This time we’re chatting to Mick Silver, the founder and CEO of property app Moovshack.
Q1: The Government has recently announced a short extension to the Stamp Duty Holiday, do you think that was the correct decision?
Absolutely. I think the Coronavirus has caused enough disruption to the property market to last us all a lifetime. By extending the stamp duty holiday, it gives more buyers a chance to avoid missing out on saving thousands of pounds on their new property.
It also helps Agents prepare for the inevitable post-stamp duty holiday slow down as the market levels out.
Q2: It feels like 2021 is going to be a strange year but a significant improvement on 2020, how do you think house prices and moving trends are going to be affected this year?
I don’t believe that house prices will see significant change in 2021 and, as demand will drop when stamp duty kicks back in, any short-term price increases will level out. The economy hasn’t yet recovered from the last 12 months and I don’t imagine it will change this year.
However, if lockdown restrictions continue to ease throughout the UK, I suspect the buyer market will become active once again leading us into a healthy 2022 where house prices will likely start to increase again.
Q3: Many people seem to feel the current system in England & Wales for buying and selling property is broken, what do you think needs to change (if anything!)?
I don’t feel the system is broken but there are certainly areas that could be significantly improved upon.
The biggest issue in the process today is the time it takes to move from ‘Offer accepted’ to a completed transaction – and that is not solely the responsibility of conveyancers themselves.
I believe that tools like Moovshack, Mio & View My Chain that encourage more open communication & process transparency between conveyancers, estate agents and their clients, can seriously improve perceptions about home moving, along with new initiatives for creating ‘property passports & logbooks’, led by Kate Faulkner, Chair of The Home Buying and Selling Group.
Q4: Tell us more about Moovshack, why did you create it and what problems are you trying to solve?
Although my background is mainly in tech, I have previously founded, built and sold a high st estate agency. I came away with the strong feeling that, although agents worked long hard hours, they were often unproductive as they struggled to engage with customers via the phone, as consumers were also usually hard at work, trying to pay for their new home!
The major property portals like Rightmove & Zoopla were also an issue as they offer zero two-way communication on their platforms between consumers and agents, forcing them off-platform to engage.
Also, these portals routinely overcharge agents for providing little else than basic advertising services, offering virtually nothing to help consumers & agents complete their end-to-end transactions.
This didn’t seem right to me, especially when you consider that in the 20 years since Rightmove was created, consumer trends have shifted heavily towards 24/7 mobile access to information and services online, chat has now replaced email as the preferred mode of informal online engagement, and all-in-one platforms like Facebook and Amazon have led the way in keeping users engaged, by offering end-to-end services rather than forcing them to seek out multiple websites & apps..
So I believed there was both a need and an opportunity to create the first fully interactive, all-in-one property & communications portal, with a chat platform built-in and to pack it with all the features consumers and agents would need to seamlessly start, manage and complete their journeys together.
Combining the power and functions of Rightmove, WhatsApp, Dropbox, PayPal, DocuSign and several other apps would be the only way to compete with the proprietary tech Moovshack has packed into a single all-in-one property app & portal.
Q5: Rightmove still has quite a hold on the property portal market, why should people use Moovshack instead?
Many have tried to directly challenge Rightmove and failed, as they do the basic search-only functions very well. So to compete, new platforms need to offer something far more useful to the consumer. Also, the general assumption is that new challenger portals need to throw £millions at TV advertising and hope that consumers flock to them.
That high-risk strategy may be true if you make the basic mistake of emulating Rightmove. But Moovshack has a completely different business model and tech platform.
We already have 30% of the market’s available properties directly listing with us, plus, we provide direct access to Rightmove, Zoopla & OnTheMarket from within our app and enable our users to share any property or video or article that’s freely available online, into Moovshack for easy access & retrieval.
This means that only Moovshack can claim to offer the whole market to consumers and unlike traditional search-only portals, we have something to offer them at every stage of their journey including home valuations & agent comparisons, viewing scheduling, offer management and completion tracking plus our chat platform has video built in to enable safer remote viewings, if consumers prefer them.
So, instead of competing head-on, we are offering the consumer a simpler and more transparent end-to-end experience from a single app, where everything they need along their full property journey can be accessed from and saved into Moovshack and they no longer need multiple portals and passwords to find and save their favorite listings.
Q6: It feels a little like the property industry is yet to fully embrace some of the technology available to it, what do you see changing over the next 5-10 years?
Probably because of the higher transaction values, the property industry is naturally conservative and has been slower to embrace digitalisation. However, COVID has forced even the most reactionary of agents to use tech like Zoom & Skype to stay engaged with consumers. And for me that is the key for the future; ’Customer Engagement’.
To get this right, agents need to align more with consumer trends, which demand 24/7 mobile access to goods & services and prefer instant chat messaging to unreliable & formal email.
Most so-called PropTech platforms today tend to only fix a single problem and are solely aimed at agents, who are the ‘paying’ customers.
The problem with this is that consumers don’t know or care about PropTech, and they don’t want to be pressured by agents to use multiple platforms to manage their property journeys. Amazon has proven beyond all doubt that one-stop platforms are what consumers prefer for an easier & seamless customer experience.
So I expect you will see established traditional portals who have already built low-tech search-only platforms trying to hastily buy and ‘bolt-on’ bit’s of new consumer tech, resulting in clunky and disjointed customer experiences, while the real innovation will come from platforms like Moovshack, Boomin, OneDome & Homesearch who have started with a clean slate and a pure vision, offering both consumers & agents a seamless end-to-end digital experience.
Q7: A light-hearted question for you, if you could own ANY property in the UK, which would it be and why?
For me that’s easy – it would be a large rural farmhouse somewhere with enough acreage to house our family and our growing herd of rescued animals, which I’m sure will continue to expand!
Q8: Finally, what should homeowners be looking out for in the next 12 months?
If this COVID crisis has proven anything, it’s that nothing is certain in our lives.
Homeowners should keep themselves aware of new initiatives from the government that may be positive, like new grant schemes for make existing homes greener or better adapted to remote working.
Also, watchout for any attempts by the state to claw back some of the national debt incurred due to COVID, for example by increasing capital gains tax (CGT) on second homes.
Generally, I think we all realise that remote working is here to stay and that for many of us, City centre living is now a less desirable lifestyle choice than it was, so watch out for price drops in metropolitan areas, balanced by price increases in rural towns that are commutable for the occasional visits to the office.
But if you do choose to buy in major Cities, as many still will, make sure you try to keep your mortgage to purchase price ratio as low as possible to protect you against any future price correction in the post-COVID marketplace.
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