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Agent hits out at dirty tricks of unscrupulous ‘underbelly of industry’

September 26, 2017

Email to a friend Print A high street firm has accused agents across the UK of dirty tricks, describing them as the “underbelly of the industry”. James Pendleton, which has ten offices in south and west London, said regulation may be the only way to stamp out poor practices. Founder Lee James Pendleton said the […]

Surveyors down-valuing are causing more transactions to collapse, says Bank of England

September 21, 2017

Increasing numbers of transactions collapsed in the third quarter as surveyors down-valued properties, the Bank of England says. The central bank’s latest summary of business conditions, based on feedback on the economy among 12 regional estate agents, said the housing market has softened, especially in higher price brackets. The feedback from regional agents said: “There […]

Farmhouse buyer complains to ombudsman after finding he is short of two acres

The buyer of a farmhouse advertised as being set in approximately eight acres of land says he is complaining to the Property Ombudsman after discovering that the land measured just under six acres. Andrew Watson bought the property in September 2015 through agent Yorkshire’s Finest. Watson, who also owns a further parcel of land measuring […]

Sales values in annual decline for first time since financial crisis as transactions fall

The value of transactions in the major towns and cities of England and Wales fell for the first time since the midst of the financial crisis, the ONS says. The ONS house price statistics for small areas in England and Wales shows that the value of sales in the year to March 2017 was £239bn, […]

Trustpilot explains why it will take days to sort out UK reviews of Purplebricks ‘mistakenly’ on US site

Review and rating site Trustpilot has contacted EYE “to add some clarity regarding the 7-10 day time frame for handling the reviewers mistakenly invited by Purplebricks to review its US business”. A Trustpilot spokesperson based in London said: “A seven-day period is necessary to provide reviewers with enough time to respond to contact from our […]

Watch it as it happens: Rightmove to live stream EA Masters talks tomorrow

Rightmove will be running a number of live streams on the day of the EA Masters for agents to watch online via the Rightmove hub. The streams will give anyone not able to attend on the day the chance to hear from some of the top speakers at the event. Agents can view the schedule […]

Cartels – and what estate agents should never talk about to each other

September 20, 2017

Email to a friend Print Estate agents wanting to avoid being drawn into secret cartels should be very careful in talking to each other about fees and business strategies which are not in the public domain. Juliette Enser, project director at the Competition and Markets Authority, told EYE: “Staff should not be discussing competitively sensitive […]

Agent agrees to drop claim that ‘only’ it could get sellers highest possible price

Three more complaints against agents have been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. One complaint was about a circular distributed by a RE/MAX agent which said that “only” that firm “will get you the highest possible price”. A complainant challenged whether the claim was misleading and could be substantiated. The advertiser said the claim […]

Licensing scheme which has brought 1,200 landlords and 25 lettings to book could be cancelled

England’s first compulsory borough-wide licensing scheme is under threat, it is claimed. Newham, in east London, introduced its scheme in 2013. It has since prosecuted 1,215 private landlords, banning 28 of them, and brought legal action against 25 letting agents. In addition, a “significant” number of landlords are of interest to HMRC because of potential […]

Lettings fees ban will be our biggest challenge, say agents

Letting agents consider the impending fees ban to be their most significant challenge in the coming months. Fixflo has published the 2017 Fixflo Report, which rounds up the answers provided by nearly 400 lettings professionals managing almost 90,000 rental properties for the company’s annual Rental Repairs Survey. The finding is in the new 2017 Fixflo […]

Spicehaart fined by magistrates over unlicensed HMO – in town where it has its HQ

Spicerhaart has been handed a bill of £2,670 after operating an unlicensed HMO in the town where the company has its headquarters. Colchester council, in Essex, brought the prosecution which resulted in magistrates fining Spicerhaart £2,000 with £500 costs and a £170 victim surcharge. Tina Bourne, Colchester councillor responsible for housing and communities, said: “We […]

Regulator lays bare what went on in estate agency cartel case

September 19, 2017

The Competition and Markets Authority has exposed what really went on in the latest estate agency cartel case. The ruling was made back in May, but the CMA has now made public the details. These show that a group of six agents in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, had a meeting where they agreed to fix their minimum […]

Review site allAgents blames ‘technical issue’ for disappearance of supplier’s page

