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Belvoir on the prowl for more independent agent acquisitions

February 8, 2018

Belvoir is on the hunt for more businesses to bring into its franchise model, as smaller independent agents look to exit. The company is predicting that there will be more consolidation in the sector as independent rivals struggle with the complexities of increased regulation and the prospect of a ban on tenant fees in 2019. […]

Estate agency burgled twice by prolific thief criticises ‘ridiculous’ jail sentence

An estate agency that has twice been burgled by the same thief has criticised the “ridiculous” sentence handed down to him, amid fears that he will return again. Michael Patterson, 50, forced his way into Madina Property Services’ office in Longsight, Manchester, last September and stole two envelopes containing nearly £6,000 worth of payments made […]

Agent looks to go head-to-head with EweMove and Purplebricks with franchise network launch

An agent is looking to turn himself into a franchise founder. Sean Dickson, a former agent with Rochester-based RedDoor Homes, has set up a company called Easy Online Agent that will aim to provide the technology and support services behind a new franchise network. Dickson, who left RedDoor Homes last year, fronted the agency’s award-winning […]

Housing minister gets in another Twitter spat with property journalists

New housing minister Dominic Raab has accused a respected property industry title of “fake news” just hours after he attacked another journalist’s article questioning his absence from a key ministerial meeting on housing as “tripe”. Raab took to Twitter yesterday morning to claim Inside Housing was “peddling fake news” for asking why he wasn’t at […]

MPs back legislation to make all homes comply with minimum EPC band C

February 7, 2018

Email to a friend Print MPs have backed a proposed Bill that could see all domestic properties bought up to a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C by 2035. Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, proposed the Domestic Properties (minimum energy performance) Bill during a Ten Minute Rule Motion yesterday. Such […]

Dramatic slump in buy-to-let lending blamed on Government intervention

Regulatory intervention has led to a huge 80% slump in buy-to-let investment. That’s according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), which has charted a steep drop from £25bn of net investment in the sector in 2015 to just £5bn last year. IMLA said tax changes had deterred landlords from investing and created difficulties re-mortgaging. […]

‘New type’ of agency botches sale of home after giving sellers wrong advice

A property professional from an unidentified “new type” of agency is alleged to have caused the sale of a couple’s home to be delayed by months. The agent apparently advised that the sellers go straight to market – as they did. For the next six months, they had just two viewings, while it turned out […]

Spicerhaart targets more high street branch openings after acquisition of independent firm

Spicerhaart will use its recent acquisition of the three-branch Brian Holt group in the midlands as a springboard to open a network of high street branches in the region. The business said it would set up a new region in Warwickshire under the haart brand, following its purchase of Brian Holt, which was announced earlier […]

Avocado toast lovers rejoice! NLA points to falling rents

The rent charged by one in five landlords in outer London is lower now than it was a year ago. That’s according to the National Landlords Association (NLA), which declared the finding good news “for avocado toast lovers” – an apparent reference to a PR campaign by Strutt & Parker which backfired badly last year […]

Ombudsman quits property sector saying housing market is ‘broken’

February 6, 2018

Ombudsman Services is to quit the property sector, saying it no longer wants to officiate arbitration services as “a broken solution to a broken market”. The service has over 8,000 member businesses – not branches – in total, with the overwhelming number being 6,500 RICS firms. Its withdrawal leaves just two organisations offering redress to […]

New complaint about Purplebricks goes in to advertising watchdog

There have been three new developments concerning under-attack Purplebricks. In the first, well-known estate agent Trevor Kent has complained to the advertising watchdog about a Purplebricks TV advert. Kent, a former president of the NAEA and high-profile media pundit, is challenging Purplebricks’ claim that they are “not just online estate agents”. He is arguing that […]

Another bruising day for Purplebricks as market reacts to BBC radio investigation

Purplebricks’ share price endured another bruising day after the markets were given their first chance to react to the Radio 5Live investigation in which the firm’s UK CEO Lee Wainwright appeared. Shares dropped 7.2% (30.2p), having fallen nearly 15% on Thursday and Friday last week. The firm’s share price closed yesterday at 388.4p. The fall […]

Tenant in rental home for three years objects to ‘Let By’ board in her garden

A tenant living in her home for three years has allegedly been told that a ‘Let & Managed By’ board could be erected in her garden. The board would not be put up in the name of the agent that originally let her the property – but by the agent, a Connells brand, that has […]

