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The online challenge: Why high street must wake up to the fact that vendors’ habits have changed

July 7, 2017

Paul Smith’s opinion piece in EYE this week focused on the easyProperty and Guild merger. In it, he criticised the deal and advised Guild agents not to “devalue” their brand. However, I believe that this is looking at the opportunity as a problem. Similarly to the Guild and with considerable cross-over, we have a client […]

New online agent shoots over crowdfunding target in a matter of days

Doorsteps, the online estate agent launched less than a year ago and which says it is worth £12m, has sailed over its crowdfunding target in little more than a week. By yesterday afternoon, 137 investors had piled in a total of £405,600 – above the £400,000 target. The business is predicting that digital market share […]

Local councils launch voluntary scheme that benchmarks letting agents and landlords

Councils in the west of England have relaunched a scheme that sets a benchmark for letting agents and landlords. It aims to help people find good quality rented accommodation in Bristol and surrounding areas. Rent with Confidence is a voluntary scheme that aims to protect tenants, who will know whether their agent or landlord is […]

Agents’ Mutual v Gascoigne Halman case: Agent hints it may appeal

July 6, 2017

The ramifications of the case between Gascoigne Halman and Agents’ Mutual look set to continue. There is the possibility of an appeal by the Connells-owned agent, while Agents’ Mutual said yesterday evening it will go after costs, and Zoopla took a swipe at the ‘one other portal’ rule operated by Agents’ Mutual portal OnTheMarket. There […]

Agents are ‘massively’ failing to use local newspaper advertising effectively – claim

Agents are failing to use local property advertising effectively, says an industry consultant. Richard Rawlings, who runs Estate Agency Insight, said “many” agents are failing to adapt their marketing content in order to win business. Last week 376 agents responded to a survey by the consultancy that sought to identify the validity of agents’ continued […]

Hatched founder Adam Day says he is taking a break – less than two years after sale to Connells

Mystery surrounds what may have happened at online agency Hatched. Founder Adam Day was yesterday posting on his Linked In profile that he is “At Home”, and “Taking a break. Who knows how long”. The likeable Day founded Hatched in April 2006. It was acquired by Connells Group in November 2015. Connells said at the […]

Two-thirds of landlords pay only basic rate of income tax – ‘a myth that they’re raking it in’

Two-thirds of individual landlords are only liable for the basic rate of income tax according to data released by the Government. The Residential Landlords Association says that it challenges the myth that landlords have large incomes and so can cope with tax rises. According to the figures obtained in response to parliamentary questions from DUP […]

New student accommodation rental platform aims to ‘disrupt’ university lets

A 22-year-old student has come up with a new lettings platform in the latest attempt to “disrupt” the rental sector. Yannick Lomete, who is studying Procurement and Supply Chain Management (Operations) at Cranfield University, is working on a student rental accommodation platform called Probbe, to launch in August. The website provides a central platform for […]

NEWSFLASH: ‘Now we will go after costs’ declares triumphant OnTheMarket

July 5, 2017

Agents’ Mutual is to go after costs after the Competition Appeal Tribunal today issued a judgement in favour of it. Ian Springett, chief executive of OnTheMarket, told EYE: “The Competition Appeal Tribunal has now issued judgment in favour of Agents’ Mutual in relation to our legal proceedings against Gascoigne Halman. “We are pleased that the […]

NEWS FLASH: Judgment given in crucial Agents’ Mutual v. Gascoigne Halman case

More than four months after the hearing finished, the Competition Appeal Tribunal this afternoon delivered its judgment on Agents’ Mutual’s ‘one other portal rule’. At first sight, the judgment looks to be a complete victory for Agents’ Mutual, in terms of the legality of the ‘one other portal’ rule, the exclusion of online-only agents, and […]

Complaint about Purplebricks is upheld by Advertising Standards Authority

A complaint about Purplebricks has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority. Arun Estate Agencies, a chain in the south, challenged claims made about savings in a series of nine testimonials in July last year at www.purplebricks.comm/reviews The first three testimonials stated “Mrs Kay, Blackburn, March 2016. Fees saved £5,682”; “Mrs Roach, Bournemouth, March 2016. […]

Agent’s ad telling vendors of ‘disadvantage’ of OnTheMarket reported to watchdog

A regional magazine advertisement which said that listing property at OnTheMarket put vendors at a disadvantage was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. The advert, for Devon-based firm Wilkinson Grant estate agents, stated: “Would you rather your property is seen by this many people or this many people?” The advert featured, as a comparison, symbols […]

