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Network of property portals around elusive Houser – but information scant

July 20, 2017

Mystery surrounds the Houser set-up. Three other property portals appear to be operating in tandem with it, while the company that we were told ran Houser has been dissolved, according to Companies House. Altogether there appear to be four inter-connected portals which are still publishing listings, although not, it seems, always taking down old ones: […]

Humberts reveals major new investment as it uproots itself from the countryside

Humberts has announced a change in direction, away from the rural sector. It will not, however, be changing its rural-looking logo which includes the wording “part of the landscape since 1842”. The firm said: “By consolidating the existing business which has now moved away from the rural sector, Humberts has attracted significant investment from a […]

Martin & Co franchisees acquire their biggest single competitor

The Property Franchise Group has confirmed one of its largest ever single-office acquisitions. Martin & Co Plymouth has acquired Executive Lets, said to be the city’s largest letting agents. Chris and Merolyn Whitaker purchased the Martin & Co Plymouth franchise in April 2015. They had previously served 16 years in the Army’s Intelligence Corps. Executive […]

Another purchase for Leaders as it acquires property portfolio

Three weeks after acquiring Bulmer Estates in Nottingham, Leaders has completed the purchase of the 500-plus property portfolio of Derby-based lettings business MBM Management. The company was established in 1996 and successfully run by founder and owner Malcolm Blount – who has now retired – along with his daughter Helen Hufton who joined the business […]

Elusive property portal Houser rapped by advertising watchdog over out-of-date property listing

July 19, 2017

Mysterious property portal Houser has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for listing a property that was taken off the market two years ago. However, last night, EYE could still see the same property listed on Houser, via agents Newton Fallowell. Although a ‘flash’ note said the property was no longer available, photos and […]

Online agent’s advert claims to have saved thousands – but that WASN’T what brought in the complaints

Here is today’s conundrum. Why would someone complain to the Advertising Standards Authority about this advert for online firm I Am The Agent? Obvious, isn’t it! Can the bloke’s claim to have sold his property online for just £399, saving £3,650 in estate agency fees, be substantiated? Is it misleading? Well, it’s possible that someone […]

Duncan Smith demands that George Osborne’s war on landlords is called off

Prominent Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has said the Government should call off the fight against private landlords. The former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said it was time to reconsider “the way we treat private landlords”. He went on: “A large number of them are talking about no longer buying to let, […]

Watchdog bans advertisement which suggested agent had ‘traditional’ branches

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement which gave the impression that firm had a physical office “in the style of a traditional estate agent”. Yorkshire’s Finest showed on its website a map with Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Denby Dale and Holmfirth shown, with telephone numbers. The text referred to them as “our offices”. […]

MP launching new bid to make rental accommodation ‘fit for human habitation’

Labour MP Karen Buck is planning to reintroduce her Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill in Parliament today. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the move had been expected. Buck, who represents Westminster North, originally introduced a Private Member’s Bill in 2015/2016 seeking to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require […]

Upbeat LSL tells City it will make higher than expected profits this year

July 18, 2017

Shares in LSL enjoyed a strong day on the stock market yesterday after the company announced that it expects “materially” higher than expected profits this year. The positive – and unscheduled – announcement comes ahead of its interim results due on August 1. The firm had previously said it could be hit be the Brexit […]

It’s free! Online firm that failed to get Dragons on board relaunches as ‘no fee’ agency

An online agent that failed to get funding from the Dragons’ Den is now under new ownership and pitching itself as the UK’s first “no-fee” agent. Its business model is to make its money from referral fees, meaning that to get a free service, sellers must use specific conveyancing and mortgage services. House Tree, launched […]

It’s cheap! Online agent offering to sell homes for just £99 goes live

It may not be free – but a new online agent is offering rates starting at £99 with discounts available for key workers. 99Home went fully live yesterday after a period of test and development. A fee of £99 is payable in advance on all three packages offered with prices including VAT. There is nothing […]

‘We cannot investigate every possible fraud’ – police speak out after successful private prosecution of agent

Greater Manchester Police have now issued a statement after the force did not investigate allegations of fraud by agent Timothy Shinners. As a result, a private prosecution was brought and Shinners was sentenced to three years in prison and also banned from being a director for eight years. The private prosecution was brought by fellow […]

Business with big name angel backers will offer tenants chance to make money out of Airbnb

