Suttons City Living Blog

Powered By
Powered By Property Industry Eye

Lettings administrator who stole over £14,000 in deposits is spared jail

March 13, 2017

A lettings administrator who stole over £14,000 in tenants’ deposits has escaped jail. Julie Feilden, 51, stole the money over a six-year period, and has now been given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years. She has also been ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and pay £1,250 costs. She admitted 13 charges. […]

Rayhan’s proptech opinion: Is Countrywide really going to go the full Purple?

Imagine a hypothetical scenario where the largest company in a sector undergoes a slow motion car crash in plain sight of their peers and the public markets. No, I’m not talking about IBM, or Microsoft during Steve Ballmer (the guy that wrote off the iPhone in 2007). The focus today is on Countrywide, the UK’s […]

Average house price at nearly £300,000 as cash transactions play their part

The average house price across England and Wales stood at £297,832 in February, Your Move has claimed. The price is hugely ahead of those given by the Halifax House Price Index for February at £219,949 and Nationwide’s at £205,846, although these cover mortgaged purchases only. However, it is very close to the average asking price […]

eMoov asks the question – ‘Any reason why you wouldn’t want to list with us?’

It might be what is called a rhetorical question. Or it might be a way of eMoov getting a response from potential new vendors. “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to list with us today?” it asks. EYE couldn’t think of anything witty to put in the box, other than the obvious: “Because […]

Within eight years, there will be as many private tenants as home owners in London

March 12, 2017

Private renting in London is predicted to catch up with owner-occupation by 2025. The private rented sector was once the largest single housing tenure in London, but shrank from 46% of households in 1961 to just 14% in 1991. By 2001 – the latest date quoted in a new report on housing in the capital […]

NEWSFLASH: Former Countrywide managing director joins Purplebricks in leading role

March 10, 2017

One of Countrywide’s most senior figures, Lee Wainwright, has joined Purplebricks as operations director. Wainwright was with Countrywide as managing director for 27 years, leaving in December – amid a significant number of high-level departures in Countrywide’s latest re-structure. Latterly, between October 2015 and December last year, he was managing director of Bairstow Eves and […]

Vendors could claim against agents in illegal cartel scheme, says CMA

Vendors who lost money due to agents illegally price-fixing their commissions may be able to claim compensation, the Competition and Markets Authority has said. The agents, in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, colluded to set a commission rate of 1.5%. Four agents – Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Abbott and Frost, Gary Berryman Estate Agents and its parent company Warne […]

Housing lawyer admits ‘nothing can be done’ to close down agents expelled from redress schemes

Housing lawyer Tessa Shepperson has defended accusations that property redress schemes are “useless”. The accusation was levelled at Carter Stones, an agent in Ilford, Essex, which has featured both in EYE and the BBC You and Yours programme. Both landlords and tenants complain that they are owed money by the agent – including money handed […]

How private landlords’ tax bills will rocket after ‘unjust legislation’

There will be an enormous leap in tax bills for private landlords when tax reforms kick into place. Dr Ros Beck, a private landlord, has done research which shows that the tax bill could almost triple – and that landlords will be effectively paying at a tax rate of 67%. Her calculations are said to […]

Two councils publish league tables on how much agents charge tenants

New data on how much local letting agents charge in tenants’ fees has been published by the councils of Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove. The data has come from Generation Rent, and in both cases claims that Leaders charges the most – £624 in both places. Allison Thompson, managing director at Leaders, yesterday evening told […]

Tax break for people letting out spare rooms via Airbnb ‘could vanish’

People who let out spare rooms could lose a valuable tax break, because of concerns over Airbnb. At the moment, the Government’s rent-a-room scheme means that people who do let out spare rooms can make £7,500 a year in rent before they have to pay any tax. The tax break becomes even more valuable for […]

NEWSFLASH: Countrywide profits slaughtered

March 9, 2017

Pre-tax profits at Countrywide, the UK’s largest agent, fell by well over half last year, to £19.5m, from £47.7m the year before. The firm is now immediately going to raise around £40m to roll out its digital offering, suggesting a seriously well-funded challenge to Purplebricks in this country. Announcing its annual results for last year […]

