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Three agents expelled by Property Ombudsman after failures to co-operate

July 28, 2017

Three agents have been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme for two or more years, after failing to pay awards made by the Ombudsman or comply with TPO’s Codes of Practice for Residential Estate Agents and Letting Agents. The decisions to expel Shields & Co (Nottinghamshire), LPC Lettings Limited (Liverpool) and Blackhorse […]

Countrywide shares slip to new low after firm reports 98% plunge in profits

Countrywide shares endured a miserable day on the market yesterday after the country’s largest agent reported half-year profits down by 98% compared with the same period a year ago. At one stage yesterday the shares slipped to a new low at 145.50p. They picked up slightly to finish the day at 148, down – a […]

Online agent sails over crowdfunding target – and drops a bombshell

Online agent Doorsteps – which claims to be worth £12m after only a year’s trading – has now raised £500,800 from 357 investors on the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The business, which aimed to raise £400,000, has now announced that it is extending its bid for funds by a week – and last night, announced that […]

NEWSFLASH: Revenues and profits plunge at both Countrywide and Foxtons

July 27, 2017

Profits plunged at Countrywide in the first half of this year. An operating profit of £28.3m in the first half of last year plunged to £6.5m, while revenue was down from £370.3m to £333m. Sales transactions were down from 33,940 to 27,100. CEO Alison Platt was defiant, saying: “We are building a stronger business for […]

Top management team at Badger quits as Nick Dunning steps in as interim CEO

The long-standing top management team at Badger Holdings have all quit, months after the business was acquired by Nick Dunning Associates. None of the three had, as of yesterday, updated their LinkedIn profiles. Nick Dunning himself has become interim CEO. Group chief executive Seamus Kavanagh had been at Townends, part of what is now Badger […]

Agent who let property used for grooming and abusing young girls is sent to prison

An agent who appeared to have been a pillar of the community has been imprisoned for fraud. Malcolm Belchamber, who had been dismissed by his employer Leaders for gross misconduct, was regarded as so respectable that he was four times mayor of Littlehampton, in Sussex. He has now been sentenced to a total of 18 […]

Potential business ‘walking away’ because agents are not available to chat in the ‘always on’ society

A month-long study of visitors to agents’ own websites has revealed that very few go on to other agents’ sites. It has also shown that agents could do far more in terms of chat availability and are seeing potential business ‘walk away’ because there is no one on chat duty at certain times. Just 4.6% […]

Review of the Week: Here is what one firm is doing to praise its staff

EYE’s new ‘Review of the Week’ series (entries welcome!) is intended to feature amusing, off-beat and sometimes completely unbelievable reviews and ratings. But of course we’re also open to being sent reviews which genuinely praise an individual or a firm for going that extra mile. And we find that is almost exactly what estate agency […]

easyProperty licences taken up by over a quarter of Guild and Fine & Country offices

July 26, 2017

More than 270 easyProperty licences have been secured by independent estate agents belonging to The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country as of yesterday. It means that just over a quarter of the total number of offices have taken up the opportunity, with 800 offices represented in the Guild and 200 in Fine […]

Online agents increase market share by 57% in a year – but still have just 5% of market

There has been a “significant shift” towards using online agents, a new report on the housing market claims. It says that in the second quarter of this year, they increased their market share by 57% compared with the same period last year. But despite the dramatic uplift, they nevertheless had only 5% of the overall […]

Letting agent couple who failed to register over £40,000 of deposits escape jail

A married couple who ran a lettings agency where they failed to protect tenants’ deposits have escaped jail. George and Kim Overill ran Oakpark Properties in Harwich, Essex, and pleaded guilty to two counts each of contravention of professional diligence as directors and a further two each of fraudulent trading. The couple failed to register […]

Properties advertised on Rightmove as under offer had actually been sold – ‘human error’ to blame

Two properties listed on Rightmove by a firm called Leftmove Estate Agents were shown as being under offer, but in fact had been sold. A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority which contacted Leftmove, which has branches in Lancashire. Leftmove told the ASA that the mistake was due to “human error” and the […]

Leasehold reform – could it trigger a huge new mis-selling scandal?

