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Writing on wall for at least three big agents, says Spicerhaart boss

February 15, 2017

The writing is on the wall for at least three big estate agencies that I’m aware of, all of whom are struggling for survival as a result of the current challenging climate in the housing sector. But how many others are likely to go under this year? According to a recent report by insolvency specialists […]

Estate agent ‘over-valuations’ blamed for price cuts in homes for sale

New research published by Which? this morning claims to show that one in five properties sold in the year to September 2016 were reduced by more than 5% of the initial listing price. It says this was as a result of estate agent over-valuations. Purplebricks said that the Which? report highlighted the need for more […]

One Other Portal rule – more competition in market or a distortion? Expert witnesses clash

The ‘one other portal’ rule came under close scrutiny at the Competition Appeal Tribunal yesterday. The panel heard evidence from two expert witnesses, both economists – Simon Bishop for Agents’ Mutual, and David Parker for Gascoigne Halman. The Agents’ Mutual expert witness contended that the launch of OnTheMarket had engendered more competition between Rightmove and […]

Zoopla and Fixflo reveal they have ‘unwound’ investment deal

Zoopla and Fixflo have ‘unwound’ a deal widely publicised a year ago, when Zoopla announced a £1m investment into a quartet of Proptech businesses. Describing the businesses as “four of the most promising Proptech start-ups”, Zoopla said it was entering into a long-term strategic partnership with each. The beneficiaries were PropertyDetective, Fixflo, Landbay and Trussle. […]

Idea we cooked up a plot is fanciful, Agents’ Mutual boss tells competition tribunal

February 14, 2017

Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett said yesterday that it was “common sense” to introduce an element of exclusivity in contracts, the Competition Appeal Tribunal was told. The market was dominated by two brands, and exclusivity was needed for the company to grow, it was said. Continuing his cross-examination, Paul Harris QC, for Gascoigne Halman, […]

Competition could heat up in property portals sector, hearing told

In later proceedings yesterday, the tribunal heard from economic experts with David Parker, for Gascoigne Halman, explaining how the markets have changed in the last decade. He said: “The relevant portals operate across Great Britain as a whole. “There are some differences in the UK market, but from an economist perspective, the market definition side […]

New service launches giving high street agents chance to take on the onliners

A new internet package aimed at high street agents who also want to give sellers the opportunity of using a separate online service launches today. Called love2move, the stand-alone service is designed to let high street firms offer a fixed price service under a different brand, at £895. In the same way that agents can […]

Email is primary cause of reduction in customer service – pick up the phone, says expert

He moved into his new home last week after an 18-month search and an eight-week wait from exchange of contracts. Leading industry figure Peter Knight says it has been a testing time, and claims most of the customer service horrors could have been avoided or turned into both positive experiences and commercial opportunities. Here are […]

Right to Rent ‘causing discrimination’ in the housing market

The Government is being urged to scrap or at least set up an independent inquiry into the Right to Rent scheme before it is rolled out beyond England after widespread evidence of discrimination by landlords and agents has emerged. A report titled ‘Passport Please’ by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found […]

Tragedy as little Florence loses her brave fight for life

February 13, 2017

It is with deep sorrow that we have to tell readers that Florence Jackson died in the early hours of Saturday morning. The enchanting two-year-old, daughter of estate agent Rodney, had been suffering from stage 4 neuroblastoma. The little girl, with her gorgeous smile, captured the hearts of generous EYE readers as well as many […]

Online agent easyProperty offers money back guarantee to vendors who do not get acceptable offer

Dozens of vendors are said to have taken up a money back guarantee currently being run by online agent easyProperty. It is available to anyone whose property is listed between January 1 and March 31. If they have not had an offer via easyProperty within 20 weeks of the listing, they will be entitled to […]

‘I did not put pressure on agents to leave either Rightmove or Zoopla’, Springett tells tribunal

Ian Springett, chief executive of Agents’ Mutual, denied pressuring estate agents to leave Zoopla and Rightmove. At Friday’s Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing, he continued to be cross-examined by Paul Harris QC, who is representing the Connells’ owned brand Gascoigne Halman. Gascoigne Halman was an independent agent when it signed up to Gold membership of OTM […]

Industry trainer Julian O’Dell invited by ASA to send details about online agent’s claim

An advert spotted on Facebook for online agent HouseSimple saying that it is “40% more likely” to sell a home than a high street agent has now caught the eye of the advertising watchdog. As we reported last week, estate agency trainer Julian O’Dell mused online as to what the science was behind this “rather […]

