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Housing minister promises to look at legal loophole in leasehold law

November 29, 2017

Housing minister Alok Sharma has vowed to look at a loophole in the Housing Act that exempts charities from having to sell or extend leases. Sharma said this issue would be looked at as part of the now-closed consultation on leasehold reform, which he said he would like to see the Government respond to by […]

Agent in joint agreement with non-Rightmove firm is told he cannot list property

November 28, 2017

An agent has been banned from listing a property on Rightmove after entering into a joint agreement with another agent who is not on Rightmove. Steve Morris & Son, in Sutton Coldfield, was told that it had been attempting to re-sell space on Rightmove – something the firm totally rejects, saying this is far from […]

Paul Smith column: ‘Wheels are starting to come off online agents’ bandwagon’

So the internet-only model isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! Who knew? Certainly not all the investors who’ve ploughed millions into the founders’ pockets and are still waiting for a return on their investment. Or the customers who’ve been duped into believing they’re getting a good deal when their properties remain unsold but they’ve […]

No sign of rogue landlord and lettings agent database a year since first mention

The Government still does not seem to have a set date for the introduction of a list of rogue landlords and lettings agents despite its launch expected to have been in October. The creation of a database of rogue landlords and lettings agents for local authorities was first touted in a consultation in December 2016 […]

Zoopla announces another long-term agreement with corporate – this time LSL

Zoopla has announced a new long-term portal agreement with LSL, the parent company of brands including Your Move, Reeds Rains and Marsh & Parsons. As part of the new agreement LSL, with over 500 estate agency and lettings branches, will continue to advertise all of its property listings for five years. The agreement follows similar […]

Picture of the Week: And it’s a property that’s taken a proper pounding

Picture of the Week – and could this be a story of our times? When Poundland tycoon Steven Smith put his home on the market, he naturally chose the online agent of which he was chairman to market it: EstatesDirect. If nothing else, it was cheap – originally charging vendors just £195 plus VAT. In […]

New money laundering regulations clause is either wrong – or means big impact for agents

November 27, 2017

Email to a friend Print Everyone in estate agency is now conducting ID checks on buyers, given the requirements of the new Money Laundering Regulations that came into force in June. The concept of having to conduct ID checks on purchasers is in my opinion ridiculous, as I have previously stated on EYE. It is […]

Support for software products to be pulled because of change in data protection rules

The Property Software Group, part of ZPG, is to pull support for some of its older software products because of the new General Data Protection Regulations. It is the first tangible sign of the upheaval that the new regime, coming in next May, could cause. While PSG is playing this down, the concern for agents […]

Essential guidance: Ten ways for agents to prepare for new data protection rules

Estate and letting agents in the UK are six months away from the introduction of the EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These will require all businesses that handle personal data to implement a far more rigorous protection regime than we have seen previously. Is the industry ready? Anecdotally and through my discussions with colleagues, […]

Important reminder: Please fill in this important survey today

Here is a request to agents who have not yet filled in the survey tracking the competitive landscape between online and high street agents: please could you do so today. It will take up very little of your time (there are only 15 questions) but your answers will provide an important measure of how the […]

Inspirational! London property awards recognise inspirational achievements of triple-cancer survivor

A leading agency figure who has survived cancer three times has been recognised with a special award for his outstanding charitable achievements. Andrew Scott, a founder of Lane Fox and formerly head of London residential at Strutt & Parker until his recent retirement, led a team to raise £250,000 for Cancer Research. This was through […]

Householder wins case against estate agency flyers delivered to his home

October 30, 2017

Email to a friend Print A householder fed up with receiving flyers from a firm of estate agents has won his court battle to have them banned, in what could be a landmark ruling. He successfully argued that there was no right to use his path to deliver the leaflets. George Arkless, who already had […]

Consumers shrug off prospect of interest rate rises – but confidence in housing market falls to five-year low

Confidence in the housing market has fallen to a five-year low – and although just over half of adults still believe house prices will rise over the next year, nearly the same proportion predicts a slowdown. The most pessimistic are Londoners and the under-25 age group, Halifax claims. Its report also shows that a rise […]

‘Letting agents are sleepwalking into disaster’, claims build-to-rent pioneer

The build-to-rent brigade has fired the first real shots over the bows of the traditional letting agency sector, saying it faces wipe-out. Harry Downes, founder and managing director of build-to-rent developer Fizzy Living, has expressed derision that so many agents point to the lettings fee ban as the biggest threat to their businesses. While a […]

Another build-to-rent landlord drops tenancy fee charges

Dropping fees charged to tenants, or never charging them in the first place, is becoming the norm in the government-backed build-to-rent sector. The latest to cancel charges is build-to-rent developer Be, which has now announced zero fees for its west London development in Hayes. It charged fees until the middle of this month. The company […]

More than just a pane: Is your estate agency window covered by insurance loss?