Review site allAgents has totally rejected any suggestion that industry software supplier Reapit’s page was taken down from its site in any untoward circumstance. Instead, it says there was a ‘technical issue’. Yesterday, allAgents suspended the Purplebricks’ account, saying this was unprecedented. However, Dan Hare of Reapit posted up a comment on EYE which said: […]

Foxtons says it will respect court ruling after test case bans use of ‘admin fees’ as blanket term

Foxtons has suggested that it fully accepts last week’s ruling that it can no longer use ‘administration fees’ as a blanket term, but must provide a breakdown. The firm looks as though it will not be appealing – although it has 28 days in which to do so. Instead, it has welcomed clarification. The ruling […]

Video of the Week: And here’s an agent selling the perfect lifestyle

Estate agents’ videos are often a bit like Marmite – over-long, too much hard sell, annoying voice-overs and the wrong sort of music. However, the new type of ‘lifestyle’ video is much more engaging, we think. Next Chapter Homes, in Brentwood, Essex, has done its first such video – and we think it is very […]

How much will the lettings fee ban cost your business? Here’s where you can find out

How much will the impending fees ban cost you? Tenants’ repairs reporting service Fixflo has launched a new free tool, the Letting Fees Ban Calculator, available online now. All users need to do is enter information such as the number of properties they manage, the average length of tenancy and their average letting fee in […]

EYE newsflash: allAgents review site suspends Purplebricks account

September 18, 2017

AllAgents has suspended the Purplebricks account on its site. It has never before suspended an account. allAgents said it had taken the unprecedented action after “repeated threats of legal action forcing the removal of negative reviews from our website”. Allagents said it will continue to accept genuine customer reviews for Purplebricks although it will be […]

allAgents removes over 70 reviews of Purplebricks after legal challenges, claim

Over half the reviews of Purplebricks on the allAgents site have been removed, with Purplebricks saying it would vigorously defend its reputation against lies and defamation. Martin McKenzie, of allAgents, said that a legal letter had been received. He told EYE that 71 – over half the total reviews – have been removed He said: […]

Fraud agent who marked up invoices is ordered to repay £1m or face further seven years in jail

Email to a friend Print A former letting agent has been ordered to pay a confiscation order of £1m made under the Proceeds of Crime Act. It follows a financial investigation by Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards. Harpreet Garcha, who ran property lettings franchises Belvoir in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, all in Northamptonshire, was sentenced […]

No autumn bounce in asking prices as London and south drag down market

Asking prices of properties coming on to the market have fallen by 1.2% – meaning that the usual autumn price bounce has failed to materialise. It is the first monthly fall at this time of year since 2013, Rightmove said this morning. The average new asking price is now £310,003, down from August’s £313,663 – […]

Tenants paying more as annual rate of rental inflation rises

New rents rose 2.4% across the UK in August on an annual basis. It was the highest rate of annual inflation since last November. The average monthly rent now stands at £939 – although when London is excluded, it is £776. In London itself rents rose 2.5% on August last year following three successive months […]

UK industry doesn’t like us, laments Purplebricks co-founder Kenny Bruce

Spotted on social media – and it reminded us of Johnny No Mates or the Millwall fans’ chant, No One Likes Us. Kenneth Bruce, half of the successful brother duo behind the global phenomenon Purplebricks, is clearly a bit upset that he’s not more popular. Writing on LinkedIn on Friday, the day that Purplebricks launched […]

New RICS code for agents updates guidance on conflicts of interest and financial crime

A new Blue Book has been issued by the RICS – with no mention at all of online or hybrid agents. However, an RICS press release which promotes the Blue Book’s launch specifically cites an agent who warns against ‘online selling’. The Blue Book provides practice standards for agents working in both sales and lettings, […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks is launching in America today

September 15, 2017

Email to a friend Print Purplebricks is formally launching in the US later today, it announced to the London Stock Exchange this morning. In line with the region by region roll-out in the UK and Australia, the US launch will start in Los Angeles before extending across California and other key States. In this morning’s […]

Exodus from EweMove revealed after franchisees ‘feel sold down the river’

An exodus of franchisees from EweMove has been revealed. Ian Wilson, CEO of the Property Franchise Group which acquired the business last year, told EYE that around 20 have either left the network or are in the process of leaving. He said: “When we bought the business, they felt they had been sold down the […]

