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House prices and transactions both down, says contrarian commentator Paul Smith

April 25, 2017

House prices and transactions are both down on a year ago, Spicerhaart boss Paul Smith has reported. The contrarian property commentator’s figures go largely against the tide of other housing market analysts – but are based on his own ‘on the ground’ business’s findings. Smith claims that house prices are deflating, not inflating, and that […]

Lawyer fined £10,000 over letting out unlicensed HMO

The owner of a property has been fined for failing to license the property and building an illegal extension at the rear. Brent Council, in London, prosecuted lawyer Mrs Suhasini Gurusinghe when she failed to respond to a notice that the property’s licence had expired. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact her to establish […]

Awesome! How one marketing expert thought EYE story on ‘hiking rents’ would be of interest to walkers

One of the joys, or otherwise, of editing EYE is the daily outpouring of emails from large numbers of people I’ve never heard of seeking publicity on behalf of organisations equally obscure. It’s bad enough, in any case, to be “reached out to” let alone be told we are “awesome”. Sporting job titles such as […]

NEWS FLASH: Barrister raises questions about duties owed by online agents to sellers

April 24, 2017

A leading barrister has raised several questions about the duties owed by online estate agents to their customers. In the Opinion, prepared for the UK PropTech Association (UKPA), Ian Rees Phillips of 6 Pump Court explores how the nature of up-front payment for estate agency services may create a conflict of interest between the online […]

Fake Twitter account goes live in name of Perple Brix – but who is behind it?

A parody Twitter account has been set up in the name of “Perple Brix”. Its launch appears to have followed news that Purplebricks senior non-executive director Nick Discombe has sold 1.6m shares for £3 each, for a total of £4.8m, apparently freeing cash to buy property. He still owns almost 5m shares. Discombe has been […]

Star fund manager praises Purplebricks for its ‘disruptive and competitive business model’

Investing veteran Neil Woodford has highlighted the importance of Purplebricks to his Patient Capital Trust. The online agent is in the top ten holdings of Woodford’s investment trust, making up 3.79% of the fund, and he describes it as “well placed to significantly disrupt the UK’s traditional estate agency business model”. Woodford raised a record […]

Rural firm Humberts returns to London market amid expansion plans and comeback of industry big hitter

Humberts is to open an office in central London. It has not had a London presence for some years and its image is that of a rural firm with no outlets within the M25. However, it has now announced a forthcoming acquisition in the Home Counties, plus plans to develop a franchised network, suggesting it […]

Bank of England ‘has over-slowed’ the home moving market’, say lenders

The Bank of England is to be blamed for the drastic slowing down of the property market, characterised by sellers’ reluctance. The accusation comes from the Council of Mortgage Lenders which says that home owners would prefer to stay put and do up their current homes. CML economist Bob Pannell says that it is nearly […]

Rayhan’s proptech news: Should you ditch the high street office and go ‘hybrid’?

Hybrid agency is all the buzz – Purplebricks, Countrywide and Martin & Co are just some of the better known brands looking to shape the space. But should every agent consider going hybrid? And what apps will smooth this transition? The most difficult part of estate agency is not selling homes. It never has been. […]

‘Rightmove’ For Sale board appears outside property on market through online agent

April 21, 2017

A For Sale board has appeared on a property which suggests that it is being sold by Rightmove itself – causing a flurry of concern among local agents. The For Sale sign, on the property in Ferndown, Dorset, carries the Rightmove logo and mentions no agent. It does, however, direct people to a telephone number. […]

easyProperty boss tells of ‘secrets to success’ as it plans to be credible threat to high street agents

The boss of online agent easyProperty has given a new interview – to Yahoo Finance – explaining his firm’s success. In the interview, Rob Ellice tells “what makes easyProperty tick, and how they want to be a ‘credible threat’ to the traditional UK high street estate agent”. He said that any business should concentrate on […]

Consultation of letting fees ban in disarray after election called

The consultation on the ban on letting agent fees has been thrown into disarray by the snap General Election. The series of workshops which the Department for Communities and Local Government planned to hold with agents has been cancelled – but the consultation itself is continuing, even though it ends on June 2, just days […]

Barwell in danger as Labour targets housing minister’s seat to launch General Election campaign

The Labour Party chose the marginal seat of housing minister Gavin Barwell to launch its General Election campaign, calling for council houses to be built across the country. Barwell holds a slim majority of just 165 in Croydon Central, the fourth most marginal seat in the country, and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn visited […]

Simply stunning! Is this the best property video yet?

