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

October 3, 2017

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 […]

Only tiny handful of portal leads result in sales or tenancies, claim

Just 4% of sales leads from the portals are resulting in an accepted offer, while only 2.9% of lettings leads convert into a tenancy. Software supplier Reapit describes the sales figure as “surprisingly small” – but says it is actually a slight improvement on the 3.2% it recorded last year. It urged agents to look […]

Ex-estate agency boss loses employment tribunal case ‘after comparing owners to North Korean dictatorship’

A former estate agency boss has lost his attempt to claim constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal. Nick Elgey, who resigned last year from his job at Cumberland Estate Agents in Carlisle, claimed he had had no choice but to leave. He had allegedly compared the parent company, Cumberland Building Society, to North Korea’s dictatorship. […]

If interest rates rise soon ‘housing market will take a dive’, warning

A rise in interest rates could damage the housing market, a senior industry figure has warned. Bank of England governor Mark Carney gave the clearest indication yet on Friday that interest rates will rise before long, although he did not say exactly when or by how much. Carney spoke as the Bank released data showing […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks reports strong progress while more woe for Countrywide

September 29, 2017

Purplebricks reported ‘strong progress’ across its business this morning, with revenues up and a ‘smooth’ launch in America. There are now 640 Local Property Experts in the UK, up from 540 only three months ago. This morning’s trading update did not, however, mention what profits the company expects to make. It said: “Strong progress has […]

Mystery as ‘hot’ new portal launches with thousands of agents on board – are you one of them?

A portal has launched with what appears to be an impressive number of agents advertising on it – and offering search engine optimisation for agents’ own websites. Hot-houses has almost 22,000 estate agency offices plus some 20,000 letting branches – making it highly likely that you and that maybe at least some of your properties […]

Countrywide and ZPG agree new three-year marketing deal

ZPG has renewed its long-term marketing agreement with Countrywide. As part of the new agreement, Countrywide will advertise all of its property listings on Zoopla for a further three years from the start of 2018. ZPG and Countrywide said they “are also committed to maximising the strategic benefits from their partnership”. Countrywide CEO Alison Platt […]

Agent holds Macmillan coffee morning – and collects £100 fine for inviting passers-by

A branch which was holding a charity coffee morning for Macmillan advertised the event on a temporary pavement sign right outside its door – and was fined £100. Connells branch manager Lee Hassan was so upset that he put up a tweet saying Chelmsford City Council’s action had been appalling, and using the hashtags “have […]

Agent who overcame cancer is chosen for charity calendar

An estate agent is appearing in a charity calendar for next year. Peter Sharman represents March in the Macmillan Awareness calendar. Like all those featured in the calendar, Sharman has experience of cancer. Nine years ago he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer which had started to spread, and underwent treatment. Today, the co-founding director […]

Countrywide, LSL and Foxtons facing £26m annual profit cut from lettings fee ban

September 28, 2017

Email to a friend Print The UK’s three biggest listed estate agencies could have their profits hit by a combined £26m once the lettings fee ban is introduced. A report by analysts Peel Hunt, looking at the prospects of listed agencies Countrywide, LSL and Foxtons, paints a bleak picture for them and the wider market. […]

Opinion piece: Is it time to break up Countrywide and sell off the parts?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone when to stop, but has that moment now arrived for Countrywide? We have been witnessing a rapid decline in its business in recent years, with poor results, declining profits and an exodus of good staff. Any shareholder worth their salt would be saying enough is enough – and if […]

How local is local? Average high street branch is 3km from listings while Local Property Experts ‘cover more ground’

The average local estate agency branch is around 3km (about 1.9 miles) away from their properties – whereas Local Property Experts with Purplebricks list properties that are typically 10km (about six miles) apart from each other. The claim comes from estate agency comparison website GetAgent, but doubt has been cast as to the independence of […]

When is an expert not an expert – and isn’t local knowledge the key?

We know that the internet hybrid agents are calling their valuers ‘Local Property Experts’. But how do you define ‘an expert’ in the eyes of the buying public? And if someone fails to meet that definition, should there be some form of recourse or sanctions against them for declaring themselves to be something they are […]

Corbyn’s pledge to introduce rent controls comes under fire

Jeremy Corbyn’s confirmation that a Labour government would introduce rent controls has come under attack. Yesterday, at the close of Labour’s party conference, Corbyn said: “We will control rents. “Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.” The […]

Agent Provocateur: Why won’t the public put more value on agents – and is it our fault?