New firm gets set to launch offering freelance agents commission of up to 70%

A new agency is to launch this month offering what it says is an entirely different business structure. Its agents, in teams of one or two and with their own personal limited companies, will run small portfolios, taking full responsibility for the total transaction of each individual property – handling everything from valuation to negotiation […]

Winkworth employee wins employment tribunal on age discrimination grounds

A woman who was told she might be “better suited to a traditional estate agency” was discriminated against because of her age, a tribunal has ruled. Carolina Gomes worked as branch administrator for a Winkworth franchise. She claimed constructive dismissal against Henworth, trading as Winkworth, and director Graham Gold. The discrimination allegations were denied in […]

No evidence of Purplebricks contravening reviews guidelines, says Trustpilot

Reviews website Trustpilot has clarified its policy on postings amid concern by agents over the validity of posts about Purplebricks, stating that the online agent hasn’t breached any guidelines. Agents have taken to Twitter in recent months to question why certain Purplebricks reviews have been removed and how genuine some are. Trustpilot said its investigations […]

Heartbreak as brave and inspirational Claire Grant finally loses her fight

Claire Grant, the inspirational wife of Peter Grant who founded industry software supplier VTUK, has died after a very long battle with cancer. Claire, well known to many in the industry, suffered from the rare Triple Negative breast cancer. Her courage and positivity was remarkable as she sought out different treatments, including alternative treatments and […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Case of national significance as council wins appeal against Foxtons

September 14, 2017

In a test case of national significance, Camden Council has successfully appealed against Foxtons using the term “administration fees” in their lettings agency work, leading to a penalty charge totalling £18,000. A partially successful appeal from Foxtons in October 2016, which followed over a year of activity by the Council’s Trading Standards and Legal teams, […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Despite EweMove woes, Property Franchise Group reports strong profits

This morning the Property Franchise Group – whose brands include Martin & Co, and online subsidiary EweMove – reported strong rises in both revenue and profit. This was despite last week issuing a statement saying that EweMove had lost £300,000 on revenues of £900,000 in the first six months of this year, which would knock […]

Concern grows as agency ‘closes down’ with no sign of director – Trading Standards urges people to come forward

A business appears to have closed down – with claims that a director has disappeared and that there may be money missing. Local Trading Standards last night said it was aware of the case. A Google review for CHQ Properties in Shepshed, Loughborough, apparently placed by a landlord in the last few days, says: “Darren […]

Winkworth reports 25% fall in profits as house sales take a dive

Franchising business Winkworth has reported a slide in revenues and a major drop in pre-tax profits after an 18% fall in the number of properties sold. In the six months to the end of June, its interim revenues were down 7.6% to £2.54m, while pre-tax profits plunged 25.2% to £0.54m, down from £0.72m for the […]

Proptech commentator says investing in OnTheMarket would be ‘horrible idea’

A proptech commentator has said investing in OnTheMarket is “a horrible idea”. Mike DelPrete, a US-based entrepreneur who has lately been getting his opinions around on proptech matters, said: “Critically, OnTheMarket is a bad investment because it doesn’t provide value to users. There is no compelling reason for consumers to use the product compared to […]

Fund manager Woodford maintains his belief in Purplebricks – despite rumours

Rumours that fund manager Neil Woodford last night looked to be bailing out of Purplebricks have turned out to be without substance. It could have raised serious question marks over investment into online agents generally and into Purplebricks in particular. Yesterday evening, after markets closed, Purplebricks issued a statement to the stock market detailing a […]

Chris Wood mounts bid to get NAEA election and AGM overturned

September 13, 2017

Email to a friend Print Chris Wood, whose application to be a vice-president of NAEA Propertymark earlier this year was blocked, has said he is going to seek to have the election overturned. Wood, a Cornish independent agent, says he will also seek to get June’s AGM overturned and to make the board subject to […]

Propertymark chief challenged to speak out when member agents are in hot water with ASA

An EYE reader has criticised Propertymark for allegedly not speaking up when its members get into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority. However, Propertymark said it would not make public comment. Marketing specialist Malcolm Barnard has called on NAEA Propertymark chief executive Mark Hayward to use the trade press to remind agents about good […]

Two more complaints about agents informally resolved by advertising watchdog

Email to a friend Print Complaints about two agents – both high street firms – have been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. Agent Michael Jones & Company, based in Worthing, West Sussex, was the subject of one complaint, where there was a challenge as to whether the following claims on the company’s website […]

