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Analysts say Countrywide’s online agency has ‘fallen flat’ and Purplebricks has ‘monopoly on growth’

October 13, 2017

City analysts yesterday issued a ‘sell’ rating on Countrywide, saying that its digital offering has fallen flat. In a note to investors, Hamburg-headquartered Berenberg – the second oldest bank in the world – also issued a ‘sell’ rating on Foxtons, a ‘hold’ for LSL and a ‘buy’ rating on Purplebricks. The bank has initiated coverage […]

Agent who refuses to pay redress award for legal reasons faces possibility of going out of business

A long-running dispute that started with a complaint to Ombudsman Services Property over two years ago means that an agent may have to close down as it could be unable to trade legally. The agent, Enviro Estates – now known as EEUK Limited in Altrincham – says that because of the dispute, its membership has […]

New inquiry into private rented sector will look at whether enforcement is working

A new inquiry has been launched into the private rented sector. It will specifically look at the area of enforcement by local authorities, including whether councils have adequate powers to intervene when rental properties are sub-standard or dangerous, whether licensing schemes are working, and whether tenants are able to complain effectively. Announcing the inquiry, Clive […]

Zoopla invites agents to join hour-long ‘state of the market’ local webinars

Zoopla is next week holding a series of six regional live research webinars with a panel of ZPG experts which will be chaired by property expert and TV personality Phil Spencer. This is the second year running that ZPG has conducted its State of the Property Nation research, conducting extensive surveys of hundreds of estate […]

Opinion piece: Time to end this tired old talk about housing and act radical

So yet another party conference season ends with nothing of substance coming out of it, not, that is, if you discount the hoary old chestnuts of rent controls, Help to Buy and plans to cover the land in new-builds – no matter whether they are anywhere near where anyone wants to live. It was all […]

Property pundit forecasts redundancies and closures as pain in London market goes on

October 12, 2017

Email to a friend Print Buying agent and property pundit Henry Pryor has predicted “significant” redundancies and branch closures in the London market. He said many agents are “on their knees”. Separately, in a gloomy report, a central London agent has said that the Government will have to address the woes of the housing market […]

Ex-Countrywide head of estate agency Vince Corley reunited with colleagues at new firm

Another senior figure who was formerly with Countrywide has joined Nick Dunning Associates – the acquisition-hungry property business set up by Countrywide’s former head of lettings. The business, which already has two other ex-Countrywide seniors at its helm – Graham Harrison and Matt Hewitt – has now recruited Vince Corley. Corley, who left Countrywide in […]

Gloomy surveyors report ‘noticeable’ falls in both sales and buyer demand as prices rise

Buyer sentiment and sales activity have fallen back to levels last seen in the aftermath of the EU referendum, surveyors claim. The RICS this morning said that last month 20% more surveyors reported a dip rather than a rise in new buyer enquiries, the weakest figure since July 2016, the month after the Brexit vote. […]

Successful launch for Countrywide at its first build-to-rent scheme

Countrywide has announced that its first major build-to-rent property has successfully launched, with 60% of the 324 apartments let or reserved within the first seven weeks. The Cargo Building is Liverpool’s first build-to-rent scheme and the largest private rented sector development in the city. Its successful launch has outperformed target. The building, managed by Countrywide, […]

Anti-money laundering: Suspicious Activity Reports filed by agents only 0.2% of total

The number of estate agents reporting potential money laundering activities has risen but still represents only a tiny proportion of all reports. A new report says that in the 18 months between October 2015 and March this year, there were 766 Suspicious Activity Reports by estate agents. This represented just 0.2% of the total number […]

Purplebricks hits back in ‘fake reviews’ row with allAgents

October 11, 2017

Purplebricks last night said it has asked reviews site allAgents on ‘many occasions’ for information that would allow the authenticity of certain reviews to be checked. Stephen Parker, head of compliance at Purplebricks, said: “We continue to seek this information and once again request that allAgents engage with us, so that we can together work […]

Dealing with an unhappy consumer: Should agents offer a financial settlement?

