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

July 4, 2017

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 […]

New move-tracking service aims to cut transaction times to just two days

A company launching a new service to track the progress of transactions has raised £850,000 to launch. Properr makes the claim that Track My Move believes it can cut the standard home purchase transaction time to just two days. Track My Move aims to bring together customers, estate agents and solicitors on to one platform, […]

Hamilton Fraser buys Paul Shamplina’s Landlord Action business

HF Resolution Ltd, a subsidiary of Hamilton Fraser which operates both a tenancy deposit scheme and a redress scheme, has acquired well-known eviction firm Landlord Action. Landlord Action was founded by Paul Shamplina in 1999 as a fixed-fee tenant eviction service. It has since acted in more than 35,000 problem tenant cases and obtained Solicitors […]

Timely launch for new deposit replacement service which looks to recruit – and reward – agents

A new service has launched into the burgeoning market where traditional tenancy deposits can be substituted. It joins existing providers Reposit and Dlighted, while Zero Deposit is to launch later this year. The flatfair launch is also timely, given the capping of tenants’ deposits announced in the Queen’s Speech. Flatfair’s proposition is that tenants pay […]

Tenants urged to keep fighting for rent controls and an end to ‘evictions epidemic’

Tenant activists group Acorn has welcomed the draft Tenant Fees Bill, with its ban on letting fees and caps on deposits to the equivalent of one week’s rent for a holding deposit and one month’s rent for a bond. National organiser Stuart Melvin said: “This is a huge victory and is thanks to the efforts […]

More complaints against agents resolved by Ombudsman with three in four upheld

June 22, 2017

The number of awards that The Property Ombudsman ordered agents to pay last year broke the £1m mark for the first time. In her annual report for last year, published today, TPO reveals that the total amount was £1.2m, up 51% from the previous year. The highest award was almost £22,000. During 2016, a total […]

New ‘awards’ scheme for agents dishes out free badges for ‘top 1,000 firms’

The ‘top’ 1,000 estate agents in England and Wales are to be given free badges by the HomeOwners Alliance. The 1,000 were emailed yesterday, chosen from 18,000, on the basis of information from estate agent comparison service Estateagent4me, a part of the HomeOwners Alliance. The Alliance said that the top 1,000 could use the badge […]

Government calls on property managers of private residential blocks to act now on fire safety

Property managers of high rise private residential tower blocks are being urged by the Government to act now on fire safety. Melanie Dawes, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, yesterday issued a call for immediate action. She wants managing agents, owners and landlords of private blocks to check the cladding on […]

Industry reacts as Queen’s Speech reveals lettings fee ban beyond original proposals

Anyone hoping the fallout of the General Election or Brexit negotiations would push the lettings fee ban into the long grass was bitterly disappointed yesterday after it was included in the Queen’s Speech. A draft Tenants’ Fee Bill was among 27 proposed laws that MPs will be working on over the next parliamentary term, however […]

Did the General Election really stall the housing market? It depends how you read the latest HMRC stats

Home buyers may not have been adopting the “wait and see” approach that many commentators have been espousing, depending on how you look at the latest HMRC property transaction figures. The taxman’s data for May records a 7.9% increase in transactions between April and May on a non-seasonally adjusted basis to 10,410. The numbers are […]

NEWSFLASH: Lettings fee ban will let tenants recover unlawful charges

June 21, 2017

Legislation to ban tenant fees has been introduced in the Queen’s Speech, and goes further by allowing tenants to recover fees that have been unlawfully charged. Tenants will be allowed to recover them as part of new legislation containing the ban on lettings fee charged to tenants. The Queen’s Speech this morning outlined a Draft […]

Agents unite to find survivors accommodation in aftermath of Grenfell Tower tragedy

Agents are pulling together as they unite urgently to find accommodation to rehouse survivors of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe. Daniels, which has five offices in London, said that the imperative and co-ordination now seem to be coming from central government. Operations manager Brendan Ryan said: “The day after the blaze, we contacted Kensington & Chelsea […]

Why my new agency will NOT be charging tenants any letting fees

Election, referendum, election; Stamp Duty reform, tax reform and the rise of the online agent – one could be forgiven for believing that the golden age of agency has been and gone. I’ve been in the industry ten years, so perhaps it passed before I even started, but I also firmly believe that we are […]

Annual home sales tumble to well below 900,000 with London sales drying up by almost half in a decade

Property sales across England and Wales have fallen by over a third compared with transaction numbers at the end of the housing boom in 2006. Last year, sales were well below the 1m mark, at 848,857. The latest Land Registry figure is 7% lower than in 2015, and 34% lower than in 2006. A new […]

Picture of the Week: And we’re just admiring the price changes

Picture of the Week – and it must be summer sale time, when seasoned bargain hunters know that if you only wait another day or two, the price will come yet again. This pretty bungalow in Blyth, Northumberland, went on the market with Tepilo on June 7 at £190,000. Five days later it went down […]

After ‘commisery’ comes ‘feegret’ – well, according to one agent

An agent has produced a video aimed at vendors thinking of using an online firm. Spencer Fortag, of Landmark Estates in London, has coined the word ‘feegret’ to tell them how they might feel. Question is, will he trademark the term? Last week, a consortium of agents in the west country, Experts in Property, produced […]

‘We may die before launch’ admits CIELA as it bids to rally support among agents for new trade body

June 20, 2017

CIELA, the Charter for Independent Estate and Lettings Agents which aims to represent the collective interests of independent agents, said yesterday afternoon that it is not currently receiving enough support to have any realistic chance of launching on October 1. The admission came as it emerged that voting turnout by the NFoPP bodies at Friday’s […]

eMoov boss hopes to be on Stock Exchange and have 5% share of entire estate agency market within five years

Russell Quirk, founder of eMoov, says he would like his company to be listed on the Stock Exchange in five years’ time and have a 5% share of the entire estate agency market. Quirk also seems to be disenchanted with the need for fundraising. Asked in a revealing interview what has been his biggest challenge, […]

Industry consultant launches own estate agency – and now she will spill the beans

As the saying goes, those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. Except that long-standing industry trainer and marketing specialist Sam Ashdown has turned it on its head – by opening her own estate agency. AshdownJones, in the Lake District, opened in April. By Ashdown’s own account: “It has been very interesting, mainly because […]

Appointment of new housing minister is ‘crass’, says industry veteran Harry Hill

Industry veteran Harry Hill has taken to Twitter to describe the new housing minister’s appointment as ‘crass’. Hill, who founded Countrywide and Rightmove and is currently a non-executive director of Hunters, said on Twitter of little-known Alok Sharma’s appointment: “Very sad to see that the new minister for housing appears to have absolutely no suitable […]