The latest proptech company in the headlines because of backing by such names as Kenny Bruce, Harry Hill and Sir Terence Leahy, was previously a laundry business. Lavanda, which previously set out its stall as the ‘Uber’ for the laundry industry, will now offer property management from long-lets to short-lets via Airbnb. There have been […]

‘I had to bring private prosecution against fraud agent because police refused to investigate’, claim

July 17, 2017

The prosecution of fraudulent agent Timothy Shinners was brought privately because police declined to investigate, it is claimed. Shinners is now serving three years, as reported by EYE on Friday, and has been disqualified as a director for eight years, solely as a result of the perseverance of one man, a fellow director, who uncovered […]

Housing minister’s wife is a private landlord – declared as interest by Alok Sharma

Estate agent Paul Smith’s views on the housing crisis have been cited in Parliament, where it also emerged that the wife of new housing minister Alok Sharma is a private landlord. Sharma made it clear: “May I start by declaring an interest, in that my wife is the owner of a property that is rented […]

Proportion of properties marked sold hits seven-year high, Rightmove claims

Almost half of agency stock has been sold subject to contract so far this year as buyer demand continues to outweigh supply, Rightmove claims. The portal said this morning that the strength of buyer demand and lack of property coming to market has resulted in over 45% of agents’ property stock being sold subject to […]

Treasury take from Stamp Duty Land Tax could plummet, warns watchdog

The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that Treasury receipts from Stamp Duty Land Tax could be hit hard – possibly by around £10bn. The OBR has identified Stamp Duty as one of five key areas of concern. While it expects revenues from Stamp Duty to rise this year, to £13.1bn, it has warned that […]

Opinion: Is finding a good conveyancer difficult or impossible?

Is it difficult to find a good conveyancer? No, it’s not difficult. It’s almost impossible. Like the NHS, it’s bursting at the seams. Poor pay and overwork meant that last year 48% of fall-throughs were blamed on “solicitor delays”. That’s 106,000 deals, and with one in three cases aborting yearly, one third of your profit […]

Star investors including Kenny Bruce and Harry Hill put £1m into new lettings proptech firm

A start-up proptech firm which claims to have a new take on the lettings market has raised a further £1m in angel funding – with a galaxy of investors. Lavanda’s new investors include Kenny Bruce, co-founder of Purplebricks; former Countrywide boss, Rightmove founder and well-known industry veteran Harry Hill; Sir Terry Leahy, ex-CEO of Tesco; […]

Agent who helped himself to tenants’ deposits is jailed for three years

July 14, 2017

An agent who failed to pay tenants’ deposits into a protection scheme and spent the money has been jailed for three years. Timothy Shinners, 31, committed the £80,000 fraud over a six-year period at Platinum Properties in Bolton, cheating his business partner Chris Baron in the process. After leaving Platinum Properties, he went on to […]

Letting agency boss who stole nearly £100,000 is spared prison

A letting agency boss has been spared jail after stealing nearly £100,000 from a landlord whose portfolio of properties he was managing. Stephen Webster, 38, who ran The Letting Business in Norwich, used the money to fund his drug and alcohol addictions. The landlord became concerned at how his 95 properties were being managed. An […]

Private rented sector continuing its growth – but don’t expect all tenants to be happy

The latest English Housing Survey, published yesterday, shows the private rented sector continuing to grow. In 2015/16 there were 4.5m households renting privately in England, representing 20% of all households. This means the proportion has doubled since the eighties and nineties, and there are now 2.5m more households in the sector than there were in […]

Agent Provocateur: A lot of noise about proptech – but it can be simple, affordable and genuinely useful

So much happens these days outside working hours. Most surveys indicate that anything from 50% to 70% of customers would like to be able to interact with their agent when they are actually looking online – which of course tends to be the evenings/weekends. Convention dictates leaving either a voicemail or email request for a […]

Help to Buy scheme has pushed up prices for first-time buyers, agent claims

The Government’s Help to Buy scheme may be helping first-time buyers to get on the property ladder, but they are paying more for it due to the structure of the initiative, an agent claims. The Help to Buy equity loan scheme, launched in 2013, provides a Government loan to a borrower of up to 20% […]

NEWSFLASH: Belvoir announces acquisition of financial services business within Mortgage Advice Bureau network