Is this the most stunning property video ever? The film which includes drone footage and is by North Shore Productions, shows off not just the property but the lifestyle that potentially goes with it. The makers have cleverly ignored the temptation to add a voice-over, but the music is good and there is a clever […]

Purplebricks says its system does allow for offers after a property is ‘sold’

April 20, 2017

Purplebricks has said that it passes on all offers to vendors, including those made after a property is listed as sold subject to contract. The firm’s assurance comes after a review was posted online by a seller, claiming: “Once a valuation is agreed and one person agrees to buy at that it is considered sold.” […]

Agent Provocateur: Is this how independents should be working together?

Easter always takes two weeks out of the market, yet I’m somehow always surprised that it does. I’ve been kept busy over the break by my daughter’s car packing up. She’s young and hasn’t got a clue (neither has her twin brother) and she’s lucky she’s got me around who at least knows one end […]

New proptech consultancy is launched to advise property companies

Key proptech influencers James Dearsley and Eddie Holmes have announced the launch of www.proptechconsult.com The partnership is a formalisation of the work that Dearsley and Holmes have undertaken since 2013 to help property companies understand and overcome the challenges brought about by digital transformation, while underpinning the growth of proptech companies in the UK. The […]

Build to Rent specialists pledge to offer three-year tenancies

The British Property Federation has pledged that the Build to Rent sector will offer three-year tenancies. The option will be offered to private tenants in all buildings operated by 20 Build to Rent specialists. Tenants will not have to take out the longer option and can opt for shorter terms. Signatories to the pledge include […]

RICS accused of conflict of interest failures over member receivership roles

RICs has faced accusations of failing to manage conflicts of interest within its own membership. A Westminster Hall debate was held on Tuesday by Labour MP Jo Stevens on behalf of her constituent Kashif Shabir whose business had been placed in receivership by Lloyds Bank as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. She said: […]

Landmark moment as buyers and sellers exchange contracts using e-signatures – a first in UK conveyancing?

April 19, 2017

Buyers and sellers have exchanged contracts on a house using electronic signatures. It is said to be the first time that e-signatures have been used for exchange of contracts on a residential property in the UK. Conveyancing firm Convey Law facilitated the exchange using Bonafidee e-signatures for both sale and purchase. Under the system, the […]

‘Valued my house and ended up having an affair with my wife’ – that’s what the review says

We have decided to introduce a new feature on EYE, to go with our ever-popular Picture of the Week. And first up is our initial contender for Review of the Week. We’re pretty certain that this review, visible on a Google search yesterday for the agents in question, is not quite the message they’d want […]

Over 60 fines handed out in first eight months of Right to Rent – and just 31 people deported in almost two years

Financial penalties totalling £37,000 were handed out in the first eight months of the Right to Rent scheme’s roll-out across England. Landlords and agents must carry out the checks on all potential private tenants under the legislation, which went live in February 2016. Responses to Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association show that […]

New portal launches aimed at listing properties with at least an acre of land

Two new property portals have launched – both proving it’s a case of horses for courses. One targets homes with at least an acre of land; the other is aimed at the lettings flat and house share market. 1st Equestrian has been launched by agent Graham Hain, who says the idea came from customers asking […]

Was any hermit crab hurt in the making of your advert, animal lovers ask Zoopla

Zoopla’s new advertising campaign featuring hermit crabs with model houses strapped to their shells, has caused a stir among animal lovers. ZPG’s social media team were kept busy yesterday answering comments, including a Tweet from a person who said they would be complaining to Ofcom. Zoopla assured the complainant that all the hermit crabs involved […]

ARLA Propertymark comes out fighting against letting fees ban

April 18, 2017

ARLA Propertymark has swung into full campaign mode on the letting fees ban, sending out a ‘battle kit’ to all its members. The kit, which was sent out just before the long weekend, is comprehensive. It includes a campaign letter template; wording for an e-postcard that can be shared with colleagues, enabling them to oppose […]

