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New managing director announced at Hamptons International

May 10, 2017

Countrywide brand Hamptons International has a new managing director. She is Lesley Cairns, formerly head of lettings at Hamptons. Cairns has already announced plans to expand Hamptons beyond London and the south-east. In the restructure at Hamptons, Jon Pitt has been appointed head of lettings to succeed Cairns; Mary Beeton has been appointed head of […]

Outspoken critic of Shelter says charity should change its name and stop hounding landlords

A landlord who has previously criticised Shelter says she appears to have been banned from its Facebook page. Dr Rosalind Beck claimed that she can still see Shelter on Facebook, but has no right to reply. In an open letter – written, she says, because she cannot make her arguments on Facebook – Beck calls […]

Uncertainty drags on as CMA opens merger probe into Zoopla’s purchase of Expert Agent

May 9, 2017

The waiting goes on for staff at industry software business Expert Agent, uncertain as to who their future employer might be. The Competition and Markets Authority has opened its merger investigation into the acquisition by ZPG of Websky – the company that operates Expert Agent. The CMA issued its initial enforcement order on March 31, […]

Wanted: Someone with experience of scraping Rightmove, says job advert

Here’s an intriguing job advert – someone is looking for a freelancer with “experience in data scraping on Rightmove”. The advertiser is looking for someone with the knowledge on where to find the addresses that are for sale. Apparently, it is for a direct mail campaign. The scraping job itself will last less than a […]

Ah misery! And yes – THAT video is available for generic use

Ah misery! The feeling you get when you save a bit on commission and lose out on the value of your home. Yes, we’re talking about THAT video (over 6,500 reads on our story by yesterday afternoon, and still counting). The spoof Purplebricks advert was enjoyed by a number of readers who wondered if they […]

Shelter not letting up on pressure to make sure ‘fees ban goes through’

Shelter is keeping up the pressure on the Government – whichever it may be – to ban letting agent fees. Yesterday it tweeted a message, below, asking: “Hit reply to tell us what you’ve spent on letting agent fees and we’ll present it to the government. Let’s make sure the ban goes through.” Meanwhile, campaigners […]

Agents appointed to let and manage Mayor’s first ‘London Living Rent’ scheme

The Acorn Group is letting and managing the first ‘London Living Rent’ housing scheme. The build-to-rent scheme, in Beckenham, was visited by London mayor Sadiq Khan as the first tenants moved in. The new London Living Rent scheme helps people save for a deposit by offering below-market rents at up to 30% discounts. Acorn is […]

Sale Agreed, Under Offer, and Sold Subject to Contract – there’s no difference, says the Ombudsman

May 8, 2017

The Property Ombudsman has said that in her view, there is no difference between ‘Sale Agreed’, ‘Under Offer’, and ‘Sold Subject to Contract’. We asked Katrine Sporle for definitive advice after our story about Purplebricks on Friday. Purplebricks’ Google adverts claim that the agent sells a home every 30 minutes, and puts one under offer […]

A Purplebricks sale every 30 minutes? Or is it every 16 minutes? The mystery continues

The great mystery continues – just how many homes does Purplebricks sell or put under offer? According to Google ads very recently spotted by one of our readers, it’s every 30 minutes. Which, says East Anglian agent Andrew Overman, equates to 17,520 or so a year. But only last December, as EYE reported at the […]

Which? calls for next government to review role of estate agents

Consumer organisation Which? is calling for the next government to review the role of estate agents in the ‘out-dated’ home buying and selling process. Which? also said that all political parties should set out in their manifestos how they intend to improve the home-buying process for consumers. In particular, said Which?, parties should commit to […]

Why no proptech successes in the UK other than those of the purple persuasion?

The name Brendan Wallace won’t mean much to most people, but his influence just greatly increased. Alongside his co-founder Brad Griewe, he has raised $212m for a proptech fund. This is their first official fund, after a few years of advising on proptech fundraising and participating in a number of successful investments. To date they’ve […]

Picture of the Week – and it’s a property with a problem

Picture of the Week – and frankly it’s a tip. Or, as the agents for this three-bedroom home in Exeter say in the details, “in need of modernisation” which seems to be a euphemism for “You’ll need several skips and a year’s supply of Marigolds”. We wondered how the late great Roy Brooks would have […]

Purplebricks shares soar after trading update showing 83% growth in instructions

May 5, 2017

Purplebricks shares shot up some 6% in value yesterday after its trading update. They ended the day at around 342p, the closest yet to their record price in March of 365p. In yesterday’s trading update, Purplebricks reported a strong performance with an 83% growth in instructions. However, it did not report how many properties it […]

Ah misery! The pain of saving on commission only to lose out on the price: Here’s the advert

On Tuesday, our proptech writer Rayhan Rafiq Omar penned a possible advertising script – loosely based on the notion of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery – for use by a high street agent. He laid down the challenge: “Personally, I’d like to see someone do a spoof the Purplebricks advert.” But would it […]

Countrywide employee wins by default employment tribunal case on ‘indirect sex discrimination’

A woman has won her case against Countrywide estate agents on grounds of indirect sex discrimination, constructive unfair dismissal and breach of flexible working regulations. The judgment of the employment tribunal was made by default, in the absence of a response from the company. A “remedy hearing” estimated to last three hours was due to […]

Seasonal pick-up fails to materialise as mortgage approvals for house purchase dip again

The number of mortgage approvals fell to a six-month low in March, the Bank of England has reported. March’s figure included 66,837 approvals for house purchase, down from February’s figure of 67,936. March was the second month in a row that the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase went down. Altogether 122,918 mortgages were […]

Agent Provocateur: Why is there such a gap between asking and sold prices – and why is it growing?

