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Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Estate Agent Networking.
HMRC names, shames and fines agents
As a supervisor of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, which came into effect on 26 June 2017, HMRC has a duty to publish details of businesses that do not comply with the regulations.
Each year, we learn who in the real estate sector has fallen short of the HMRC remit. This year, it transpires that three companies have been issued fines ranging from £5,250 to £6,300.
Given that 1.2 or more properties complete, two million-plus properties are let, and over 400,000 properties are re-mortgaged, the fact that there are only three companies in breach of the HMRC regulations is astounding. Surely the number of offences being perpetrated must be far higher? Is it the detection rate and the policing of the system at fault?
90% of criminality in the legal sector revolves around conveyancing matters, with over 40 law firms being struck off a year. Last year over £10 million was paid out to injured parties; not all relating to property.
My hope is that with the rise of software and the HMRC becoming increasingly digital, non-compliance can be better policed by the 24/7 ever-open eye of software, rather than the tiniest amount of people happening upon some glaring issues in a handful of cases.
It has been my experience that many agencies do not have a comprehensive policy around AML etc, and fall into the trap of not being compliant, they are not master criminals looking to do wrong, but their lax attitude still means they can be found in breach.
Many in the proptech verticals are developing technologies that should in the next five years tighten up this sector, which at present is mostly unguarded and open to abuse.
Purplebricks share price tumbles again
The share price tells all. The barometer of fortune says that the Purplebricks online game is perilously close to the edge. When it listed on the Alternative Investment Market in December 2015 its share price was 95.5p. It rose to 498.5p in July 2017. Now it is just 61p.
Though it was bullish, recently saying it was going to employ people rather than have a gig economy model, Purplebricks now finds itself in between a rock and a hard place, pretending to be a national agent. And to think, the Connells Group and their £80 million profit requires a huge sales force, over a thousand branches, and insight and strategy.
In comparison, Purplebricks sales force is tiny, dispirited, and likely to be consigned to the history books, with its latest £3 million pre-tax profit looking to be turned into loss as the cost of “employing staff” hits the company balance sheet.
Also, we hear that many of the loyal local property experts are not happy that, in real terms, they may end up earning less and have their areas changed beyond recognition. Also, more senior self-employed staff are unhappy as their roles will be changing dramatically.
Add to this the fact that Purplebricks is now going to be offering refunds, and that circa £10 million fund made up of fees, which they stockpile each year, is also likely to dwindle. With a case of increasing staffing costs, marginal profits, and less retained revenue, and a £4 million PR spend kicking off in September, it all begs the question, who is running the strategy here?
Inventory Hive in the ESTAS shortlist
The ESTAS awards are the annual industry awards as chosen by clients using services. This year Inventory Hive, who supplies software solutions to those in the letting vertical has been named on the shortlist, which given its relative newness is a standout achievement.
The company more fully explained its recent gain, when Richard Abbotts, founder and CEO said: “We’re the youngest company in the mix compared to our direct competitors by a whopping 15 years on both counts. That means we’ve moved mountains in such a short space of time. What’s more, we didn’t raise millions to get there – we did it through hunger, belief, and determination. We are so proud of the product we have created at Inventory Hive and this shortlisting by the ESTAS highlights the ambitious standards of support we offer to Inventory Hive users. We want to thank everyone for their support.”
A fuller account of what all of this means is reproduced below, it comes directly from Inventory Hive and the other stakeholders.
Inventory Hive has been recognised for its outstanding customer service to its clients by The ESTAS, the biggest award scheme in the UK residential property industry.
The ESTAS, sponsored by Coadjute, honours the best agents, conveyancers, brokers, and suppliers in the UK. The awards are powered by the ESTAS online customer review platform, which enables property firms to demonstrate the customer service standards they deliver for their clients.
The ESTAS Supplier Awards recognise supplier firms who have delivered the best customer experience to their respective agency, conveyancer, and broker clients in 2020. Now in their eleventh year, the supplier categories have become an integral part of the annual ESTAS competition providing a badge of excellence which is instantly recognisable by agents and highlights a suppliers’ commitment to quality service.
Twenty-eight supplier firms have made this year’s shortlist across various product sectors. A record total of 9,500 reviews were submitted by property professionals across the agency, conveyancing, and broker sectors.
The winners will be announced by ESTAS Brand Ambassador Phil Spencer at the 18th annual ESTAS Awards on 22nd October.
Spencer said “the industry’s leading suppliers are instrumental in helping property professionals provide excellent service, they are an extension of that experience so the service they deliver is crucial, it’s therefore only right that ESTAS puts the spotlight on their efforts.”Simon Brown, Founder of the ESTAS Group, said “The best suppliers to the industry go out of their way to provide exceptional service and they should be recognised for that. We understand that different types of products and services require different service levels, so we highlight ‘Best in Sector’ suppliers as well as the overall Supplier of the Year.
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.