Proptech & Property News: Homes for Ukraine, Connells Group year-end profits

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

Press Release: Growing number of tenants wanting to open their homes to refugees

There have been a growing number of enquiries relating to the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ initiative and the availability of existing tenants becoming sponsors. Many tenants within the UK are eager to help where possible and have enquired about opening their homes to people who has been displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict in their home country.

The scheme opens on Friday 18 March for visa applications from Ukrainians and immediate family members who already have named people willing to sponsor them. People wanting to be sponsors who do not know anyone personally fleeing Ukraine can also record their interest about becoming a host, which many people has started to do.

Paul Offley of The Guild

Paul Offley, Compliance Officer of The Guild of Property Professionals, says: “It is encouraging to see the number of people who are stepping forward with offers of help at this difficult time. Due to the high volume of enquiries from tenants, we have had several lettings agents contact us regarding the initiative asking for guidance. Our advice, as per the instructions we received from DLUHC, is that where a tenant would like to offer a room, they will firstly need to have an extra room available in their property. They would, of course, also require the consent of the landlord before they go ahead with the process of taking part in the initiative. The DLUHC have stated that sponsors will be asked to offer a minimum of six months accommodation, which would need to be taken into consideration by both the tenant and the landlord before agreeing to be a host.”

Offley adds that it is essential that both parties, being the tenant and landlord, agree and understand that they are committing to the minimum six-month period. This means that a landlord may have difficulty if they wish to end the tenancy at an earlier date.

“Our contacts at the DLUHC have advised that they are currently in the process of working on providing more detailed guidance, which should be published within the next day or two. This guidance will include information around the status of the arrangement, required accommodation standards and the checks that will be done on the sponsor, as well as the person they will be hosting. It is important to remember that the sponsor will have to be matched to the person they are hosting,” says Offley.

He adds that the tenant will not be able to charge the person they are hosting rent, however, the government will be providing an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month to people who are hosting someone.




Press Release: Connells Group financial results show most profitable year to date

Leading estate agency and property services provider Connells Group today announces a stunning set of results for the year ended 31 December 2021, with total revenue of £1bn (2020: £375m). The Group reports EBITDA of £181.1m (2020: £80.5m) and pre-tax profits of £111.3m*1 (2020: £51.8m). The results include Countrywide’s performance following acquisition of the business in March 2021.

Key performance indicators include:

  • Total house sale exchanges up 44%*2 on a like-for-like basis;
  • Buyer registrations up 38%*3;
  • Ended the year with largest market share (10% – up from 8.9% at point of Countrywide acquisition) and branch network of any UK estate agency group (1,250 branches, equivalent to 7% of branches nationwide);
  • Over 11,500 new homes sold and new homes income up 16%, remaining the largest agency seller of new homes in the UK;
  • £35+bn worth of mortgage lending generated and mortgage services income up by £75m;
  • Lettings income and move-ins both increased by 5%*2 on a like-for-like basis, with 150,000 properties under management;
  • Surveys and valuations’ income increased by £80m, with over 750,000 jobs handled;
  • Conveyancing completions increased by 51%*2 on a like-for-like basis, as purchasers sought to benefit from available stamp duty savings.

“2021 was an historic year for Connells Group with the successful acquisition of Countrywide, as well as numerous other strategic moves, consolidating our position as the largest and most successful property services group in the UK,” says CEO David Livesey. “Our people have come together brilliantly, propelling our enlarged business forward to achieve record results.”

The acquisition of Countrywide in March 2021 combined two highly complementary businesses to build a stronger and more efficient branch network, and a more integrated and enhanced suite of services to customers and clients. Further acquisitions in the year include Hall & Benson and Holroyds estate agents. The Group continued to grow its footprint, market share and headcount in 2021, ending the year employing 16,000 colleagues – 1,000 more than at the point of the Countrywide acquisition.

During 2021, Connells Group repaid almost half of the £253m loan used to fund the acquisition, as well as making dividend payments of £60m to Skipton Building Society. The Group also invested heavily in its technological offering, with notable partnerships announced including Zoopla, Yoti, MBT Affordability, Aviva, ZeroDeposit and Twenty7Tec. The ongoing development of its proposition remains a crucial focus for the Group and, looking to the year ahead, will be further enhanced by the development of new Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategies.

David says, “A year ago, we took the opportunity to integrate two of the leading businesses in the property sector and, with a clear strategy, confidence and drive, we’re very proud to have achieved everything we set out to do, surpassing all expectation and creating a power house group within the industry. This venture has proven not only to be a great triumph for our business as a whole, but has opened many more opportunities for our people and our customers.

“Entering 2022, we’re positive for the year ahead and, although stock remains a challenge, we have confidence that our market-leading proposition, investments in technology and growing branch network will continue to drive our business forward. Above all, our commitment to our people remains at the forefront of everything we do and we could not have achieved all that we have in the past year without their sterling efforts,” David concludes.

Notes:

1 Includes gains of £27.1m from the disposal of the Group’s shareholding in TM Group (UK) Ltd – July 2021 

2 Combined Connells Group and Countrywide figure for full year on a like-for-like basis 

3 Connells Group excluding Countrywide 

Andrew Stanton is the founder 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 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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