PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: RICS Report | Rightmove | Proptech Maturity

In today’s news, Andrew Stanton looks at QC Alison Levitt’s RICS report, Proptech’s rapid maturation, and Rightmove’s August predictions.

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

QC investigating RICS produces 400-page report 

RICS has been handed a 400-page report compiled by QC Alison Levitt, who was tasked to look into a number of allegations made with regard to actions that occurred in 2018. These centre around the dismissal of four directors, and matters of a financial nature. 

The whole process of looking at the inner workings of RICS has been hampered by delay, Levitt being the second QC to be appointed to carry out the investigation. Peter Oldham was the first QC to take the mantle but suddenly fell on his sword in April 2021, citing professional reasons for why he could not continue.

Also, unexpectedly in June 2021, COO Violetta Parylo resigned with immediate effect.

For anyone who does not know the background, in late 2019, four directors of RICS, Bruce McAra, Simon Hardwick, Steve Williams and Amarjit Atkar, were sacked. This took place after the four had said they felt uneasy about the way in which a report into RICS’ treasury management procedures had been dealt with.

They were specifically referring to a report by an accountancy firm that had stated that RICS was at possible risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance.”  

It has been widely reported that, in asking for evidence from the RICS membership, QC Alison Levitt has received a tremendous amount of intel. It is hoped that clarity regarding the whole matter will soon be evident. 

Proptech comes of age

Following a recent analysis, digital transformation in the real estate space now seems to be nearing a plateau, maturing with some clear direction and big players looking to get a financial lead. In the UK alone there have been a number of consolidations in the commercial real estate and lettings industry. 

All the talk declaring software will disrupt things has now become more muted and nuanced. Much of the thinking and development around this has been centred on scalable solutions that can drive financial advantages for the companies adopting them.  

So far this year at least fifty new proptech companies have launched in the UK alone, and globally there have been over 1,200 new property technology companies emerging in various real estate sectors.

The good news is that the UK, with a cluster of activity based in London and other major cities, now seems to be leading the charge with only New York having a bigger proliferation of proptech companies.

Rightmove says that August is giving mixed messages

Rightmove has just announced that the average asking price has dipped slightly in August for the first time this year. Now, this might be a seasonal tweak by agents advising vendors to be more cautious with pricing. Or perhaps is it a fundamental pivot from a vendors’ to a buyers’ market.

In July Rightmove stated on its monthly marketing bulletin that there was a lack of property, and this had been fuelling house prices as agents were without stock to sell. 

“Our analysis shows that the shortfall of 225,000 homes for sale comes from 140,000 more sales being agreed and 85,000 fewer new listings than the long-term (2014-2019) average for the first half of a year. 

The net result of this major imbalance between supply and demand is that the average number of available properties for sale per estate agency branch is at a new record low of 16 properties, compared with the previous low before 2021 of 25 properties and a longer-term average for this time of year of 31.”

One Rightmove director, Tim Bannister, was quick to play down the emerging August downward pricing spiral: “…sellers dropping their asking prices can ring economy alarm bells, especially when it’s the first time so far this year, so it’s important to dig underneath the headline figures.” 

With September only two weeks away and the second part of the SDLT holiday due to wrap up at the end of that same month, and schools back in early September, a lot will be riding on the amount and the velocity of the sales market as it ticks into the last month of Q3, a traditionally brisk market. 

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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