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CLG committee steals a march on White Paper with consultation launched on downsizing

February 7, 2017

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has launched an inquiry into whether the housing on offer in England for older people is sufficiently available and suitable for their needs. The inquiry – launched ahead of the White Paper – follows research which indicates pensioners are stuck in oversized properties worth a collective £820bn if […]

Housing White Paper set to appear today

The Government is finally expected to publish its long-awaited Housing White Paper today. The emphasis is thought to be on setting out a strategy for building more homes in both the rental and owner-occupier sectors, with encouragement particularly for the build-to-rent sector. Housing minister Gavin Barwell has already said there will be something in the […]

Online letting agent Upad recruits big hitters to its advisory board as it looks to grow

Industry big hitter James Micklethwait has joined online letting agent Upad in a consultancy role. He was previously head of product development at Rightmove, heading up a 100-strong team. At Upad he will be acting in an advisory capacity, to help the firm grow its business. Before joining Rightmove in 2014 – he left last […]

NEWSFLASH: Zoopla offered to pay towards Connells’ legal costs in fight against Agents’ Mutual

February 6, 2017

Zoopla offered to pay £250,000 of Connells’ legal costs in the latter’s battle against Agents’ Mutual, the Competition Appeal Tribunal heard today (Monday). The tribunal is examining competition issues around the ‘one other portal’ rule on the Agents’ Mutual-owned OnTheMarket. Gascoigne Halman, a Gold member of OnTheMarket, signed up in January 2014 when it was […]

OnTheMarket’s best hope in fight against duopoly was ‘one other portal rule’, hearing is told

The ‘one other portal rule’ was the best and most realistic opportunity for OnTheMarket’s entry into the property portal market, the Competition Appeals Tribunal has heard. But it also heard – from the QC representing agent Gascoigne Halman – the rule described as defensive and protectionist. The hearing is examining competition issues over the ‘one […]

More agents taking pre-contract fees from prospective purchasers, claim

What is your view of agents charging prospecting buyers a pre-contract or reservation fee – and do you see any difference? According to the Guardian, “growing numbers of home buyers are in effect being charged for the privilege of having their offer accepted” – a practice banned in Scotland but not illegal in England and […]

Online firm claims it is ‘40% more likely’ to sell a home than traditional agent

Well, it’s quite a claim. This online agent says it is “40% more likely” to sell a home than high street agents. The claim comes from HouseSimple and has already got estate agency trainer Julian O’Dell wondering as to what the science is behind this bold statement. So, we thought we’d put his question to […]

Transactions slip nearly 17% in a year as property supply falters

Transactions fell sharply in January, the haart chain has reported. Based on its own data, it says that houses sales measured at exchange were 9.5% down in volume from December, and 16.6% down on January last year. The firm said that house prices were also down – 0.5% on the month and 3.5% year on […]

Martin & Co firm announces long-term deal with Zoopla

Over 350 delegates from across the UK’s property sector gathered together for the Property Franchise Group’s annual conference where a number of key announcements were made for 2017 and beyond. These include a long-term network-wide marketing and software agreement with Zoopla, as well as the group’s decision to withdraw fees currently charged to its franchisees […]

Rental business which cuts out letting agents ‘has had £600,000 investment from Countrywide’

February 3, 2017

A platform which allows “landlords and tenants to directly engage with each other” is raising funds. An email sent out to potential investors on its behalf by Angel Investment Network claims that Propoly has already had a £600,000 investment from Countrywide, which it describes as the “market leader in UK rental/management”. The pitch says that […]

Agents who took up discounted share options in Zoopla reap a £15m windfall

Agents who took up the offer to buy shares at a 20% discount in Zoopla Property Group when it floated on the stock market in 2014 have enjoyed a windfall, having seen the value of those shares increase by over £15m over the past two and a half years. ZPG member agents were all offered […]

New estate agency boss announced for parent company of Your Move

LSL, the parent company of brands including Reeds Rains, Your Move and Marsh & Parsons, has announced its new executive director for estate agency. She is Helen Buck. Although she comes from outside the industry, she has been an independent non-executive director at LSL for the last five years. LSL emphasised that during this time […]

Santander to review clause suggesting landlords hike rents to ‘maximum’ achievable

