Jamie Cooke and Ben Ridgway.
Jane Imrie

Bdaily Tech Week 2021: the North East proptech taking the region’s housing market by storm

Whilst many other sectors have been on a journey of digital transformation for some time, including the revolution of retail with online shopping, fintech for digital banking, investment, and wealth management, all have had a long relationship with digital transformation.

Within the realm of other sectors that impact our lives on a daily basis, the property sector has seemingly lagged behind.

Data from Zoopla has shown that the average Briton only moves home once every 23.5 years. Considering the average mover may not have moved before, or maybe took the plunge over 20 years ago, is it any wonder that the proptech revolution is only just starting to catch up?

iamproperty, a North East based proptech pioneer, has built its business around change and innovation.

Co-founded by Ben Ridgway and Jamie Cooke, iamsold, part of the iamproperty Group began by pioneering the Modern Method of Auction (MMoA), which continues to go from strength to strength and has fully cemented its position as the UK’s leading online residential property auctioneer.

The 56-day fixed timescales offered by MMoA as well as the popular online format has transformed the sector with a transparent eBay-style bidding process and opened up the auction market to mortgage buyers rather than being reserved for cash buyers or investors.

This has brought much needed speed and security to the property market for buyers and sellers looking for more than the status quo offers.

The passion of the founders and the now 250-strong team at iamproperty has always been to drive positive change in the property industry, using modern methods to speed up the process, build trust and transparency for agents and consumers alike.

During the pandemic iamproperty launched movebutler, a platform designed to improve the home buying and selling process for everyone involved. Created with consumers at the heart and an aim to speed up the moving process by up to 4 weeks.

A recent Hyperoptic survey of 2,000 UK adults on ‘the most annoying things about moving house’ has shown that 60 per cent of people find the moving process stressful.

For the vast majority of readers who’ve been through the process themselves, you’re likely sporting a knowing grimace when thinking of your own most recent move. Rather than an exciting new chapter, the process can be unclear, confusing, and slow.

Ben Ridgway said: “When we were looking to modernise the Private Treaty process, we knew from our long history of working with agents and conveyancers that the administrative burden was out of control and was a key pinch point.

“Our data showed agents are spending an average of 24-hours per month catching up on admin outside of office hours 1 and the

“Home Buying and Selling Group (HSBG) has revealed that the conveyancing process is taking upward of 20 weeks. What this translates to in real terms is a sluggish process, unhappy clients, and a greater risk of fall-through.

“Our survey of homeowners found that 69 per cent thought the process for buying and selling a home in the UK needed to change 2 . We knew that there had to be a better way.”

iamproperty movebutler is an end-to-end onboarding and sales progression platform, which was designed with multiple stakeholders within the moving process in mind.

Ben continued: “Why is it we can order and track a pizza to our door, but clients are unable to have foresight of one of the biggest purchases of their lives?

“It doesn’t promote good relationships and that’s not through lack of trying on the part of the agent or conveyancer, both are under huge strain due to archaic processes that don’t lend themselves to efficiency.

“One of the biggest frustrations for clients is communication and 98 per cent of homeowners agreed they’d like access to a system to track progress throughout the process themselves.

“We’ve set out to bring all the constituent parts of the moving process together within one accessible system, that’s user-friendly, compliant and gets people moving faster.”

iamproperty’s approach to modernising the moving process, whether through online auction or the movebutler platform, has seen the business grow from two university friends setting up an office in Jamie’s then-girlfriend, now-wife’s living room, to UK wide PropTech leader.

With headquarters and roots in Gosforth, Newcastle, now a team of 250, and growing by the week, the last two years have been iamproperty’s most successful for growth.

Against the backdrop of a pandemic and nationwide lockdown, it’s a hugely impressive achievement and a sign that the industry needs innovation now more than ever.

Ben said: “We’ve been in a position that we’ve been something of a digital disruptor in the sector for some time.

“The lockdown served to highlight some of the outdated ways in which the sector worked which makes agents’ and clients’ lives more difficult. As a result, we’ve seen a huge shift in how receptive the market and consumers are to new solutions and technology. We don’t see this as a fleeting trend, we see this as the future for property.”

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