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Letting agents hit with fines after council crackdown on display of fees

January 11, 2017

Letting agents in one borough have been fined over £14,000 after a crackdown by the local authority on the display of fees. Thurrock Council, in Essex, says the money raised by the fines will be used for further enforcement. The authority launched its crackdown last summer, visiting 33 agencies and subsequently issued 13 with a […]

LonRes launches personalised reports to help manage client expectations

Independent data company LonRes has launched a new personalised report builder which draws upon live sales and lettings data at local London postcode levels. Available to LonRes subscribers, the reports have been designed to incorporate company logos. Anthony Payne, director at LonRes, said: “LonRes has a history of providing its subscribers with data and analysis […]

Respected founder of estate agency business steps down after almost 30 years

The widely respected founder of a regional estate agency has decided to step down 27 years after setting up the business. Andrew Granger founded his estate agency, Andrew Granger & Co, in 1989 and has grown it into one of the largest independent agencies in the east midlands. Granger has decided to step down from […]

City brokers warn of high street closures as new report hammers Foxtons, LSL and Countrywide

January 10, 2017

City brokers Peel Hunt have issued a report which warns investors of a thoroughly bleak outlook for traditional estate agents, saying that 2017 will be “another year of structural change” for the industry. The report, which looks into listed developers and agents, is damning about Foxtons, Countrywide and LSL, but is glowing about Purplebricks. Peel […]

Tory MP warns lettings fee ban could increase rents in ‘unintended consequence’

A Tory MP who is also a buy-to-let landlord has voiced concerns over his own party’s plans to introduce a ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants. Mike Freer, who represents Finchley and Golders Green, said: “Some letting agents do seem to have their bread buttered on both sides, charging both the prospective tenant […]

Now Wales gets set to introduce 3% surcharge on purchase of buy-to-let properties

Members of the Welsh Assembly are today considering proposals to scrap Stamp Duty in favour of a new Land Transaction Tax, which would create a 3% surcharge on the purchase of second homes, including buy-to-lets. The Residential Landlords Association Cymru is warning that it represents a threat to the supply of homes for rent which […]

Agents warn over-55 lending rules hitting the housing market

Estate agents fear the lack of mortgage availability for over-55s will hit the wider housing market, a poll claims. Research by equity release provider Key Partnerships, based on a survey of 104 estate agents, found 58% believe the current range of mortgages does not meet the needs of over-55s and two out of five believe […]

HouseSimple warns against fee hikes as it cuts charges

Online agent HouseSimple has expressed concern about its peers raising prices, and has cut its fees this year. It has cut its ‘no sale no fee’ offer from £1,690 to £1,190 amid others such as eMoov and Purplebricks raising theirs. Vendors have to pay £195 upfront which is refunded if there is no sale, but […]

Franchise firm EweMove slashes entry prices to agents by thousands as it takes on Purplebricks

January 9, 2017

EweMove has dramatically cut its price for established estate agents wanting to take on a franchise, in a bid to challenge Purplebricks ‘head on’. It is charging £1,995 plus VAT – way down from its normal advertised price of £19,995 plus VAT – for a territory of around 20,000 households. EweMove – which is planning […]

Getting rid of jobs has made Countrywide business ‘more straightforward’, staff are told

Countrywide’s ‘retail’ managing director Sam Tyrer has written a New Year message to staff brimming with apparent positivity and confidence. In her email, Tyrer explains that getting rid of jobs last year has made the business “more straightforward”, and she says that the new ‘hybrid’ model will soon be in ‘a very large number’ of […]

HomeOwners Alliance launches new attack on ‘untruthful’ estate agents

The HomeOwners Alliance has launched a new attack on estate agents – although reluctantly concluding that they are necessary because of their local knowledge and ability to hold the hands of first-time buyers. The Alliance’s latest onslaught starts by accusing agents of having “a scant acquaintance with truth” and ensnaring people in “dodgy contracts”. It […]

Purplebricks boss says traditional agents have charged too much for too long, for too little

Purplebricks boss Michael Bruce has said that traditional estate agents “have been able to charge people too much for too long for too little”. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Bruce said as a result agent were not incentivised to go out and create technology that would drive down their fees by 70%. […]

Deputy Property Ombudsman appointed for first time as scheme restructures complaints procedures