The Government consultation on leasehold reform drops a hint that the Government may intervene to help existing leaseholders – triggering speculation that it could lead to a mis-selling compensation scenario on a similar scale to that of the payment protection insurance scandal (PPI). One house builder, Taylor Wimpey, has reportedly already set aside £130m to […]

Stirling Ackroyd really is a car crash – MD’s email to staff

July 25, 2017

An email sent last month by the managing director of Stirling Ackroyd to staff was headed: “Stirling Ackroyd really is a car crash!” The email, dated June 15, contained no message but had an attachment – a photo (below) of a car which had crashed into the firm’s Shoreditch head office. The email apparently caused […]

Government acts in crackdown on leasehold ‘abuse’

The Government has today launched a consultation designed to ban new homes being sold as leaseholds. It says the problem is particularly pronounced in the north west, and that the number of leasehold sales in England is growing “rapidly”. Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: “It’s clear that far too many new houses are being built […]

Opinion: Why I believe negotiators are going to go the way of the fax machine

Rightmove’s monopoly is the single biggest driver of venture capital investors piling into proptech. Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft before them operate in a world where ubiquity is the natural state. The internet has created a new world with no barriers to entry, so the service that everyone else uses becomes the de-facto monopoly. Monopolies […]

Agent Provocateur: Hybrid? Big? Or small? What is the right engine for the industry?

Does the development of the internal combustion engine have any parallels with agency? Most would say not, but looking out of the window as I write I can see a nice car I use occasionally and a small older car I actually prefer driving and that does most of the donkey work in my life […]

Picture of the Week: And – curses! – it’s mirrors, mirrors everywhere

Picture of the week – and behold, the curse of the bathroom mirror strikes again. And indeed, not just the bathroom mirror but the bedroom mirror too. Oh, and the one in the hall. Altogether four pictures in a slideshow of ten show the photographer, which we think must be a record. But of course, […]

NEWSFLASH: Ex-Countrywide team snap up prominent central London agent

July 24, 2017

One of London’s best known agents, Stirling Ackroyd, has been snapped up by the new business formed by ex-Countrywide commercial director Nick Dunning. It is the third acquisition for Nick Dunning Associates. Stirling Ackroyd has six branches and manages a lettings book with more than 1,400 properties. Opening in Shoreditch in 1987, the firm also […]

Purplebricks share price smashes the £5 mark to hit new record

Purplebricks’ share price smashed the £5 barrier on Friday to reach a new record high of 514p. That would have brought in enormous profit to early investors back in December 2015 who paid £1 – and particularly to those who held off a few weeks, when the price went down to 75p. Today, the shares […]

Belvoir founder cashes in 1.7m shares – with some snapped up by directors

The founder of franchise business Belvoir has sold £1.7m in shares at £1 each, shortly after stepping down as CEO. Mike Goddard, who founded Belvoir with his wife Stephanie in 1995, placed 1.7m shares – around 4.9% of the business’s total issued capital – to meet demand from institutional investors. Following the sale Goddard, who […]

Panic stations! Commentators worry about ‘seasonally adjusted’ data, but guess what – sales actually on the up

Property commentators were at panic stations on Friday after HMRC data showed that housing transactions appeared to have slipped below 100,000 during June. But a closer look at the figures actually shows the market was doing fine, even with the Brexit negotiations and General Election. Data from HMRC showed there were 96,910 sales, down from […]

Increasing number of households believe the value of their home is still rising

The number of households perceiving that the value of their home had increased improved during June, with respondents in 10 of the 11 regions believing their property price had risen. It marks a turnaround of three successive months of falling, although still positive, sentiment. Some 17% of the 1,500 households surveyed by Knight Frank across […]

Agent who received parking tickets at work placed under curfew after conspiring to damage CCTV

An agent has escaped jail after pleading guilty with two other defendants to conspiracy to commit criminal damage. But he has been placed under curfew. Jake Ankers, 26, a lettings manager at Beech Properties, Manchester, was said to have orchestrated two incidents whereby the family had bricks thrown at their CCTV. In a second incident, […]

Police called in as agent warns over pop-up lettings firms defrauding landlords and tenants

July 21, 2017

An agent says that bogus ‘pop-up’ firms are repeatedly springing up, raking in high six-figure sums and then doing a bunk – typically leaving 20-40 landlords and tenants in the lurch after losing rents and deposits. Jonathan Werth, managing director of LiFe Residential in London, says the problem has blown up again in the last […]

