Proptech & Property News in Brief: Work from Home, Revolut, Zoopla (31/08)

In today’s news, Andrew Stanton discusses the changes work from home may bring about, Revolut’s move into payday loans, and Zoopla’s take on the property market

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


How will working from home stimulate the housing market?

In the August House Price Index report, Tim Bannister, Director of Property Data at Rightmove, made the following comment when talking about the scarcity of inventory to sell:

“We also anticipate that more property will come to market when those owners have more clarity over their employers’ long-term balance of home and office working. 

“Their future housing needs are hard to scope out if it’s still uncertain whether the daily commute is soon going to return. If it’s going to be less restrictive in the long term then that means less need to live close to transport networks, and a greater need for home working space.”

With the furlough scheme phasing out and only a fraction of employees returning to the office, will the housing market go into a different phase, especially once the SDLT holiday fully evaporates on the 31st of September?

The key point Bannister makes is that once workers know if working from home is a fad or a reality, there will likely be a shakeup in housing again, with many living in properties not fit for purpose as a home and a place of work. 

Will this drive the price of properties down as homeowners and renters search for properties with gardens and lots of reception rooms? 

Anecdotally, using the train twice to go into London last week, the lack of people and amount of tumbleweed was obvious, so there does seem to be a definite change of how it will be done in the near future.

A recent survey stated that 71% of respondents wanted to work from home at least part of each week, with 46% wanting it as a permanent right. 

Early on in the pandemic, Siemens, the largest manufacturer in Europe, told its workforce that flexible work was in and there was only a need to come to work two days a week. Since then there has been a tsunami of companies following this hybrid model.

The pandemic has also forced digital upon many analogue businesses, not least the legal sector, where legaltech has gone from science fiction to be being embraced by leading legal and consultancy firms. 

So if the brakes get slammed on and the housing market struggles with the extra £15,000 SDLT burden when purchasing at £500,000 post-September, maybe there will be a counter-movement as the new-look workforce of 2022 looks to move to more appropriate housing for their hybrid work lifestyle. 

Revolut moves into payday loans territory…with a twist

In a move that its founder says is designed to help alleviate the stresses caused by payday loans, Revolut has launched its own payday loan that is ‘not a payday loan’.

Nik Storonsky, the founder of Revolut, says he believes “in the importance of making financial wellbeing accessible to all, and this includes focusing on the impact of financial stability on employees’ mental health.”

The way the system works is that the user will need to be a Revolut user, and the employer will also need to be part of the ecosystem so that the client can see the amount of cash they have coming to them at the end of the month.

They can then take a percentage of this amount out, with a £1.50 fee and a 2.5% surcharge, or 0% for the first £100 “borrowed”.

Clearly, it is a re-imagining of the banking system or overdraft facility offered by banks, as Revolut is not a bank, using the employer as the lever to make the capital needed in the equation.

Zoopla is bullish about the property market, but are they right?

Zoopla, the second-largest property portal in the UK, feels that the lack of property on the market will mean that it continues to be a seller’s market. 

Their head of research Gráinne Gilmore states: “…higher levels of demand will still be evident, and potential vendors with family houses to sell could be in pole position…the lack of supply, especially for family houses, means the market will start to naturally slow during the rest of this year and into next year.”

If there is a low amount of stock, that means fewer people are looking to move, which is not a good indicator of a healthy market. After the 1988 housing market when two million people bought property in 12 months, there followed four years of very low activity, with little coming to the market unless it was organically generated from the normal hatched, matched, or dispatched driven type of inventory.

Sometimes, housing market sentiment, which so often originates with the traditional property portals, might need to be looked at a little deeper, as they are hardly going to say to their paying clients, the agents, that doom is on the way.

After all, if the amount of stock estate agents list is low and stays static, and property effectively sells itself due to shortage, the argument for listing on portals starts to become moot.

Why not just put up a board and use your CRM to generate a buyer?


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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