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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Thirdfort scoops Knight Frank, Savills & Chestertons investment | Rightmove asking price & rental analysis

Thirdfort secures strategic investment from Knight Frank, Savills and Chestertons

Move forges closer alignment on product development as Thirdfort creates the industry standard in residential, lettings, commercial and mortgages

Thirdfort, a risk management platform combining Know Your Client (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Source-of-Funds (SoF), has secured equity investment from leading agents Knight Frank LLP, Grosvenor Hill Ventures (Savills’ proptech investment subsidiary) and Chestertons.

All three agents have adopted Thirdfort’s one-stop solution for AML and will support product development.

Olly Thornton-Berry, co-founder and Managing Director at Thirdfort, commented:

“All estate agents are having to navigate the rapidly escalating AML regulations, with HMRC requesting more than just a simple PEP screen, yet legacy AML solutions do not cater to the new world of risk. We saw a huge opportunity to build the first platform that actually protected against money laundering, leveraging Open Banking and 12 third party KYC suppliers, packaged into a mobile app that turns seamless compliance into a competitive advantage.”

All three businesses will initially adopt Thirdfort’s mobile-first offering across their residential sales teams. Having completed a six-month pilot in April, Knight Frank has already rolled Thirdfort out across all UK branches. Chestertons is implementing Thirdfort’s platform across its UK network, while Savills will embark on a pilot following this investment before a planned rollout.

As the market-leading platform for property professionals, Thirdfort is the only platform to combine digital ID, AML and SoF verification, alongside Open Banking and transaction specific data. The platform rapidly informs property professionals of risks with onboarding both individuals and corporates, enabling them to begin transacting with new clients more quickly. Thirdfort is currently used by more than 850 estate agents, conveyancing firms and law firms.

By forging closer relationships with its strategic investors, the move supports product development, as AML compliance continues to increase across all aspects of property transactions. This will include the optimisation of Thirdfort’s product for lettings, in addition to exploring how Thirdfort can be used in other areas, including mortgages and commercial sales.

Philip Gardner, Group Head of Strategy Risk & Operations at Knight Frank said:

“We are delighted to make this investment into what we believe is the leading AML platform. We look forward to working with the other investors and leadership at Thirdfort to develop the platform and explore further use across the Knight Frank group.”

Egita Cepurnaite, Head of AML at Chestertons also commented:

“Having recently completed a pilot of Thirdfort’s platform we believe it could offer our clients and staff a more streamlined and secure approach to KYC, AML and SoF checks. By using Open Banking, cryptographic and biometric verification, and real-time ongoing PEPs and sanctions monitoring, the platform will help automate compliance requirements while reducing the risk of fraud and money laundering.”

Derry Lynch, Head of Residential Compliance at Savills added:

“We are very much looking forward to working with Thirdfort.  Compliance procedures are increasingly complex and time-consuming, so a new platform that accelerates some of the processes involved in any property transaction is welcome and will help us improve the client experience.”

First-time buyer prices and rents rise three times faster than pre-pandemic  

  • New analysis finds that over the past two years both first-time buyer asking prices and average rents for equivalent properties have risen three times quicker than the previous two years:
    • Average monthly rental payments are 17% higher (+£128) than they were two years ago, compared to a 5% rise in the two previous years
    • Average first-time buyer asking prices are at a record of £224,943, 13% higher than two years ago, compared to a 4% rise in the two previous years
  • Saving up for a deposit has become increasingly difficult for aspiring first-time buyers:
    • The average first-time buyer deposit of 10% has risen by £2,560 over the past two years, compared with a jump of £807 in the two years prior
    • Average monthly mortgage payments for new first-time buyers are 22% higher than two years ago
    • Those planning to buy their first home say that rising house prices and soaring energy bills are the biggest challenges they are facing, though nearly half (43%) hope to be able to have enough saved to buy within the next three years
  • Demand for first-time buyer properties is up by 35% compared to the last more normal market of 2019, a sign that despite stretched affordability, many are determined to get on the ladder

New analysis from the UK’s biggest property website Rightmove reveals that first-time buyer asking prices and equivalent asking rents have risen three times faster compared with pre-pandemic years.

Average asking prices for first-time buyer type properties (two bedrooms and fewer) are up 13% (+£17,557) since July 2020, compared with the 4% (£8,069) rise between July 2018 and July 2020.

For prospective first-time buyers looking to save while renting, they face the challenge of record rents that are rising at the fastest rate ever recorded. Average monthly rental payments are 17% higher (+£128) nationally than they were two years ago. National average earnings are up by 14% over the same period.

First-time buyer type properties have hit a new record across Great Britain of £224,943. Therefore, an average 10% deposit needed now stands at £22,493. This is £2,560 higher than two years ago when the deposit needed was £19,934. Between July 2018 and July 2020, the deposit needed for an average first home only rose by £807.

For new first-time buyers who have been able to save a deposit, get a mortgage and secure a property, they now face average monthly mortgage payments that are 22% higher than two years ago, due to house price increases and interest rate rises.

Monthly mortgage payments for a new first-time buyer based on the current average rate is £976, £173 more than two years ago. Average monthly mortgage payments rose just £41 in the previous two years.

In a recent Rightmove survey to identify current home-mover attitudes, those planning to buy their first home said that rising house prices and soaring energy bills are the biggest challenges they are currently facing. Nearly half (43%) hope to be able to have enough saved to buy within the next three years, with two thirds already starting to save each month for their deposit.

Despite the challenge, there are still 35% more people enquiring to buy first-time buyer homes now than back in the last more normal market of 2019. This compared to a 26% increase for all property types.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Data Expert comments“Our affordability analysis highlights the many challenges first-time buyers are trying to navigate right now. For would-be first-time buyers who are trying to save up a deposit, they are chasing a fast-moving target as average asking prices for first-time buyer homes hit another new record, and rise more quickly than they did before the pandemic. For those that aren’t able to live with parents or family members while saving, they also have to manage paying record rents both inside and outside of London. We understand how difficult this challenge can be, and something we’ve seen more of over the last couple of years, particularly with working from home becoming more common, is people looking further away or at a greater number of different areas when looking to move, to see what is available within their budget.

“Those that have been able to save up a deposit are now facing rising interest rates when considering what they can afford to repay each month. Given the economic uncertainty at the moment, first-time buyers may seek some financial certainty by locking in a longer fixed-rate mortgage term now, before interest rates rise again.”

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Andrew Stanton Founder & Editor of 'PROPTECH-X' where his insights, connections, analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are based on writing 1.3M words annually. Plus meeting 1,000 Proptech founders, critiquing 400 decks and having had 130 clients as CEO of 'PROPTECH-PR', a consultancy for Proptech founders seeking growth and exit strategies. He also acts as an advisory for major global real estate companies on sales, acquisitions, market positioning & operations. With 100K followers & readers, he is the 'Proptech Realestate Influencer.'