High street agents could have lost 7% market share to online firms so far this year

Traditional agents have lost 7% of market share so far this year to online competitors. The estimate comes from Mark Worrall, a high street estate agent who has co-created love2move as a national online agency brand that can sit alongside existing businesses. Worrall launched love2move in February, promoting it as “your high street agent online”. […]

Will it, won’t it? New trade body CIELA coy about member numbers but says it ‘may’ have enough to launch

CIELA, the aspirant new trade body for the industry, is in talks with the HomeOwners Alliance. Its chief executive Paula Higgins is ‘tentatively’ booked to attend CIELA’s recruitment events in September “as part of a panel of industry influencers”. The HomeOwners Alliance, which sets out its stall as a body representing consumers’ interests, is one-third […]

Wales launches consultation on letting agent fees ban – and In London agents asked to scrap fees voluntarily

The Welsh government has launched a consultation on proposals to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants. It now looks likely that tenant fees will be banned throughout the UK. Scotland already has a ban in place and the Westminster government has committed to introducing a ban in England, likely to take effect next […]

Just inspirational – the story of an agent’s fight from leukaemia to Ironman challenge

Agents who complete Ironman challenges in aid of charity are almost routine in this generous industry. But here is a truly inspirational example. Two years ago, negotiator Eddy Clarkson spent his 21st birthday in hospital in isolation as he went through seven months of treatment for leukaemia. He has now just completed the Ironman UK […]

That’s rich! New breed of ‘uber’ tenants splash the cash on weekly rents of £25,000

July 20, 2017

An unprecedented new breed of renter has emerged – the international mega-rich ‘uber tenant’. The species is confined to London, where they are prepared to pay weekly rent of up to and in some cases over £25,000. Trevor Abrahmsohn, of Glentree Estates, said that in the last month alone his firm has done three such […]

Network of property portals around elusive Houser – but information scant

Mystery surrounds the Houser set-up. Three other property portals appear to be operating in tandem with it, while the company that we were told ran Houser has been dissolved, according to Companies House. Altogether there appear to be four inter-connected portals which are still publishing listings, although not, it seems, always taking down old ones: […]

Humberts reveals major new investment as it uproots itself from the countryside

Humberts has announced a change in direction, away from the rural sector. It will not, however, be changing its rural-looking logo which includes the wording “part of the landscape since 1842”. The firm said: “By consolidating the existing business which has now moved away from the rural sector, Humberts has attracted significant investment from a […]

Martin & Co franchisees acquire their biggest single competitor

The Property Franchise Group has confirmed one of its largest ever single-office acquisitions. Martin & Co Plymouth has acquired Executive Lets, said to be the city’s largest letting agents. Chris and Merolyn Whitaker purchased the Martin & Co Plymouth franchise in April 2015. They had previously served 16 years in the Army’s Intelligence Corps. Executive […]

Another purchase for Leaders as it acquires property portfolio

Three weeks after acquiring Bulmer Estates in Nottingham, Leaders has completed the purchase of the 500-plus property portfolio of Derby-based lettings business MBM Management. The company was established in 1996 and successfully run by founder and owner Malcolm Blount – who has now retired – along with his daughter Helen Hufton who joined the business […]

Elusive property portal Houser rapped by advertising watchdog over out-of-date property listing

July 19, 2017

Mysterious property portal Houser has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for listing a property that was taken off the market two years ago. However, last night, EYE could still see the same property listed on Houser, via agents Newton Fallowell. Although a ‘flash’ note said the property was no longer available, photos and […]

Online agent’s advert claims to have saved thousands – but that WASN’T what brought in the complaints

Here is today’s conundrum. Why would someone complain to the Advertising Standards Authority about this advert for online firm I Am The Agent? Obvious, isn’t it! Can the bloke’s claim to have sold his property online for just £399, saving £3,650 in estate agency fees, be substantiated? Is it misleading? Well, it’s possible that someone […]

Duncan Smith demands that George Osborne’s war on landlords is called off

Prominent Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has said the Government should call off the fight against private landlords. The former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said it was time to reconsider “the way we treat private landlords”. He went on: “A large number of them are talking about no longer buying to let, […]

