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Alison Levitt QC releases RICS Independent Review
Alison Levitt QC, the person tasked with conducting an independent review into the RICS scandal, has released a 467-page report.
A post on the Royal Institue of Chartered Surveyors’ website reads: “The report finds that the origins of what went wrong lay in the governance architecture of RICS. A lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the Boards, the senior leadership and the management left cracks within which the Chief Executive and his Chief Operating Officer had become used to operating with little effective scrutiny.
“Although they believed they were acting in the best interests of RICS, they were resistant to being challenged. When non-Executive members of the Management Board insisted that they should have sight of internal audit reports and refused to back down it became a “them or us” situation.
“The report concludes that this was not a cover-up as much as a power struggle. The Executive used the governance structure as a fig leaf for its actions and showed a collective failure of common sense in allowing the situation to escalate unnecessarily. RICS was not well served by its lawyers who should have given objective advice but saw their role as being to protect the Executive.
“Ms Levitt entirely exonerates the four non-Executives dismissed from the Board and says they would have failed RICS if they had backed down.”
Will Coadjute become the national grid for real estate?
For the last three years, Coadjute has quietly been gathering momentum. As part of its strategy, the blockchain-driven solution has been integrating with leading real estate CRMs. Think Reapit and Dezrez, stalwarts of the agency verticals.
It has just announced that it now integrating with Rex, Agent Hub, Veco and Power Bespoke software providers, as it increases its digital reach.
Steve Dawkins, CRO at Coadjute, explains that it intends to knit together all the moving parts of real estate with Coadjute as a facilitator, connecting CRM platforms to other parties in the property market.
Dawkins said: “Coadjute delivers real efficiencies to busy estate agents who have better things to do…there is greater transparency, a reduced risk of fraud and an accelerated process with significantly less admin. Conveyancers will be able to protect sensitive client data by Coadjute’s encrypted network.”
I was amazed the other day to see a senior in the legal sector opine that in 20 years, blockchain will be the keystone technology, facilitating everything from smart contracts to a huge portion of legal processes. The legal professional even mentioned the millions of disputes that Amazon was concluding using AI rather than having storerooms of physical files.
We at Proptech-PR and Proptech-X have been following John Reynolds, Dan Salmons and Steve Dawkins and the Coadjute team since their start-up. With the present hiatus, where the pandemic has allowed a breathing space and a point of reflection on how real estate is done, it might just be that Coadjute is very much in the right place at the right time.
It is fascinating to see how this will play out. Do you think blockchain will be the de facto operating system of global real estate?
Boris backs building 300,000 new homes
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come out in support of Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, confirming that the target of 300,000 new build properties a year across all housing verticals will be achieved.
However, the stark reality is that the materials required to fulfil just the usual 178,000 new homes are now in short supply.
Stuart Law, CEO of Assetz Capital, said in Development Finance Today: “Difficulties accessing raw materials, labour shortages, increased transportation costs and the realities of post-Brexit trade have resulted in the perfect storm for the construction industry…
“With private housebuilders starting to feel the strain more recently, these issues must not be ignored given the potential knock-on effects a significant decrease in housing construction would have on the wider market.
“With expectations that house price growth will pick up pace again over the remainder of the year and well into 2022, shortages in new housing stock will only serve to inflate prices further – possibly outstripping the record levels seen this spring which would be very disappointing for many first-time buyers and those looking to upsize in the near future.”
Supply chains for raw materials around the world have been decimated by the pandemic. Natural disasters, such as the fires in Northern America, have also caused a shortage of softwood. The delivery times for basic materials have slowed the pace on both domestic and commercial buildings.
And it is not only HGV drivers that are in short supply, skills shortages in the trades that new home builders rely on are now once again scarce, leading to wage inflation just like we’re seeing with the aforementioned HGV drivers.
For all their proselytising, Johnson and Jenrick’s lofty ambition to deliver 300,000 new builds is certain to come back down to earth with a resounding thud.
Aylesbury Property Centre by Haart to open by month-end
Nowadays, it appears as though there are more types of estate agency models than ever before. Gone are the days where there were two models of being an agent.
Model one was a huge corporate behemoth like Countrywide. Model two was the independent agent, hyper localised with a local team.
Now we have online agents with no premises and no perimeter, like Purplebricks and Strike, or franchise-type agents, some with offices and others without, like Keller Williams or eXp.
In Aylesbury, about an hour north of London, we will soon be seeing SpicerHaart’s newest incarnation of the estate agency; the Aylesbury Property Centre by Haart. This model sees employed agents based at home who utilise a localised Property Centre.
This new idea dreamed up by the SpicerHaart team during the lockdown hopes that as many as 250 new agents will jump on board across the UK in similar hubs.
Sure, new initiatives are great, but the increasingly tech-savvy public is ‘doing’ property themselves, so what will the final version of the modern agency look like by the end of the decade?
Will we see artificial intelligence and machine learning-led agencies, or a network of Property Centres full of humans tapping away at keyboards?
Let Alliance strides further into the digital age
Andy Halstead, CEO of Let Alliance, has just unveiled yet another offering where the digital transformation of manual processes are automated and the validation of who you are dealing with and their actual financial status is now transparent as a result of open banking.
It has been reported that the new Vision+ portal will still have a sprinkle of ‘human’ in it, but it will make all of those repetitive procedures and tasks move forward at pace.
It is increasingly the case that the lettings vertical seems to be moving forward by leaps and bounds while the residential agency seems slow to adopt.
Yes, residential agents love their CRMs, but there is so much more digital kit out there that could eliminate those tedious, repetitive processes, day after day.
It is time to get off that hamster wheel and let SaaS do all of that.
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.