nurtur.group completes its first investment through the accelerator programme – LettsPay
Since launching the Accelerator Programme at the end of January, nurtur.group has received a vast number of proptech applicants looking to launch their products and services with the group. After much deliberation, the team heading the Accelerator Programme have selected and closed their first deal with LettsPay, an automated client accounting engine that makes reconciling tenant rental payments and remaining compliant far easier.
Garrett Foxon, Founder of LettsPay, says: “We are very excited to have been selected as the first applicant to work with the Accelerator team. The partnership offers us access to a large network of property professionals, as well as the opportunity to increase our brand awareness with the sector. Working with the team of industry experts within nurtur.group will help us to propel our business forward, while providing the network with a proptech product that will assist agents in the lettings sector.”
Since April 2019, any lettings or management business that handles clients’ money must be part of the Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme in order to trade. The state-of-the-art rental collection platform will help landlords and letting agents save valuable time while ensuring they remain compliant with CMP and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations.
Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at nurtur.group, says: “I’m genuinely excited by our investment in LettsPay and the service it can provide to our Members who offer lettings in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This will really offer then an alternative banking solution, yet at the same time keep them fully in control of their client’s money. All too often I come across cases where banks are writing to an increasing number of Members with a warning that they wish to close undesignated client accounts, and for an agent with over three hundred landlords the logistics of having to operate 300 individual designated accounts, or change banks, is quite daunting. Working with LettsPay takes away the issue completely. Through the portal each firm would have an automated designated client account for each of their landlords with the added bonus of no bank charges, no hassle from the bank and a fully automated system, which is backed by CMP and has a full reconciliation and audit trail, all under the name of the agent.”
Foxon adds that the platform uses the latest finance technology to create the separate accounts for landlords, with their own sort code and account number. “The tenant is notified automatically by the platform to pay their account. When payment is received, LettsPay auto allocates the funds, which means all the letting agent would need to do is create and approve the payout to the landlord. The system will communicate to the tenant that the payment has been received and it will produce an automatic statement for the landlord. The automation of the process will save agents time and will make it far easier to manage a larger portfolio of clients. The platform is also able to manage payments to contractors, deposit accounts and HMRC for NRL tax,” he says.
Investment from nurtur.group into proptech products like LettsPay will be hugely beneficial to both the innovators creating the products as well as the network of agents within the group. Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, which is part of nurtur.group, says: “Innovative technology such as the LettsPay will ensure the group is at the forefront of development, driving progression within the sector and providing agents with a wider array of proptech products that will save money, make money, and help them remain compliant. As a group we are continuously thinking ahead to make sure that we are delivering tech to support our Members and help them overcome challenges. nurtur.group will continue to work with more applicants through the Accelerator Programme to propel innovations through investment and develop new and exciting technology for property businesses within the network.”
OnTheMarket continues its remarkable transformation led by Jason Tebb
Just to make it absolutely clear, OnTheMarket is not a client of any of my companies, so the following is not motivated by anything else than my analyst perspective of what the incumbent CEO Jason Tebb has achieved in a very short period of time.
For those unfamiliar, when OnTheMarket started, it did so with high hopes that over time did not come to fruition, causing its member agents to become distanced from the C-suite, with the whole operation often in the media for all the bad reasons.
Just as the Connells Group showed when it took over the assets of Countrywide PLC, a corporate can be turned around if the person at the top has a plan and executes it.
In the case of OnTheMarket, Jason Tebb had a plan. Instead of burying himself away, he decided to make himself accessible to everyone from day one. He listened to his client base, and through his personal charisma won new clients, making it clear that the portal was a shared endeavour rather than an “us and them” situation.
Jason Tebb, speaking about his lauded town hall meetings, said: “Originally, I’d only planned to run events with our agents so I could understand what they wanted and where they felt OnTheMarket needed to do things differently. It became clear very early on that it wasn’t only me who found them useful, they did too.
“The key topics debated and discussed in those initial Town Hall sessions included what agents thought about the TV advert, our previous Market Appraisal Guides and the need for more functionality and services around lettings.
“As has been evident by our actions over the past few months, the team and I took all of this on board, leading to the launch of our new brand, website and TV advert in December, alongside our commercial partnerships with Sprift and Canopy that were announced earlier last year. All of these announcements were direct results of our Town Halls.”
As he had a background as a property practitioner, Tebb noticed that real estate was changing. The whole industry was being washed through by the wants and needs of a digital age. Certainly, real estate is a people business, but that does not mean that software and coding can not automate and take out a lot of the repetitive parts of the business.
The acquisition and further development of Teclet and the several commercial tie-ups with a number of proptech firms are all part of a strategy to put the digital hand tools that estate and letting agents need, to keep up with the nano-second demands of digital natives who like to do property from their smartphones.
It is clear that in the portal space there are very different ways that each one is evolving. The oldest portal looks very much like a dated model now, after initially being served up as a replacement for newspaper advertising for estate agents. I wonder how much longer that will cut muster with the public, who probably want something more 2030s than 2000s.
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.