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The Paul Smith column: Will Countrywide’s problems be over any time soon? It really doesn’t look like it

April 30, 2018

With the latest announcement that income is continuing to slide at Countrywide, a new revelation has emerged from the company’s recently-published annual accounts that appears to have been completely overlooked by commentators. The company appears to have a £275m ‘revolving credit facility’ along with a £60m ‘accordion facility’. It looks like any borrowings from these […]

Emoov’s Russell Quirk named in Sunday Times list of UK’s top 100 entrepreneurs

Russell Quirk, founder of online agent Emoov, has been named as one of the UK’s top 100 entrepreneurs. The Maserati 100 list was published yesterday in the Sunday Times. The citation says: “Estate agent Quirk, 50, started Emoov to try to rehabilitate the reputation of an unloved industry. “With fixed fees, face-to-face valuations and promises […]

Man who advertised spare room on flat share website went on to rape women

A man who rented his spare room to women and then raped them has been jailed for 18 years. Mamun Rashid, 30, of Tower Hamlets, London, was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on Friday. He will remain on the sex offenders register for life. Rashid was found guilty at the same court last month […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Humberts in talks with administrators amid confirmation of redundancies

April 27, 2018

Humberts, one of the country’s best known and longest established agency names, has confirmed it could be going into administration. The news follows speculation that managing director Ian Westerling had stepped down. Tonight, Westerling said: “Due to turbulent market conditions and pressures on the industry as whole, Humberts is currently in talks with proposed administrators […]

Exclusive: Tenants making more use of rent repayment orders than local councils in first year of new powers

Tenants have made more applications for rent repayment orders (RRO) against their landlord than local authorities in the first year of new powers that allow renters to initiate RROs, an EYE freedom of information request (FOI) has revealed. Previously, only local authorities could start RRO proceedings to recoup rent paid via housing benefit or universal […]

House sales revenue plunges over 15% at LSL with market more difficult than expected

Revenue from house sales at LSL was down 15.3% in the first quarter of this year, the firm has reported. LSL, parent company of brands including Reeds Rains, Your Move and Marsh & Parsons, said this reflected a more difficult market than expected. It also said the dip reflected the closure of eight branches in […]

This is what Rightmove is telling City analysts – and you can read all about it

Want to know what the City is told about Rightmove? Well, here is one nugget. In January 2010 the proportion of independent estate agency offices spending over £1,000 per month with Rightmove was 4%. In January this year, the figure was 45%. EYE has already carried a short summary from one of the analysts who […]

Estate agents escape criticism as consumers say how difficult it is to buy and sell

Estate agents are finally being cut some slack by one of their usual critics, consumer watchdog Which? The organisation often focuses on ‘rip-off’ commissions in the sector but now a survey by its broking arm actually paints agents in a positive light. Research by Which? Mortgage Advisers looked at the biggest issues reported during the […]

Government rushes out new advice on Right to Rent – but is it any help at all?

The Government has issued updated guidance about letting property to ‘Windrush’ people – long-term residents of the UK but who do not have documents to demonstrate their status. However, the short, one-page guidance on Right to Rent leaves key questions unanswered and has been called a “fudge” by housing lawyer David Smith. The guidance says […]

OnTheMarket outlines plans over next two years to close traffic and inventory gaps

April 26, 2018

Email to a friend Print OnTheMarket has told the City of its aggressive plans to recruit agents and ‘close the inventory gap’ between it and the incumbent portals, particularly Zoopla. At an investor lunch yesterday, CEO Ian Springett and CFO Clive Beattie outlined their plans. These include an aggressive recruitment drive of agents in the […]

Online agent defends fixed upfront fee model, saying it works best for vendors

An online agent has mounted a robust defence of the payment-upfront model. It comes at a time when a number of online firms are turning to no sale, no fee, amid criticisms that a fee paid up-front means they need do no further work after taking the listing. House Network has however said that the […]

London housing shortage a ticking time bomb for businesses in growing struggle to recruit and keep staff

The shortage of affordable homes, both to buy and to rent, in London is crippling firms’ ability to recruit and hang on to staff. Two thirds (66%) of respondents to a business survey said that housing costs and availability are having a negative impact on the recruitment of entry-level staff. Compared with 57% when this […]

Tech-savvy generation of renters pose greatest threat to future of ‘blinkered’ high street agents, claim