July 13, 2017

Belvoir, which has over 300 offices on the high street and is currently the UK’s largest property franchise business, this morning announced the acquisition of Brook Financial Services Ltd, which trades as Mortgage Advice Bureau within the Mortgage Advice Bureau’s network. Mike Goddard, who founded Belvoir in 1995, also announced to the stock exchange this […]

Interim costs ordered to be paid to Agents’ Mutual of £1.24m ‘a safe minimum’, says judge

The costs ordered to be paid to Agents’ Mutual by Gascoigne Halman were yesterday described by the judge as a “safe minimum”. Meanwhile, Gascoigne Halman must continue to list on OnTheMarket and pay its listing fees, as well as comply with the ‘one other portal’ rule. Gascoigne Halman must pay the sum, £1.24m, within a […]

Amazon could enter housing market and threaten Purplebricks’ US expansion plan, says UK analyst

Amazon could be about to enter the housing market, City analyst Anthony Codling has said. In a note to investors yesterday evening, Codling, of Jefferies, said that Amazon had placed a “hire realtor’ placeholder in its home and business services section – a move that could signal a threat to Purplebricks’ imminent entry into the […]

Chestertons lose appeal in ex-employee ‘whistleblowing’ case

Chestertons has had an appeal dismissed in a landmark, and long-running, case involving a former employee. It said last night it will not pursue the case further. Mohamed Nurmohamed was employed by Chesterton Global Ltd (‘Chestertons’) as director of its Mayfair office. He was dismissed in 2013 and brought proceedings in 2014 in an employment […]

Rents WILL rise after fees ban and our profitability will be hit, say agents

A majority of letting agents believe that rents will rise by 5% to 10% per month once the fees ban is introduced. Only a tiny proportion (1.33%) are in favour of the ban, with 79% in favour of a cap. These are two of the findings by guaranteed rent firm Rent4sure, which surveyed 452 letting […]

NEWSFLASH: Gascoigne Halman ordered to pay Agents’ Mutual interim costs of £1.24m

July 12, 2017

Gascoigne Halman has been ordered to make an interim costs payment of £1.24m within 14 days to Agents’ Mutual, but the contract issue of the dispute has been stayed pending an application for appeal. Chairman Mr Justice Marcus Smith said the agent must pay the costs of the CAT and said a full payment would […]

NEWSFLASH: Agents’ Mutual and Gascoigne Halman lock horns in court again

Agents’ Mutual and Gascoigne Halman have locked horns in court yet again, this morning arguing over whether the original high court contract dispute case can continue while permission is sought to appeal the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) judgement. The hearing was told that the case was of critical interest, with Property Industry Eye being cited. […]

Purplebricks to recruit ‘hundreds’ more Local Property Experts

Purplebricks says it is to recruit “hundreds” of new Local Property Experts as it ramps up its bid to become the biggest estate agent in the UK. The business already has over 500 self-employed Local Property Experts across the UK. Michael Bruce, Purplebricks founder and CEO, said: “Our quest for more talented Local Property Experts […]

Proptech firm launches charging tenants £600 to find the ‘ideal property’

A proptech firm is launching, promising to revolutionise the rental sector. Urban Collective is offering to cut down on the hassle and time it takes tenants to search for a property. The start-up has launched a property find service, starting in London, that provides experts, or “Sherpas”, with local knowledge of each client’s chosen area. […]

‘Best overall UK agent’ is announced by allAgents review site

Controversial agency review site allAgents late yesterday evening announced its annual industry winners, including taker of the top prize, Dayfields, a firm in north London, which swept the board. allAgents made its announcement after our story yesterday about the September launch of Peter Knight’s of a new Guide to the top UK agents. Last night, […]

How easy is it to fake a tenant reference? Very!