September 27, 2017

Email to a friend Print I recently took part in an RICS debate that asked “What does it mean to be a professional in residential estate and lettings agency?” The audience, at RICS HQ, were budding and present chartered surveyors. Partly to start a debate I jumped straight in and said that I thought the […]

Two more advert cases against agents informally resolved – but formal resolutions up on last year

Email to a friend Print Two more informally resolved complaints against agents have been reported by the Advertising Standards Authority. In the first case, Cityzen Properties was challenged as to claims made on its website and Facebook. A complainant queried whether the claims “serving the whole of London” and “one of the leading east London […]

Lettings fee ban to result in job losses and lack of morale

Email to a friend Print Jobs will be lost when the letting fees ban comes in, and morale among remaining staff will drop like a stone. Potential newcomers to the industry will look for jobs elsewhere. The warning comes from estate agent recruitment consultancy Property Personnel which claims the ban will have an extensive impact […]

Review of the Week: And this is one super-fan of online agents

Email to a friend Print Review of the Week – and please excuse our grammar, as it should really be Reviews of the Week, all in one generous helping. The reviewer, one Connie Doull, appears to be based in America but can only be described as a super-fan of online agents, especially the British variety. […]

‘Bleak picture’ for tenants as a third of agents report landlords increasing rents

Email to a friend Print The number of letting agents seeing landlords increasing rents has hit a two-year high. The latest ARLA Propertymark Private Rented Sector report, based on a survey of 216 member branches, shows the proportion of letting agents who saw landlords increasing rent costs for tenants rose to 35% in August – […]

Rightmove reviews membership of franchise firm after claims of re-selling space on portal

September 26, 2017

Email to a friend Print Rightmove said last night that it is to review membership of US franchise firm Keller Williams. The firm is one of the largest property firms in the world, with over 139,000 ‘associates’ and some 790 ‘market centres’ in 13 countries. Keller Williams, which arrived in the UK in 2013 and […]

Huge operation to crack down on letting agents across London under way today

Email to a friend Print Agents throughout London are being placed on standby today for a major one-day crackdown by Trading Standards. Officers from 15 Trading Standards offices in the capital will today be visiting letting and property management agents – and scouting for evidence of compliance, for example on the display of fees. Failure […]

Get rid of your fake listings and ban rogue agents, new petition tells Rightmove

Email to a friend Print A petition to Rightmove is calling on the portal to implement wide-ranging changes, including a ban on rogue agents and a filter to curb ‘fake’ listings. The Home Buyers&Sellers petition has been placed on Change.org, which describes itself as the world’s largest petitions platform. The petition claims: “We have found […]

Woman says challenged review on allAgents is identical to one that has been on Trustpilot for a year

Email to a friend Print A reviewer of Purplebricks, who has received an email from allAgents querying whether her review of Purplebricks is genuine, says that an identical assessment is on Trustpilot – where only reviews from verified customers appear. Joanne Buckley received a note from Martin McKenzie of allAgents which says: “Purplebricks has flagged […]

Agent hits out at dirty tricks of unscrupulous ‘underbelly of industry’

Email to a friend Print A high street firm has accused agents across the UK of dirty tricks, describing them as the “underbelly of the industry”. James Pendleton, which has ten offices in south and west London, said regulation may be the only way to stamp out poor practices. Founder Lee James Pendleton said the […]

Surveyors down-valuing are causing more transactions to collapse, says Bank of England

September 21, 2017

Increasing numbers of transactions collapsed in the third quarter as surveyors down-valued properties, the Bank of England says. The central bank’s latest summary of business conditions, based on feedback on the economy among 12 regional estate agents, said the housing market has softened, especially in higher price brackets. The feedback from regional agents said: “There […]

Farmhouse buyer complains to ombudsman after finding he is short of two acres

The buyer of a farmhouse advertised as being set in approximately eight acres of land says he is complaining to the Property Ombudsman after discovering that the land measured just under six acres. Andrew Watson bought the property in September 2015 through agent Yorkshire’s Finest. Watson, who also owns a further parcel of land measuring […]

Sales values in annual decline for first time since financial crisis as transactions fall

The value of transactions in the major towns and cities of England and Wales fell for the first time since the midst of the financial crisis, the ONS says. The ONS house price statistics for small areas in England and Wales shows that the value of sales in the year to March 2017 was £239bn, […]

Trustpilot explains why it will take days to sort out UK reviews of Purplebricks ‘mistakenly’ on US site

Review and rating site Trustpilot has contacted EYE “to add some clarity regarding the 7-10 day time frame for handling the reviewers mistakenly invited by Purplebricks to review its US business”. A Trustpilot spokesperson based in London said: “A seven-day period is necessary to provide reviewers with enough time to respond to contact from our […]

Watch it as it happens: Rightmove to live stream EA Masters talks tomorrow

Rightmove will be running a number of live streams on the day of the EA Masters for agents to watch online via the Rightmove hub. The streams will give anyone not able to attend on the day the chance to hear from some of the top speakers at the event. Agents can view the schedule […]

Cartels – and what estate agents should never talk about to each other

September 20, 2017

Email to a friend Print Estate agents wanting to avoid being drawn into secret cartels should be very careful in talking to each other about fees and business strategies which are not in the public domain. Juliette Enser, project director at the Competition and Markets Authority, told EYE: “Staff should not be discussing competitively sensitive […]

Agent agrees to drop claim that ‘only’ it could get sellers highest possible price

Three more complaints against agents have been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. One complaint was about a circular distributed by a RE/MAX agent which said that “only” that firm “will get you the highest possible price”. A complainant challenged whether the claim was misleading and could be substantiated. The advertiser said the claim […]

Licensing scheme which has brought 1,200 landlords and 25 lettings to book could be cancelled

