PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: PRS | Net-Zero | Facemasks | CRETI

A roundup of the week’s top property and proptech news featured on Proptech-X, in association with Estate Agent Networking.
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What PRS preparations are needed to achieve net-zero by 2050?

Recently, a webinar led by Kate Gregory, the London representative of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), brought industry experts together to discuss the challenges and benefits of the PRS. On the panel were Gavin Dick (NRLA), Jonathan Werran (Localis), and Timothy Douglas (Propertymark).

The illuminating webinar brought forth a host of statistics from a report issued by Localis, to further add to the worry over achieving net-zero by 2050. For example, the session revealed that while 90% of homes in England use fossil fuels, we’re currently achieving just shy of 10% of net-zero targets.

Whatever way you slice it, or in the case of the government, spin it, at this rate achieving net-zero by 2050 is set to be an uphill battle.

The role landlords play in achieving the target was also tabled at the session. An alarming statistic was brought forth to show the desperate need for support from local authorities and the higher ups; two-thirds of housing stock is expected to get an EPC rating of D or lower. The government expects this to be band C by 2025.

In a blog post summarising the webinar, Propertymark stated: “UK Government’s failure to factor in huge regional variations in property prices when incentivising homeowners and landlords to retrofit their properties to meet national net-zero targets could risk seeing a reduction in the quality and availability of housing stock.”

So, is it realistic to expect landlords to rise to this challenge and do their bit in the quest for net-zero? Should funding be put in place to support the drive?

21.3 million UK properties need sustainable retrofits

PRESS RELEASE: Proptech investment platform houzen has highlighted the scale of the work required to reduce carbon emissions from residential properties in the UK. Known for its innovative use of property data, the company has put the issue of sustainable retrofits under the microscope. Its algorithms have revealed that some 21.3 million UK properties will need some kind of sustainable retrofit in order to make a positive impact on the planet.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Having analysed the COP26 pledges in detail, it’s frightening to see how many long-term promises have been included. These effectively kick commitments to the curb until it is too late – they are false promises that will result in countless lives being lost and livelihoods destroyed. It’s the action we take in the next few years that will be key to curbing global warming. Aiming to change by 2050 or later is not good enough.”

Eashita Saxena, Sustainability Analyst, houzen

According to the houzen team, both individual homeowners and the housing industry as a whole can begin making changes immediately. Cities are currently responsible for 71-76% of energy related CO2 emissions, with the construction and operation of buildings, along with the manufacture of the materials required to build them, playing a major role in this. 

The solution to the construction sector’s problem emissions is not complex, but it will take time, money and effort. There’s a need for extensive collaboration across the supply chain in order to promote sustainable practices and reduce embodied emissions.

Modern methods of construction have a clear role to play here. Low-carbon solutions and circular solutions are already available. But they need to be implemented at scale. And, of course, who should foot the bill for this is under intense debate.

Some companies are committing their own funds – French multinational Saint-Gobain is a leading example of this – but there is still a major need for government support with the cost of implementing more sustainable practices. Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, acknowledges that cost is an issue, stating that “We have many of the technologies needed to tackle the problem but they need to be improved,” and that technologies that can help reduce emissions need to “come down in cost, they need to increase in convenience, they need to be applicable right across the globe and we need to scale them.”

There’s an educational element at play too. The Construction Leadership Council, for example, has joined forces with ITN Productions Industry News to deliver a ‘Building a Greener Britain’ programme aimed at delivering a zero-carbon built environment. The programme explores the cutting-edge construction methods that focus on sustainability.

At present, the building materials and construction sector accounts for an estimated 40% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This is why the sector is so key to efforts to reduce the rate of global warming, in addition to what individual homeowners are able to achieve in the buildings that already exist.

“What’s worrying is that even if the construction sector and global governments pour money into this right now – significantly more than they are at present – we’re still facing a rise of up to 2.7°C by the end of this century. Governments’ current policies simply aren’t enough. We need radical change to the way we build and operate our homes and other buildings, not more pledges and targets that won’t be hit.”