In May, EYE ran an article about an agent who had offered to discount their fees as an attempt to resolve a complaint. This prompted a number of queries regarding the various ways of settling a dispute being received by TPO. All agents at some point are likely to have to deal with an […]

Law firm reports rise in number of landlords wishing to get out after clobbering by Government

One of the UK’s largest law firms is reporting an increase in the number of private landlords wishing to reduce or sell off their property portfolios. Irwin Mitchell says that this is a direct result of multiple changes forced on landlords by the Government, which have made buy-to-lets a less profitable investment option. The firm […]

Knight Frank profits dip for second year running as Brexit and Stamp Duty changes bite

Knight Frank’s profits are down for a second consecutive year, although revenues are up. Chairman Alistair Elliott said that Brexit and Stamp Duty changes were to blame for the decline in pre-tax profits to £145.7m, down from £152.6m a year earlier. Reporting on the 12 months to the end of March, turnover was up 3.3% […]

NAEA calls on Chancellor to regulate estate agents and exempt first-time buyers from Stamp Duty

NAEA Propertymark is calling on the Chancellor to exempt both first-time buyers and downsizers from Stamp Duty, and to scrap the 3% surcharge on the purchase of second homes. In views submitted to Philip Hammond ahead of his Budget next month, the NAEA also says it wants to see a ‘Help to Buy’ type of […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Reviews site allAgents launching crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal fight against Purplebricks

October 10, 2017

Reviews site allAgents is this morning launching a crowdfunding appeal to raise money for a legal fight against Purplebricks. In September allAgents suspended the Purplebricks account in an attempt to prevent a legal action, with Purplebricks claiming that 29% of reviews on allAgents were bogus. allAgents says it has subsequently received several more letters from […]

Online agents are just so last year, says proptech venture capitalist guru

Online agents are a model from up to six years ago and start-ups are now unlikely to attract investment. The claim has come from the CEO of Pi Labs, the proptech venture capitalist which hot-houses property start-ups. Dominic Wilson was responding to a question from EYE as to why the four latest ‘proptech’ firms it […]

Have all agents cracked customer service? Not on this evidence!

With so much emphasis on customer service, you would think that it would be a given. Not so. A friend was out and about at the weekend and spotted an interesting property in an estate agency window. He went in to the empty shop, where two women were working. He asked for details, which one […]

£million bonanza in the offing! Agents set to be big referral winners

Zoopla says it has delivered over £1m in potential referral fees to its agents via its new MoveIt tool. If all the remaining referrals go on to convert to actual deals, the total payout will be £1m. It says that some subscribing agents are already financially getting more out of Zoopla than they are paying […]

Agent handed bill of £26,000 in overcrowding case is allowed to renew HMO licence

An agent and a landlord have been allowed to keep an HMO licence after being handed record fines. City Homes Estate Agents and landlord Majaddad Sany Sadiq were fined after 15 people were found living in a five-bedroom home in Peterborough. Cockroaches and fire hazards were found in the properties. City Homes were this month […]

High street agent’s online offering has expanded firm’s territory and could go national

A high street agent’s online offering has already extended its territory and could go national to compete head to head with other online agents, the firm says. Howard Cundey, with eight branches in Sussex, Surrey and Kent, says it now offers customers four ways of selling their property: through a traditional local branch; a ‘regional’ […]

EYE NEWSFLASH EXCLUSIVE: Reapit in multi-million pound management buyout backed by US venture capitalist

October 9, 2017

Reapit has today been purchased in a management buyout backed by an American venture capital firm, Accel-KKR (AKKR). With Reapit turning over circa £10m a year, the deal – done in the early hours of this morning – is thought to be £50m-plus. Over 60 potential backers had expressed their interest in Reapit, which is […]

Firm says it will withdraw application to trademark ‘PropTech’ term after furious protests

Email to a friend Print An application by a firm to trademark the term ‘PropTech’ is set to be withdrawn after being challenged through lawyers at the weekend. The application had been made by Sam Zawadski through his start-up firm Property Technology. Last night, Zawadski said he will be withdrawing the application to trademark the […]

House prices rise to record high – but does it herald tough time ahead for first-time buyers?