Is your front window covered by insurance? Importantly, does your insurance cover not just the broken window but possible theft of customer data? Last week, we reported that scooter thieves had smashed into the window of London agents Flats and Houses, and stolen a £2,000 computer. Insurer Oliver Wharmby, of Lonsdale Insurance Brokers, tells us […]

Watchdog programme was hurtful, says Purplebricks boss Michael Bruce

October 24, 2017

Purplebricks boss Michael Bruce has brushed off criticisms of his business model – but said that the experience of appearing on Watchdog to answer criticisms was hurtful. In a new interview, he also said that because sellers never actually see the money they pay high street agents in commission, the money is ‘virtual’. In a […]

Chain-breaking estate agency Nested raises another £36m to fund UK-wide expansion

Nested, the chain-breaking estate agency that helps home movers buy their next house before they’ve sold their current home, has raised £36m in a new funding round to expand its business. It represents Europe’s largest proptech investment this year, and brings the total raised by Nested to £47m so far. The latest funding round, led […]

Outright ban on referral fees could be ‘catastrophic’ for estate agency sector, warning

A ban on referral fees could have a “catastrophic” impact on the estate agency sector – and in particular trigger a “monumental” decline in corporate agencies. The Call for Evidence into the process of buying and selling houses raises the possibility of an outright ban on referral fees earned from conveyancing and financial services. Russell […]

Industry veteran despairs as to Government’s understanding of how market works

A senior estate agency figure has questioned whether there is any answer to gazumping and gazundering, saying that buyers find it easy to find the ‘wriggle room’ to get out of deals. Trevor Abrahmsohm, of Glentree in London, said that from time immemorial, both gazumping and gazundering have been the “scourge of the property market”. […]

Spat! Pryor launches broadside on allAgents in bid to get his private address and phone number taken down

An extraordinary altercation has broken out on social media about review sites. Property finding agent Henry Pryor has let rip at allAgents, with a string of tweets saying he does not believe the reviews it carries of some agents. allAgents has hit back – and raterAgent has joined in. Pryor told EYE last night that […]

Latest ‘call for evidence’ hints of a ban on referral fees paid to agents

October 23, 2017

Email to a friend Print The latest ‘call for evidence’ into the industry, unexpectedly released in the early hours of Sunday morning before any of the documentation was available online, is asking some leading questions about referral fees. The survey suggests that referral fees “benefit agents at the expense of consumers” and goes on to […]

Former AHIPP leader Mike Ockenden says he has feeling of deja vu

A leading figure in the Home Information Pack industry has said that – despite the Government’s strong denials that it will bring back HIPs – he has the feeling of deja vu. Mike Ockenden, formerly director general of disbanded trade body the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP), also said that there is unlikely […]

Gathering storm of fees ban in Scotland – and a warning to English government as Scots landlords ‘flee the market’

Five years after agents’ fees charged to tenants were formally banned by the Scottish government, the effects continue not just to reverberate but to worsen. The claim comes from Tony Williams, managing director of referencing firm UKtenant data. He has been researching the Scottish market by engaging directly with letting agents, to see if he […]

Communities Secretary Javid reveals unlikely ambition to become an estate agent

In view of his spate of ‘calls for evidence’ hurled at the industry, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has expressed a surprising ambition – to become an estate agent. We hasten to say that this was said in the spirit of irony (although in these uncertain times, who can be sure?) rather than that of someone […]

Countrywide to launch online mortgage business – and Marks & Spencer to enter mortgage market