Referral fees to estate agents prop up failing solicitors, legal expert claims

Lawyers who pay estate agents referral fees do so only because they can’t win the business on their own merit. That’s the claim from a legal expert who has renewed the call for a ban on the practice. David Knapp, from law firm Hart Brown, warned that the payment of referral fees raised ethical issues. […]

Our 78% sales figure is based on properties sold subject to contract, says Purplebricks boss

February 5, 2018

Email to a friend Print Purplebricks has admitted that its figure of 78% of homes it lists are sold is based on sales agreed – those sold subject to contract – and not on sales completed. Lee Wainwright, UK boss of Purplebricks, was speaking on Radio 5 Live yesterday when his firm was accused of […]

Purplebricks faces calls to provide more data, as shares slip 15% in two days

Purplebricks is continuing to face calls to release more information about how many houses it sells, following a bruising end to last week which saw its share price slide 15% in just two days. The company’s share price starts trading at 418.6p this morning after dropping from 489.8p on Wednesday — a fall of 14.5%. […]

Agency targeted by protesters is forced to lock doors and call police

A self-styled tenants’ union demonstrated for two days running outside a letting agent, which was forced to lock its doors, hire security officers and call police. The agent, Infiniti Properties in Glasgow, said that the demonstration was highly intimidating, totally unwarranted and caused its staff huge distress. A six-months pregnant woman was helped off the […]

Zoopla apologises for any offence after hermit crab campaign uses ‘Me too’

Zoopla has apologised for using its hermit crab advertising campaign, which features hermit crabs saying ‘Me too’. Objectors accused it of making light of the high-profile #metoo campaign against sexual harassment. The advert, running on the London underground, features a line of crabs all saying “Me too” in reply to another crab who says he […]

Spicerhaart dips into £26m war chest to snap up three-branch independent

Spicerhaart has acquired the three-branch Brian Holt group in the midlands for an undisclosed sum. The purchase builds on the acquisition of butters john bee. Spicerhaart says more acquisitions of high street firms will be announced shortly, making it clear that it is not interested in online ventures. Established in 1995, Brian Holt’s branches in […]

Shares in Countrywide slide to new low as UK’s biggest agent now valued at just 18% of Purplebricks

February 1, 2018

Email to a friend Print Shares in estate agency group Countrywide have fallen hard, wiping its market capitalisation down to less than one-fifth that of Purplebricks. Yesterday they tumbled for a second day running – at one point touching just 84p – with speculation that the cause was negative news about the housing market from […]

Broadcaster stirs up a storm with calls for ‘greater transparency from high street agents’

Email to a friend Print It started with a tweet – but it soon led to some very strong exchanges of views between consumer rights broadcaster Alice Beer and other twitterati. Beer was flagging up a piece on radio, and since it was about those beastly people, estate agents, what could possibly go wrong? Stumbling […]

Profits tumble by 28% at Arun Estates as sales fall away in ‘difficult market’

Email to a friend Print Profit at Arun Estates, which runs over 100 estate agency branches under a number of different brands in the south east, dropped by 28% in 2017. Pre-tax profit for the year to September 31 slid to £13.8m, down from just under £19.3m in 2016. Turnover also dropped, down 7.4% to […]

Taxman’s Stamp Duty take increases even though overall transactions drop thanks to additional properties surcharge

Email to a friend Print HMRC saw Stamp Duty receipts rise from £8.23bn in 2016 to £9bn in 2017, despite a fall in the overall number of transactions. The increase in the taxman’s take was thanks to a 3% surcharge on second homes buy-to-lets, which has more than offset a fall in overall transactions. The […]

Online agent EweMove’s losses are reversed, says Property Franchise Group

Email to a friend Print The losses that its online agent EweMove made in the first half of its financial year have been “substantially reversed”. That’s according to a trading update from its parent company The Property Franchise Group (TPFG) for the year to December 31, 2017, issued yesterday ahead of its full-year results on […]

EYE NEWSFLASH! Judge dismisses landlord Fergus Wilson’s lawsuit against YouTube vlogger

January 31, 2018

Email to a friend Print A lawsuit brought by prominent landlord Fergus Wilson against vlogger Danny Hyde regarding comments on his YouTube page has been thrown out. Wilson was suing Hyde for £10,000 under the Malicious Communications Act, but instead has been ordered to pay £3,000 costs. Wilson was angry about a video criticising the […]