Traditional letting agents could be on their way out – it has been claimed. City AM’s Katherine Denham says the danger posed to them is not going to be regulation but the tech-savvy younger generation of renters. She envisages a future where there will be agents charging the wealthiest tenants a high fee in return […]

Major industry figure Suzie Pattison steps down after 28 years at Ravensworth

The head of one of the best known suppliers to estate agents is to quit just months after the business was sold to ZPG. Suzie Pattison, managing director of Ravensworth, is leaving after 28 years. The business’s activities include the printing of particulars, pioneering on-demand particulars. ZPG paid an undisclosed sum for Ravensworth last year. […]

Woman jailed for stealing £108,000 from agents had suspended sentence for theft from previous employer

April 23, 2018

Email to a friend Print A woman has been jailed after stealing over £108,000 while working at an estate and letting agent. This was while being subject to a suspended sentence imposed after she stole from a previous employer. During the times that she was doing unpaid work ordered as part of that sentence, she […]

Court hands record £180,000 bill to owner over HMO failures in properties

A 33-year-old woman has been hit with a record bill over charges relating to four HMO properties. Leila Amjadi, who runs – or ran – property business Vertu Capital, was found guilty of failing to obtain HMO licences and also of breaches under HMO regulations. She was found guilty of 35 offences relating to the […]

Online agent Emoov takes on high street with launch of a new homes service for developers

Online agent Emoov is taking on high street agents with a new land and new homes service. It is to offer a new package to developers which it says will help them save ‘significant’ amounts of money when it comes to listing and selling new-build or converted properties. Rather than pay a high-street agent a […]

Letting agents in Scotland where fees are banned are ‘continuing to charge tenants’, claim

A group of tenants in Scotland is alleging that agents in Glasgow are breaking the law by continuing to charge fees to tenants, six years after the ban. A tenants’ union says it will be launching a campaign, and is asking for evidence in an ‘illegal fees survey’. It is asking whether specific agents have […]

Agent Provocateur: Is a REIT a good option for landlords who might be thinking of selling?

Landlords face unprecedented pressures, seemingly politically induced. Section 24 Tax changes, although announced as part of the 2015 Finance Act, are now biting, and when added to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, ie EPC minimum E, have anecdotally led to as many as 50% of landlords considering giving up and selling. Agents face losing loyal landlords, […]

Tenants helpless in trying to get redress when they have complaints about landlords, says ombudsman

April 20, 2018

Email to a friend Print The Property Ombudsman last year referred 1,476 complaints about landlords to Shelter. Landlords currently do not have to offer redress and TPO is unable to handle complaints about them. Ombudsman Katrine Sporle said that the HCLG Committee report by MPs on the private rented sector was accurate in its references […]

EYE opinion piece: Why Right to Rent should be suspended at once after Windrush fiasco

Agents have been among the enforcers of the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy which has led to the Windrush scandal. Right to Rent means that it is a mandatory requirement for agents and landlords to check whether a prospective tenant has the right to be in this country. However, many of the Windrush generation – children […]

Regional firm expands to ten offices after latest acquisition

Essex and Suffolk based estate agent Fenn Wright has opened its tenth office in a flagship building after the acquisition of fellow independent Woodbridge estate agent Neals. James Neal, son of the founder, Dennis HB Neal, who founded Neals in 1951, will join Fenn Wright as an associate partner, working alongside Charlie Wright, in the […]

Landlords becoming more professional as ‘amateurs’ turn away from buy-to-let

Almost a third of amateur landlords are looking to sell up while those with bigger portfolios are still feeling positive, research claims. A study of 500 landlords by insurer Simple Landlords Insurance found that 30% of single property landlords plan to sell, compared with just 8% of landlords with more than two properties. Some 38% […]

Former estate agents are recruited to new live chat service

Telephone calls handling firm Moneypenny has launched a live chat service – and recruited two former agents to help run it. The dedicated 24-hour live chat team will help potential buyers and sellers make enquiries through an agent’s website where Moneypenny’s team are able to respond in real time. The service is available either fully […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks sells 76% of properties it lists, says analyst

April 19, 2018

Email to a friend Print Purplebricks sells 76% of the houses it lists, “well above the national average”, a new note to investors said this morning. Analysts at Investec Bank said that its independent market survey report “confirms that Purplebricks sells the majority of instructed properties, “contradicting some recent desktop analysis” – a reference to […]

