premiums, with insurers requiring more information and establishing robust risk management procedures.

Cyber liability is not typically included under professional indemnity insurance (PI) and should not be relied upon as an alternative to a standalone cyber liability policy covering first and third-party loss. 

With the growing threat of cyber-attack, a greater reliance on technology, and the type of sensitive information agents hold, agents should consider adding cyber liability to their insurance programme if they don’t already have it.

“The majority of businesses will only consider cyber liability after they have experienced an incident, which is obviously too late. Given the high number of cyber-related crimes we have seen in the UK over the past year, it is advisable to rather be proactive and have a comprehensive cyber liability policy in place before an incident occurs.”

Offley said that it’s a small price to pay for reassurance and support when you need it, in the event of a worst-case scenario.

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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.'