I’ve been trying to think why the gap between Rightmove asking prices and what the ONS tells us is the average sale price, swings around as it does. Can the difference really be as much as 30%, up from nearer 20% 15 years ago? The straightforward answer is no, despite some commentators out there trying […]

NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks reports huge growth in instructions

May 4, 2017

Purplebricks told the City this morning that trading has been strong with instructions in the UK up 83% in the second half of its financial year. Giving an update on its year, which ended on April 30, Purplebricks said that its UK business is expected to “record an adjusted EBITDA profit for the full year, […]

Incoming ARLA President ‘in discussions over relinquishing company name’ to Peter Knight

The incoming President of ARLA Propertymark, Sally Lawson, yesterday entered into talks to surrender the name of one of her companies, The Property Academy. The name is well known in agency circles as a training and mentoring business run by Peter Knight. Meanwhile Lawson has underlined that she will continue her training activities during her […]

Mystery as ex-Zoopla big hitter Jon Notley announces he is CEO – but of what?

Former Zoopla big-hitter Jon Notley has announced on LinkedIn that he has become chief executive officer – but of what, he has not revealed. The former chief commercial officer of Zoopla left in March. A well-known and highly respected figure in the industry, known to many agents, his departure caused considerable surprise. Notley had been […]

Fair Fees Forum calls for compulsory registration of all letting agents

Concerns have been voiced that as a result of the fees ban, more landlords will decide to self-manage when they have limited experience and knowledge. Members of the Fair Fees Forum, which met yesterday, also said that if agents are not allowed to charge for referencing, then this could lead to the exclusion of vulnerable […]

Cluttons ‘bought out of administration in pre-pack deal’ claim

Central London property firm Cluttons has reportedly been bought out of administration in a pre-pack deal. The company, one of the UK’s oldest firms of chartered surveyors dating back to 1765, also has an office in Brighton plus operations overseas. According to reports, it blamed its difficulties on ‘unsupportable’ pension liabilities and ‘difficult trading conditions’ […]

Watchdog says investigation into complaint about Purplebricks TV advert could take ‘considerable time’

CIELA – the aspiring new trade body for the industry, the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents – says that its complaint about Purplebricks to the Advertising Standards Authority has passed the first hurdle. It submitted a complaint about Purplebricks’ ‘commisery’ TV advertising and website to the ASA on March 9. Yesterday, CIELA said: […]

The fight goes on: Tenant referencing MUST be exempt from letting fees ban, plea

May 3, 2017

ARLA Propertymark is calling for referencing to be exempt from the letting agents’ fees ban. In a note to member agents yesterday, chief executive David Cox said: “Tenant referencing must be exempt from the ban. “The reasons for this are manifold. Referencing ensures that tenants do not take on a financial commitment which is unsustainable. […]

‘Homes go faster’ through online estate agents – claim

An online agency comparison website, sellingup, says that vendors can sell more quickly through online agents “and still get a great price”. The piece initially cited research by Which? The article said: “In fact, according to research by Which? properties sell on average faster through an online estate agent than a traditional agent, thanks largely […]

Picture of the Week: And it’s a case of RIP for this particular property

Here’s today’s contestant for Picture of the Week – and it’s an estate agent’s board resting peacefully beside a cemetery, although we fear we’re too late to buy this one. We were, of course, particularly interested in its ‘further potential’ and wondered what this could be. However, the body of evidence shows that advertising cemeteries […]

‘I just bearhugged the woman’: Connells agents turn heroes following petrol explosions

Estate agents at a Connells branch in Milton Keynes have become local heroes after helping evacuate their local area during a fire. The staff at Connells spotted smoke coming out of two nearby garages and came to the rescue as petrol stored inside exploded. They knocked on the doors of local residents to evacuate the […]

Estate agency fees ‘top Stamp Duty as largest moving cost’ claim

The cost of using an estate agent has increased by almost a third in the past decade, research suggests. Analysis by Post Office Money into the additional costs of moving home ranked agency fees as the largest outlay when moving. Estate agency fees have increased 31% to £4,310 between 2006 and 2016, while surveying costs […]

The advert that says so much about where our industry is going

May 2, 2017

There I was, minding my own business on London’s underground* when this Bairstow Eves advert assaulted my eyes: In case you don’t know, this is the main London brand of estate agency giant Countrywide. I’d like to analyse this advert, as it says much about where our industry is going: Bairstow Eves is no longer […]

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

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, […]