PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Fine & Country set to innovate further with new services | 1 in 3 renters consider cancelling energy bills

Andrew Stanton’s daily proptech & property news in association with Estate Agent Networking

An Autumn of innovation across Fine & Country

Founder of premium estate agency Fine & Country, Jon Cooke, says within the coming months the brand will see the biggest technological innovation since its inception 21 years ago. He adds that this month the brand has launched its new website which includes a lead management and nurture platform, with plans underway to launch its Referral System in the months ahead.

“Essentially the network will have access to a technologically advanced lead generation and nurture platform with the new website at its core. Over the past two years has acquired and aligned itself with lead generation and proptech innovators to ensure that we are able to continue to create products and services that enhances our network of agents. As an international premium estate agency brand, we wanted to ensure that our Fine & Country licensees had the proptech tools at their disposal to be able to harness the power of being a part of an established, recognisable brand, interacting with property professionals in various sought-after locations to attract buyers and sellers looking for upmarket properties,” says Cooke.

He notes that the new website, which was developed by Starberry, one of the UK’s largest providers of retail agency website and lead generation technology, has been developed with an international market in mind, allowing customers to easily search for properties around the globe in the language of their choice. Integrated into the new website will be the lead management system powered by LeadPro, which will allow agents to both track and nurture leads, supporting the new Referral System, which will pass on out-of-area leads automatically, increasing the potential number of instructions gained by the network. It is various innovative proptech tools working symbiotically to create a cohesive lead generation platform which will benefit the network and customers alike.

“If an agent does not have a nurture system in place…they are likely to lose the business.”

Jon Cooke

He says that while the lead management system will initially role out to UK based licensees, the plan is to extend the management system to international licensees. “The new lead management system will enable Fine & Country licensees within the UK to track their Service Level Agreement (SLA) of how quickly they respond to buyers and valuation enquiries. This will have a huge impact on the customer service licensees are able to provide, as they will consistently be able to track and improve their engagement with all customer types,” says Cooke. 

Jon Cooke, Fine & Country

He adds that not only will the website be generating and sharing more leads through referral system, but the BriefYourMarket plug in will nurture leads ensuring they are following the correct process so that they are not lost. “There is a lot of data from portals that suggests it can take around three months to go from an enquiry through to instruction.  If an agent does not have a nurture system in place, which includes multiple contacts points and following up calls throughout the three-month period, they are likely to lose the business. Integrating technology that will assist agents to nurture the lead will ensure that they do not miss out and are able to maximise the conversion of the leads received, which will be a huge plus for the Fine & Country network,” says Cooke. 

He adds that the various proptech elements will work together to make it easier for Fine & Country agents to engage with their customers, while simultaneously delivering an enhanced customer service journey. “Agents will also be able to use their own CRM, as the technology will be able to integrate with most CRM systems within the sector,” Cooke comments. 

“We will continue to enhance the products and services we provide the Fine & Country network, pushing innovation and seeking ways that will help our network to grow and thrive within the premium sector,” he concludes.

Survey Suggests 1 in 3 Renters Would Consider Cancelling Their Energy Bill Payments, as Cost of Living Crisis Continues to Hit the UK

Last Thursday in Parliament, Liz Truss announced a set of measures to tackle the ongoing energy crisis, in response to the fast approaching energy price cap rise from October, which would ultimately affect millions of UK households. The emergency measures include:

  • A price guarantee for households on typical use of £2500/yr, lasting for two years
  • Households will save £1150 on average over the course of the year
  • £400 payment to all homes is set to continue, making the average payment £2100/yr
  • £650 payments for households that receive support benefits and £150 for those with disabilities will both continue this year

These measures will likely be a relief to households in the UK who need support, but do they go far enough, and is it too little too late for some? Will renters turn to campaigns such as #Don’tPayUK and continue to protest the high price of their energy bills this winter? 

Online lettings agent Mashroom recently surveyed 1000 UK renters to find out how the rising cost of energy is affecting them and whether it’s already taking a toll on them financially.