Online agent claims to be worth £12m after less than a year’s trading as it seeks crowdfunding

An online firm which claims to be Britain’s 41st largest estate agent after less than a year’s trading, is claiming to be worth £12m. Doorsteps, which also says it is ranked in the top ten national estate agents by Trustpilot, is now raising £400,000 in exchange for 3.23% equity via crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. By yesterday […]

Housing commentator Pryor warns that half of industry is ‘sleep walking to oblivion’

Housing market commentator and buying agent Henry Pryor has stood by a remark made to the Telegraph that too many agents have become “fat and lazy”. The Telegraph article claims that “British home owners are finding new ways to sell their homes in a bid to combat high estate agent fees, which typically range from […]

Tout of the Week: How to tell the vendor they might have made a mistake

It began when house seller – and former Telegraph property editor – Anna White was sent a touting letter by Winkworth, offering her a hefty discount on fees if she put her home with them. Naturally, she shared the experience on Twitter. That prompted Brickworks, an online firm, to contribute another touting letter, also from […]

Faster jobs growth in London has seen average rents soar 45% in past decade

Rents in London are at the least affordable for a decade, but the North has become cheaper, research from Hometrack claims. The valuation software provider found strong growth in employment and migration from the rest of the UK and overseas, coupled with constraints in mortgage accessibility had made rents soar in the capital but remain […]

Local Property Experts and staff snap up share options in Purplebricks

Options to buy almost a million shares in Purplebricks have been exercised by a number of employees and Local Property Experts. Altogether options have been taken to subscribe for 961,762 shares at £0.01p each. The statement to the Stock Exchange says the options were granted under various incentive schemes, and that some of those who […]

Two new shadow housing ministers appointed by Corbyn

Two new shadow housing ministers have been appointed by Jeremy Corbyn. They are Tony Lloyd, who won the Rochdale seat after Simon Danczuk was de-selected, and Melanie Onn, who represents Great Grimsby. They replace Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, and join shadow housing secretary John Healey, a former housing minister, in the reshuffled line-up [ […]

easyProperty and Guild – and why I think this deal ‘stinks of fear’

July 4, 2017

The deal involving easyProperty and The Guild of Property Estate Agents permits the latter’s 5,000 agents, plus those in the Fine & Country network, to offer fixed-price online sales and lettings packages. The online service, which will be offered alongside the members’ traditional estate agency service, will be provided via the platform of the struggling […]

A fiasco! Compliance expert lifts the lid on chaotic ‘launch’ of latest money laundering regime

What a fiasco! I don’t think Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the writers of Yes Minister, could have come up with this storyline. The Government had two years to prepare and implement the new Money Laundering Regulations, and ultimately they introduced them on the last day, giving agents just one day to prepare for […]

Opinion: Why has so much ‘dumb’ money been thrown into proptech?

Redfin, the company that invented property listings on a map, has finally filed for an IPO in the US: https://www.axios.com/real-estate-company-redfin-files-for-ipo-2451079749.html There is a mythology in the US about how the original Redfin founder was showing off his innovation, and then discovered his friends had taken that innovation and started Trulia and Zillow (both ultimately merged). […]

Popular industry veteran Michael Stoop goes back to Winkworth after 25 years

Winkworth Franchising today announces the appointment of Michael Stoop, its former managing director, as a consultant to the business with immediate effect – days after his final departure from the Property Franchise Group, still better known as Martin & Co. Stoop returns to Winkworth after a remarkable 25-year break, in which he headed up – […]

Second home owners getting multi-million pound windfall in tax relief

Owners of holiday homes which are made available to rent are getting a windfall of millions of pounds in tax relief. Second home owners, whose properties are available to rent as holiday lets for 140 days of the year, often qualify as small businesses, and are entitled to relief on 100% of the business rates […]

New trade body CIELA attacks independent agents – and turns on the trade press

July 3, 2017

Aspiring trade body CIELA has attacked both the members it is hoping to attract – independent agents, saying that many are breaking the law – and trade journals such as EYE, which it has previously tried to use as a promotional platform. It claims that trade press such as EYE are running scared of Purplebricks […]

‘I’ll give out more sales numbers when the time is right’ – Purplebricks boss says

