Suttons City Living Blog - Property Gossip

Powered By
Powered By Property Industry Eye

Housing supply falls to nine-month low as demand rises and affordability worsens

February 28, 2017

The number of properties on an estate agent’s books hit a nine-month low in January, NAEA Propertymark has revealed. The trade body’s latest Housing Report found members reported the number of properties available to buy had decreased from 41 in December to 38 in January. However, the number of buyers per branch increased to 425 […]

A quarter of all neighbourhoods ‘off-limits’ to home buyers, say official figures

A quarter of neighbourhoods in England and Wales were off-limits to many prospective home owners last year, the Office for National Statistics claims. The ONS took the price of an entry level property – those valued in the lower quartile of a price bracket locally – and found that the average income in a quarter […]

Rightmove ‘sketches out’ possibility of charging agents £2,500 per month in long term

February 27, 2017

Rightmove could charge agents an average £2,500 per month per office at some point in the long-term future. City analysts were briefed after Friday’s results were posted by the portal. At the briefing, incoming chief executive Peter Brooks-Johnson “sketched out the sustainability of growth to £2,500 longer term”, analyst William Packer reported. The sum of […]

Guidance for agents likely to be issued on viewings safety following £200,000 fine

NAEA Propertymark said at the weekend that it will seek to work with the Health and Safety Executive in order to issue guidance to agents. It would mean that for the first time there would be official health and safety guidelines for agents to follow in regard to viewings. It could mean that agents would […]

Letting agent jailed for over three years after stealing tenants’ deposits

The boss of a letting agency has been jailed for stealing £140,000 of tenants’ deposits. After the case, it emerged that an alleged £48,000 of rent payments were also involved, plus some further deposits. Mark Procter, director of Kirby Property in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to three years and four months for fraud at Cambridge […]

Firm expelled by redress scheme ‘under active investigation by Trading Standards’

A landlord is claiming that both she and her tenant are owed money by an agent apparently still trading after being thrown out by both its redress service and the tenancy deposit scheme it had used. The landlord said that she has been owed £3,300 in rent by a firm she names as Carter Stones […]

Purplebricks to face ‘uphill struggle’ in America, warns US realtor

Purplebricks could “face an uphill struggle” in America, a US realtor has said. The warning comes from Matt Fetick, who runs successful Keller Williams franchise operations in the USA and is also managing director of Keller Willliams UK. Fetick said that the American market is attractive, with agents earning record amounts last year. But, he […]

NEWSFLASH! Estate agent fined £200,000 after woman fell down well during viewing

February 24, 2017

A firm of estate agents has been fined £200,000 after a woman fell down an unguarded well during a viewing. Strakers, of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, had organised the open house viewing on April 23 last year. At Swindon Magistrates Court, the firm pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching the Health and Saafety at Work Act […]

NEWSFLASH: Big rises in profits and revenue for Rightmove

Rightmove this morning announced large rises in both revenue and profits this morning – and the retirement of boss Nick McKittrick. The giant portal, giving its results for last year, announced a 15% leap in revenue, to £220m. Operating profits were up 18% to £161.6m. Overall advertiser numbers, including both agents and developers, were up […]

Biggest ever study of UK estate agency industry announced – involving every branch and all onliners

The biggest ever study of the British estate agency industry has been announced this morning, and is likely to involve 30,000 high street branches plus all the online and hybrid firms. The study will involve analysing hundreds of thousands of data points, plus an enormous amount of mystery shopping. The Property Academy has embarked on […]

Purplebricks valuation is ‘totally bonkers’, says investment site

An investment site has described Purplebricks’ valuation as “wacky” and “totally bonkers” – and tipped The Property Franchise Company instead. The Property Franchise Company includes Martin & Co and online firm EweMove. Investor’s Champion did, however, praise Purplebricks – whose shares yesterday hit an all-time high after announcing plans to launch in America – for […]

Key workers priced out of buying homes in most of England and Wales

Experienced key workers are being priced out of buying homes in most of England and Wales, it has been claimed. Conveyancing firm My Home Move said that unless workers including teachers, nurses and paramedics earn at least £40,000 a year, they have a less than 30% chance of being able to afford to buy a […]

Agent Provocateur: Stormy times for agents but surely there’s plenty to feel good about