Eashita Saxena, Sustainability Analyst, houzen

Facemasks now required in Agency offices

Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, says the COVID-19 temporary and precautionary measures announced by the Prime Minister are a stark reminder to the sector and the public that the pandemic is ongoing, and it is essential that everyone continues to carry out their business within a COVID-secure manner to reduce the spread of the new variant.

“From today, face coverings are now required to be worn in all shops and on public transport following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK. In the guidance issued by the Cabinet Office, the list of ‘shops’ is quite extensive and includes Estate and Lettings Agents, as well as Auction Houses.

“There is no clear guidance with regard to whether agents would need to wear a mask at all times or just when a member of the public is in the office, however, it would appear that it would be at all times unless the agent has screens up or has a locked door policy. Previous guidance states ‘it is recommended face coverings are worn when in an indoor setting with people you are not usually with’,” says Offley.

He adds that the COVID-secure policies within the property sector have been what has kept the sector and people moving over the past 18 months.

“With the new variant and the rate of infections increasing, it is vital that agents continue to act within a safe manner to ensure that they are protecting the public and doing what they can to minimise the spread of the virus,” he says.

“With some potentially challenging months ahead, agents should look to review their COVID-19 operating plan and continue to review working practices to take all reasonable steps to help restrict the spread of the virus,” adds Offley.

£5000 boost for homeowners who install electric chargers

PRESS RELEASE via National Association of Property Buyers: Homeowners who install a charging point for electric vehicles could see the value of their property soar by as much as £5,000. 

Boris Johnson announced on Monday that all new homes will have to include a charging point in the future.

Now a leading property buyers’ group says there is already evidence that those installing them now are massively benefiting.

Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB), said: “The average charge point costs around £800 and we are already recording cases where homeowners are seeing a quick return on their investment.

“The convenience of a ready-made charging point is proving popular with buyers who own an EV or intend to buy one in the near future. Currently we estimate it could add at least £3000 to £5000 to the value of a property and this trend will carry on.”

Mr Rolande said the number of properties being listed for sale which included a charging point is now five times higher than a year ago.

And he said although the NAPB “broadly welcomed” the Prime Minister’s announcements he said the Government “could and should” go further in this area. 

He added: “At present over 40% of homes don’t have off road parking so we need to be thinking how property owners or those in rental accommodation will charge their vehicles. Street lighting could be used or developers could simply add numerous charging points in the street on a pay as you go basis. The Government could and should go further.”

Under new laws to be announced by Boris Johnson today (MON) supermarkets, workplaces and new housing developments were told they must have electric vehicle charge points from next year.

The aim is to create 145,000 charging points in the run-up to 2030, when sales of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK will end. The Prime Minister is expected to tell the Confederation of British Industry’s three-day online conference: “This is a pivotal moment – we cannot go on as we are. We have to adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution.

“We have to use our massive investment in science and technology and we have to raise our productivity and then we have to get out of your way.

“We must regulate less or better and take advantage of new freedoms.”

CRETI: $768 million invested in multifamily proptech this year

In the latest edition of This Week in Proptech, a US-centric weekly investment briefing issued by CRETI, the focus was on real estate technology companies building out solutions for the multifamily sector.

In partnership with the National Multifamily Housing Council, an association for leaders in the apartment industry, CRETI analysed VC investments in private companies working in the multifamily space.

The briefing states: “Since 2017, $3.04 billion has been invested in multifamily real estate technology across 193 companies at a median funding amount of $5.9 million. 

“Year-over-year, the compounded rate of growth, by dollar volume, has increased by 15% with $768 million invested in multifamily real estate tech companies year to date.

The increased flow of capital has also been met with an increased flow of new companies. Since 2017, an average of 29 companies per year have raised capital at an average growth rate of 2% per year.”

After a sluggish 2020, the multi-family market looks strong, with investment in 2021, to date, within touching distance of the previous year.

In July of this year, occupancy rates rose to 96.9%, surpassing the previous record of 96.5% in 2000. With the lifting of many restrictions that impacted renters during the pandemic, and US unemployment down, more people are looking to rent a multifamily space. 

2022 appears promising for multifamily proptechs looking to address current trends, not least the growth of remote work, the increase in younger people renting, and lower vacancy rates across the US.

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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