The UK’s most innovative property boss has challenged a new generation of online property companies to prove how ground-breaking they really are – fearing that “the next UK housing bubble could very literally be a new dotcom one”.
Ajay Jagota of South Shields-based sales and lettings business KIS last week raised concerns that a new property valuation app by Rightmove could give too much power to the property website – while mis-valuing North East properties by £25,000
Some critics accused Jagota of a “fear of the future”, but the former letting agent of the year today hit back at “play-actors and poseurs selling fake progress like snake oil”.
Recent weeks have seen a spate of high profile investments in online-only property firms, with eMoov securing £1.5m of venture capital and easyProperty – the latest company from the founders of easyJet – said to have raised £9.75m through crowd-funding and private investment.
The UK’s biggest high street property chain Countywide also this week announced it had significantly invested in a so-called “proptech” venture.
Ajay Jagota is founder and Chief Executive Officer of the UK’s most innovative sales and lettings business, KIS.
The firm is famous for being the first letting agent in the country to abolish deposits, replacing them with a one-of-a-kind landlord insurance policy offering guaranteed rent, deposit replacement, legal assistance and round the clock third party emergency home repairs.
He said: “Let me make this clear, the property industry has nothing to fear from innovation. The point some people missed last week was that we should be very wary of giving too much power to one of two major corporations.
“Great minds don’t think alike. They think differently. That’s why with my business I’ve tried to challenge every preconception in property, whether that’s by abolishing deposits or through our online property management dashboard which gives landlords 24-7 control over their accounts.
“But a lot of what passes for innovation in our industry is nothing of the kind, and we’re seeing millions and millions of pounds of private investment and crowd-funding being poured into it.
“I really hope that money isn’t ending up in the pockets of play-actors and poseurs selling fake progress like snake oil. If it is, the next UK housing bubble could very literally be a new dotcom one.
“The start-up graveyard is already full of companies who were going to change property forever, using clichéd buzzwords like ‘disruptive’ and ‘agile’ but not actually doing anything creative or inventive at all apart from being on the internet, which hasn’t been especially inventive for some time. Talk about the emperor’s new clothes!
“If you look at truly disruptive technology, look at something like the taxi-app Uber. You’ve got traditional firms out on strike and campaigning for the law to be changed to stop them. That’s disruption! We don’t have anything of the kind in the so called ‘proptech’ field.
“Technology will and must evolve to meet our customers’ expectations and needs, and anyone who actually has something truly new to offer me is more than welcome to get in touch – I’m in favour of anything which lowers my costs as a businessman!
“The problem isn’t investing in new ideas, the problem is putting all your eggs in what seems to be a very flimsy basket”.
KIS manage properties for landlords in every corner of the North East from branches across Tyne and Wear. They were named Letting Agent of the Year in the 2013 Landlord and Letting Awards and were a runner-up at the 2014 awards.
The firm expanded into residential sales in 2014.