PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Rightmove | Matterport | Cladding

In today’s news, Andrew Stanton looks at surging Rightmove profits, proptech’s biggest IPO of the year, and the ongoing cladding saga.

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Estate Agent Networking and NewsNow.

Rightmove riding high with half-year profits up

Rightmove has just announced its half-year financial results. Despite its blip last year, Rightmove has seen its operating profit increase by 6% to just under £115 million, an uptick from the 2019 half-year results and well up from the £61.7 million half-year operating profits of 2020.  

Having weathered the lockdowns and an open revolt from agents in March 2020, Rightmove now seems to be stabilising itself. Before the pandemic it had been making a gross profit of around 70% of its revenue, making the longest established portal the most successful one by some distance. 

CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson said: “The first half of 2021 brought further lockdowns, instilling in many a desire or motivation to move home, and the nation relied on us to help them to find their new life… the innovation we have delivered to help home-hunters find their happy, despite the restrictions, have been well used – with 200,000 video viewings and 160,000 rental viewing appointments made on the platform.

“The strong take-up of our premium Optimiser 2020 package shows agents’ continued belief in the Rightmove platform, as they invest in our digital products and innovative algorithms to help them to identify more opportunities to succeed.

“We are committed to further increasing our diversity by promoting Rightmove roles to under-represented ethnic groups and the LGBTQ+ community, and we’ll continue to support all our people through our mental health and wellbeing programme.”

The Matterport & Gores SPAC delivers huge IPO

Under the auspices of a SPAC agreement, Matterport and the Gores Holdings VI have now listed Matterport Inc on the Nasdaq.

Putting aside the rhetoric made in the first part of their official press release of the 22 July,  CEO RJ Pittman, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the combined company, said: “Becoming a publicly-traded company is a strategic transaction for Matterport that strengthens our position as the market-leading spatial data company for the built world and propels the global property market into the future.”

“We’re at the dawn of a new era for what’s possible when buildings become data,” he said. “To capitalize on this extraordinary market opportunity, we plan to increase our investment in our customers’ success, scale innovation and R&D, and accelerate growth through our spatial data platform for the 20 billion spaces around the world.”

As a proptech analyst, founder, influencer, writer and investor who grows proptechs, I believe that the significance and enormity of this deal will not permeate until the usefulness of what this publically traded company can do is felt. 

Real estate is entering its forensic stage where many talk about using and capturing data intelligently, but the reality is that the ability to truly see a property through 3D modelling is really the key to unlocking the analogue nature of the beast that is the property asset.

What we see we can measure. What we measure we can market. What we market motivates clients to pay hard cash.

Cladding scandal refuses to go away

Despite Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick expounding that properties under 18 metres in height do not have a problem when it comes to cladding, or other factors that make them a heightened fire risk, the major lenders are still sitting on their hands.

It was hoped that following the Government’s advice, sprinkler systems and monitoring would become a mainstay and go some way to addressing the problem, or at least allay the fears of many, for the 800,000 properties caught in limbo which can not be sold, re-mortgaged, or purchased.

But the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is saying that the EWS1 forms that lenders require still have to be given until they update their policy. RICS says it can only update its policy when, as is expected in November, the Government changes its official stance on fire regulations.

So, tens of thousands of people in low-level developments and homes are left waiting. The Government are saying that there is no problem, lenders are leaning on RICS who survey the properties for lenders and buyers, who in turn say they cannot do anything until the government produces updated fire regulations. Four years after Grenfell and still many problems are unresolved.     

In what is fast approaching a farce, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments state that: “The view from the independent experts is that there is no evidence of a systemic risk of fire in blocks of flats, but excessive industry caution is leaving many leaseholders in lower-risk buildings unable to sell or facing bills for work which is often not necessary… This must stop and, in line with the expert advice, we’ve set out that EWS1 forms should not be requested for buildings below 18 metres.”

In truth, they hold the answer to unlocking the problem if only they acted on a new fire safety protocol for buildings.

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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