Countrywide is to launch an online mortgage business in the New Year. And Marks & Spencer, better known for its ladies clothing and luxury ready meals, is entering the mortgage market. Countrywide’s new venture is with Blenheim Chalcot, a company that builds digital start-up businesses. The new offering is to be called Mojo Mortgages. It […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Estate agents under spotlight yet again as Government launches new inquiry

October 22, 2017

Email to a friend Print At midnight, the Government launched yet another inquiry into the estate agency market. The new inquiry’s focus is firmly on buyers rather than sellers, in the same way that last week’s “call for evidence” into the letting agency and leasehold markets is focused on tenants rather than owners. This latest […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Property Franchise Group tells City Belvoir’s takeover bid ‘not a merger of equals’

October 20, 2017

Email to a friend Print This morning, The Property Franchise Group spelled out its reasons to the City for rejecting Belvoir’s ‘takeover’ bid, saying its proposals did not represent a “merger of equals”. TPFG said that the proposed management structure gives “undue weighting and control” to Belvoir “and is representative of a takeover. The full […]

Sellers who prefer house raffles to estate agents will have to pay 5% commission plus VAT

A new portal has set up in opposition to estate agents to provide home-owners with a platform to raffle their properties. WinAbode has been launched by chartered surveyor Richard Blaiberg and project manager Sam Park, with the first raffle being a three-bedroom home in east London valued at £700,000. Entrants can buy a maximum of […]

Property review sites ‘fundamentally flawed’ – says founder of review site

The founder of a property review website yesterday said that many such sites, his own included, are flawed because the reviews simply cannot be authenticated. Peter Ramsey, of Movem, said: “The problem is that how do you know James ever rented a property from Agent X? That’s the biggest issue with all review sites, in […]

Estate agency figure launches new charity after teenage son’s tragic death

Many of you will know Gareth Samples. He’s the MD of Brief Your Market and ex-managing director of Your Move, a dear friend and one of those rarest of people who is universally liked. What I’m guessing most of you won’t be aware of is that he tragically lost his son last year in a […]

New online letting agent says its launch is ‘beginning of end for expensive high street firms’

A new online letting agent,, has launched this week. It claims its launch heralds “the beginning of the end for expensive high street letting agents”, saying that it is “set to break the stranglehold of traditional agents by offering landlords the opportunity to advertise and rent their properties for free”. The business, which advertises […]

Mistaken identity: Lettings services organisation wrongly named in Government proptech programme

Property management and lettings service supplier Rentr was yesterday named part of a Government-backed proptech programme – but the company had no idea of its supposed involvement, let alone its £20,000 windfall. Government agencies Ordnance Survey and Land Registry listed Rentr among the latest businesses invited to the proptech section of their Geovation hub – […]

EYE NEWSFLASH EXCLUSIVE: Property Franchise Group boss hits out at ‘opportunistic takeover bid’ by Belvoir

October 19, 2017

Belvoir has this morning announced that it has approached the Property Franchise Group regarding a possible merger. But Ian Wilson, CEO of TPFG, said while it had been “dressed up as a merger, it is a takeover bid”. He told EYE: “It is completely unacceptable.” The Belvoir board said it is “disappointed that the TPFG […]

Experienced agents from well-known names flocking to join EweMove

Out of 21 new franchisees who have joined hybrid agent EweMove this year, almost half have been launched by experienced estate agents, described as “defecting from some of the industry’s biggest names”. EweMove says these include Countrywide and its flagship brand Hamptons, and Foxtons. EweMove now has 110 branches across the UK, with a recruitment […]

Ministers clash over ‘feeble’ announcement as Propertymark calls for inquiry to include sales agents

Industry bodies have welcomed the launch of a ‘call for evidence’ into the lettings agency and leasehold management sectors. But politicians have been at loggerheads over recommendations which include mandatory membership of a professional body and the possibility of a new Government regulator. Housing minister Alok Sharma said there were reports of broken windows being […]

Seven in ten letting agents say their landlords will not accept Universal Credit tenants

Private landlords across the country are refusing to let their properties to Universal Credit claimants, letting agents have revealed. Research carried out by the website involved speaking to 100 agents in different parts of the country where the benefit has been rolled out. A total of 69% said they had no landlords currently on […]

