Suttons City Living Blog - Property Gossip

Powered By
Powered By Property Industry Eye

Why over-valuing is a false economy: Spicerhaart boss says agents must deliver honest valuations

March 2, 2017

A recent Which? report condemned estate agents for over-valuing property to win instructions only to see those properties later reduced in price in order to sell. Although their attention-grabbing headline fails to reflect that it’s often the customer who demands the higher price, there are certainly plenty of agents who will go way over the […]

Ex-Countrywide man takes top job at Guild and pledges to stand up for independents

A former high flier with Countrywide has been appointed as CEO of the Guild of Property Professionals. Iain McKenzie was previously “retail director” at Countrywide, responsible for its south central region. He was appointed to that role in October 2015 and is thought to have been among the departures of November 2016. He was with […]

Agent described as ‘brazenly dishonest’ as five-week trial begins

An agent who has gone on trial has been described as “brazenly dishonest”. It is alleged that he fraudulently kept nearly £15,000 of holding deposits from tenants. Thirugnanaselvam Damayantharan, 54, and known as Mr Damo, denies two counts of fraudulently trading as two companies – See Own Properties and My Lawn Estates. In all, Damo […]

New trade body CIELA tells Purplebricks to withdraw ‘misleading’ TV adverts

Fledgling trade body CIELA, the Charter for Independent Estate and Lettings Agents, has written to Purplebricks asking it to withdraw its TV advertising and comparable savings claims. It says that if Purplebricks does not take reasonable steps to correct “instances of misleading representations on your website and television advertisements”, it will complain to the Advertising […]

NEWSFLASH: Zoopla acquires Expert Agent

March 1, 2017

Zoopla has added to its stable of agency software with the announcement to the stock exchange this morning that ZPG has acquired Expert Agent. The price was not disclosed. The purchase follows the announcement on January 31 that ZPG was in negotiations on a potential further acquisition. Expert Agent is claimed to be the “most […]

Purplebricks shares rocket to over 300p – racing up 10% in just 30 minutes

Purplebricks shares yesterday rocketed to an amazing new high – and this morning, continued their meteoric ascent. Yesterday’s rise took place mainly in the space of the last half an hour of trading on the stock exchange, finishing the day at just over 300p, and at one stage hitting 310p. Altogether, by the end of […]

Agent that claimed to have more For Sale and Sold boards than other local firms is vindicated

Two out of three complaints made by an estate agent about a competitor have been upheld by the advertising watchdog. However, a challenge to the claim to have more For Sale and Sold boards than any other local agent was rejected. Crewe firm McGarrible & Co challenged three claims made in a leaflet published by […]

Trading Standards complaint about agent’s claim informally resolved

A leaflet in which an estate agent claimed to have sold six properties in a week resulted in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. Leicestershire Trading Standards challenged the claim by CHQ Properties to have sold six properties between October 27 and November 2 last year. The leaflet said: “After selling six properties last […]

New trade body CIELA due to incorporate today

CIELA (The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents) says it will be incorporating today. CIELA says that it will combine “voices, data and resources” to form the most powerful organisation in the industry. The organisation, founded by software businessman Charlie Wright, has however pushed back a full launch until October 1. This is due […]

Trading Standards ‘aware’ of another agency expelled by redress schemes

February 28, 2017

Yet another sales and lettings agency is believed to be under investigation by Trading Standards. Mystery surrounds the fate of the firm and its sole director Dennis Goodridge. Gallery@HD1 was a trading name for a number of companies set up by Goodridge but it vacated its offices earlier this month and now it transpires that […]

Wales already licenses all letting agents, Scotland is about to – so how about it, Mr Hammond!

ARLA has called on the Chancellor to introduce licensing of letting agents in England. Wales already has mandatory licensing of all letting agents under its Rent Smart Wales scheme, while Scotland has a law in place making it mandatory for all letting agents to sign up to a register by the end of September next […]

Landlords urged to hold off from incorporating until after Budget

The National Landlords Association (NLA) is urging members to hold off from incorporating in case the Government tries to clamp down on limited companies being formed to mitigate income mortgage interest relief changes. Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NLA, said the Chancellor hinted in his Autumn Statement that the Treasury is concerned by the […]

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

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 […]