Shhh! Just don’t mention the housing market, Mr Hammond

Yesterday’s Budget proved the dampest of squibs as far as the housing market was concerned. And it was the subject that dared not speak its name. Indeed, Chancellor Philip Hammond mentioned the H word – “housing” – only once. That was some three-quarters of an hour into his speech and was purely in the context […]

No wonder Chancellor didn’t want to reform Stamp Duty Land Tax – the money’s rolling in

Many have wondered why the Government has ignored calls for Stamp Duty Land Tax reform, but new economic forecasts out yesterday may provide some answers. Economists have increased their forecasts for the Government’s tax take from Stamp Duty over the next year. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which is independently run but used by […]

Agents warned that new anti-money laundering requirements drawing nearer

Agents are reminded that the clock is ticking towards a new anti-money laundering regime that will affect both sales and lettings. It is set to ensure that both lettings and sales agents will have to make anti-money laundering checks on sellers and buyers, and on tenants and landlords, from the end of June. The checks, […]

Now it’s official – Chestertons boss Robert Bartlett HAS quit

Days after spotting that long-standing Chestertons’ CEO Robert Bartlett no longer appears in the executive team line-up, and shortly after a social media post headed ‘Gone Skiing’ told us that Bartlett was in the Alps, the firm yesterday afternoon issued an official statement. It reveals that Bartlett’s successor, Allan Collins, has taken over on an […]

NEWSFLASH: Crash in profits at Foxtons – and there could be worse to come

March 8, 2017

Profits at Foxtons crashed by over half last year, the agent said this morning. In its preliminary results for the year to the end of December, pre-tax profits were £18.8m – down from £41m the year before. Group EBITDA was also well down, from £46m to £24.6m, and the adjusted EBITDA margin stood at 18.5%, […]

Industry big hitter Jon Notley quits Zoopla to ‘pursue new venture’

Industry big hitter Jon Notley is leaving ZPG where he has been chief commercial officer. His departure is at the end of this month, said a ZPG spokeperson yesterday. It appears there will be no successor in his role. There is speculation that Notley may have been squeezed out. Notably, there was no warm tribute […]

Gone skiing! Former Chestertons chief’s confirmation of departure

Robert Bartlett has confirmed on social media that he has left his job as group CEO at Chestertons. In a post on Linked In, where his profile is now headed “Gone Skiing”, Bartlett says that he is currently on sabbatical and likely to be found in the Alps. The post adds: “Previously Group CEO at […]

Commisery – that’s the feeling you get when someone else nicks your best line

Commisery – that’s the feeling you get when someone else nicks your best advertising line. In the last few days, we understand that stern letters have gone out from Purplebricks lawyers to some competive online agents warning that the word must be removed from their website. So, the question is – did Purplebricks trademark the […]

‘Turf war’ circular by agent reported to advertising watchdog

An estate agent’s ‘turf war’ circular has been the subject of a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. The flyer was delivered to homes on behalf of Bournes Estate Agents, which operates in the Andover and Whitchurch areas in Hampshire. According to the ASA, it included a picture of a property marketed by competitor Austin […]

No men! Property firm gives away free franchise to celebrate International Women’s Day

Property franchise HomeXperts is today marking International Women’s Day by giving away a free franchise. It is normally worth £10,000 and the winner must be female. Founder and managing director of HomeXperts, Sussanne Chambers, said she is keen to find a franchising female to gift “this opportunity of a lifetime”. The promotion closes on March […]

Today’s house price growth is ‘unsustainable’ says Savills

Current levels of house price growth are unsustainable and are stilll skewed by last year’s Stamp Duty rush, Savills has claimed. The agent predicts house price inflation will be flat this year amid rising inflation and low wage growth, and warns that first-time buyer numbers may actually be inflated as a consequence of the Stamp […]

NEWSFLASH: LSL profits boosted by £33m sale of Zoopla shares

March 7, 2017

LSL Property Services, the parent company of 12 brands including Your Move, Reeds Rains, Thomas Morris, Davis Tate and Marsh & Parsons, is to explore its ‘digital opportunities’ this year. This morning it made the announcement, suggesting it could launch an online venture, while reporting a rise in pre-tax profits for last year. In its […]

Redress scheme left us ‘high and dry’ after expulsion of rogue agent, say landlords