Housing market “slumps”, Stamp Duty Land Tax staying high, the industry being treated like a piggy bank, business rates rising – it’s easy to think it’s all bad news out there. The public, if they believe all they read and watch, might well think agents are all doing it wrong. But actually the headlines on […]

Purplebricks successfully raises £50m to fund expansion into America

February 23, 2017

Purplebricks is launching in America and yesterday evening successfully raised £50m through new shares to fund the move. The placing was “materially over-subscribed”, Purplebricks said this morning. In a bombshell announcement to the London Stock Exchange yesterday shortly after the close of trading, it announced it would be raising the money to enable expansion in […]

Agents beware! Property fraudsters increasingly hacking into emails in both sales and lettings

There is an on-going police investigation into the theft of £309,000 which should have gone to a couple who sold their flat two years ago. Police believe that Roger and Christine Wilkinson, of Maidenhead, Berkshire, may have been victims of an international crime syndicate. Police are said to be particularly interested in knowing how the […]

Property fraud: Can estate agents do more to prevent it?

I am sorry to report that conveyancing isn’t going to get quicker any time soon! I have just received the latest Buyer Deposit Redirection Fraud stats* provided by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Year on year losses are as follows: 2014 25 losses 2015 86 losses 2016 159 losses Total loss £24.3m. Average loss £90,000, […]

Agent tries to leave OnTheMarket after accusing it of spending budget on litigation

A small independent who signed up to Agents’ Mutual for five years says he is quitting OnTheMarket – despite initially having been a big supporter. He has now put the accusation to Agents’ Mutual, saying: “You broke the contract first.” Anthony Kerrigan, of Kerrigans in Doncaster, claims that Agents’ Mutual had said it would spend […]

Agency expelled by ombudsman scheme facing deadline to pay fine

An agent connected with a firm expelled from the Property Ombudsman scheme in October had until the end of yesterday to pay a £5,000 fine. Kirklees Council issued a £5,000 fixed penalty notice on Huddersfield agent Gallery, owned by Dennis Goodridge. The agent, which the local paper has since reported seems to have disappeared from […]

NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks launches audacious £50m bid to expand into America

February 22, 2017

Online agent Purplebricks this evening launched an audacious two-hour time slot for investors to pile £50m into its next expansion – into the USA. In a statement to the stock market, three minutes before 5pm today, Purplebricks said it would be launching a State by State roll-out in America. The money it hopes to have […]

Online agent’s TV ad which quoted ‘misleading’ £495 fee is banned

An advertisement for an online estate agent which quoted £495 as the fee has been banned because it was incumbent on sellers using the agent’s conveyancing and mortgage services. If they did not, they would have to pay extra. The ruling, which could affect other agents, is made public this morning by the Advertising Standards […]

Senior agents from big chains take up cut-price franchise offer at EweMove

Prospective EweMove franchisees are inquiring at the rate of 900 per month – and among them are agents employed by some of the big firms. Recent new franchisees who have signed up include senior people from Countrywide, Romans, Andrews and Whitegates. Some are said to have been made redundant, while others have left voluntarily. ‘Head […]

House give-away competition worries advertising watchdog

Advertising on Facebook which promoted a competition giving away a house has been banned. Real Hot Property’s “#HouseGiveaway” offered a home worth up to £150,000. Two complainants to the Advertising Standards Authority said that conditions of entry and the closing date were changed during the promotion, and challenged whether it had been run fairly. Real […]

Landlord of illegal flats ordered to repay £100,000 in rent – or go to jail

A landlord who converted a house into two flats without planning permission has been ordered to pay £108,000 following legal action by a local authority. Mohamed Omar Hassibi, 64, was prosecuted for breaching a planning enforcement notice requiring him to revert his property back to a single dwelling. At a sentencing and confiscation hearing at […]

Shelter announces name of new chief executive

Shelter has a new chief executive. She is Polly Neate, who is currently chief executive of domestic violence charity Women’s Aid. Neate will take up her new role in August, succeeding Campbell Robb who left in January to head up the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Shelter Scotland’s director, Graeme Brown, is acting as interim chief executive. […]

Zoopla ‘calling the shots’ behind agent’s challenge to OnTheMarket, tribunal told