The Property Ombudsman has created a new deputy Ombudsman role and reorganised the way it reviews complaints in an effort to speed up procedure. Jane Erskine has been promoted to deputy Ombudsman from her previous role as casework director. Erskine started her career as a solicitor in private practice before joining TPO in 2007 as […]

Online agent eMoov gets set to raise its charges as it runs ‘price freeze’ promotion

January 6, 2017

Online agent eMoov is to raise its prices – and is currently running a promotion on its website, encouraging sellers to list now. A notice on the eMoov website is inviting sellers to list now before its prices rise, warning: “Price Freeze – Avoid our upcoming price increase, SAVE £100 and get FREE Premium Listings!” […]

Purplebricks turns off ability for public to place reviews on Facebook

A Purplebricks spokesperson has confirmed that it is no longer possible for members of the public to post reviews via Facebook. The facility was disabled on Christmas Day, making it impossible to view or leave reviews. Instead, Trustpilot reviews can now be seen on the Purplebricks Facebook page. A Purplebricks spokesperson said: “We welcome genuine […]

Police voice concerns over pop-up brothels in the private rented sector

There has been a significant increase in ‘pop-up’ brothels in private rented accommodation, police have said. Counties where they are particularly prevalent are said to include Wiltshire, Somerset, Bristol and Gloucestershire. However, it is in Newquay, Cornwall, that the problem is apparently at its most acute: 14 holiday lets being used as temporary sex dens […]

OnTheMarket to launch new round of TV advertising

OnTheMarket is to launch a new round of TV advertising this month. Its advert will appear on over 40 channels, including Sky 1, Sky Sports and Sky News, although not on ITV. The portal also said yesterday that it will continue its ‘heavyweight’ investment in paid search on Google. The portal, which is coming up […]

Mother and daughter ‘fooled’ estate agents in plot to sell home they did not own

A mother and daughter were part of a plot to sell a £3m house in Kensington, London, a court has heard. Laylah De Cruz, 31, enlisted her mother Dianne Moorcroft, 62, to pose as the elderly owner of the property, fooling solicitors and estate agents into believing she was selling up to move to Dubai. […]

Henry Pryor begs to differ as he alone forecasts house price falls across UK this year

January 5, 2017

Housing commentator Henry Pryor is forecasting an average drop of 4% in house prices across the UK this year. He is alone among the housing experts who have given their forecasts to the BBC to predict a drop. The others, including RICS, Nationwide and Halifax, are all forecasting rises of between 1% and 4% – […]

Agent Provocateur: Some of the best known names in London are in real trouble

Happy New Year to everyone reading. There’s no one size fits all response to the “How was 2016 for you?” question, but the “Not bad, thank you” response seems to be reserved, for the first time in 100 years, to anyone working outside London and maybe even the south-east – unless you’re a letting agent, […]

Higher value properties now entering our system, says agents’ auctioneer specialist IAM Sold

e-Bay style auction business IAM Sold has said it is seeing higher-value properties entering its system via the estate agents which white-label its services. Managing director Jamie Cooke said that last year, the business saw a 55% uplift in the average value of properties and a 33% uplift in sales. Cooke is anticipating a new […]

Ex-Countrywide ‘Building our Future’ director Andrew Pennells joins proptech venture

Former Countrywide man Andrew Pennells has rejoined his old boss, Bob Scarff, at proptech firm Callwell. Pennells was sales director at Countrywide for over ten years until May 2015, when he was promoted to group transformation director, in charge of the Building our Future strategy. However, Pennells lasted less than a year in this role, […]

Letting agency ‘not registered for redress’ under investigation, says local paper

A letting agency is being probed by Trading Standards, which is bringing enforcement action against it. London Corporate Apartments, which manages properties across London, is being investigated following a tenant’s complaint about a mouse infestation at a property in Stoke Newington. It has emerged that London Corporate Apartments is not registered with a redress scheme. […]

Major £12.5m acquisition for firm behind estate agency comparison tool on consumer website

January 4, 2017

A firm which provides online comparison services in conveyancing has acquired a legal service as it ramps up its plans to penetrate the estate agency introducer market. ULS Technology already owns a one-third stake in the HomeOwners Alliance, which it acquired last year, and operates an estate agency comparison website This is offered directly […]