Landlords and tenants who say they have been defrauded by a rogue letting agent have hit out at one of the government-authorised redress schemes. They said the Property Redress Scheme was “useless” when it came to protecting them in their dealings with Carter Stones, and that after expelling the agent, the scheme left them “high […]

New guide to leaseholds is published to help consumers

A useful consumer guide to leasehold properties has been published by the Conveyancing Association. The guide specifically outlines the fees and charges that may be payable to a lease administrator. It is aimed at people who already own, are looking to purchase, or are selling a leasehold property, and could prove very useful for agents […]

Prominent west country agent Stags acquires an old (literally) competitor

Prominent west country agent Stags has acquired competitor Ward and Chowen, which has traded in Tavistock for 180 years both as an agent and running a livestock market. The company will now be trading as Stags incorporating Ward and Chowen. The takeover will bring Stags’ total number offices in the west country to 21 and […]

Government reveals £3.5m spend on promoting housing schemes

The Government spent £3.5m of taxpayers’ money promoting home ownership schemes such as Right to Buy and Help to Buy last year, it has been revealed. A written parliamentary question from shadow minister John Healey asked how much the Government had put behind the incentive schemes, whereby social tenants can purchase their homes at a […]

Anger grows over Government’s ‘Making Teenagers Homeless’ policy

Opposition is growing to plans to take housing benefit away from young people next month. Those aged between 18 and 21 will no longer qualify for housing benefit, and this housing element of Universal Credit will be removed, affecting young people in private rented sector homes such as house-shares. It means that fewer people under […]

NEWSFLASH: New CEO listed at Chestertons with no sign of Bartlett

March 6, 2017

Chestertons has a new CEO listed on its website – with no sign of long-standing boss Robert Bartlett. We have asked Chestertons for a statement after sources claimed that Bartlett has left the company. The new CEO is Allan Collins who is listed as having become CEO in March. He was previously the firm’s chief […]

Agent believed to have ‘shut up shop’ months after being expelled by redress scheme

An agent expelled by both the tenancy deposit and redress schemes it belonged to, now appears to have shut its doors. Carter Stones, in Ilford, Essex, is said to have not opened all last week, nor answered its phones. Our own attempts to contact it both at and before the weekend have failed. The firm […]

Lettings business is suspended by Zoopla while review takes place

A lettings business has been suspended from Zoopla while the portal looks to see if it complies with its terms and conditions. Rentr last week issued a press release announcing the development of its letting platform technology. It said that it now offers advertising on both Rightmove and Zoopla at £15, after one in four […]

Drama as car crashes straight through window of estate agency

This is certainly one way to clear the desks. But at least one estate agency member of staff had to run for their life when a vehicle almost ploughed into them. Thankfully – miraculously – there were no casualties when a car crashed over the pavement and through the window of Kings, in Turners Hill, […]

Rayhan’s Proptech News: Why Purplebricks is the story that keeps on giving

Purplebricks is the story that keeps on giving. Having wiped the floor with all other online agents in the UK, the firm has launched successfully in Australia and – in a surprise move – raised a monster wedge of cash from investors to take their model and brand to the US. Cue the detractors, jealous […]

Foxtons and Countrywide poised to announce ‘big falls in profit’

Both Foxtons and Countrywide are forecast to announce sharp falls in profits this week as they announce their annual results for last year, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday. Foxtons is tipped to reveal a fall in profits from £43m in 2015 to £25m last year. According to broker Peel Hunt, Countrywide […]

Expert Agent founder says sale to ZPG ‘came as a complete surprise’ to him

March 3, 2017

The founder and chief executive of Expert Agent, whose sale to ZPG was announced this week, has admitted that the deal came as a “complete surprise” to both him and his colleagues. The admission was made in an email yesterday afternoon to customers, which we have seen. In it, however, Mike Griffiths also expressed confidence […]

Reapit says it is ‘categorically’ not in talks with ZPG over any deal

Estate agency software provider Reapit has said that it is “categorically” not in any talks with ZPG that could result in its acquisition. Speaking after Wednesday’s announcement of Zoopla’s acquisition of Expert Agent, Reapit director Simon Whale said: “The talk in the wider industry has been the mergers and acquisitions activity but although a little […]

Letting agents face six months in prison or £50,000 fines if they don’t sign up to mandatory register

