PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’ Weekly Debrief: Cloud Living | | Purplebricks | Interest Rate

A roundup of the week’s top property and proptech news featured on Proptech-X, in association with Estate Agent Networking.

PRESS RELEASE: Epropservices rebrands to

epropservices, the branding and technology provider to the property sector, has announced today that it will be rebranding and operating under the name

During 2021, with the backing of its principal shareholder Toscafund, epropservices acquired Starberry, The Property Jungle and more recently, LeadPro. These acquisitions significantly enhanced the organisation’s digital and lead generation offering, while helping to position it as one of the country’s leading proptech providers.

Jon Cooke, CEO of, comments: “With the new businesses joining the group, we required a new cohesive identity that fully represented both the mission of the group and the specialist service providers within it. Our plan is to accelerate proptech development and widen the availability of innovative digital products that will propel our business and our customers forward as the sector embraces digitalisation.

“We believe that the property industry is just at the start of the digitalisation of the home-moving process and the role of digital marketing, online lead generation and management will continue to increase in importance as the estate agency model evolves. We are a future-ready business and will work closely with our customers to drive innovation. I would like to thank Toscafund for their continued support as committed investors as we grow and develop the group.”

“The aim of the business is to connect leading technology products to our nationwide membership network and agents, helping property professionals select the tech that works best for them within a single ecosystem that works with just one login,” he adds. was created to help launch and scale the technology that will transform the property business, bringing enormous benefits to agents and everyone in the sector. “Alongside our technology and networks, we will also be driving innovation through our Accelerator Programme, which is an investment arm funded by the group. Companies joining the programme get a direct route to our agent network, advice from our board industry advisors and mentors, and integration into our technology platform.”

According to Cooke, the accelerator fund will make it easier for innovators to launch their technology and connect it to a vast network of ready agents, with reliable and experienced advisors by their side who are invested in their success. He adds that a huge advantage of the Accelerator Programme is access to’s team of experts.

“Our accelerator fund is led by Gary Barker, who has 20 years of experience delivering innovative technology at Reapit, Connells and Countrywide. Gary is joined by CEO of Starberry, Ben Sellers, selected industry network members, and myself,” says Cooke. “Two non-executive directors, Kefuffle’s Simon Whale and Proptech-PR’s Andrew Stanton add a wealth of knowledge to help our accelerator companies.”

In conclusion, Cooke says: “Through our networks, technology and the accelerator fund, aims to help property businesses develop, grow and succeed as the sector continues to evolve. ”

PRESS RELEASE: UAE real estate leader Aldar partners with UK tech pioneer Lavanda to facilitate flexible short term stays for visitors to the Middle East


  • “Cloud Living” platform launches to offer renters premium, fully-serviced, “plug and play” accommodation for a day, a week, a month or a year – all packaged up in a seamless, digital-first customer experience.
  • Professionally managed accommodation offers more trusted alternative to Airbnb and other peer-to-peer rental platforms, yet remains better value versus a hotel or serviced apartment.    
  • Platform to operate under regulatory framework overseen by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and developed in consultation with Aldar.
  • Cloud Living seeks to take a bite out of the $116bn global short term rental market (2020 Short-Term Rental Market report, Skift).

Tuesday 1st February, London, UK – Aldar Properties (‘Aldar’), the leading real estate developer and manager in the UAE, today unveils Cloud Living, its vision for the future of flexible, fully-serviced short stay accommodation within the Middle East region. The Cloud Living concept is uniquely enabled by a strategic partnership with UK software company Lavanda, the world leader in flexible rental technology.

Cloud Living is a pioneering short-term leasing platform that provides individuals and families with flexible stay options in exclusive and elegant homes within Aldar’s integrated communities. The vision underpinning the Cloud Living platform, and the goal of the strategic partnership between Aldar and Lavanda, is to create new residential concepts in Abu Dhabi that put customer experience and innovation at the heart of living in, and visiting, the region.

A commitment to creating industry defining customer experiences

The Cloud Living platform offers flexible stay options with all-in-one pricing and no hidden costs or utility bills. Listings on offer range from studios to 3-bedroom furnished apartments, with fully flexible leases ranging from as little as one night to yearly agreements. To promote health and wellbeing, guests also have access to outdoor fitness equipment.

A commitment to sustainably developing Abu Dhabi and the region

Aldar, Lavanda and the Cloud Living platform are committed to enabling professionals, ex-pats and tourists live and breathe the very best of Abu Dhabi and the region. At launch, the listings will offer easy access to central Abu Dhabi, the Corniche, and the cultural and entertainment attractions on Saadiyat Island.

The platform will operate under a new regulatory framework that has been developed after collaboration and consultations between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and key stakeholders from the private sector, including Aldar and Lavanda. The platform will thus enable the region to embrace fully flexible short and medium-term renting in a sustainable and equitable manner that works in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Hamad Mohammed Saeed Alsudain, Licensing & Regulatory Compliance Department Director at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi commented: “Cloud Living is an industry-first case study in how real estate, tech and the public sector should be collaborating to design and deliver socially and economically impactful solutions that improve the experience of customers and challenge the status quo. We are excited to have collaborated with Aldar and Lavanda to create the regulatory framework and infrastructure that provides the basis to understand the potential impact that this new format of more accessible, more flexible and more affordable accommodation can have within the region.”    