Nearly a third of shareholders rebel against Zoopla boss’s £62m incentive scheme

Almost a third of ZPG’s shareholders voted against a lucrative incentive scheme designed to keep chief executive and founder Alex Chesterman in his post until at least 2021. Under what ZPG calls its Value Creation Plan (VCP), Chesterman will reportedly be able to earn as much as £62m over the next four years if he […]

OTM ‘not a threat’ to leading portals, broker asserts

OnTheMarket is not a threat to the established property portals Rightmove and Zoopla, at least not in the near future. That’s the view of analyst Peel Hunt, which has maintained a “buy” rating on Zoopla’s parent company ZPG following a “short but reassuring” trading update yesterday. ZPG updated investors on its progress for the trading […]

Mortgage approvals for house purchase shrink to three-year low

Mortgage approvals for house purchase hit a three-year low last month, Bank of England figures have confirmed. The latest lending data shows 61,039 approvals for house purchase mortgages, down from 64,712 in November 2017 and below the previous six-month average of 66,194. This was the weakest data since January 2015, the Bank of England said, […]

Former letting agency boss charged with fraud, false accounting and theft

The former director of a letting agency has been charged with fraud, false accounting and theft totalling around £450,000. Heather Crabb, who owned Drake Homes in Plymouth, Devon, from 2005 until it closed in September 2016, is due to appear in court in March this year, according to the Plymouth Herald. She was arrested in […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: OnTheMarket raises £30m to start trading on stock market

January 26, 2018

The board of OnTheMarket has announced that it expects to start trading on the stock market shortly. It has conditionally raised £30m through the placing of new ordinary shares, and expects that dealing in its shares on AIM will start on February 9. It expects agents to own more than 70% of the issued share […]

Foxtons’ ‘shiny shoes’ add a glow to its share price despite big drops in revenue and profit

Foxtons’ share price rose nearly 3% yesterday, despite releasing a trading update in the morning containing gloomy numbers covering last year. The agent also warned of “challenging conditions” this year. Yesterday, it posted a 12% slide in revenue and a 39% drop in adjusted EBITDA profits in 2017. Revenue from sales was down substantially, by […]

Regional property chain offloads its ‘non-core’ surveying arm

Regional chain Andrews Property Group has sold its surveying arm, Landmark Chartered Surveyors, to the SimplyBiz Group for an undisclosed sum. Andrews’ group chief executive David Westgate said the business did not “sit centrally to the core focus of Andrews Property Group” and that it decided to sell after an approach from SimplyBiz. Landmark was […]

Nearly a quarter of estate agencies would not pass anti-money laundering spot checks, claim

A significant number of estate agency businesses would struggle to pass an anti-money laundering spot check, while nearly a quarter could be breaking the law because they don’t have an AML officer in place. That’s the warning from identity verification business Credas, which polled 100 estate agency businesses. It found that 22% of those businesses […]

Estate agents warned to brace for closures in 2018 ‘shake-out’

Estate agents are likely to have to make a wave of branch closures over the next 12 months, an agent has warned. Mark Charter, from Oxford-based Carter Jonas, has predicted a “shake-out” in 2018. His concerns were prompted by Countrywide’s recent profit warning, as well as figures from the Land Registry that indicate completions have […]

Foxtons report big drops in both revenue and profits as sales fall away

January 25, 2018

Foxtons this morning reported that its revenue last year dropped to £117m, down from £133m the year before. In the last quarter or 2017, its revenue fell £2m, to £24m. Adjusted EBITDA profits are down almost £10m, falling to £15m last year, down from £24.6m in 2016. Sales revenue last year was down by over […]

EYE exclusive: Countrywide founder Harry Hill says ‘little prospect’ of the business regaining its status as market leader

Legendary estate agency figure Harry Hill, who bought what became the Countrywide business for £1 and went on to build it into the UK’s biggest estate agency, last night exclusively spoke to EYE. He told of his heartache at seeing the business he built up into theUK’s most successful agency going into such difficulties, expressed […]

Countrywide executive chairman stepping in ‘for as long as it takes’ to turn UK’s largest estate agent around

Countrywide executive chairman Peter Long will step in “for as long as is needed to get us back to where we should be”, staff of the UK’s biggest estate agent have been told. But some will be wondering where multi-tasking Long, who is also chairman of Royal Mail and a third large organisation, will find […]

Bank upgrades Countrywide to ‘hold’ as Alison Platt receives a six-figure ‘golden goodbye’