Housing association says it plans to set up an estate and lettings agency

A housing association is to set up an estate and lettings agency. Not-for-profit Ongo Homes, which is based in Scunthorpe and has over 10,000 properties in north-east Lincolnshire, says its new business will have separate branding. Since 2007, Ongo has taken over an employment agency and a roofing business and also operates as locksmiths. Lisa […]

Agents’ Mutual boss in competition case stresses he told agents to make their own decisions

February 10, 2017

Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett knew about collective decision making between groups of estate agents from the same area, it was alleged at a hearing yesterday (Thursday). However, Mr Springett stressed that this was correct only in the context that he had heard about it, and that he had told agents to take their […]

Agents’ Mutual boss ‘facilitated’ agents to ‘get into bed with each other’ – tribunal hears allegation

Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett facilitated estate agents across the UK to “lay down arms and get into bed with each other”, it was alleged at a tribunal yesterday. Mr Springett allegedly encouraged’ agents to make decisions “jointly” and sign up to OnTheMarket as he knew that once one agent in a specific area […]

NAEA conference 2017: Importance of Propertymark launch

There cannot be many conferences where the delegates enter the venue as members of one organisation and leave it as members of another, but that is pretty much what happened at yesterday’s NAEA conference held at 155 Bishopsgate in London. The sell-out event had over 500 delegates attending and the first item on the day’s […]

Law on preventing illegal revenge evictions ‘is not working’

The law on illegal ‘revenge evictions’ is not working, despite a new Act giving powers to local councils to step in. Yesterday, the BBC said that Freedom of Information requests show that over half of local councils have not used powers conferred by the Deregulation Act which came into force in October 2015. Other councils […]

New progression platform ‘slicing two weeks off transaction times’, claim

Early trials by estate agents of a new sales progression platform are said to show that its use is speeding up transactions by over two weeks. The claim is made by View My Chain, which launched last October, inviting 100 agents to take part in free trials. The platform, which is currently tracking 10,000 property […]

NEWSFLASH exclusive: NAEA and ARLA announce launch of Propertymark

February 9, 2017

A new ‘stamp of approval’ for the industry, Propertymark, is being launched today by NAEA and ARLA, largely taking the place of the National Federation of Property Professionals brand. The organisations say the launch of Propertymark, exclusively revealed by EYE, alters the emphasis from industry-facing licensing to consumer protection. Member agents will have new logos […]

Agents’ Mutual boss accused of running ‘crash, bang, wallop’ into suing Connells’ owned brand

Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett ran “crash, bang, wallop” into suing Gascoigne Halman as he knew the agent would be able to afford the court case, the Competition Tribunal Appeal heard yesterday (Wednesday). The tribunal, which the day before was told that costs of the case are likely to be £6m, is examining competition […]

Agents in Devon ‘agreed consensus’ to drop Zoopla, competition hearing is told

Agents in Devon agreed a “consensus” to drop Zoopla, it was alleged yesterday (Wednesday) at the Competition Appeal Tribunal. However, one leading agent in the west country, representing Stags, said he had not discussed his firm’s decision as to which other portal to drop with other agents. Nor did he know which portal other agents […]

Letting agent jailed after fleecing vulnerable tenants of holding deposits

A letting agent who cheated over 100 tenants and worked other scams has been jailed for 45 months. His accomplice, employee Paul Dickinson, was given a suspended sentence. Their convictions follow a lengthy investigation by the National Trading Standards North West Regional Investigations Team. Landlord Tahir ‘Tony’ Khaliq’s property empire included a string of letting […]

Belvoir acquisition team is offered one new business every day

Belvoir says it is being offered the chance to buy an agency business every working day. The firm is ramping up its encouragement for local franchisees to expand. It has announced that Steve Slawson, its franchisee in Hereford, has successfully completed on the acquisition of the principle assets of Williams Estate Agents (Hereford). The purchase […]

Agent Provocateur: Why no one in the industry can keep change at bay

Something happened at the weekend – which to someone in a newly objective frame of mind has made me think hard about an industry I’ve been part of for almost four decades. In the Sunday Times Nicholas Hellen listed 226 occupations that were ripe for automation. It was not a list printed for PR purposes […]

How Agents’ Mutual chief executive tried to persuade Big Three to join OnThe Market