Letting agents in Scotland face criminal sanctions if they do not sign up to a mandatory register, laying down a marker for what could happen in England if licensing were introduced south of the border. The official guidance warns: “It will be a criminal offence to do letting agency work if you aren’t on the […]

Agent Provocateur: Agents DO care about safety on viewings but probate guidelines would be welcome

“The company was not in breach of any guidelines for estate agents nor were there any Health and Safety Executive recommendations particularly relating to a property being offered for sale.” and “No company of estate agents in the country has a written procedure nor was he aware of any having special rules in the case […]

Lenders ‘wrecking one in five transactions because of down-valuations’ after deals agreed

March 2, 2017

Banks and building societies are refusing to lend on about one in five properties because of down-valuations by their surveyors. But the issue raises fundamental questions: Is it over-valuing by agents or under-valuing by surveyors that is wrecking so many deals? Or is it a mixture of both? According to Spicerhaart boss Paul Smith, in […]

Why over-valuing is a false economy: Spicerhaart boss says agents must deliver honest valuations

A recent Which? report condemned estate agents for over-valuing property to win instructions only to see those properties later reduced in price in order to sell. Although their attention-grabbing headline fails to reflect that it’s often the customer who demands the higher price, there are certainly plenty of agents who will go way over the […]

Ex-Countrywide man takes top job at Guild and pledges to stand up for independents

A former high flier with Countrywide has been appointed as CEO of the Guild of Property Professionals. Iain McKenzie was previously “retail director” at Countrywide, responsible for its south central region. He was appointed to that role in October 2015 and is thought to have been among the departures of November 2016. He was with […]

Agent described as ‘brazenly dishonest’ as five-week trial begins

An agent who has gone on trial has been described as “brazenly dishonest”. It is alleged that he fraudulently kept nearly £15,000 of holding deposits from tenants. Thirugnanaselvam Damayantharan, 54, and known as Mr Damo, denies two counts of fraudulently trading as two companies – See Own Properties and My Lawn Estates. In all, Damo […]

New trade body CIELA tells Purplebricks to withdraw ‘misleading’ TV adverts

Fledgling trade body CIELA, the Charter for Independent Estate and Lettings Agents, has written to Purplebricks asking it to withdraw its TV advertising and comparable savings claims. It says that if Purplebricks does not take reasonable steps to correct “instances of misleading representations on your website and television advertisements”, it will complain to the Advertising […]

NEWSFLASH: Zoopla acquires Expert Agent

March 1, 2017

Zoopla has added to its stable of agency software with the announcement to the stock exchange this morning that ZPG has acquired Expert Agent. The price was not disclosed. The purchase follows the announcement on January 31 that ZPG was in negotiations on a potential further acquisition. Expert Agent is claimed to be the “most […]

Purplebricks shares rocket to over 300p – racing up 10% in just 30 minutes

Purplebricks shares yesterday rocketed to an amazing new high – and this morning, continued their meteoric ascent. Yesterday’s rise took place mainly in the space of the last half an hour of trading on the stock exchange, finishing the day at just over 300p, and at one stage hitting 310p. Altogether, by the end of […]

Agent that claimed to have more For Sale and Sold boards than other local firms is vindicated

Two out of three complaints made by an estate agent about a competitor have been upheld by the advertising watchdog. However, a challenge to the claim to have more For Sale and Sold boards than any other local agent was rejected. Crewe firm McGarrible & Co challenged three claims made in a leaflet published by […]

Trading Standards complaint about agent’s claim informally resolved

A leaflet in which an estate agent claimed to have sold six properties in a week resulted in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. Leicestershire Trading Standards challenged the claim by CHQ Properties to have sold six properties between October 27 and November 2 last year. The leaflet said: “After selling six properties last […]

New trade body CIELA due to incorporate today

CIELA (The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents) says it will be incorporating today. CIELA says that it will combine “voices, data and resources” to form the most powerful organisation in the industry. The organisation, founded by software businessman Charlie Wright, has however pushed back a full launch until October 1. This is due […]

Trading Standards ‘aware’ of another agency expelled by redress schemes

February 28, 2017

Yet another sales and lettings agency is believed to be under investigation by Trading Standards. Mystery surrounds the fate of the firm and its sole director Dennis Goodridge. Gallery@HD1 was a trading name for a number of companies set up by Goodridge but it vacated its offices earlier this month and now it transpires that […]