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Estate agents are getting ‘proptech fatigue’ claims NAEA

Comments made to a national newspaper yesterday by the NAEA's Chief Executive suggest the industry faces too many tech companies trying to sell them solutions to problems that don't exist.

Nigel Lewis

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has claimed over the weekend that the industry is getting ‘proptech fatigue’ as an ever increasing number of start-ups pitch their wares via phone and email.

Its Chief Executive Mark Hayward made the comments during an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.

“There are so many products being punted at them on a daily basis to solve problems that they didn’t actually know they had,” he says.

The tenor of Hayward’s comments set the NAEA substantially at odds with government policy.

Just before parliament shut up shop prior to the General Election and government departments went into ‘election purdah’, housing minister Esther McVey announced a tech initiative in partnership with venture capital fund PiLabs to “bring about a digital revolution in the property sector”.

700 firms

But her announcement also highlighted the huge number of proptech firms faced by agents; McVey wants to convene the 700 firms that claim to operate within the residential and commercial property industry sectors for round-table discussions to get her data initiative off the ground.

The article also reveals research from venture capital data firm Pitchbook which indicates investment in start-up proptech is cooling.

It claims that UK-backed proptech start-ups received £321 million in funding during 2018 but, as the end of 2019 approaches, the sector has only received £131 million so far this year.

Mark HaywardBut despite the NAEA’s clear scepticism about proptech, it supports several tech suppliers including OneDome and, Hayward (pictured, left) tells The Sunday Telegraph: “The house buying process needs something because the process just takes so long and there’s no certainty while it’s going on.”

Read more about ‘proptech fatigue‘.

December 2, 2019

3 comments

  1. I’ve run background numbers on this using our platform data. We have UK based PropTech at a funding level of £458m for 2018 and we expect 2019 to be around £342m with number of funding events dropping from 137 to 104. While this may look like a drastic drop and “fatigue”, it is more a case of a maturing market. 2018 and 2019 had almost identical average investment amount of £3.34m and £3.30m respectively. The key takeaway is in the median funding amounts, we have 2018 at £0.68m, but 2019 is £1.28m which indicates a fast maturing industry.

    All of this data is available on our platform: https://www.unissu.com

  2. I think that if Mark’s position is contrary to the flow of the industry, and I am aware that interviews can be edited in a certain way, then given his position it might be prudent to look at the ways in which Proptech is helping rather than hindering things.

    Though it may be baffling to have a constant stream of new products, and it might be easier to keep to the status quo and like an emu keep one’s head buried in the sand, take it from me – without Proptech and the solutions they are providing, major segments of the property industry will if they standstill become casualties not unlike Mothercare or Thomas Cook, when it is realised too late that the customer wants to do business in a different way.

    I am not sure if Mark was in the audience at the annual Negotiator’s conference at the Grosvenor on Friday, but, if he had the talk by James Dearsley, would have made him realise that ‘tech’ for agents is not a fad, it is a full steam locomotive, and the real problem is the ‘inertia’ of the UK property industry as a whole.

    The analogy that James gave, was that Proptech is like sex between teenagers, everyone is talking about it, everyone is saying that they are doing it, but in fact very little is going on. And that is the point, the opportunity to grasp and utilise this resource to make businesses more streamlined, more relevant and more profitable is here, and if the people at the top of the industry do not endorse Proptech, that helps no-one.

    On the back of my business card it says ‘Advising & connecting Property and Proptech companies to maximise profits’ – this is not a plug, it is the future, because as James Dearsley states, the mature model of business is the ‘marriage’ of the property industry and the tech, we are not there yet, but education, enlightenment and engagement will get us there.

    And in answer to the fact that maybe Mark Hayward is having ideas and products pitched to him that are of limited value, as James said also, failure is also the road to discovery, in a new sector experimentation will lead to a better syntheses.

    I write all of this after being a ‘traditional estate agent for 30 years, so I have a pretty good grip on the functionality (or otherwise) of the sector, and I have also ‘invested’ in the past 3-years a fair amount of time researching the Proptech space. Take it from me – clients want an omni-channel, seamless experience, with a key service element, and if you think that a ‘business as usual’ approach will satisfy that Millennial or Gen-Z need, a tenner says you are sadly mistaken, any takers?

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