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Rapidly expanding purchaser of agencies across UK arrives in the south with latest acquisition

May 2, 2017

Lomond Capital, the rapidly expanding property group, has announced the purchase of a majority stake in a prominent south coast agency. Brand Vaughan currently has three offices in Brighton and Hove, and will continue to trade under its own name. The price Lomond has paid has not been disclosed but it would appear to be […]

Refunds: Ombudsman confirms sellers have up to a year to complain if agent lets them down

The Property Ombudsman has confirmed that if a complainant accepts a goodwill offer from an agent, then TPO will consider the matter closed. However, if the complainant does not accept the offer, the complainant has a whole year in which to escalate their complaint to the redress scheme. Online debate had suggested that the time […]

A bit close to home! Spicerhaart is among four agents prosecuted over boards

Four estate agencies have been taken to court over allegedly illegal boards. Among the four that Colchester Council prosecuted was Spicerhaart – which is headquartered in the town. The council also brought charges against William H Brown, Saxons and David Martin Group. The council said the signs had been put up as advertisements and did […]

Online agents have given high street firms a kicking – but industry figure says the ‘moaning’ must stop

Industry consultant Christopher Watkin says that high street agents have had a long overdue kick up the backside delivered by the arrival of online firms. He says that the industry had become lazy order-takers and that they should stop moaning about online agents. In a new video, he also says that agents are wrong to […]

How low can they go? Agent launches special offer – just £25 to include listing on Zoopla

April 28, 2017

No sooner do we run a story on a new online agent offering a £99 package than just days later along comes another – under-cutting it with a £25 deal. Daniel Thomas Estates yesterday tweeted the offer for May as a “£25 Zoopla listing offer”. Zoopla yesterday evening told EYE it was investigating after we […]

Supply of property on estate agent books at lowest level since 2002

The number of homes for sale has hit a 15-year low, estate agents claim. Meanwhile Nationwide this morning claimed that house prices had fallen for a second consecutive month – although this was on a ‘seasonally adjusted’ basis. Without seasonal adjustment, house prices actually crept up to stand at £207,699 in April, copared with £207,308 […]

Major housebuilder sets aside £130m to resolve ‘leasehold scandal’

Taylor Wimpey has set aside around £130m to alter contracts with freeholders following revelations that the house builder included ten-year doubling ground rents clauses in leases on some properties between 2007 and 2011. The company has been undertaking a review of the leases and yesterday announced that despite the doubling clauses being considered “entirely legal”, […]

Rightmove chairman cashes in over £4m worth of shares

Righmove chairman Scott Forbes has raised over £4m by selling shares. Altogether he sold 100,000 ordinary shares at an average price of £42.64 each, netting him £4.26m. Forbes still has a holding of 219,300 shares in Rightmove, representing 0.237% of all shares in issue. Forbes has been chairman of Rightmove since July 2005. In 2014 […]

Agent Provocateur: Is this why so many agents are resistant to change?

Over the last few weeks I’ve started being asked in by agents keen to gain an objective understanding of what’s happening out there in the world of estate agency. The day to day ups and downs of Viewber, and sheer busyness, meant it was difficult to focus at first, but being out on the road […]

NEWSFLASH: Countrywide and LSL both report falling revenues in first quarter of this year

April 27, 2017

Countrywide this morning reported income for the first quarter was £162m – down from £187m in the same period in 2016. The group said this was “in line with our expectations”. It said the first quarter of 2016 was boosted by the acceleration in transactions on buy-to-let properties and second homes in response to the […]

Estate agent caught on vendor’s CCTV during viewing jailed for ID theft and fraud

An estate agent who photographed clients’ bank cards while showing prospective buyers around their homes has been sentenced to two years in jail for identity theft and fraud. He had been employed only three months earlier by a reputable local firm on the recommendation of an equally reputable recruitment company. Both had been taken in […]

New ‘name and shame’ site will expose crooked letting agents to the public

Criminal letting agents and landlords in London will be ‘named and shamed’ on a new online database, Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced. The new database will be open to the public, going further than the national ‘blacklist’ due to be launched this autumn. This has been criticised as it will be open only to local […]

Leasehold campaigners confident ground rent reform will be Tory and Labour manifesto pledges

Campaigners have expressed confidence that both the Conservative and Labour parties will include leasehold reform in their election manifestos. It comes as Tory MP Peter Bottomley yesterday launched an early day motion in Parliament that condemned developers and sellers of houses with onerous ground rents. Early day motions (EDMs) are normally tabled to raise concerns. […]

It’s not just about the money: Agency clients value quality of service over cost

Estate agents are being urged to make better use of technology, particularly ensuring they have a positive reputation online. A report by Feefo, which helps firms collect online reviews from clients, asked 1,152 individuals about their experience of using an estate or letting agent. When it comes to choosing an agent, trust was important for […]

Recruitment specialist signs up former estate agents as new franchisees

Property recruitment firm Rayner Personnel has signed up two more franchisees. Its east London franchise has been taken up by Simon and Carrie Scott, who were previously minority co-owners of Jacksons in south-west London. Between 2006 and 2013, Carrie was sales director and Simon was lettings director of the firm, now part of Dexters. The […]

How on earth can it be so cheap? Online agent launches £99 sales deal to market property

April 26, 2017

A new online agency has launched, sharing an office with a high street firm, and offering what appears to be the cheapest package anywhere in the country – just £99, including VAT, to sell or let. 99Home’s launch elicited what can only be described as virtual gasps on social media, as industry figures envisaged a […]

Britain’s best agents achieve up to £36,000 more than asking price for their vendors, claim

The HomeOwners Alliance has claimed that a good estate agent can maximise their value to a vendor by selling a property for thousands more than the agent’s own asking price. The Alliance, which is one-third owned by conveyancing business ULS Technology, has named Britain’s best agents in a league table, saying that the one that […]

Suspend or extend: Agents back request over letting fees consultation

A number of influential agents have backed an official request by ARLA Propertymark asking the Government to suspend or extend the consultation on the fees ban. The agents include Hunters, whose founder and chairman is Kevin Hollinrake, now a Tory MP and regularly touted as a future housing minister. ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox […]

New Money Laundering Regulations: First the bad news – more red tape

Assuming there are no major changes to the draft Regulations and assuming the implementation date of June 26 doesn’t change, here are a few more implications estate agents need to be aware of. Regulation 21 indicates that agents may have to appoint a compliance officer who will be responsible for ensuring the business remains compliant. […]

High street letting agents slammed for ‘unethical practices’

Letting agents have been accused of willingly allowing gazumping in the private rental sector. A survey of more than 700 renters by online agent LetBritain found that 40% of UK tenants believe gazumping is a common practice when it comes to renting a property. No specific examples were given but a spokesman said respondents believed […]

Sellers ‘could sue online agents for breach of fiduciary care’, says barrister

April 25, 2017

The barrister who has looked into the business models of hybrid agents says that the possibility of legal actions being brought against them on the basis of a breach of fiduciary duty cannot be discounted. Ian Rees Phillips, of 6 Pump Court chambers, told EYE yesterday that he sees no immediate likelihood of such cases, […]

Major purchaser of agency businesses wins another £40m for further acquisitions

A company which has bought 30 agency businesses since 2010 has secured a war chest of nearly £40m for more acquisitions. Lomond Capital has announced £37.5m acquisition funding as it embarks on its latest expansion into new letting and sales markets, largely across the south of England. Clydesdale Bank will provide an acquisition facility of […]

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

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 […]