Criminal landlords should have their properties confiscated, say MPs

Email to a friend Print Criminal landlords should have their properties confiscated, says a new report by MPs. The report also calls for greater powers to be handed to local authorities to crack down on landlords who exploit vulnerable tenants. The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee – made up of both Labour and Conservative […]

Purplebricks’ shareholder meeting agrees to Axel Springer share deal

Email to a friend Print A general meeting of Purplebricks’ shareholders yesterday agreed to the issue of new shares. This is a key part of Germany-based media giant Axel Springer’s investment in Purplebricks. At the meeting all resolutions were unanimously passed with 99.98 per cent of votes cast in favour. As a result, the company’s […]

Technology firm that helps agents advertise properties on social media signs up 1,500 offices in two months

Email to a friend Print A technology company that specialises in helping estate agents promote their listings on social media says it has signed up 1,500 new estate agency offices in just two months. Adfenix, a Swedish company, raised £4.5m in venture capital last year in order to expand into the UK. It claims that […]

Purplebricks critic Chris Wood to ‘blow the lid’ on company at investor event

Email to a friend Print Long-standing Purplebricks critic Chris Wood is to speak at the UK Investor Show this Saturday at the invitation of share tipster and ex-fund manager Tom Winnifrith. Describing himself as the “estate agent who takes on Purplebricks”, Wood is due to be the final speaker at the event, held at the […]

Annual property transactions dip across UK to just above a million – but figure could still creep up

Email to a friend Print Property transactions were just above the 1m mark last year and were down 3.5% annually, Land Registry data shows. The latest Land Registry House Price Index provides transaction data for December 2017, providing an opportunity to assess the health of the market last year. There were 80,177 transactions completed in […]

Mystery over ‘review’ of Rightmove membership of online agent founded by 18-year-old

April 18, 2018

Email to a friend Print Online agent Doorstep is having its membership of Rightmove “reviewed”, a spokesperson for the portal confirmed yesterday evening, after rumours reached us as to the reasons. The spokesperson would not confirm these to EYE, and in its one-sentence statement did not say why Doorstep is having its membership reviewed. Doorstep […]

Emoov reveals its losses and liabilities in latest accounts

Email to a friend Print In accounts for the year ended April 30, 2017, newly filed at Companies House, Emoov reveals net liabilities of £583,824. The figure was up from the £275,896 given in restated accounts on October 31, 2016. The overall loss in the year to last April 30 was £583,824, up from £275,896. […]

Tepilo tells watchdog it will make it clearer that sellers will be charged extra if they don’t use conveyancing service

Email to a friend Print A complaint about online agent Tepilo, founded by TV presenter Sarah Beeny, has been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. The complainant said that Tepilo’s online advertising did not make it clear that if a customer chose not to use the conveyancing service, the customer will have to pay […]

The Property Ombudsman warns that agents will still have duty of care for tenants’ complaints after fee ban

Email to a friend Print The Property Ombudsman has warned that letting agents must not forget about their duty to tenants once the fee ban comes in. Katrine Sporle was speaking at the ARLA Propertymark national conference where delegates had questioned why they should deal with tenant complaints if they are not getting paid by […]

ARLA conference: Members urged to get MPs on side for Tenant Fees Bill debates

Email to a friend Print ARLA Propertymark is urging members to begin contacting their MPs to ensure they are well informed about the Draft Tenant Fees Bill as it begins to progress through Parliament. Speaking at yesterday’s ARLA Propertymark annual conference, chief executive David Cox said the ban was coming but members must help to […]

EYE NEWSFLASH! HouseSimple announces it is ditching pay upfront model to become no sale, no fee only

April 17, 2018

Email to a friend Print From today, online estate agent HouseSimple.com will become a no sale, no fee only agency. It has now made the change on its website, which started off today by displaying fixed fees from £695, and no sale, no fee £1,495. It says it has taken the decision to simplify its […]

Lawyer reveals ‘shocking’ cases where agents steal from clients and then dissolve business – only to start up again

Email to a friend Print A lawyer has revealed that her firm has regularly handled cases in recent years where letting agents have stolen client money and then dissolved the company to avoid liability, only to set up again. Tess Saunders, of law firm Royds Withy King, said that in the last year alone, she […]

