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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’ Weekly Roundup: ViewRabbit | RICS | Purplebricks

Former Savills estate agent launches new platform ViewRabbit

ViewRabbit, a new property viewings platform, has found a different way of approaching viewings, offering buyers the chance to secure early access with Priority View, a paid-for service.

When properties are first put on the market, the most “credible and committed movers” can jump the queue through pay-to-view slots allocated by agents. The platform, launched by an ex-Savills estate agent, effectively lets agents monetise viewings by selling £30 slots for high-demand properties.

The company website states: “It’s so frustrating to miss out on a property because it was snapped up before you had a chance to see it. Especially if some of the people who did view were not as serious as you.”

RICS investigation: the mystery deepens again

Now onto its second QC looking into allegations made by four NEDs, who were then shown the door by RICS, we learn that for a second time there will be delays in presenting the outcome of the investigation. 

It is still unclear why the first QC stood down whilst the original investigation was in mid-flow, and there does seem to be an opaqueness now surrounding proceedings.

Given that RICS is a listed company with a professional membership base, I am sure both The City and all the other stakeholders will be glad when the truth of the situation comes out.

Property News: Boris Johnson's Oxfordshire cottage
PM Boris Johnson’s £4,250 per month Oxfordshire Cottage | Credit: Strutt & Parker

A quarter of Conservative MPs are private landlords

It was reported in April that PM Boris Johnson rents out his Grade II-listed cottage in Oxfordshire (for £4,250 per month) while he is in residence at Number 11. Along with this, he also rents his part-owned houses in London and Somerset.

However, there is often a veil of secrecy surrounding some of the lesser-known Members of Parliament.

It has now been revealed that 90 currently serving Conservative party MPs are private landlords. There are an additional 25 MPs from other political parties in the House who are landlords, amounting to 18% of MPs across all parties who have declared that they are earning money from rent.

Seeing as MPs are around six times more likely to be landlords according to this data, Parliament is undoubtedly skewed towards the possible interests of landlords. 

18% of serving MPs have revealed that they are earning money from private rentals

SRA is investigating over 130 allegations of sexual misconduct

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is the defacto internal police force that investigates its own membership, has just revealed that over 130 sexual misconduct investigations are taking place.

The investigations are looking at matters relating to members who may or may not be guilty of sexual misconduct.

This comes off the back of the revelation that forty law firms paid over £10 million in compensation in 2020 due to the misconduct of certain parties within the legal profession. 

Starling Bank buys Fleet Mortgages for £50 million

Starling Bank has taken its first foray into the mortgage nexus, acquiring specialist lender Fleet Mortgages. The business, which provides mortgages to landlords via intermediaries, has turned over more than £2 billion.

The significance of the deal is that Fleet Mortgages will now have access to the huge capital in Starling to improve its offering. Starling benefits too. Through their new acquisition, they’ll be able to access the mortgage market.

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling, said: “The acquisition of Fleet Mortgages is the start of our move into mortgages as an asset class and builds on a number of forward-flow arrangements that we’re doing with leading non-bank lenders.

“Fleet’s existing management team will remain in place and Fleet will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, keeping the original name and brand. We’re buying Fleet because it is very good at what it does, not because we want to change it.”

Starling is a challenger bank in the sense it is a digital bank of only seven years old. Its core business to date has been current accounts and business accounts.

Purplebricks CEO & CFO to receive one million shares

The Purplebricks annual report recently revealed a bonus scheme for executives if they meet certain objectives.

Although CEO Vic Darvey and CFO Andy Botha had to take a 20% salary snip for three months due to the pandemic, they have both landed an eye-watering allotment of shares.

Darvey and Botha have scooped 735,437 and 307,500 Purplebricks shares, respectively. The shares can be cashed after three years, subject to performance.

Purplebricks news the annual account revealed CEO and CFO in line for huge shares payout.
Encouraging numbers for Purplebricks | Credit: Purplebricks

Agents: Working from home has changed how we value property

There has been much press about working from home and the joys and tribulations that it brings, with an equal distribution of positive and negative coverage.

But now estate agents are having to factor in elements such as wifi connectivity, garden size, etc., as they become hypercritical of the saleability of properties that fulfil certain priorities. 

Some agents have said that £10,000 can be added to a property if it will allow its new owner to tap away at their keyboard or be on video conferencing calls without interruption.

Also, as many people are not commuting and are not utilising two cars, parking is, for some buyers, not such a deal-breaker anymore when contemplating properties with limited parking options. This means that these properties are achieving premium prices. 

Though this changing notion of what exactly adds value to property has not filtered down to new builds. For example, few new homes are being built with two receptions and two studies to facilitate two adults working from home.

But, as one agent said today: “Though property is in short supply and it is very much hand to mouth, flats are a different thing. The lockdown has, for many, re-enforced the need for outside space and bigger rooms, and we are seeing quite a resistance to buyers enquiring about them. In a normal market there would be a brisk trade, especially to first time buyers.”

Weekly proptech news in partnership with Estate Agent Networking

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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.'