Rent controls set to be introduced in two cities – a ‘step in right direction’ says politician

Email to a friend Print Rent controls look set to be reintroduced in the UK There is a proposal to bring in city-wide rent controls in Glasgow, while Edinburgh is likely to follow suit. In April the Scottish government announced that legislation would give councils powers to create rent controls in ‘rent pressure zones’. That […]

Franchisee, 27, acquires five-branch independent and takes on 35 new staff

A franchisee with three offices has completed the purchase of a five-branch business – tripling the size of his property portfolio and taking on 35 new staff. Mitul Gadhia, of Whitegates Leicester, has purchased Taylors, a well-established estate and lettings agency which has been operating since 1992 and which currently has five offices across Leicester […]

Average estate agent’s fee sinks to 1% – how low can it go?

September 12, 2017

The average estate agency fee has fallen to almost exactly 1% – and is likely to fall further, despite mounting costs for agents. Peter Knight, of the Property Academy, said that moving off the high street and/or going ‘hybrid’ would not be a solution for most agents because of their marketing and staffing costs. In […]

Outsourced viewings industry looks set to stay – and grow

The outsourced viewings industry looks to have established itself beyond doubt. One provider, Access2View, has announced its 50,000th accompanied viewing in just under five years. Ed Mead’s high-profile Viewber, now one year old, has already notched up 6,500 viewings. Jim Johnston, managing director of Access2View, said: “We’re proud to have hit this milestone. We’re an […]

New instructions drop almost 6% across UK year-on-year

New listings were down last month by almost 6% on August the year before, and down 13.1% on a monthly basis. Analysis of new listings on website Home has shown that in 100 UK towns and cities, supply dropped on a monthly basis in two thirds of places. The biggest falls were in Coventry (down […]

EYE’s Freedom of Information requests show collapse of self-build market despite claims

A Freedom of Information request by EYE to HMRC has revealed the astonishing shrinkage of the self-build market and highlights the uphill struggle of spin docors to make it meaningful in the context of the 1m new homes a year promised by the main parties. We asked the question because of attempts to talk the […]

Picture of the Week: And just look who’s under the stairs!

Picture of the Week – and it’s Pope John Paul II sitting in the cupboard under the stairs. The extraordinary sight forms part of the particulars of a property for short-term rent in central London. Without fear of contradiction, agents Kinleigh Folkard Hayward state: “We make no apologies that this property is not for everyone.” […]

NEWSFLASH: Way now clear for OnTheMarket stock market flotation to go ahead

September 11, 2017

The way has now been cleared for OnTheMarket to float on the stock market. Tomorrow the new members scheme – demutualising Agents’ Mutual – becomes effective. Ian Springett, chief executive of OnTheMarket, said: “The High Court of Justice Chancery Division this morning sanctioned the Members Scheme and the three Loan Note Schemes which were overwhelmingly […]

Whistleblower claims buyers who go with agent’s financial and conveyancing services are given £1,000 ‘bribe’

Email to a friend Print A whistleblower has told the Telegraph of dodgy practices used by a large chain which she says mean only the agents win while both seller and buyer lose out. One of the practices alleged is offering buyers a £1,000 incentive if they use ‘in-house’ conveyancing and mortgaging services. In reality, […]

Veteran firm Jackson-Stops to launch online strategy aimed at the ‘self-serve generation’

Veteran firm Jackson-Stops – which this month dropped the ‘& Staff’ from its name – is expected to announce an online strategy in the New Year. The business, with 45 offices, is also undergoing a strategic review. Chairman Nick Leeming told EYE: “It is a challenge for the industry as to how far agents position […]

Sanction Court today is final hurdle for Agents’ Mutual to prepare OTM for stock market launch

Today is likely to see the final step in the demutualisation process of Agents’ Mutual – although the outcome of the sanction court is by no means certain since the court has proved in the past that it is not a rubber-stamping process. However, if it does approve the new scheme of arrangement – for […]

Convicted thief who took part in jewellery robbery went on to work for agent

A home owner googled the agent who came to value his property after losing his business card – and was shocked to find that the agent had recently come out of jail for his part in a £300,000 robbery. Kane Oye was sentenced to three years in prison after he and an accomplice raided a […]