New CEO for online agent Yopa as founder becomes chairman

Email to a friend Print There has been a change at the top at online agent Yopa. Co-founder and former CEO Daniel Attia has become chairman. He founded the business in 2014 at the age of 23. He has now been succeeded by Ben Poynter, who was the chief financial officer. A new chief financial […]

Could it happen here? US portal giant Zillow to start buying and selling homes

Email to a friend Print In a move that could be ringing alarm bells on both sides of the Atlantic, American portal giant Zillow has announced it is going to start directly buying and selling homes. While it says it will not be competing with its own agents – indeed, Zillow says this is a […]

Man to go on trial after denying assault on estate agent

A man is to go on trial after pleading not guilty to assault. Marc Skelton appeared before magistrates at Poole, Dorset, last Friday, charged with assaulting Anthony Newman of Tony Newman Estate Agents on February 27. Skelton also denied a charge of using threating, abusive or insulting words of behaviour with intent to cause fear […]

Airbnb lays down challenge in short-term lettings sector as it marks growth in UK

Email to a friend Print Airbnb is making further inroads into the short-stay private rental sector after announcing the first three UK companies to join its ‘Professional Co-host Program’. They are Air Agents, Pass the Keys and BnBBuddy. None are agents, although there are agents offering Airbnb services, and were typically started by friends who […]

Purplebricks says sellers using online agents saved £140m last year by not going with high street firms

April 16, 2018

Email to a friend Print Sellers who used an online or hybrid estate agent last year saved themselves £140m by opting not to pay high street fees. The claim this morning has come from Purplebricks, which says that the saving represented a 60% rise on the year before. Its own customers, says Purplebricks, saved over […]

Asking prices hit record high as Rightmove hails busiest month ever for visits

The average price of new property coming to market has nudged up to a record high, Rightmove reports this morning. The portal’s April House Price Index shows asking prices on listings increased by a modest 0.4% on a monthly basis and annual growth slowed to 1.6% from 2.1% in March, but it was enough to […]

Does immigration really make house prices go up, and more new homes make them go down?

What determines house prices? Most people would say ‘supply and demand’ – but what about interest rates, wages, and employment? And what about immigration, which current housing minister Dominic Raab controversially claimed was responsible for house price rises. It turned out that he had been given the information by civil servants, based on what critics […]

Landlords ‘doing up’ rather than ‘trading up’ – Countrywide

Landlords are choosing to invest in their existing properties rather than take on the extra transaction costs of adding to their portfolios, Countrywide claims. The agent’s Lettings Index for March showed record numbers of landlords remortgaging to release funds for home improvements rather than to trade up. In the past 12 months, out of the […]

Build-to-rent development on the rise as completions increase by 45%

The total number of build-to-rent homes completed, under construction and in planning across the UK has increased by 30% in the past year, analysis by the British Property Federation trade body and Savills shows. In the UK, at the end of the first quarter, there are now 117,893 build-to-rent homes across all stages of the […]

Purplebricks looks to woo Mumsnet with ten free packages in exchange for posting up their feedback

April 13, 2018

Purplebricks is giving away ten free packages to Mumsnet members in exchange for them posting their feedback at least four times a week on the platform. This is despite the fact that Mumsnet members are not exactly known for holding back their views on anything, and have often been among Purplebricks’ harshest critics. https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/property/2498593-purplebricks-turns-out-it-was-too-good-to-be-true However, […]

Could the property portals go the same way that local newspapers have done?

Could the property portals go the same way as local newspapers? Given that it was the portals that trumped the papers, it is an ironical thought – and one that is put very ably by Troy Stanley of Resource Techniques. He argues that new ways of search, including voice search (are you listening, Alexa?), could […]

Could the property portals go the same way as local newspapers have done?

Could the property portals go the same way as local newspapers? Given that it was the portals that trumped the papers, it is an ironical thought – and one that is put very ably by Troy Stanley of Resource Techniques. He argues that new ways of search, including voice search (are you listening, Alexa?), could […]

Share price of OnTheMarket leaps over 17% in one day – with no obvious reason

An enormous jump in OnTheMarket’s share price yesterday sent it leaping nearly 17.5% – an increase of 19p. The shares finished the day at 128p, valuing the company at £69m. While some way from their high on February 22 of 168p and still adrift of the planned launch price (on February 9) of 165p, it […]