Zoopla shells out on its most expensive TV advertising campaign yet

Zoopla has launched a new advertising campaign, featuring hermit crabs with homes depicted on their shells. It is ZPG’s most expensive campaign yet, described as the “biggest ever investment for Zoopla”. The adverts depict the crabs as home movers discussing property. The first 60-second TV advert in a campaign which Zoopla hopes will have longevity […]

First meeting of new trade body CIELA prompts ‘passionate’ five-hour discussions

Aspiring new trade body CIELA (Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents) has held its first meeting. Altogether, there were 24 people – of whom 18 were agents – present at the lengthy meeting. Six other agents sent their apologies. CIELA said afterwards: “There was unanimous agreement that the lack of a shared PR resource […]

Gloom and doom survey from RICS prompts misery fest among headline writers

The RICS’s gloomy housing market survey predictably triggered some ‘world about to end’ headlines. The Telegraph reported it under the heading: “Housing market grinds to a halt as number of homes on market hits record low.” Not to be outdone, Bloomberg carried the story under the headline: “London Housing in Deepest Slump Since the Financial […]

House prices still growing – but at a crawl

Annual house price inflation is now three times less than 12 months ago thanks to last year’s Stamp Duty rush, data shows. Your Move’s England & Wales House Price Index showed that prices returned to growth annually in March, rising 3.3% to 301,278, with monthly price inflation at 0.5%. In comparison, house price growth in […]

New property ‘portal’ challenger gets set to launch – free for agents

April 13, 2017

A new property listing service is in the final stages of planning before launch. It aims to include every property listing from every agent across the UK, and will be free. Its founders have hit out at the ‘exorbitant’ fees charged by portals. Proptyle, described as a search engine rather than a portal, is being […]

New instructions fall back again as stock levels hit record new low

New buyer enquiries and sales remained flat in March, as stock levels hit a new record low. The RICS said this morning that the UK housing market continues to lack impetus, with surveyors reducing their expectations for housing market performance this year. New instructions fell noticeably with 13% more respondents seeing a fall in new […]

Borrowing becomes cheaper than ever as lender slashes five-year mortgage deal to below 1.3%

In a move which has elicited genuine gasps in the mortgage world, a lender has slashed rates on a five-year fixed mortgage to just 1.29% – the same as for its two-year fixes. Atom Bank only launched into the mortgage market in December, and its latest offer went live yesterday. The digital-only lender is offering […]

Average revenue per Hunters outlet rises to £190,000, City told

Hunters has reported strong results for last year, with network income up by 17% to £35.4m. The firm, which is largely franchised, reported a 15% rise in revenue to £13.8m. Hunters, which was started 25 years ago by Yorkshire brothers Kevin and Keith Hollinrake together with John Waterhouse, opened 30 new branches last year, including […]

Online agent confirms itself as traditional ‘no-sale, no fee’ business

EweMove, the online agency business bought last year by The Property Franchise Group – owners of Martin & Co – yesterday evening said it has repositioned itself as it concentrates on recruiting experienced industry heavyweights. It said it “believes in traditional no sale, no fee” and that it has recently recruited agents from Countrywide as […]

‘Free’ awards scheme for agents looks set for expansion across 800 towns

April 12, 2017

An awards scheme for agents looks set to expand this year. The British Property Awards, which ran for the first time last year apparently without any advertising or publicity, is free to enter. Agents in towns across Britain are automatically entered but are sent emails to opt out. EYE became aware of it after an […]

First meeting of aspiring new trade body CIELA taking place today

The first formal meeting of members of aspiring new trade body CIELA, the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, is due to be held today, in Bicester, Oxfordshire. They will be discussing how to harness the potential firepower should independent agents choose to unite their resources and data to create a new trade organisation. […]

Savills gets its cheque book out to purchase single-office independent

Savills has acquired a single-office independent agent for an undisclosed sum. Granville Residential covers the Marlow, Maidenhead, Bourne End and Cookham areas in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire and now joins the Savills network of 89 residential offices across the UK and an international network of over 700 offices. Based in Marlow, Granville Residential was founded in […]

House prices rise to record high as Osborne’s ‘project fear’ forecast of major fall fails to materialise