February 21, 2017

But QC for Gascoigne Halman calls for allegation to be withdrawn or dismissed Source:: Zoopla ‘calling the shots’ behind agent’s challenge to OnTheMarket, tribunal told

Competition hearing told that ‘one other portal’ rule is ‘illegal’

Judge asks QC for agent why his client ever signed up Source:: Competition hearing told that ‘one other portal’ rule is ‘illegal’

‘Very few agents’ bother to reply to requests for property details, says Peter Knight

There is, it seems, nothing like moving house to bring home to someone in the business what it really is like. Peter Knight, of the Property Academy, was renting until very recently, and has now bought. His checkout report with the letting agent was fine, with no deductions. No scratches on the kitchen worktop, no […]

Enough to try the patience of a saint! What are the most irritating questions you’ve been asked?

What are some of the oddest requests you have had as an agent? Barbara Sellers, a relocation agent with Premier Property Search, seems to deal with some particularly demanding tenants. But maybe she’s not alone. Here is a (small) selection of her examples. Call at 11.00 pm at night regarding a serviced apartment. I cannot […]

Letting agent launches new Airbnb service which passes on financial benefit to landlords

A new home-sharing service has launched, allowing tenants to sub-let their homes in Airbnb-style – but passing on some of the financial benefit to the landlord. Letting agents Lavanda says London landlords could benefit to the tune of a 10% uplift in rental yields. The firm claims to be offering an innovative and fully compliant […]

Third of agents in town fined for failing to show fees – and this was after Trading Standards warning

February 20, 2017

Thirty letting agents across one of Britain’s major towns have been fined by the council’s Trading Standards department after failing to stick to new transparency guidelines. The agents – almost one third of all those in Milton Keynes – had not been displaying their fees as required by law. Their collective fines add up to […]

Rightmove highlights to vendors how over-pricing turns off buyer interest

The price of property coming to market has increased by the lowest amount for eight years on a monthly basis, Rightmove’s House Price Index has revealed. The portal’s latest data shows that February saw asking prices increase by 2% or £5,986 to average £306,231, the smallest monthly increase since February 2009 and below the average […]

Taxman and industry regulator to co-operate more closely on estate agents

HMRC and industry regulator the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team have agreed new ways of co-operation. The aim is to enhance the flow of information on estate agency businesses and whether they have registered under money laundering regulations and for property redress schemes. Designed to make it more difficult for non-compliant agents to operate […]

New regional property portal launches with marketing budget of £10m

A new regional property portal has launched, aimed at playing to the strengths of the ‘northern powerhouse’. Moveinorth initially covers Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford and Harrogate, and at the weekend had some 670 properties listed with agents including some well-known names. Its founder is John Dixon, whose background is in property development and media planning. He […]

Mind that gender pay gap! Male RICS members earning £11,000 a year more than women

Male chartered surveyors earn on average over £11,000 more per year than women surveyors. The gender pay gap has widened markedly in the last year, the RICS has reported in its latest survey carried out with Macdonald & Company. A year ago, the difference in male and female pay was £7,000. Male RICS members earn […]

Top-level departure at Countrywide as chief marketing officer leaves within a year

February 17, 2017

One of the biggest hitters at Countrywide is leaving after only a year in her role. Helen Normoyle, chief marketing officer and a member of Countrywide’s executive team, is a former director at the BBC. She is quitting Countrywide to take up a position at Boots. She leaves at the end of this month. It […]

Venture capital firm Octopus bows out of Zoopla after realising its full investment

An early backer of Zoopla has disposed of its stake in Zoopla, saying it was proud to have played a part in the company’s success. Octopus Titan VCT yesterday said it had realised its full investment in the company. Zoopla was founded in 2007 and launched in January 2008. The following January, Octopus invested in […]

Landlord ordered to use letting agent after being handed Criminal Behaviour Order

A notorious landlord has been banned from managing her own rental properties, and must instead use an agent. Furthermore, she has been ordered to pay the agent – who must be a member of an authorised redress scheme – sufficiently. Katia Goremsandu could also face jail after an extensive investigation by the local authority led […]

Rightmove reminds agents of new 14-week listing rule

Rightmove yesterday sent out a reminder to agents about the new ‘anti-juggling’ 14-week rule which was introduced in December. The reminder emphasised that a property cannot be relaunched as a new instruction within that time-frame, which has been dramatically increased from two weeks. It said: “If you have a property for sale that you take […]