Why this is the year for the industry’s bodies to put their own houses in order

So. What’s coming down the track for the housing market in 2017, and what is the industry gearing up to do about it? And, as important, what are the industry organisations going to do to ensure their own houses are in order? We know that so-called agent’s fees – in reality excessive mark-ups on credit […]

Fourth time lucky? Government announces Starter Homes scheme yet again

The Government has trumpeted the beginning of its Starter Home scheme for first-time buyers, with building to start in 30 local authorities this year. A key manifesto pledge in 2015, the scheme will make properties on brownfield sites available to first-time buyers between 23 and 40 years old at a 20% discount to market value. […]

Rightmove listing removed after viewers spot ‘racist’ doll

All agents know that decent imagery can make or break a property listing, so it’s probably best to check what you are photographing. A Rightmove listing for a four-bed semi-detached in Wroot, Doncaster, by Epworth-based Grice & Hunter was removed yesterday after eagle-eyed visitors to the portal spotted what appears to be a golliwog. The […]

World-renowned Cheffins shifts the picture to focus on estate agency

Long-established property and auctioneering business Cheffins has announced that it is to intensify its focus on estate agency. The Cambridgeshire-based business, which has a global reputation in fine arts, has appointed Mark Peck to lead its residential department – a new appointment. According to a spokesperson, the emphasis will be on the upper end of […]

Agents who charge fees after ban could be put on database of rogue agents and landlords

January 3, 2017

The official database of rogue agents and landlords is to be introduced on October 1, it has been confirmed – and those on it could include agents who continue to charge fees to tenants. Answering written questions put by Lib Dem peer Baroness Grender, government minister Lord Bourne did not rule this out. He also […]

Agents’ duty of disclosure – What to do when you are asked to ‘hide’ a repossession

At the TPO Office we receive many queries from agents seeking advice on what to disclose in property particulars. The TPO Codes are quite clear that material information must be disclosed to potential buyers and tenants at the earliest opportunity. However, this is not always straightforward for agents when taking into account instructions received from […]

Will there be ‘blood on the carpet’ this year among agents who have been too slow to change?

This will be another challenging year for the residential property industry as changes in legislation, taxation and the political landscape will all continue to impact with associated knock-on effects in the economy and market confidence. The pace of change in new technologies and business models will also continue apace and grow in influence with both […]

Lettings fee ban: Rents will rise – and independent agents may quit, warning

Dorian Gonsalves, boss of 300-outlet franchising chain Belvoir, is predicting on-going rent rises after the Government’s attacks on the private rented sector. He is also forecasting that disillusioned independent letting agents may want to leave the sector this year. He said: “Agents nationwide have been predicting that rents are likely to rise considerably faster than […]

Picture of the Week: And it’s just four candles

Here’s the New Year’s first contender for Picture of the Week – and there’s only just time to get this one under the radar as the 12 days of Christmas draw to a close. It’s only a picture of four candles. Or should that be fork handles? It’s not even a new picture – and […]

NEWSFLASH: Boxing Day and the gloves are off with Purplebricks new adverts

December 26, 2016

A new ad campaign by Purplebricks launches today to highlight the commission householders have been paying to traditional estate agents when moving home. The ads, produced by Snap London, introduce “commisery”, described as the “misery you feel when you have spent thousands on commission and got nothing more for your money”. Purplebricks charges a flat […]

Quiz of the Year – all you have to do is spot the correct answers

December 22, 2016

Here we are – EYE’s final contribution for what has been an extraordinary 12 months in the industry in the shape of a Quiz of the Year. There is just one correct answer lurking in each of the multi-choices. The last 12 months have proved unpredictable, and we suspect that next year will prove even […]

Trio at Purplebricks sell shares after exercise of options

Three senior employees at Purplebricks who exercised their options to acquire shares in the company two days ago have now sold them. David Kavanagh, chief technology officer, David Shepherd, chief information officer, and Matthew Farrow, finance director, have sold 101,502 shares, 84,589 shares and 600,016 shares, respectively. The announcement was made at noon yesterday. All […]

Property transactions buck the seasonal trend, HMRC says

Residential property transactions bucked their usual downward trend in November, HMRC figures have revealed. Transactions usually have a seasonal drop in November, but the latest HMRC transaction statistics shows 104,670 residential deals in the month, up 5.1% on the month before. The figure is however down 4.3% year-on-year. In November 2015, there were 109,370 transactions. […]