House price rises could be a real problem for first-time buyers who are also likely to face increases in mortgage rates. The warning has come after Halifax said house prices rose 0.8% last month, and by 4% annually, to stand at £225,109. Halifax said the figure is a record high. It is however considerably lower […]

We are just not seeing sales, un-named London agent tells Reuters

Huge uncertainty in the London property market has been revealed by Reuters. The news agency reports that out of 22 ‘property experts’, all said prices in London were over-valued, but their forecasts for the next three years ranged from a 17.5% drop to a 9% rise. Reuters reported: “Five estate agents said sales had effectively […]

Rental asking prices rise across Britain – but dip in London and south-east

Asking prices for rental properties in almost all regions have risen this year, Rightmove reports this morning. However, because of falls in London and the south-east, the average new asking price is actually down, by just 0.2%. In the south-east, new rental asking prices fell 2.3% in the third quarter compared with the second quarter. […]

Award win boosts agent’s sales by 10% and valuations by 22%

Awards are often criticised in the industry and one recent survey found that as far as members of the public are concerned, they are the least important factor when it comes to choosing an estate agent. But that is absolutely not the experience of Richard Fowler, of Northampshire independent Richard James. In the first eight […]

Ex-letting agent who conned top firms into handing over keys is jailed for burglaries

October 6, 2017

A former lettings manager has been jailed after pretending that he was still a lettings agent, persuading a string of top firms to hand over keys for fake viewings. He then used the keys to get into properties while the owners were out, and stole money and items including jewellery. The agents that were conned […]

New Rightmove boss profits to tune of £2.5m as he cashes in shares

Rightmove boss Peter Brooks-Johnson has cashed in 62,336 shares in the firm, netting over £2.5m. He exercised rights to acquire deferred shares acquired at no cost in March 2015 in respect of his 2014 bonus, plus performance shares awarded in 2013, and share options awarded in 2007. Brooks-Johnson promptly sold most at an average price […]

Countrywide board director to step down

A non-executive director is stepping down from Countrywide. Richard Adam – who has an extraordinary 153 director appointments listed at Companies House, although not all are active – was appointed to Countrywide in June 2014. His resignation is effective from the company’s next annual general meeting, likely to be held next April. Countrywide said a […]

Auctioneer I AM Sold breaks record with its highest-ever sales price

Auctioneer I AM Sold, which operates through white-labelled services provided to agents, has sold a property which achieved the highest value in the company’s history. The six-bedroom home set in an acre in Felbridge, West Sussex, was sold via agent Howard Cundey using the modern method of auction. It sold within 34 days for £10,000 […]

Purplebricks mistake on home sold in seven days last month is just ‘human error’

A publicity claim that a property was one of over 70 to have achieved ‘sale agreed’ status last month when it in fact sold in August has been put down to human error. Purplebricks in Lincoln used pictures of various properties in a flyer which it tweeted out, saying: “Another great sales month with over […]

EYE interview: Connells boss says group continues to back high street despite Hatched ownership

October 5, 2017

The boss of Connells Group, executive chairman Stephen Shipperley, this week marks his 40th year in the industry – all them spent at Connells, which he joined straight from school as a trainee negotiator. Here, in a special and remarkably wide-ranging interview with EYE, one of the most respected figures in today’s industry shares his […]

Beleaguered estate agent Countrywide attracts major new investor

Investment company Investec Asset Management has bought a 5.6% stake in Countrywide. It had not had shares in the UK’s largest estate agent before, but as of this week holds just over 13.3m shares. The purchase was announced at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, when the Countrywide share price stood at 113.50p. At that price, Investec’s […]

Prime Minister unveils £2bn extra funding for new generation of council houses

Theresa May has vowed to “get Government back in the business of building houses” after making an additional £2bn available to build affordable housing. Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister said councils and housing associations will be able to bid for the funds and some will be built for social rent below […]

Business as usual after major UK software supplier bought by global player

Estate agency software firm Qube Global Software – whose roots in the UK stem from SPA Miscrosystems which launched the ground-breaking Aspasia – has been bought for an undisclosed sum by global firm MRI Software. The acquisition means that MRI now serves 5,500 clients with a global team of over 1,000 employees, including 350 in […]

Next property crash ‘could be triggered by great sell-off rush of landlord properties’, warning

Tax relief changes coupled with rent controls could trigger the next property crash. The warning has come from Gary Heynes, a partner at tax and business advice firm RSM. He says that as tax relief changes are increasingly phased in, landlords could find themselves paying more in tax than the net rental income they receive. […]

Online agents’ share of market bounces up 19% as millions spent on TV ads draw in consumers