Sales volumes in December – the last month for which data is available – fell by 31% in London and by 19% across England as a whole compared with a year ago, the Land Registry has reported. In December, there were 65,064 sales in England, compared with 80,367 the year before. It also said that […]

Missing! The tenant who forgot to claim back over £5,000 (and their employer didn’t notice either)

You’d think you would know if you were missing £5,250 – after all, it is hardly small change. Yet it took a tenancy deposit scheme over a year to track down the tenant who did not claim the money. Perhaps not surprisingly, the tenant was a corporate renter, with deposit and rent paid by their […]

EXCLUSIVE: Agents will have to undergo criminal checks under new Money Laundering regime

April 11, 2017

Estate agents will have to undergo – and almost certainly have to pay for it themselves – criminal record checks in order to stay in business. The new requirement falls under the new Money Laundering Regulations regime, which starts shortly this summer and which all sales agents must comply with. The warning comes from David […]

Why agents should not attempt to circumvent the fees ban

I’ve been touring the City the last few days and investors keep asking me, what will be the impact of a tenant fee ban? A shock, then a rapid correction, I tell them. It might even favour good agents. That puzzles them, but investors are a bright lot and they quickly catch on. It’s what […]

UK’s biggest conveyancer My Home Move on course for 100,000 completions a year after new acquisition

The UK’s largest conveyancer, My Home Move, has bought the country’s sixth largest conveyancing firm. In a mega deal, My Home Move has acquired Advantage Property Lawyers. Together the businesses will employ nearly 1,000 people and deliver almost 100,000 completions a year – achieving a significant increase in market share. My Home Move said that […]

Purplebricks pulls post which claimed 95% of vendors ‘heading over’ to online agents

A social media post for Purplebricks has been deleted after an EYE reader spotted it and we in turn brought it to the attention of the agent. The ‘save yourself from commisery’ post on LinkedIn and Twitter, claimed: “South East homeowners fight back against commission, with 95% heading to online agents over the traditional model.” […]

Rayhan’s proptech news: A look at the property empire of Donald Trump’s son-in-law

The dichotomy between innovation in the US and Europe is no small irony. In the UK, venture capitalists gripe over valuations and never compete to fund the future. It’s a major reason why the next Facebook or Google won’t come from the UK: the funding isn’t here. Insufficient funding has a knock-on effect in that […]

Government could curb deposits as well as impose outright ban on tenant fees

April 10, 2017

The Government has received widespread criticism following the long-awaited release of its consultation paper on banning tenant fees. The much-anticipated document was finally released on Friday and immediately drew industry concern as it appeared to try to go further by suggesting measures beyond just banning tenant fees. The document shows that the Government intends to […]

Fees ban is U-turn on what current and last three housing ministers kept telling industry

The past four housing ministers, including the incumbent Gavin Barwell, have all previously opposed tenant fee bans, research has revealed, as the Government showed no sign of a U-turn in its consultation on scrapping the charges. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has highlighted the discrepancy following the release of the long-awaited fee ban consultation on […]

Independent firm offers industry new online agency offering – and it’s free to vendors

An independent high street agent has launched a new tool designed to help both his own firm, and others, compete with online agents. Unusually, it is free to vendors – with the purchaser paying a fixed fee on completion. It also offers free listings to agents. However, the model is designed to incentivise agents not […]

Agents at a crossroads in survival: You must decide on the services you offer, warns Scarff

Industry veteran Bob Scarff has warned that agents must offer a range of services. Scarff, who believes that within the next five years 25% of all house sales will be by vendors opting for some form of self-service, said that agents of all sizes “have big decisions to make about where they’ll stand in the […]

High street agents ‘bring much more to the table’ than onliners, claim

An agent has rebutted accusations by Purplebricks that vendors are often left in the dark as to whether all offers have been passed on to them by high street firms. Purplebricks also said that high street firms left sellers out of pocket. But Shaun Amner, a Winkworth franchisee, said that traditional agents “bring much more […]

NEWSFLASH: Government finally unveils lettings fee ban consultation

April 7, 2017

The Government’s long awaited consultation on banning tenant fees has finally been published this morning. The proposals, first touted in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement five months ago in November, outline the controversial measures stopping lettings agents charging fees to tenants. The document shows that the Government intends to legislate that no agent will be […]