Housing minister slates leasehold system as ‘widespread problem’

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has called the current leasehold system a “widespread problem that needs addressing” during a debate in the House of Commons. Speaking at the end of a wide-ranging debate on the Leasehold and Commonhold Reform Act of 2002, Barwell said: “[The Secretary of State and I] have been looking closely at the […]

True spirit of Christmas as agents give time and money to fantastic causes

With the best will in the world, we cannot cover all of our readers’ fantastic attempts at raising money for causes close to their hearts. There are simply too many. However, and please forgive the very many we have to leave out, we would like to congratulate two. First up are the staff of Spicerhaart […]

First-time buyers postpone plans to get on housing ladder as Help to Buy scheme ends

December 21, 2016

First-time buyers are ditching their plans to get on the housing ladder when one of the Help to Buy schemes ends, while there is concern that lenders are becoming more reluctant to lend to those with a small deposit. Mortgage approvals grew 1.3% in November compared with the previous month, national valuations firm e.surv is […]

Not giving up, says agent whose new business was destroyed by fire

This has been a strange and unpredictable year – and one that a number of people will look back on almost with disbelief. None more so than Kathryn Hunter. Starting a business can be stressful at the best of times. But when your office burns down three weeks after you move in it can seriously […]

House prices up £57 a day in 2016, says Zoopla

Home owners benefited on average almost £57 a day from rising prices, according to analysis by Zoopla. The portal says price rises in 2016 “weren’t too far from reality”, coming in at 7.35% on average, while predictions had ranged from zero to 6% growth. At the start of 2016, Zoopla highlighted, Halifax was predicting increases […]

Estate agency numbers drop in four out of ten London boroughs

The number of estate agents in four out of ten London boroughs has fallen this year, although the overall number in the capital is up very slightly. The largest fall was in Barnet, where there were 125 agents at the start of the year and there are now 116 – a fall of 7.2%. Other […]

Transactions to fall in 2017 but Housing White Paper could be ‘defining moment’ – RICS

RICS has described the release of the long awaited Housing White Paper next month as a “defining moment” for 2017. Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy for RICS, said the document would show if “more radical thinking in Whitehall is a reality”. He said: “The UK needs a co-ordinated strategy for building across tenures, using all […]

Nine in ten tenants and landlords do not ask agents how their money will be handled

December 20, 2016

A nationwide survey carried out by The Property Ombudsman has revealed that 90% of tenants and 89% of landlords fail to ask how their money will be handled by their letting agent. TPO’s survey suggests that many members of the public simply have no idea that their money could be at risk through rogue agents, […]

Countrywide Greene & Co flagship branch closes its doors after just two years

An almost-new branch of Countrywide brand Greene & Co has shut its doors. The flagship Greene & Co office, in Kentish Town, opened with considerable fanfare just under two years ago in January 2015, with a number of launch events including a pop-up cinema. Months later, in May, the whole Greene & Co business, founded […]

Agent Provocateur: Proptech must prove that it really is going to be useful

I remember the first time technology really grabbed me. My son was travelling India alone and after a month in Goa was starting an ad hoc train tour of India. He asked if he could spend his first night’s late arrival in a hotel close to the train station in Pune. I agreed. At 10.30 […]

Misery piles on for prime London agents as Land Registry reveals latest transaction data

The collapse of the prime central London has continued, according to the latest Land Registry data. In the 12 months to the end of quarter three, transactions fell 24%. However, that figure hides far more dramatic year-on-year falls of 58% and 50% in, respectively, quarters two and three. In quarter one, there was a rise […]

Housing minister claims lettings fee ban will make it easier for tenants to shop around

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has failed to address concerns that the tenant fee ban will cause letting agents to pass on costs to landlords or just redefine charges. A written parliamentary question was asked to Barwell at the beginning of December by Conservative MP Dr Andrew Murrison, seeking clarification from the minister on “what steps […]

One quarter of UK estate agents ‘in financial distress’, warns insolvency firm

December 19, 2016

Almost one in five property companies are in financial distress, insolvency firm Begbies Traynor has said. It says that over 25,000 companies, including residential sales and letting agents as well as landlord firms and other property businesses, are facing financial problems, with the figure up 6.6% on a year ago. The firm said that residential […]