The Government may be focusing on letting agent fees to make renting fairer for tenants, but an interesting story has emerged regarding landlord contracts with their lenders. A clause in buy-to-let deals with Santander asks landlords to increase rents by “as much as can be reasonably achieved”. The clause states: “a) …a reasonable time before […]

Firm that is now a Hunters franchise pleads guilty to HMO offences

A letting agent that is now a Hunters franchise pleaded guilty in relation to offences relating to a House in Multiple Occupation. According to the local paper, a representative of County Rentals, trading as Valentines at the time, pleaded guilty on his company’s behalf for failing to implement satisfactory management standards following an inspection by […]

Online agent goes quiet despite expensive prime time TV advert campaign

February 2, 2017

An online agent which advertised expensively on prime time TV slots as well as on the London Underground appears to have shut up shop. This is according to an online blog, Selling Up, which specifically looks at the online agency sector. Its blog alleges that the online agent could have spent hundreds of thousands in […]

Ex-Countrywide top trio target purchases of 24 agency businesses a year

Newcomer on the block Nick Dunning is set to be a major force in industry acquisitions, leading an ex-Countrywide trio with a big budget to spend on the acquisition of around 100 businesses in the next five years. There is speculation that the group could even buy Countrywide itself. While Countrywide seems to have stopped […]

Letting agents’ fees ban: Industry bodies continue their fight

ARLA has called for an end to up-front fees. Instead, it is asking for the fees charged by letting agents to tenants to be spread over a six-month period. However, ARLA managing director David Cox has conceded that the Government seems set on a full ban. He also says that the Government is unlikely to […]

Marketing group rebrands to become Guild of Property Professionals

The Guild of Professional Estate Agents has rebranded to become the Guild of Property Professionals. With a membership of almost 800 independent estate agents across the UK, the Guild was launched 20 years ago. The new look brand was unveiled at the Guild’s conference last week. Marcus Whewell, CEO of the Guild, said: “We believe […]

UK proptech trade body launches to unite technology and property businesses

A trade body has been established to support businesses and individuals with an interest in the UK protech industry. UK Proptech Association aims to promote engagement between technology businesses and the property industry whilst representing the interests of both at home and abroad. Initial events announced by the UKPA include a ‘trade mission’ to New […]

NEWSFLASH: Ex-Countrywide director snaps up 26-branch high street independent

February 1, 2017

A major regional estate agency, Badger Holdings Group whose high street brands are Townends and Regents, has been bought for an undisclosed sum. The purchase is Nick Dunning Associates, headed by former Countrywide commercial director Nick Dunning, who this morning made it clear this is only the first of his acquisitions. Badger, founded by Tony […]

End of an era? Industry’s biggest events Estate Agency and Letting Agency of the Year awards are over

The industry’s two biggest awards schemes and their fantastically successful bashes are no more. Both the Estate Agency of the Year and Lettings Agency of the Year have been held for the last time, it is disclosed this morning. They have finished after nearly 15 years, at the peak of their success, with backers including […]

Agent challenges Rightmove’s new 14-week anti-juggling rule after fall-through

An agent has said he was on the brink of losing a valuable instruction because of Rightmove’s new 14-week rule. The vendor of a fallen-through property saw the rule as disadvantaging her chances of a successful sale, and she came close to disinstructing the agent. The anti-portal juggling rule is designed to stop the de-listing […]

Zoopla to buy housing data firm Hometrack for £120m

Zoopla Property Group has announced it is buying Hometrack, a specialist in housing valuation data, established back 1999. This data includes home prices in UK cities, and its automated valuations. The purchase has prompted speculation among agents. The sum paid by Zoopla for the purchase is £120m, of which £108m will be paid on completion, […]

High street agent confirms it will roll out 24/7 ‘hybrid’ model this year

London agent Douglas & Gordon has confirmed that it plans to roll out more ‘virtual’ offices this year and next. Calling it a ‘hybrid’ model, the firm’s boss suggested that compared with other outlets, high street estate agent offices are not popular with the public – and that the model will attract people to work […]

Agents warned after rise in cases involving identity theft in property sales

January 31, 2017

Agents are being warned to be on their guard as property fraud involving identity thefts of sellers grows, with a case due to go to the Court of Appeal this year. In a new case, a judge has ordered well-known law firm Mishcon de Reya to pay over £1m after a client buying a property […]