As has been reported, agencies are being warned about tenants faking documents to pass referencing checks. But how easy is it to fake a reference? The bad news is that it’s easy, and you probably can’t do much about it. The current system is flawed, and needs innovation and radical change before it should be […]

Supply and demand both perk up in June despite annual drops

New instructions and buyer registrations increased on a monthly basis in June across haart branches, prompting the agent to suggest that Brexit and the General Election have had little impact on the market. Paul Smith, chief executive of haart, said even London saw stock increase by 14% during June. However, figures painted a less rosy […]

Two-thirds of sellers do not visit a high street office before instructing an agent

July 11, 2017

Two-thirds of sellers do not visit a high street agent’s office before putting their property on the market. The statistic is almost exactly the same for landlords – only 37% visit a letting agent’s branch before instruction. The figures are meaningful because they are drawn from the Property Academy’s tenth annual Home Moving Trends and […]

Academy rejects claims of agents ‘not being told’ that appearing in new Guide could cost £1,200 per branch per year

There are complaints that agents who achieve a listing in the forthcoming Best Estate Agent Guide 2018 are not being clearly told that in order to promote their attainment they have to pay a licence fee of £1,200 plus VAT per branch per annum. The Guide, to be launched at the EA Masters event in […]

How I became a Viewber for a day – and yes, it works

There are some cool innovations in the world of proptech, but when six companies have to share £25,000 (in a competition administered by the University of Strathclyde), it’s pretty damning of their chances of developing anything of use. It’s why I’ve been so impressed with Ed Mead and Marcus de Ferranti of Viewber: they’ve raised […]

Most agents ‘support impending ban on tenant fees’, claim

Agents support the impending ban on letting fees charged to tenants and would like to see the end of Section 21, new research claims. Those are among the findings of new research conducted with 130 agents nationwide for software provider Goodlord. Reforms that estate agents are said to be broadly supportive of include: The ending […]

New trade body CIELA: Why agents should seize this opportunity

Before I explain why I am an impassioned founder member at CIELA, I feel I should first explain my agent journey to this point as it places my passion in context. I became an estate agent in 2002, by chance. Having spent three years training as a professional actor, I graduated and (unlike so many […]

Agents’ Mutual v Gascoigne Halman expected back in court this week over costs

July 10, 2017

Agents’ Mutual and Connells Group brand Gascoigne Halman are due back in court this week. The case management conference on Wednesday follows up last week’s unanimous judgment by the Competition Appeal Tribunal that Agents’ Mutual had not broken competition law on any count. Laying out its conclusions, the Tribunal panel said the ‘one other portal’ […]

Will online agents remove or change their ‘savings’ claims after regulator’s intervention?

Screengrabs taken by EYE at the weekend show just how important it is for online agents to claim that sellers save money by going with them, rather than with high street agents. We visited eight of the main online agents’ website following the warning, issued on Friday afternoon, by industry regulator NTSEAT (the National Trading […]

Show me the money! New search service being tested with Zoopla will tell buyers of properties with potential

A new service is being tested with Zoopla which will allow easier searching for a property. Users of Upshoot will be able to key in any search criteria they want – for example, their budget, number of bedrooms, size of house, and room proportions. Upshoot will instantly show them homes which match their requirements, but […]

Show me the money! New search service being tested will tell buyers of properties with potential

A new service is being tested which will allow easier searching for a property. Users of Upshoot will be able to key in any search criteria they want – for example, their budget, number of bedrooms, size of house, and room proportions. Upshoot will instantly show them homes being advertised onlinewhich match their requirements, but […]

More local high street firms launching parallel online estate agency offerings

We are now getting a stream of stories about high street agents launching online services. The latest is FranKeys in Claskegate, Lincolnshire. The firm is offering people the chance to have their property marketed through for a one-off fee from £834 including VAT and zero commission. The cost slightly undercuts Purplebricks at £849. The […]

Landlord who is barrister hit with bill of nearly £5,000 after HMO breach

A barrister has been ordered to pay £4,740 at Birmingham Magistrates Court for failing to obtain an HMO licence and for breaching management regulations at a three-storey property. Lewis Perry, 39, pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court to failing to obtain an HMO licence and for breaching management regulations. He was fined £3,500 plus told […]

NEWSFLASH: Industry regulator warns online agents against making ‘unsubstantiated’ claims in advertising

July 7, 2017

Estate agency businesses are being reminded to ensure that their advertising claims are accurate and truthful. The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team issued the warning this afternoon following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which recently upheld a complaint about Purplebricks. James Munro, head of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, […]

Reading of lengthy judgment says that OTM needed ‘one other portal’ rule’ to enter competitive market

Agents’ Mutual could not possibly have successfully entered the UK property portals market without the ‘one other portal’ rule, intensive reading of Wednesday’s lengthy judgment implies. The judgment suggests that any other challenger in the future will have to introduce the same rule in order to stand any chance of succeeding. A number of other […]