PropTech Roundup – September 2020

As the Government announce there’ll be no autumn budget this year, and the Covid crisis looks to worsen, here’s what’s been happening in the UK PropTech world during September:

Lettings sector supplier acquires half-share in new platform Pink Chilli

Blinc UK, one of the lettings sector’s pre-eminent suppliers of tenant referencing, has joined forces with Pink Chilli Software to launch new state-of-the-art pre-tenancy software, which will enable agents to complete the moving-in process from start to finish, anywhere and at any time. 

Pink Chilli does not use a one-size-fits-all system that users have to adapt to. Instead, it lets agencies streamline all their tenancies from the holding deposit stage to moving-in however they wish and is highly suitable for both large teams and individuals. 

The software offers the ideal solution for letting agents responding to the more remote and flexible working patterns resulting from Covid-19.

Flat-sharing platform pounces on rival

UK-based flat-sharing platform SpareRoom has bought one of its rivals Roomgo, previously known as Easyroommate.

Creating what the company describes as ‘the world’s largest room-mate finding service’, the sale expands SpareRoom’s share of the UK and US market and adds 18 new territories. The new service will operate in 20 countries, be listed in 5 languages and have around 40m registered global users.

According to founder Rupert Hunt, SpareRoom has been the unrivalled market leader in the UK since its inception. 

The acquisition enables the platform to achieve the same position in the US and further afield and offer flatmates across the globe the safe, straightforward and effective service the company is famous for. 

Hunt established SpareRoom in the UK in 2004 and launched in the US in 2011. The company remains privately owned with no external funders or shareholders, unusually for a high-traffic tech business.

Fresh Property Group moves operations to Yardi

Leading residential for rent company Fresh Property Group has adopted cloud-based technology by Yardi to benefit residents’ experience and returns across the UK and Ireland.

Managing a 20,000+ unit student, build to rent and co-living portfolio, the company will be able to monitor portfolio performance across its properties, using Yardi Voyager for property management and accounting, as well as ancillary products to optimise the residential lifecycle and maximise returns. 

Fresh, with £1.6bn assets under management, will dispense with several mismatched systems by implementing Yardi’s single connected platform.  

The company will be able to automate marketing with Yari’s RENTCafe Suite, which includes RENTCafe for property marketing, website optimisation, online leasing and resident services. RENTCafe CRM Flex will be used for project management and the flexibility to manage workflows for different lease types, while MyCafe by RENTCafe, a white label app, will provide a full range of residential services and ways to promote community engagement. 

ING to roll out PRODA proptech software across its real estate teams

London-based start-up Proda, having successfully completed a proof of concept with property financier ING, one of the largest real estate lenders in Europe with a powerful global footprint, has now entered the procurement phase.

Proda’s software solution, powered by machine-learning technology, automatically captures, standardises and analyses rent roll data to overcome core data issues in the institutional real estate market.

The proofing stage included the piloting by ING of Proda’s software solution for one month across the Netherlands, France and the UK. Following completion of the procurement phase, the successful trial means that Proda will now be rolled out across the wider ING organisation.

ING, as leaders in innovation in the real estate industry, plan to implement Proda across its real estate finance teams to automate and standardise rent roll data management and analysis. The deployment should result in more accurate and faster data-led decisions on future deals across the whole organisation and simultaneously achieve increased efficiency in processing time.

Proplend smashes £100m lending milestone amid surge in borrowing

P2P lending platform Proplend announced recently that it had surpassed the £100m lending milestone across the platform, returned more than £47m of capital and paid £10m of interest to its lender base.

Proplend Limited, a fully FCA authorised peer to peer lending platform, specialises in secured commercial property loans below £5m and brings together cash-rich, income-poor investors (lenders) with creditworthy commercial property investors (borrowers). 

The process enables investors to earn lucrative asset-backed income and gain access to commercial mortgage and bridging loans.

Brian Bartaby, Proplend’s founder and CEO, commented that the company has seen a rising level of loan enquiries from borrowers over the past few months as fewer banks lend to this sector. The interest is matched by a demand for income from investors concerned about unpredictability in the stock market, dividends being suspended or cancelled altogether and the long-term low interest rate environment.

Proplend’s fixed income product, he added, makes an attractive addition to an investment portfolio, with some investors protecting their returns from income tax by investing into their ISA.

New start-up uses GC Angels funding to deliver bookings five times faster

Housemates, a new Manchester-based tech start-up, is set to cause a stir in the UK and international student accommodation sector with the launch of its novel online student property platform.

The launch is the result of the business securing £100,000 of pre-seed funding from GC Angels to enlarge its platform across the UK and internationally.

Founded by tech businesswoman Lydia Jones and backed by a knowledgeable team from DEPT, Spareroom and Starling Bank, the staff behind assert that the student accommodation marketplace will offer bookings five times faster than their rivals. 

Housemates is an end-to-end platform for students, landlords and providers of student property which states it will bring badly-needed openness, efficiency and support to the sector.

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