Proptech & Property News in Brief: Countryside Leasehold, Housing Secretary, epropservices (16/09)

In today’s news, Andrew Stanton discusses the leasehold U-turn made by Countryside, the Housing Secretary’s sacking, and Gary Barker’s next gig after leaving Connells.

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


CMA pressure makes Countryside re-think leasehold strategy 

There has been quite the scuffle going on between the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) and Countryside Properties, a super scale developer of new homes.

The row had been about properties being sold with leasehold contracts that allowed ground rents to be increased to elevated levels the longer the properties were owned. This ratchet effect meant that properties would be blighted for re-sale and owners would face increasing payments as the costs escalated.

Countryside has promised to stop selling homes with the doubling clauses appended to them, and it has also promised that those who had a leasehold agreement would only have to pay the amount set out in the first schedule with no further rises.

This is a huge win for the present and future homebuyers, leading other developers to also change their terms, Persimmon and Barratt to name just two.

Property News Countryside Properties
Source: Countryside Properties

Housing Secretary Jenrick bites the dust

It has been announced that Robert Jenrick has been sacked as housing secretary in Boris Johnson’s latest cabinet reshuffle. 

Many seem genuinely surprised that fresh-faced Robert Jenrick has lost his position as Secretary of State for Housing at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, a role that he held for just over two years.

Jenrick did well to stay in post for so long given his proximity to certain movers and shakers, his backing of a certain development in London, the ongoing cladding scandal, plus of course his planning reforms, to name just a handful of controversies.

Sure, it is never easy being a politician. Soundbites that promise 300,000 new homes are hard to keep, especially during a global pandemic. You get the impression that anyone in this post is doomed to fail.

That pattern is all too evident, and every time a new housing secretary loses their job, the joined-up dots approach to a cohesive housing structure is lost.

Effectively they’re just replaced by the next person with bright ideas and a cohort of advisers and Whitehall officials with their own agendas. More soundbites, more promises.

Michael Gove, who has recently been in the spotlight for resurfaced audio containing racist and homophobic language, will step into the role and try and move the needle on the new homes target. 

Will Gove succeed? Highly unlikely. Will Gove still be housing secretary by 2025? It’s a 50/50 call, and that is the problem. Zero continuity.

Gary Barker leaves Connells, rejoins epropservices

Gary Barker exits as Connells CTO to re-join epropservices

Gary Barker, fresh from helping Connells sort out their tech re-configuration, is to reunite with Jon Cooke and the epropservices team to “focus on technology solutions.”

Barker is a genuinely likeable man. His attention to detail, passion for innovation and understanding of how to add a considerable EBIDTA margin for large companies have made him a favourite in the worlds of real estate and proptech.

Jon Cooke, CEO of epropservices, said: “Very happy to have Gary back within the epropservices family as a Board Member. His expertise and vast experience will continue to help us focus on providing innovative technology services.”

In the last year, having dealt with over two hundred high-level individuals in the technology space adjacent to property, it’s been clear to me that only a dozen people really know what is going on. They’re the ones driving real estate and proptech forward into the modern age.

Gary Barker is definitely among them, and epropservices have pulled off a coup to acquire his services once more.


Andrew Stanton is the founder of Proptech-PR and Proptech-X. He grows proptech companies using his influence from decades of industry experience and is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations.

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