One of the country’s leading property-technology experts says the way in which the Agents’ Mutual stock market flotation proposal has been handled has not helped build the reputation of trust required to make PropTech work.
Eddie Holmes, who early this year became chair of the UK PropTech Association - and who with James Dearsley forms the PropTechConsult consultancy - says in a podcast that it now appears Agents’ Mutual was set up with a structure anticipating an eventual demutualisation, complete with a reported £20m windfall for the chief executive in certain circumstances.
“Why would you need that?” asks Holmes in the podcast, which was recorded before the AM members’ Yes vote in favour of the vote was announced yesterday.
“I’m not going to say that’s dishonest but I don’t think it’s as transparent as it could have been” Holmes adds.
He says it’s critical for technology businesses to build trust and build bridges with property companies and the approach taken by Agents’ Mutual “is not going to help that.”
He says the company’s portal, OnTheMarket, has failed in its bid to disrupt the portal landscape in the UK. Since its launch, he says, Rightmove has continued to increase fees to agents without apparently being restrained by the increased competition, while Zoopla has expanded its range of services and so effectively tying in some estate agent members not only to portal listings but to other activities as well.
“The [float proposal] looks like a Hail Mary pass to try to salvage something from a product that hasn’t worked” he says.
You can hear his podcast in full here.