A breakdown of Mashroom’s cost of living survey for the UK private rental Sector

Only 5% said they were NOT concerned about the upcoming energy price cap increase

Unsurprisingly, the energy price cap increase is a major concern for renters, with around 95% of all those surveyed stating that they were concerned about affordability in the future: 

  • 37% can currently afford their energy bills, but noted that they were concerned about the cost when considering future price hikes. 
  • Just over 40% also voiced their concern and said they were unlikely to afford the future increases
  • 18% of renters currently cannot afford their energy bills, and October’s rise is likely to push them further into fuel poverty. 
  • 5% can afford their energy bills and are not concerned about the future price cap rises. 

Rent has increased for 60% of tenants

Alongside a rise in energy bills, tenants have also seen an increase in their rental repayments over the last 12 months. Factors such as increases in mortgage repayments following the interest base rate hikes, rising costs in goods and services for maintenance could have helped contribute to rent rises in the UK. Our survey revealed that: 

  • Around 41% of private tenants stated they had not seen a change to their rent in the last 12 months
  • 45% said they had seen an increase but could still afford their repayments. 
  • Only 14% had seen an increase in their rent and were struggling to afford the payments to their landlord. 

#DontPayUK campaign is making momentum, but many say stopping payment of bills ISN’T worth the risk

#DontPayUK is a protest campaign that encourages people to stop paying their bills and make a stand against rising consumer costs and huge corporate profits. When asked about whether they would consider stopping payments for their energy bills, renters said: 

  • 34% said they’d consider cancelling their direct debit payments for energy bills.
  • 47% said they would be unlikely to cancel their energy bill payments as there could be risks involved in doing so. 
  • 18% are unsure about whether they would stop paying or continue doing so. 

Renters aged 25-34 are most likely to cancel their payments for their energy bills

The survey suggests that renters aged between 25 and 34 years old are most likely to cancel their direct debit payments for their energy bills: 

  • 39% of respondents in this age group said they would consider cancelling their payments
  • 44% in the same age group stated that they would continue to pay for their energy as cancelling payment is far too risky 
  • 17% were on the fence on how they would react. 
  • People over the age of 54 are least likely to stop paying their energy bills, with 56% stating that the risks are too great to cancel their direct debits.

Households earning under £30,000 are most likely to NOT pay their energy bills

The current mean average salary for someone who works full time  in the UK is £31,447. The survey found that the households with an income between £15,000 and £30,000 were more likely to forego paying their energy bills: 

  • 40% earning under £30,000 stated they would consider stopping payment if the government didn’t provide further financial support. 
  • 39% said that not paying their energy bills wasn’t worth risking
  • 21% were unsure about whether they would continue to pay or not.

Many renters are willing to stop paying their energy bills, despite the risks

Whilst the #DontPayUK aims to make a stand against the huge costs of energy to the UK consumer, there’s uncertainty of the risks that could await the households who cancel their energy bill payments. The usual repercussions can include late payment charges, negative effects on credit scores and even debt collection. 

  • 17% of renters stated they knew about the potential consequences and are willing to take that risk
  • Around 25% said they were concerned about the potential risk, however they’d still consider cancelling their payments. 
  • 43% said the risks were too great to cancel their energy bill payments.
  • 4% had no idea about the repercussions of NOT paying their energy bills on time.

Mashroom’s Chief Revenue Officer, Adam Male, said: 

“The Government’s response to the rising cost of energy is likely to be a welcome relief to many households in the UK, who were naturally panicked at the £3549/yr price cap increase for October which was looming ever closer. We needed to see a swift response from the new Prime Minister in order to bring in support for the millions of homeowners and renters who are already feeling the squeeze from other aspects of the cost of living crisis.

“Even though the average price of energy is capped at £2500, alongside the original government support outlined earlier in the year, I think we’re likely to see households still struggle, particularly as we go into the winter season when we use more energy to heat our homes. The price cap was £1277/yr last winter, so we’re seeing a 96% increase this year even with the proposed price cap in place, so we’ll still be paying more for our energy. The government needs to continue to look at ways in which to support the most vulnerable and lower income households, so we don’t have the same issue on an annual basis and more people slip into fuel poverty in the colder months.”

Proptech and Property News in association 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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