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Guest blog: ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking about Propertymark?’

Industry and proptech consultant Andrew Stanton passes a critical eye over the trade association as it reels from the departure of its CEO.

Nigel Lewis

andrew stanton proptech

A recent poll of agents found that a third of them think Propertymark is so irreparably damaged as a brand that it should be dissolved, and a new entity formed.

It is clear that the arrival (and then swift departure) of CEO Tim Balcon has intensified this sentiment among agents.

But let’s remember he was a man whose experience was in growing memberships and selling training programmes and who had been hired by Propertymark as RoPA whips up agents into a compliance frenzy.

This old boys’ club needs to go. Jeremy Leaf is wrong when he endorses Mark Hayward’s decision to stay and help ‘steady the boat and find a successor’.

I think they all need to exit the ship now and allow a grass roots approach to reign once more.

Though never a member, but an agent for 32 years, I did on two occasions back in the 1980s attend meetings of the then NAEA.

At that time, the members were the organisation, and the organisation was the members. Now it has become too secretive, with recent elections being carried out without recourse to the membership.

This organisation needs to be brought to account and, for example, a big searchlight shone on why at one point it failed to pay its VAT properly.

All this has been swept under the carpet, yet it is all documented in the Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 2019 for all to see.

Why was no-one punished for these mistakes and no apology made to the members? How can an organisation that can’t organise its own finances properly claim to be able to lead agents through the new RoPA regulatory changes?

Time for transparency

Time for what I think are double standards to end, time for transparency and maybe time for Propertymark to stop thumping the ‘RoPA is coming drum’ that drives tens of thousands into the coffers of Propertymark on training courses, for legislation that is years away and may never happen.

The RoPA proposals are spearheaded by individuals in their mid-70s and early 80s and although – for sure – wisdom often comes from the older generation, does the UK property industry not deserve the voice and eyes and ears of younger people, preferably who have a deeper understanding of the fourth industrial revolution?

For example – the role of technology, changes to e-commerce and the new ways business will look when 5G and other technologies dice and splice the economies of the world.

The big questions now revolve around data, and how the consumer wants to do business in every marketplace and industry.

Maybe Propertymark too might now get a leader whose mind can straddle all things.

A mind that listens and embraces the grass roots, sees that estate agency like all industries is buckling under the pressures of the emergent technologies that are sweeping into all sectors, and who is man or woman enough to hold up their hand when things go wrong and apologise – rather than shuffling off gagged and bound.

Pic credit: Chris Watkins.

February 19, 2021

One comment

  1. As a member of Propertymark I whole heartily disagree, but maybe a lot of members don’t use any of the benefits they are paying for like the legal helpline and the AST tenancy which has saved me a lot of time and cost as a medium sized independent letting agent. Also they are constantly keeping me up to date with legislation with fact sheets all for a reasonable yearly subscription fee. Ok so there has been change at the top, it happens in business all of the time and no one blinks an eye. I truly believe that Propertymark will go from strength to strength even if there are a few bumps in the road to get there. I am proud to be a member and so are my Landlords and I don’t see any of this as irreparable, just one of those things that happens and they will keep calm and carry on doing what they are brilliant at, and this is serving their members with what is a very valuable service to the industry Professionalism, training, qualifications and assisting their Letting and Estate Agent members like me.

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