Property sales drop by 17% and other key indicators show a declining marketplace
Against the same three-month period last year the number of properties that completed in the UK dropped by 17%, analysis from HMRC reveals. This alone would be cause for concern, but when the whole of the property network indexes are focused on the outlook is even gloomier.
All the major New Home builders have drastically cut back on the number of units that will be built in 2023, many of them shuttering whole divisions of their companies to cut costs and preserve their share price. Less than 14-months ago most of these companies were seeing huge profits being posted. But with the end of Help-to-buy coupled with the Bank of England increasing the lending rate fourteen times, there was always going to be a point when this sector went into hibernation.
New lending for property purchases is also down, in line with the fewer sales being agreed, and with a new trend of more cash buyers looking to purchase, this puts further strains on the amount of mortgage business being written. Yes there are about 120,000 people a month coming to the end of their fixed rate mortgage deals, but many are looking at variable rates as an option or find they are locked into their existing lender.
Redundancies are now firmly a feature in the residential sales sector, with sales teams slimming down and there are also a number of consolidations taking place, and selective branch closures on the cards. Many had hoped that September would see an uptick in the marketplace, but many agents are now agreeing less than six sales a month and are looking at a long period of just covering costs.
Many agencies have lettings operations which are profitable and so will help these businesses trade through the present gloomy times, but with an election year likely, interest rates staying high for at least a year, maybe more, the best that can be hoped for is that the flatlining market does not become a full blown rout. The Chancellor does have about £6BN that he can use to stimulate things, but it is unlikely that property will figure large in his Autumn statement, and with the CALC, two major global conflicts and the end of cheap money, it is difficult to see what stimulus could get housing moving again.
TechCrunch gives a heads up on US thoughts of how to contain AI
Artificial intelligence, or specifically Generative AI is out there the big question is how to contain or master it, and the real estate industry is just beginning to grapple with how it all is going to play out. In line with this the following is how the leader of the most important nation in the world wants to keep things under wraps, my thoughts are that Pandora’s box is open and it is late in the day to contain it, but if you are a president, or the UK version a PM you probably are going to have a try. No doubt Rishi Sunak who has a two day event just up the road at Bletchley Park will have his own ideas come the weekend.
October 30, 2023 TechCrunch Article – Joanna Glasner
‘The Biden administration on Monday released an executive order laying out a broad range of safety and security requirements around the use of artificial intelligence technology. The standards, which range from setting requirements for red-team testing to affixing labels on AI-generated content, could have a wide impact on how AI-focused companies, and startups in particular, develop and release new iterations of their products.
Below, we look at some of the standout components of the executive order, with an eye to how startups might be impacted:
Order: Set standards for red-team testing before public release of AI systems
Potential startup impact: Leading generative AI startups are already wary of the ways their technologies might be used for nefarious purposes or produce biased, inaccurate and misleading information. But the specter of increased regulatory oversight will likely motivate teams to accelerate and intensify mitigation efforts. We’ve already seen some recent announcements to this effect. In September, OpenAI announced the launch of its OpenAI Red Teaming Network, a group of experts working on risk assessment and mitigation. Anthropic, likely motivated in part by expectations of tighter regulation, announced its support this summer for a set of voluntary safety commitments led by the White House.
Order: Protect against the risks of using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials by developing strong new standards for biological synthesis screening.
Potential startup impact: There’s quite a bit of venture investment at the intersection of AI and biotechnology. A Crunchbase query turned up more than 250 private companies categorized in both our AI and biotech industry groups that have raised funding in the past two years and brought in $1 million or more to date. Overall, companies represented in the query have raised more than $10 billion to date. Not all those companies are engaged in biological synthesis. Few use the term to describe their research focus. However, the order does raise awareness that regulators are paying greater attention to AI-derived therapeutics, and are open to stepping up oversight.
Order: Establish standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content
Potential startup impact: Currently, there’s no requirement for a company to tell you if the content on its website or the advice its chatbot dispenses is AI-generated. For people on the receiving end of such information, however, it’s easy to see why such labeling would be welcome. For startups producing AI-generated content, the prospects of labeling requirements look like a mixed bag. On the one hand, if everyone has to comply, then no one loses a competitive advantage by affixing labels. On the other hand, it’s easy to see how this gets cumbersome, particularly as so much content has some AI sourcing.
Order: Shape AI’s potential to transform education by creating resources to support educators deploying AI-enabled educational tools, such as personalized tutoring in schools.
Potential startup impact: When ChatGPT burst onto the scene last fall, students were among the biggest early adopters — and not always for teacher-approved purposes. Lately, amid a surge in AI-related venture funding, sizable investments are going to edtech startups focused on educator-friendly use cases like streamlining lesson-planning and personalizing instruction. For startups focused on U.S. educational institutions, the order indicates that federal funding is likely to become an option alongside venture capital. In addition to potential grant funding, we’re likely to see public schools and colleges more open to spending on AI-enabled tools.
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.