Watchdog bans advertisement which suggested agent had ‘traditional’ branches

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement which gave the impression that firm had a physical office “in the style of a traditional estate agent”. Yorkshire’s Finest showed on its website a map with Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Denby Dale and Holmfirth shown, with telephone numbers. The text referred to them as “our offices”. […]

MP launching new bid to make rental accommodation ‘fit for human habitation’

Labour MP Karen Buck is planning to reintroduce her Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill in Parliament today. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the move had been expected. Buck, who represents Westminster North, originally introduced a Private Member’s Bill in 2015/2016 seeking to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require […]

Upbeat LSL tells City it will make higher than expected profits this year

July 18, 2017

Shares in LSL enjoyed a strong day on the stock market yesterday after the company announced that it expects “materially” higher than expected profits this year. The positive – and unscheduled – announcement comes ahead of its interim results due on August 1. The firm had previously said it could be hit be the Brexit […]

It’s free! Online firm that failed to get Dragons on board relaunches as ‘no fee’ agency

An online agent that failed to get funding from the Dragons’ Den is now under new ownership and pitching itself as the UK’s first “no-fee” agent. Its business model is to make its money from referral fees, meaning that to get a free service, sellers must use specific conveyancing and mortgage services. House Tree, launched […]

It’s cheap! Online agent offering to sell homes for just £99 goes live

It may not be free – but a new online agent is offering rates starting at £99 with discounts available for key workers. 99Home went fully live yesterday after a period of test and development. A fee of £99 is payable in advance on all three packages offered with prices including VAT. There is nothing […]

‘We cannot investigate every possible fraud’ – police speak out after successful private prosecution of agent

Greater Manchester Police have now issued a statement after the force did not investigate allegations of fraud by agent Timothy Shinners. As a result, a private prosecution was brought and Shinners was sentenced to three years in prison and also banned from being a director for eight years. The private prosecution was brought by fellow […]

Business with big name angel backers will offer tenants chance to make money out of Airbnb

The latest proptech company in the headlines because of backing by such names as Kenny Bruce, Harry Hill and Sir Terence Leahy, was previously a laundry business. Lavanda, which previously set out its stall as the ‘Uber’ for the laundry industry, will now offer property management from long-lets to short-lets via Airbnb. There have been […]

‘I had to bring private prosecution against fraud agent because police refused to investigate’, claim

July 17, 2017

The prosecution of fraudulent agent Timothy Shinners was brought privately because police declined to investigate, it is claimed. Shinners is now serving three years, as reported by EYE on Friday, and has been disqualified as a director for eight years, solely as a result of the perseverance of one man, a fellow director, who uncovered […]

Housing minister’s wife is a private landlord – declared as interest by Alok Sharma

Estate agent Paul Smith’s views on the housing crisis have been cited in Parliament, where it also emerged that the wife of new housing minister Alok Sharma is a private landlord. Sharma made it clear: “May I start by declaring an interest, in that my wife is the owner of a property that is rented […]

Proportion of properties marked sold hits seven-year high, Rightmove claims

Almost half of agency stock has been sold subject to contract so far this year as buyer demand continues to outweigh supply, Rightmove claims. The portal said this morning that the strength of buyer demand and lack of property coming to market has resulted in over 45% of agents’ property stock being sold subject to […]

Treasury take from Stamp Duty Land Tax could plummet, warns watchdog

The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that Treasury receipts from Stamp Duty Land Tax could be hit hard – possibly by around £10bn. The OBR has identified Stamp Duty as one of five key areas of concern. While it expects revenues from Stamp Duty to rise this year, to £13.1bn, it has warned that […]

Opinion: Is finding a good conveyancer difficult or impossible?

Is it difficult to find a good conveyancer? No, it’s not difficult. It’s almost impossible. Like the NHS, it’s bursting at the seams. Poor pay and overwork meant that last year 48% of fall-throughs were blamed on “solicitor delays”. That’s 106,000 deals, and with one in three cases aborting yearly, one third of your profit […]

Star investors including Kenny Bruce and Harry Hill put £1m into new lettings proptech firm

A start-up proptech firm which claims to have a new take on the lettings market has raised a further £1m in angel funding – with a galaxy of investors. Lavanda’s new investors include Kenny Bruce, co-founder of Purplebricks; former Countrywide boss, Rightmove founder and well-known industry veteran Harry Hill; Sir Terry Leahy, ex-CEO of Tesco; […]