A bank’s City analysts have upgraded Countrywide to ‘hold’ despite the fact that the estate agency group’s share price rose just 0.4% yesterday, closing at 100.4p, following news yesterday morning that Alison Platt had resigned as the estate agency group’s chief executive. Meanwhile, it emerged that Platt is in line for a six-figure pay-off following […]

Ask Alexa! Hybrid agent installs digital home assistant to feed tenants’ queries directly to landlords

A hybrid agent that focuses on technology rather than a branch network to provide services has developed a way for tenants and landlords to communicate through Amazon’s digital home assistant Alexa. Households can currently hear the news, listen to music and order their shopping using Alexa’s skills, and now tenants and landlords using London agent […]

EYE NEWSFLASH! Purplebricks to launch in New York

January 24, 2018

Email to a friend Print Purplebricks announced this morning that it is to launch in New York. The roll-out to the New York designated market area will come in the second quarter of this year. The area covers 31 counties, with over 7.4m households and over 20m people. It is the largest area in the […]

No shortage of candidates ready to take on the biggest job in estate agency – the Countrywide challenge

Countrywide this morning confirmed the departure of CEO Alison Platt. Meanwhile, executive chairman Peter Long who is taking over the running of the company in the interim, wrote to staff, telling of Platt’s resignation, and saying that he and his colleagues will “implement a turnaround plan that will enable us all to be proud to […]

The Paul Smith column: What happens now that Platt is leaving Countryslide?

As widely predicted, Countrywide CEO Alison Platt is gone after presiding over what can only be described, in my view, as a catastrophic tenure at the top. Shares fell from £6 to £1 since she took over in 2014, plunging almost a quarter in the last week alone (135p to 10op at the time of […]

Identity of estate agents fined under anti-money laundering regulations could soon be revealed, HMRC warns

The identity of estate agents slapped with penalties for failing to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations — currently kept secret — could soon be revealed. That was the warning from HMRC, which said it was reconsidering its policy on the issue. At present, HMRC doesn’t reveal which estate agents have been fined, nor the size […]

New data suggest first annual slump in UK residential transactions since 2014

UK property transactions fell for the first time since 2014 during 2017, HMRC data suggests. However, the only fall last year was in England: in the smaller sales markets of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, transaction levels rose. In Scotland, sales were up from 99,450 to 104,450; in Wales, up from 53,150 to 56,280; in […]

EYE NEWSFLASH! Staff told Alison Platt quitting as CEO of Countrywide

January 23, 2018

Alison Platt, the controversial boss of Countrywide, is leaving the business. Her departure was announced to senior staff this afternoon. It is understood that for the time being, chairman Peter Long steps up to become executive chairman and Paul Creffield is promoted to chief operating officer. Himanshu Raja, group chief financial officer since last August […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Countrywide shares now sink to £1 for first time

Shares in Countrywide have dropped through the symbolic 100p mark. They did so at about noon today – and have continued to drop. At 12.40p, the price was 99.4p. It makes a precipitous fall in the value of the business, which closed trading on Wednesday last week at just over 135p. Countrywide made a dramatic […]

Countrywide’s Alison Platt ‘close to exit’, report claims

Countrywide’s board is discussing the future of under-pressure chief executive Alison Platt, after the group’s shares slid to a record low following a profits warning last week. Sky News quoted “City sources” who suggested that an announcement on Platt’s departure was possible in the next few days, although it has not yet been finalised. One […]

Jane Gardner returns to industry with her own ‘different’ agency after having to sit it out

Popular industry figure Jane Gardner is to re-enter estate agency with the launch of what she says will be a very “different kind” of business. Three years after selling her previous firm, high street lettings business Sewell & Gardner to Countrywide, Gardner is now out of contract and able to get back into the industry. […]

Zoopla signs up four major estate agencies including Foxtons and Yopa to new long-term agreements

Four major estate agencies — Andrews, Dexters, Foxtons and Yopa — have signed up to new agreements with ZPG, each of which lasts several years. ZPG, which offers property platforms including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, Property Software Group and Hometrack, has also reached agreements with several smaller agencies. The company declined to reveal precisely how long the […]

‘Landlords who self-manage after fees ban could do a better job than agents’, claim

Landlords who self-manage their properties could do a better job than letting agents, a tenant fees ban campaigner has told MPs. Giving evidence to the Communities and Local Government Committee yesterday, as it continued to examine the Draft Tenant Fees Bill, Dan Wilson Craw, interim director of Generation Rent, said that the extra competition among […]