Bank denies creating a private sale platform – industry uneasy
MAIN IMAGE: From left to right, Lephoi Mokgatle (Nedbank’s Head of Home Loans Digital), Adrian Goslett (regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa) and Jonathan (Acutts managing director)
Nedbank this week issued a statement assuring the property industry that the bank did not create a private sale platform with their Home Buying Toolkit, one of the new features on the Nedbank Money App.
On social media platforms this past weekend many estate agents voiced their unease after reading a Friday afternoon news report entitled ‘You can now buy and sell a house on Nedbank’s banking app’. The report announced that Nedbank is launching two new features on their banking app, namely the Home Buying Toolkit and HeyNed, a digital virtual personal assistant and concierge service.
“Here we go again?”
The launch of the new features followed less than a month after the announcement by Property24 that the portal and the bank had signed an agreement to share listing data on the latter’s Nedbank Money App.
With the FNB fiasco still fresh in the mind of the property industry, there were many who were dubious whether this agreement won’t eventually lead to the bank creating a private sale platform for their customers. However, at the time Nedbank’s Head of Home Loans Digital, Lephoi Mokgatle, gave the assurance that the bank did not create a private sale platform.
Read more about the property sector’s reaction to FNB’s banking app here
A little while later the bank sent out a press release announcing the two new features on their banking app. In their press statement they explained that the Home Buying Toolkit comes with a comprehensive range of tools and guidelines aimed at equipping prospective home buyers “with everything they need to find, finance and purchase their new home”. It is further stated that clients will be able to search for homes listed by estate agents – no mention is made of clients listing or buying privately listed properties.
Needless to say, Friday’s news headline sparked new fears in the property industry that history was nevertheless repeating itself. On social media platforms some estate agents announced that they immediately gave instruction to Property24 to remove their listings from the feed to the Nedbank banking app.
This week Nedbank hurriedly issued a statement denying that the new feature created a private sale platform as well as denying that personal details of sellers are provided. “Rather, through the money app, clients have the ability to search for properties listed by professional property agents and contact them directly,” continues the statement.
In reaction to our question whether the Home Buying Toolkit could be seen as a ‘first step in the direction towards creating an online platform for private property sales, Mokgatle reiterated that they have no plans to extend the Nedbank Home Buying Toolkit into a private listings platform. “Our toolkit aims to provide information to make the initial phase of the home buying experience convenient for the buyer. At Nedbank, we are also aware of the important role that a professional agent plays in the property transaction, which is why we have partnered with reputable service providers in the industry to make the home buying journey effortless,” he said.
JP Farinha, CEO of Property24, in his comments on the matter said Nedbank had clearly communicated to the industry that their intention is not to facilitate private transactions and to rather assist estate agents in marketing their listings to the Nedbank customer base. “They have also given assurances to Property24 that they do not in any way intend disintermediating estate agents,” he said.
We also asked a few property experts what they thought of the new features on the Nedbank Money App.
Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX said: “Given the recent FNB debacle, I wasn’t expecting Nedbank’s announcement for their own Home-Buying Toolkit. Though it is not their current planning to launch a private seller-type offering, I am still sceptical to just ‘open the taps’ without knowledge of where and how that data is being used and monetised further than just the Nedbank App. At this point, on a national basis, we therefore have not authorised our listings to be sent to the Nedbank App. Our franchisees are still free to engage on a case by case basis with Nedbank. However, none of them have taken up on the opportunity to share their listings.”
Jonathan Acutt, managing director of Acutts Estate Agents said: “To understand the intention and the purpose of a product marketing campaign such this, one must look to where the company promoting the product is making their money. Since the so called service is a free added feature, one can only conclude that the real benefit to the bank comes from the other offered services such as the home-loan application process.
Attracting clients to apply for home-loans directly to Nedbank is not news to the real estate industry as it has been part of their strategy for a few years now.
Regarding the ability to purchase properties privately, the truth of the matter is that this sector of the real estate market is very small by comparison, and at the moment is not a concern to the real estate industry. Information is freely available online on how to go about purchasing a property privately. What potential purchasers and sellers of property must always consider is this, a property transaction can be a very simple process or a very difficult and long process. The real question is that if I purchase a property privately, who is going to support me when things go wrong? Who can I hold accountable to telling me the truth about the property transaction?
With the growing global focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) products such as this are becoming more popular and whilst I believe the real estate industry is not terribly concerned that AI will replace the need for an estate agent, I do believe that estate agents must take note that their service levels are under scrutiny by the public and by the corporate world. By continuing to raise their service levels and continue offer what a computer can not, they will continue to operate within the industry.”
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