He is worth £160m on paper – and likely to find himself in the Rich List next year. But, according to a glowing interview in the London Evening Standard, Purplebricks boss Michael Bruce is almost too busy to enjoy the fruits of his company’s “stratospheric rise”. Bruce, who works 15-hour days, is “rising a £1bn […]

Agent who defrauded landlords and tenants spared jail while her victims must bear their losses

An agent who defrauded landlords and tenants out of thousands of pounds has been spared jail, while her victims will receive no compensation. Becky Westby, who ran Aspire Lettings in Padgate, near Warrington, failed to return deposits and did not pass on rent. Altogether, she defrauded landlords and tenants out of £5,509 between July 2014 […]

House prices ‘set to tumble by 40%’, warning from ex-government housing adviser

Britain is facing a property price crash – and the return of negative equity. The warnings come from Paul Cheshire, a former government housing adviser and professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics. He said: “We are due a significant correction in house prices. I think we are beginning to see signs […]

Lower estate agency fees could help get market moving, say mortgage lenders

Lowering estate agent fees and replacing Stamp Duty with a land value tax could help boost property transactions, a new report claims. Research compiled for the Council of Mortgage Lenders, studying the decline in home movers, looks at reasons behind falling property purchases and how to get the market moving. The report, Missing Movers: A […]

Elderly woman charged agent’s commission after property failed to sell, allegation

June 30, 2017

An elderly woman who sold her home to her own son after the property failed to sell through an agent was charged over £4,000 in commission. The claim has been made in a letter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. It comes from Susan Larwood, a conveyancing manager in a law firm. She told the SRA […]

£4m worth of Purplebricks share options handed to two new employees

Two members of the Purplebricks team have been given options to buy a total of 1.4m shares in the business at 0.01p each. The options are worth some £4m to the two senior but relatively new members of staff. The options have been granted under the employee share option plan and have an exercise price […]

New housing minister drops out of his first major speaking engagement – why? Well, here’s the buzz

Alok Sharma yesterday became the first housing minister in 22 years not to attend the influential Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference. Instead, he used Twitter chiefly to show he had appeared at a local bee-keepers’ event three days earlier. Sharma had been due to speak yesterday but according to Inside Housing magazine – organisers […]

Zoopla acquisition of Expert Agent is cleared by Competition and Markets Authority

ZPG’s acquisition of software firm Expert Agent has been cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority. ZPG, which also operates a number of other estate agency software brands after its acquisition of the Property Software Group for £75m last year, completed on the purchase of Expert Agent in March. However, later that month the purchase […]

Head of finance’s departure from NAEA and ARLA is confirmed – no reason given

The head of finance at Propertymark/NFoPP was dismissed last week, it has apparently been confirmed. Rob Clutton became director of finance in 2009, and so was eight years in the job. Propertymark ARLA chief executive David Cox told EYE: “Subject to the conclusion of our internal disciplinary process, I can confirm that Rob Clutton, Head […]

NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks upgrades its UK expectations as it agrees a sale every nine minutes

June 29, 2017

Purplebricks this morning announced UK revenues of £43.2m for the year to the end of April and an operating profit of £200,000. Revenues were way over double achieved in the same period the previous year, which stood at £18.6m. In Australia, Purplebricks had revenue of £3.5m but made an operating loss of £6.1m. Altogether, Purplebricks […]

New no-deposit schemes for tenants could turn market into ‘Wild West’, warning

Question marks have been raised over the growth in tenancy deposit replacement products, with one provider admitting that the unregulated market could turn into the ‘Wild West’. Jon Notley, who has yet to launch the Zoopla-backed Zero Deposit, was speaking after a highly critical ‘white paper’ report of the new marketplace by Eddie Hooker, of […]

What do you get when you market a home on Facebook? 180,000 views and interest from two!

For those of you who missed the One Show yesterday evening because you were busy showing someone round a property at the end of a long day . . . well this one’s for you. Shanty Helim, a vendor with online agent House Simple, was the star of her particular show. The hit programme showed […]

So, what happens when landlords move into their own rental properties?