New data protection rules coming in next year will affect all agents

New data protection rules are coming in next year that will increase the requirements when dealing with a customer’s personal information. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPA) will replace the Data Protection Act (DPA) from May 25, 2018, and there are plenty of new rules that could affect agency work. Like the DPA, businesses must […]

New trade body CIELA will be open only to individual owner-managers

The new trade body currently being formed, the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, has announced that it will be open for individual but not company memberships. The proposed rules of entry state that CIELA will be an organisation for the individual owners of qualifying businesses, but not for the businesses themselves. It will […]

Purplebricks shares soar again after new Stock Exchange statement

Purplebricks’ share price shot up yesterday after the firm issued a statement to the London Stock Exchange confirming what it had said in a tweet. Yesterday’s announcement said that the company had seen “record monthly valuations and instructions activity in January (as mentioned in a tweet by the Company on 26 January”. At one stage […]

Police search for bogus landlord who used Airbnb and Gumtree to operate rental scam

Police have launched an investigation after a man who appears to have rented an Airbnb property in Dulwich, south-east London, then posed as the landlord to set up a rental scam. The Metropolitan Police have released an image of the man, below, who they wish to speak to in connection with a rental scam where […]

Aspiring UK property portal hit as Zoopla removes access to listings

January 30, 2017

A property portal aimed at UK agents but run from Italy and which claimed to be powered by Zoopla has lost what looks like most of its advertising – advertising which many agents were probably unaware of. Many pages on the portal https://www.housesinsale.co.uk/ can now no longer be found after Zoopla removed access to its […]

Purplebricks tells Stock Exchange it does not know of any reason for share price rise

Shares in Purplebricks fell back on Friday afternoon after the firm issued a statement to the London Stock Exchange. This morning (Monday) it issued an additional statement. The Friday statement, issued at 3.30pm just an hour before close of trading, said: “Purplebricks Group plc “Recent share price movement “Purplebricks Group plc (AIM: PURP) (“Purplebricks”), the […]

Keller Williams upbeat after UK master franchise changes hands

The UK master franchise for Keller Williams has changed hands – and ambitious new plans have been announced for the American franchise operation in this country. Matt Fetick, one of the three new UK franchisees, said that in the medium term, the plan is to grow each of the three existing “market centres” by adding […]

Housing market slowdown hits shares in Daily Mail publishers

A slowdown in the housing market has hit the Daily Mail General Trust, publishers of the Daily Mail. The company’s property data division – which includes businesses such as SearchFlow, Landmark, Metropix and estate agency compliance specialist ETSOS – has seen reduced demand. DMGT said in a trading update that the businesses which last year […]

Florence update: Family express heartfelt gratitude and ask for appeal to keep going

Little Florence Jackson’s family have expressed their heartfelt thanks for the donations that have poured in, to give the two-year-old a chance of life. However, they have asked for the fundraising to keep going, as they believe they will have other expenses. Anything that is unspent will be donated to other similar causes. The parents […]

NEWSFLASH: Florence appeal hits its target with the help of our readers

January 27, 2017

Here is some good news to put a smile on your face as we start the weekend – the appeal for two-year-old Florence Jackson has reached, and indeed sailed over, its target. Florence, the daughter of estate agent Rod Jackson, a negotiator at Proctors in West Wickham, Kent, and his wife Carolyn, is desperately ill […]

Shares in Purplebricks rocket to new high after ‘record month’ tweet

Shares in Purplebricks went meteoric yesterday. They shot up at one stage by 11.25% to more than double their launch price. The firm tweeted at around 10am: “January has been a record breaking month for valuations & instructions, so if there’s a right time to start to your property search, it’s now.” Between noon and […]

Chaos behind the scenes as white paper on housing gets rewritten

The Government’s long-awaited white paper on housing has been put back yet again, amid speculation of disagreement among ministers and fears of a backlash. Publication had been expected towards the tail end of last year but communities secretary Sajid Javid then said it was “due to be published in January”. Amid rumours that it could […]

Welsh government ‘yet to make a decision on banning letting agent fees’ but will review evidence

The Welsh Assembly has yet to make any decision as to whether a ban on letting agent fees should be introduced in Wales. Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, has written to David Cox, managing director of ARLA, to confirm that no decision has yet been taken. The letter says: “The Cabinet Secretary for […]