Tenant activists claim victory after lender says it is dropping ‘rent rise’ clause

A controversial clause in buy-to-let deals with Santander asking landlords to increase rents by “as much as can be reasonably achieved” looks to be in the process of being dropped. Tenants’ action group Acorn yesterday claimed victory after organising protests tomorrow in eight towns and cities across the UK about the clause. Acorn said the […]

Agent launches advertising ‘game changer which could spell shift from portals’

February 16, 2017

Spicerhaart is pioneering in the UK a new social media software, invented in Scandinavia and called Flink, which puts property ads on social media in front of the people most likely to buy. Spicerhaart describe it as an absolute game changer which could transform the house selling process – with the suggestion that it might […]

Advertising watchdog to be asked to decide what an agent’s ‘commission’ means

The term ‘commission’ in the context of estate agency is set to be at the heart of a complaint to the advertising watchdog. The Advertising Standards Authority will almost certainly have to determine whether a commission is a percentage of the sale figure achieved by the agent; or whether the term also includes a fee. […]

Shelter calls for fees ban to be outright, demanding no loopholes ‘for agents to exploit’

Lobbying organisation Shelter is calling on the Government make sure that the forthcoming ban on letting agent fees is outright, comprehensive and unequivocal. Shelter says it is vital that are no loopholes for agents to exploit. Any exemptions, it says, would make the ban meaningless. In a new blog on its site, Shelter says: “While […]

Agents leaving Rightmove or Zoopla for OTM is not competitive harm, ‘just harm’ – hearing told

Yesterday’s hearing at the Competition Appeal Tribunal examining OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal’ rule was the last to be held in public until Monday. The Tribunal is examining potential competition issues around the rule imposed by Agents’ Mutual portal after issues were raised by Connells-owned brand Gascoigne Halman. Today and tomorrow, the Tribunal is due to […]

Agent Provocateur: So little done to educate public on what we do

Anyone at the NAEA conference will have seen Miles Shipside talk about how a seller would dish out a notional £100 if they had a choice in how their agent would spend it. The results made depressing reading for agents. The public would spend just £6 on an accurate valuation, £24 on sales details, £16 […]

Property transactions fall by over a fifth in London

The number of properties sold across prime London fell 21% in the last three months of last year, compared with the final quarter of 2015. LonRes, the information and shared listing platform which covers all of central London plus a large number of other areas, says that by contrast there were 14% more properties let […]

Landlords baffled by EPC changes and Right to Rent scheme

Landlords are unaware of several current and incoming regulations that could affect their portfolio, an online letting agent has claimed. Urban.co.uk surveyed more than 4,000 landlords to assess knowledge of forthcoming regulations such as new Energy Performance Certificate rules as well as current schemes such as Right to Rent and rules on tenancy agreements. Just […]

‘Corporate espionage’ tapes provide latest twist in Agents’ Mutual case

February 15, 2017

New documents made available by the Competition Appeal Tribunal appear to be an explosive new twist in the case between Agents’ Mutual and Connells’ owned brand Gascoigne Halman. Neither Gascoigne Halman nor Agents’ Mutual would yesterday comment on the latest development. The latest twist centres on four tapes and transcripts which were recordings of meetings […]

Writing on wall for at least three big agents, says Spicerhaart boss

The writing is on the wall for at least three big estate agencies that I’m aware of, all of whom are struggling for survival as a result of the current challenging climate in the housing sector. But how many others are likely to go under this year? According to a recent report by insolvency specialists […]

Estate agent ‘over-valuations’ blamed for price cuts in homes for sale

New research published by Which? this morning claims to show that one in five properties sold in the year to September 2016 were reduced by more than 5% of the initial listing price. It says this was as a result of estate agent over-valuations. Purplebricks said that the Which? report highlighted the need for more […]

One Other Portal rule – more competition in market or a distortion? Expert witnesses clash

The ‘one other portal’ rule came under close scrutiny at the Competition Appeal Tribunal yesterday. The panel heard evidence from two expert witnesses, both economists – Simon Bishop for Agents’ Mutual, and David Parker for Gascoigne Halman. The Agents’ Mutual expert witness contended that the launch of OnTheMarket had engendered more competition between Rightmove and […]