In stunning life-swap television last night, BBC1 showed how well-off private landlords reacted when they moved into their tenants’ homes for a week. If you missed it, do play catch-up as the programme said a lot about the housing crisis, and the haves and have-nots, and about the role of housing as opposed to that […]

New lettings portal which cuts out agents embarks on crowd-funding

A new private rental portal has announced it is to raise money via crowd-funding being carried out via social media. Letproof, which says it removes “the involvement and cost of letting agents”, allows landlords and tenants to contact each other directly. The site is free for tenants to use and charges landlords from 10p per […]

Agents warned about issuing incorrect Section 21 notices

A lawyer has warned that agents and landlords are unwittingly issuing incorrect Section 21 notices, resulting in thousands of pounds being wasted in aborted possession claims and extensive delays in recovering property. Danielle Hughes, from Kirwans law firm, said that the confusion has arisen as a result of legislation changes applying to residential Assured Shorthold […]

Estate agent who was pillar of community now facing jail after helping paedophile asylum seeker

June 28, 2017

A former estate agent has been told he is facing jail after he was found guilty of helping a paedophile asylum seeker to fraudulently claim housing benefit. Malcolm Belchamber, while working at Leaders in Littlehampton, West Sussex, wrote a letter to the local district council on behalf of Osman Koroma, saying his rent had gone […]

Offering Joe Public a choice of both full service and direct may at least get you through the door

You turn your head for two weeks and the world changes. Grenfell Tower, Brexit talks start, and The Guild cosies up to easyProperty. The latter doesn’t move the dial in the same way that either of the former does but, with one big caveat: anyone who simply dismisses it out of hand may be missing […]

Hunters founder Kevin Hollinrake steps into Parliamentary Private Secretary role

Kevin Hollinrake, co-founder of estate agents Hunters, has been appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove. He said he hopes to use his new role to represent the interests of “our excellent farmers, fishermen, food producers, rural businesses and residents, and the countryside and environment generally”. Hollinrake has […]

Rent guarantor firm told to make its requirements clearer

A complaint about a rent guarantor service has been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. Housing Hand’s website said: “NEED A UK RENT GUARANTOR? Whether you’re a student or working professional, from just £295 our Rent Guarantor Service provides you with a secure UK based guarantor so you don’t pay rent upfront. Apply today! […]

Business as usual as buyers and sellers ‘undeterred’ by election result

The General Election result has failed to deter buyers and sellers, according to Jackson-Stops & Staff. The agency has surveyed its national network of 44 branches two weeks on from the hung Parliament result to get an idea of the mood in the market. More than half (55%) of branches reported absolutely no change in […]

Hundreds of agents sign Letters of Intent to secure easyProperty licences

June 26, 2017

More than 500 territory requests have been logged by Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country agents expressing their intention to secure an easyProperty licence. Each easyProperty territory will cost a Guild or Fine & Country agent £500 and consist of some 20,000 properties. News of the early take-up follows an eight-day, ten-city regional […]

Agents charging multiple ‘holding’ deposits from tenants come under fire from Which?

Agents have come under new fire from Which? for charging multiple ‘holding’ deposits from prospective tenants after one of its members of staff twice handed over £500 to an agent – and found he was not the only one to do so. Adam French, 28-year-old senior content editor, said he had been looking for a […]

Muslim woman taking her former estate agency bosses to tribunal over colour of her hijab

A Muslim woman is taking her estate agency employers to an employment tribunal, alleging that she was ordered to remove her black hijab. The un-named woman had been working at Harvey Dean in Bury for nearly a year. A complaint filed at the Manchester Employment Tribunal says she was told that moving from a back […]

Referencing firm introduces new feature that shows agents have complied with TPO code

A referencing company has introduced a new feature which it claims will help letting agents demonstrate compliance with The Property Ombudsman’s Code of Practice. It follows the news that the highest award against a letting agent by TPO was to a landlord and was a result of problems with referencing by an outsourced firm. Van […]

Leaders back on the acquisition trail with latest purchase

Leaders has announced that it is back on the acquisition trail, with the purchase of a firm in Nottingham. It has completed the purchase of Bulmer Estates, a family-run business owned by Andrew and Rebecca Bulmer. It is the latest stage in Leaders’ ambitious expansion strategy, which saw it and sister company Romans acquire more […]

easyProperty and Guild deal ‘driven by desperation’ and ‘unlikely to succeed’, claim

June 23, 2017

The ‘merger’ between easyProperty and the Guild of Property Professionals and its sister brand Fine & Country has been described as either “an unholy alliance or a godsend”. The deal, touted as being worth £60m, is set to finalise next month and has now been scrutinised by proptech experts Eddie Holmes and James Dearsley. The […]