Mortgage lending values hit highest levels since 2008 despite fall in approvals

House purchase mortgage approvals fell in 2016 but the value of loans increased, figures suggest. Data from the British Bankers’ Association for December show banks approved 43,228 mortgages last month, up from 41,003 in November but 4.1% down for the whole of 2016. Meanwhile, estimates on gross mortgage borrowing by the Council of Mortgage Lenders […]

Picture of the Week: It’s a deal – and just look who’s helping to sell this flat

Here’s our Picture of the Week – and while it may only be a small flat, it appears that you do get an ex-prime minister thrown in, together with an important international trade agreement and a comb-over so spectacular as to out-trump Trump. Personally, and call us old-fashioned, we’d rather have a sitting room or […]

Zoopla says 100 branches have returned to it from OnTheMarket in last three months

January 26, 2017

Zoopla Property Group, owner of Zoopla and PrimeLocation, has said that over the past three months alone over 100 estate agency branches have returned to it from OnTheMarket OTM said while it was sorry to lose any branches at all, the figure was ‘hardly spectacular’, representing only between 1% and 2% of its members. OTM […]

Hundreds of letting agents pre-sign up to new service which will launch tenants’ ‘passports’

Hundreds of letting agents and landlords are said to have signed up to a new site which, from this spring, will review tenants and could potentially help agents ‘reference’ prospective renters ahead of the ban on letting agent fees. Movem last year crowdfunded £200,000 to launch the new service, designed to help agents and landlords […]

Ex-managing director of Bridgfords joins estate agency franchising firm

Former director with corporates Mike Gowland has joined estate and lettings agency franchise group HomeXperts to become their operations director. Gowland, who originally qualified as a chartered surveyor, has almost 30 years’ experience in the property industry. He has run his own estate agency, been the Yorkshire regional director for Countrywide, and is a former […]

Appeal to help Florence soars past the £200,000 mark

We are delighted to report that the crowdfunding appeal for two-year-old Florence Jackson yesterday passed the £200,000 market – given by a remarkable 8,000 supporters in nine days. After we declared last Friday to be #FlorenceDay your donations were among those which poured in to help Florence, daughter of estate agent Rodney and his wife […]

Winkworth take on philanthropic instruction where almost £1m proceeds could go to charity

Winkworth have taken on an unusual instruction – the seller will be giving away every penny from the sale to charities. The vendor is a remarkable property developer and philanthropist, Charlotte Grobien, who is the founder and sole employee of ‘Give It Away’. She typically buys, converts, builds and does up properties for sale – […]

Property portals have helped kill off local newspapers, says ex-editor

January 25, 2017

A former regional newspaper editor has cited the rise of estate agents advertising on property portals as a major factor in the decline of the local press. Keith Perch, who edited the South Wales Echo, Derby Telegraph and Leicester Mercury, and who is now a lecturer in journalism, says local papers saw their revenues and […]

eMoov takes down claims about sellers being 34% more likely to sell through it

Online agent eMoov has been the subject of a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority after it claimed that vendors were 34% more likely to sell with it. eMoov also claimed on its website that it was “the leading digital estate agent”, and this too was part of the complaint. The complaint has, however, been […]

Negotiator with corporate firm pays for own training AND takes day off as holiday

A young negotiator working for a corporate will have to pay for his own attendance at an acclaimed training seminar – and take the day off as holiday. Richard Rawlings, who is running a nationwide series of seminars under the banner of the Estate Agency Survival Tour, said: “This is a disgraceful lack of support […]

London agent expands with ‘virtual office’ offering 0% commission to first 100 sellers

London agent Douglas & Gordon has expanded – with a ‘digital’ operation which we have been told will be 24/7. There will be no physical office in Streatham. Instead, it appears that two ‘property brokers’ will work virtually, carrying out valuations and viewings for both sales and rental properties. One source told us that the […]

Agent Provocateur: Going the virtual office route is a bold play to try and get more listings

As 2017 settles down, talk about proptech gives way to early concerns about the bottom line – listings. At this time of the year, if you haven’t got them you’re dead. More than any other recent period in the industry, there is a feeling of siege from competition, regulation and taxation – it is almost […]