A commitment to technology and innovation

In keeping with Aldar’s unwavering commitment to innovation in real estate, Cloud Living is powered by a next generation technology platform that puts flexibility, convenience and simplicity at the heart of its customer journey and experience. This will be the first technology implementation of its kind in the UAE region. Pioneering a digital first strategy allows Cloud Living to measure, manage and optimise the experience of its customers – a core foundation that will enable continued excellence as the platform scales across the region and beyond.

Commenting on the launch of the platform, Maan Al Awlaqi, Executive Director – Strategy and Transformation at Aldar, said: “The launch of Cloud Living is testament to our commitment to develop new products and solutions that satisfy our customers’ desires. It also meets the needs of Abu Dhabi’s rapidly evolving real estate market and contributes to the rise of the global gig economy which is set to reach $347 billion by the end of 2021.”

“We understand that convenience and flexibility are vital when choosing a home or booking a vacation, and that is exactly what Cloud Living offers. Whether you are a digital nomad who can work from anywhere, a family that is relocating, or a tourist, this platform has been designed to provide flexible stay options without long-term commitments. We look forward to welcoming guests to our most sought-after destinations in Abu Dhabi soon.”

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Aldar and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi on this hugely important initiative for the region,” said Frederik Lerche-Lerchenborg, CEO of Lavanda“As demand for greater flexibility and digital-first customer experiences continues to sweep the industry and shape its future, so does Lavanda’s technology become increasingly critical to the effective management of institutional real estate. We’re very excited to build upon this launch and explore what the future has in store.”

Customers can access the Cloud Living platform through

Purplebricks half-year results to October 2021 confirm huge cash burn     

Last year, 2021, was the most buoyant housing market for decades, with 1.5 million sales compared to the usual 1.2 million. Yet online agent Purplebricks has, in the six months up to October 2021, turned in a dismal set of trading results. 

Given they had the natural advantage of being a virtual agent it really should have been a bumper time. Instead, they have sustained a cash burn in the preceding 12 months of over £27 million. 

Though dressed up in the usual rhetoric for their disgruntled shareholders, saying profits had dropped by £26 million. In reality, looking at the balance sheet, Purplebricks actually made a 397% loss.

That is they had £6.8 million “profit” from trading operations 2021, compared with a £20.2 million loss for the same period of time, and they have burnt cash reserves to £58 million, down from £75 million a year ago.

They’re going to need a big war chest with big liabilities, not least for the potentially multi-million-pound class-action suit. Also, the share price hitting the 20p marker cannot go on. 

I always feel that the balance sheet of Purplebricks is inventive. Showing a gross profit when costs are deducted usually presents a huge figure in the red. They have only had one marginal period when they showed a profit and most of that was through a disposable part of its business. 

Famously, I was quoted in the Daily Telegraph saying that “Countrywide’s failure to embrace the Proptech Revolution will make it a financially wounded dinosaur.”

Similarly, I now feel that Purplebricks failed to scale up and live up to its potential, squandering hundreds of millions of revenue and building what is ultimately a very poor digital copy of a flawed analogue real estate model.

They had the vision, the cash and the opportunity…the C-suite failed to deliver.

Bank of England to raise interest rates to 0.5% today?

If you live long enough you become wiser to the tactics of Chancellors, and how they might play out in real terms. For example, we regularly report on the BoE interest rate, commenting on the Chancellor’s fast and loose housing market plays and the fiscal pummeling that was the SDLT holiday. We’ve also reflected on past Chancellors, like in 1988 when completions actually doubled to two million before a nuclear winter of rising interest rates, negative equity and a stagnant market. 

The Bank of England had kept the base lending rate at 0.1% for a long period, the lowest rate for 300 years, before it raised it to 0.25%. Now, however, there is talk it will rise to 0.5%, with two other rises this side of Christmas.

As reported in The Guardian today: “Britons are braced for the Bank of England to increase interest rates on Thursday as the central bank seeks to tackle price pressures that have pushed annual inflation to a 30-year high of 5.4%.

“Most City economists said the majority of members on the Bank’s rate-setting committee would increase the base rate from 0.25% to 0.5%, with the likelihood that at least two more increases would follow during 2022.

“On the eve of the Bank’s decision, 29 economists from 45 respondents to a survey by Reuters predicted that the monetary policy committee (MPC) would go ahead with a rise, while 16 forecast that rates were likely to remain on hold.”

With inflation going skyward, another big headwind is about to break. Very soon, commercial landlords are likely to be taking back their premises as defaulting businesses can not meet the full costs of staying in the game. 

As things play out, this will likely percolate into a more negative business landscape. Estate agents are already having a hard time. Why? Well, they may list a home today and sell it tomorrow, but there are only a handful of properties trickling onto the market. 

If a sales team sells ten properties a month as there is no stock, in three months an estate agency’s costs to run the operation are not being met.

The inevitable “boom and bust” has been swept under the carpet recently, but for those ex-agent types like myself who have seen the housing market peaks and troughs, interest rates (or the cost of funding a home purchase) are a key factor underpinning any housing market.

With 50% of last year’s buyers being first time buyers (94% having a mortgage), then if your mortgage was based on a 0.1% Bank of England base rate level and it now is based on 0.5% or even 0.75%, that is going to make you think long and hard about jumping into housing in 2022. 

Maybe today there will be no rise in the base rate, but perhaps like Boris, it is not a case of if but when. unfortunately for the housing market, sentiment is all the rage, and if people fall out of love with the idea of moving as costs rise, we may be entering a period much like post-1988.

The Weekly Debrief in partnership with Estate Agent Networking

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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