England’s first compulsory borough-wide licensing scheme is under threat, it is claimed. Newham, in east London, introduced its scheme in 2013. It has since prosecuted 1,215 private landlords, banning 28 of them, and brought legal action against 25 letting agents. In addition, a “significant” number of landlords are of interest to HMRC because of potential […]

Lettings fees ban will be our biggest challenge, say agents

Letting agents consider the impending fees ban to be their most significant challenge in the coming months. Fixflo has published the 2017 Fixflo Report, which rounds up the answers provided by nearly 400 lettings professionals managing almost 90,000 rental properties for the company’s annual Rental Repairs Survey. The finding is in the new 2017 Fixflo […]

Spicehaart fined by magistrates over unlicensed HMO – in town where it has its HQ

Spicerhaart has been handed a bill of £2,670 after operating an unlicensed HMO in the town where the company has its headquarters. Colchester council, in Essex, brought the prosecution which resulted in magistrates fining Spicerhaart £2,000 with £500 costs and a £170 victim surcharge. Tina Bourne, Colchester councillor responsible for housing and communities, said: “We […]

Regulator lays bare what went on in estate agency cartel case

September 19, 2017

The Competition and Markets Authority has exposed what really went on in the latest estate agency cartel case. The ruling was made back in May, but the CMA has now made public the details. These show that a group of six agents in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, had a meeting where they agreed to fix their minimum […]

Review site allAgents blames ‘technical issue’ for disappearance of supplier’s page

Review site allAgents has totally rejected any suggestion that industry software supplier Reapit’s page was taken down from its site in any untoward circumstance. Instead, it says there was a ‘technical issue’. Yesterday, allAgents suspended the Purplebricks’ account, saying this was unprecedented. However, Dan Hare of Reapit posted up a comment on EYE which said: […]

Foxtons says it will respect court ruling after test case bans use of ‘admin fees’ as blanket term

Foxtons has suggested that it fully accepts last week’s ruling that it can no longer use ‘administration fees’ as a blanket term, but must provide a breakdown. The firm looks as though it will not be appealing – although it has 28 days in which to do so. Instead, it has welcomed clarification. The ruling […]

Video of the Week: And here’s an agent selling the perfect lifestyle

Estate agents’ videos are often a bit like Marmite – over-long, too much hard sell, annoying voice-overs and the wrong sort of music. However, the new type of ‘lifestyle’ video is much more engaging, we think. Next Chapter Homes, in Brentwood, Essex, has done its first such video – and we think it is very […]

How much will the lettings fee ban cost your business? Here’s where you can find out

How much will the impending fees ban cost you? Tenants’ repairs reporting service Fixflo has launched a new free tool, the Letting Fees Ban Calculator, available online now. All users need to do is enter information such as the number of properties they manage, the average length of tenancy and their average letting fee in […]

EYE newsflash: allAgents review site suspends Purplebricks account

September 18, 2017

AllAgents has suspended the Purplebricks account on its site. It has never before suspended an account. allAgents said it had taken the unprecedented action after “repeated threats of legal action forcing the removal of negative reviews from our website”. Allagents said it will continue to accept genuine customer reviews for Purplebricks although it will be […]

allAgents removes over 70 reviews of Purplebricks after legal challenges, claim

Over half the reviews of Purplebricks on the allAgents site have been removed, with Purplebricks saying it would vigorously defend its reputation against lies and defamation. Martin McKenzie, of allAgents, said that a legal letter had been received. He told EYE that 71 – over half the total reviews – have been removed He said: […]

Fraud agent who marked up invoices is ordered to repay £1m or face further seven years in jail

Email to a friend Print A former letting agent has been ordered to pay a confiscation order of £1m made under the Proceeds of Crime Act. It follows a financial investigation by Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards. Harpreet Garcha, who ran property lettings franchises Belvoir in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, all in Northamptonshire, was sentenced […]

No autumn bounce in asking prices as London and south drag down market

Asking prices of properties coming on to the market have fallen by 1.2% – meaning that the usual autumn price bounce has failed to materialise. It is the first monthly fall at this time of year since 2013, Rightmove said this morning. The average new asking price is now £310,003, down from August’s £313,663 – […]

Tenants paying more as annual rate of rental inflation rises

New rents rose 2.4% across the UK in August on an annual basis. It was the highest rate of annual inflation since last November. The average monthly rent now stands at £939 – although when London is excluded, it is £776. In London itself rents rose 2.5% on August last year following three successive months […]

UK industry doesn’t like us, laments Purplebricks co-founder Kenny Bruce

Spotted on social media – and it reminded us of Johnny No Mates or the Millwall fans’ chant, No One Likes Us. Kenneth Bruce, half of the successful brother duo behind the global phenomenon Purplebricks, is clearly a bit upset that he’s not more popular. Writing on LinkedIn on Friday, the day that Purplebricks launched […]

New RICS code for agents updates guidance on conflicts of interest and financial crime

A new Blue Book has been issued by the RICS – with no mention at all of online or hybrid agents. However, an RICS press release which promotes the Blue Book’s launch specifically cites an agent who warns against ‘online selling’. The Blue Book provides practice standards for agents working in both sales and lettings, […]