October 4, 2017

Email to a friend Print Online agents’ share of the market has gone up 19% year on year – but still represents just under 5.5% of the market overall. The finding is in a new report, out today, which says that the growth in online market share is testament to the power of advertising and […]

New database laws will have ‘enormous implications for agents’, warning

Agents are being warned to contact everyone on their databases now and prepare for the introduction of the General Database Protection Regulations in May next year. They are also being told that the potential implications for their businesses of leaving plans too late are enormous. For example, businesses will only be allowed to hold data […]

Purplebricks is now the biggest agent in UK by listings on Rightmove, claim

Purplebricks is now the largest agent in the UK by listings on Rightmove, broker Zeus Capital has said. The claim has been made by Zeus Capital research director Robin Savage. Savage also said that Purplebricks’ growth has been “at the cost of its competitors who are not terribly happy”. He said that next spring Purplebricks […]

easyProperty to offer agents share options – and to launch Academy this month

Founder members of relaunched easyProperty are to be offered share options this week. The 150 businesses across the Fine & Country and Guild networks that chose to take out easyProperty licences will be sent the papers this week. Jon Cooke, easyProperty’s CEO, also revealed plans to launch easyProperty Recruitment very shortly, and by the end […]

Agent tells public ‘We decided not to clog up your high street with another estate agent’

London agent Douglas & Gordon which has 19 high street branches has rolled out its new hybrid offering into a new area, telling the public that it decided not to “clog up” the high street with another estate agency. Douglas & Gordon launched the new model in February last year in Streatham, south-west London. There […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Strutt & Parker sale to investment bank completes

October 3, 2017

The sale of Strutt & Parker to BNP Paribas Real Estate, part of the French banking group, has completed. The price has not been disclosed. Strutt & Parker’s residential, rural, development and planning teams will continue to operate under the Strutt & Parker brand, whilst the commercial arm of the business will operate under the […]

Aspiring new trade body CIELA holds out defiant last hope that it may still launch

Aspiring new trade body CIELA (the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents) – which failed to launch on October 1 as per its original timeline – says there is still a possibility it may get off the ground. The six month consultation pre-launch period ended as of Saturday, September 30, and CIELA – brainchild […]

Tenancy deposit replacement scheme announces £1.3m backing from Direct Line

The market for tenants’ deposit replacement schemes is set to become increasingly competitive after Hamptons International was named as one of the first customers of Canopy – which also announced a £1.3m cash injection from insurance company Direct Line. Rival Zero Deposit, heavily backed by Zoopla, is currently recruiting agents and is expected to launch […]

Government warned against ‘dangerous gamble’ of further Stamp Duty fiddling

The Government is being urged to consider the “fiscal damage” of any further residential tax increases after analysis of the record Stamp Duty intake shows the impact on London transactions. Property investment firm London Central Portfolio (LCP) warned that while Stamp Duty receipts hit record highs of £8.5bn in England and Wales during 2016, receipts […]

Agent Provocateur: Are wealthier owners falling out of love with the property market?

Driving through the picturesque village of Milton Abbas in Dorset on Sunday, I was slightly shocked to see no fewer than ten For Sale boards on the main street alone. I drive around there a lot as I live nearby and this is unprecedented, so it got me thinking about what’s going on in the […]

New franchise offering to encourage agents to expand into estate and block management

Property specialist SDL Group yesterday launched a new franchise focusing on estate and block management. The company, which already operates the UK Century 21 franchise business and is heavily involved in the build-to-rent sector, is targeting estate and letting agents wanting to diversify or expand their businesses, as well as sole practitioners and small firms […]

At last! Victory for industry campaigners as ministers finally bow to demands for letting agents to be regulated

October 2, 2017

Email to a friend Print All letting agents across England will have to be registered under new legislation, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said yesterday. He made the announcement yesterday afternoon at the Conservative party conference, making clear: “We will regulate letting agents who want to operate.” It means that the days of anyone being able […]

Former agent in court denies seven counts of fraud relating to tenants’ deposits

A former agent has appeared in court, denying seven counts of fraud. Simon Cawley, 52, who worked for Severn Sales and Lettings in Worcester, pleaded not guilty to all the counts. The alleged offences are connected to not securing deposit money in ways compatible with the tenancy deposit scheme, and failing to transfer money to […]