Take Purplebricks seriously, proptech expert tells American realtors

One month after its launch into the American market, Purplebricks has 24 Local Real Estate Experts and 12 listings, nine of which are for sale and three of which are pending. Of its 24 licensed agents, nine have one active listing each and 16 have none. The figures come from proptech expert Mike Delprete, who […]

Floorplans of the Week: And these have a certain wonky charm

We rather like these floorplans. In the art world, we think they’d be called “naïve”. Spotted on a listing for online agent Tepilo, they have a somewhat wonky charm all of their own – although the agent who sent us the link rather unkindly said: “We’ve been laughing our heads off.” We see from Tepilo’s […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Government launches ‘call for evidence’ into letting agents’ market

October 18, 2017

People could be over-paying for agents’ services by up to £1.4bn. The accusation is in a new paper, a call for evidence into the letting and managing agency market that has been issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Launched today, it will run for six weeks until November 29 and is titled […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Foxtons announce fall in revenues as challenging market continues

Email to a friend Print Foxtons this morning issued a trading statement showing that in the first nine months of this year, its revenue was down by almost £13m compared with the same period last year. In the first nine months of last year, revenues were £106.3m. This year, they fell to £93.7m. In the […]

Commisery for Purplebricks as advertising watchdog demands changes to online agent’s TV adverts

Email to a friend Print Two ‘commisery’ TV adverts for Purplebricks must not be broadcast again in their original form after the advertising watchdog ruled that they did not make it sufficiently clear that sellers pay a fee whether their property sells or not. The Advertising Standards Authority said the fact that the fee was […]

House prices continue to rise but Land Registry data shows how far sales have plummeted since EU referendum

Email to a friend Print Pockets of the UK are continuing to experience mini house price booms despite transactions falling in all regions in the year since the Brexit vote. Figures from the Land Registry show that UK house prices in August rose 5%, up from 4.5% in July, to £225,956. On a monthly basis […]

Foxtons shares rise after speculation that Chancellor may cut Stamp Duty for first-time buyers

Email to a friend Print Shares in Foxtons rose 9% yesterday after speculation that the Chancellor is considering cutting Stamp Duty for first-time buyers – and possibly only for first-time buyers in London. The shares started the day at 67p and ended at 73p – albeit a very long way from their high last November […]

Four landlords who breached licensing requirements made subject of Criminal Behaviour Orders

Email to a friend Print A landlord has been handed what is the largest fine issued in this country for renting out properties without a selective licence. Jagdish Singh, of Leicester, pleaded guilty to failing to license eight of his properties in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. He was ordered to pay a total of £107,000, with fines […]

Letting agents secretly filmed by BBC accepting fake IDs from tenants

October 17, 2017

Email to a friend Print Letting agents were secretly filmed by the BBC accepting fake IDs from tenants, with innocent firms said to be “easily duped” into thinking that the paperwork was authentic. Last night’s Inside Out London exposed how Right to Rent rules have created a black market in forgeries that helps undocumented immigrants […]

Zoopla signs up Connells Group in new long-term marketing agreement

Email to a friend Print ZPG has announced that it has signed a new long-term marketing agreement with Connells, the UK’s second largest estate agency group. Last week, it announced a similar longterm deal with the UK’s largest agent, Countrywide. As part of the new agreement, Connells, which operates almost 600 estate agency and lettings […]

Pioneering new scheme awards top rating to agency that has banned tenant fees

Email to a friend Print Newham Council in London has become the first local authority in the UK to publish a ratings scheme for every letting agents in the borough. It is another first for the left wing authority which introduced borough-wide landlord licensing in 2013. The London borough has conducted an audit of every […]

Chancellor ‘considering cut in Stamp Duty for first-time buyers’

Email to a friend Print The Government appears to be floating the idea of a 1% Stamp Duty cut for first-time buyers in next month’s Budget. The Evening Standard yesterday ran an article badged as exclusive yesterday claiming Philip Hammond is considering the move in a Budget that will “aim to help people in their […]

Letters from America: eMoov’s Russell Quirk claims UK agency is less broken than US

Email to a friend Print UK estate agency is broken but it isn’t half as bad as across the pond, Russell Quirk claims. The eMoov founder has shared his experiences of the US market following a fact-finding trip with the UK Proptech Association last week. He describes the UK model as broken and being “opaque, […]