February 8, 2017

The chief executive of Agents’ Mutual tried to incentivise the Big Three corporates to drop rival property portal Zoopla, a tribunal heard yesterday (Tuesday). Ian Springett encouraged senior representatives from Connells, Countrywide and LSL to “all leave Zoopla at the same time”, it was said. The Competition Appeal Tribunal heard he offered to “compensate [them] […]

Entering property portal market easy – but to do it successfully is difficult, Zoopla’s Jon Notley tells hearing

The QC representing Gascoigne Halman, Paul Harris, re-examining, asked Mr Livesey if he agreed with Mr Maclean’s description of the plans presented by Ian Springett at the Leighton Buzzard meeting as being ‘stylised scenarios’. Mr Livesey replied: “It was a very clear business plan, it wasn’t stylised in any way.” Mr Livesey also conceded that […]

Government accused of ‘throwing in the towel on home ownership’ as agents slam White Paper

The Government has come under fire after finally publishing its Housing White Paper yesterday. The 104-page document, titled Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, highlights the forthcoming consultation on the lettings fees ban as evidence of support for renters, and reveals plans to introduce three-year tenancies on Build to Rent developments. But despite communities secretary Sajid […]

Home-owner launches raffle to sell property after vainly slashing the price

A desperate vendor is raffling his property after it was listed with an agent at £845,000 in December but apparently attracted only one viewing. According to Rightmove, the property has previously been listed at £995,000. The owner says it is now on the market with a price tag of £650,000. Some drop! Raffle tickets are […]

Former estate agent makes bad property purchases – with ex-husband ordered to pay up

You might think that an ex-estate agent would be first in line to make astute property purchases. It turns out that this could be like hairdressers’ hair. The Appeal Court heard a case in which a former estate agent lost money on a series of property purchases after being awarded a divorce settlement. As a […]

Big Three’s partnership with Zoopla helped it achieve critical mass, Connells boss concedes at hearing

February 7, 2017

Opposing property portals ‘complemented each other’ by listing houses that did not appear on alternative platforms, a tribunal heard. The Competition Appeal Tribunal yesterday heard that as much as 30% of visitors to one of the two market-leading property platforms, Zoopla and Rightmove, did not visit their direct rival, which were “reaching different audiences”. The […]

Zoopla says it expects to woo back 100-plus offices as result of deal with Property Franchise Group

Zoopla said yesterday it is expecting 100-plus returners as a result of signing a long-term agreement with the Property Franchise Group. The Property Franchise Group encompasses estate agency and lettings brands including Martin & Co, CJ Hole, Ellis & Co, Parkers, Whitegates and EweMove. Altogether it has almost 400 offices across the country. The new […]

CLG committee steals a march on White Paper with consultation launched on downsizing

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has launched an inquiry into whether the housing on offer in England for older people is sufficiently available and suitable for their needs. The inquiry – launched ahead of the White Paper – follows research which indicates pensioners are stuck in oversized properties worth a collective £820bn if […]

Housing White Paper set to appear today

The Government is finally expected to publish its long-awaited Housing White Paper today. The emphasis is thought to be on setting out a strategy for building more homes in both the rental and owner-occupier sectors, with encouragement particularly for the build-to-rent sector. Housing minister Gavin Barwell has already said there will be something in the […]

Online letting agent Upad recruits big hitters to its advisory board as it looks to grow

Industry big hitter James Micklethwait has joined online letting agent Upad in a consultancy role. He was previously head of product development at Rightmove, heading up a 100-strong team. At Upad he will be acting in an advisory capacity, to help the firm grow its business. Before joining Rightmove in 2014 – he left last […]

NEWSFLASH: Zoopla offered to pay towards Connells’ legal costs in fight against Agents’ Mutual

February 6, 2017

Zoopla offered to pay £250,000 of Connells’ legal costs in the latter’s battle against Agents’ Mutual, the Competition Appeal Tribunal heard today (Monday). The tribunal is examining competition issues around the ‘one other portal’ rule on the Agents’ Mutual-owned OnTheMarket. Gascoigne Halman, a Gold member of OnTheMarket, signed up in January 2014 when it was […]

OnTheMarket’s best hope in fight against duopoly was ‘one other portal rule’, hearing is told

The ‘one other portal rule’ was the best and most realistic opportunity for OnTheMarket’s entry into the property portal market, the Competition Appeals Tribunal has heard. But it also heard – from the QC representing agent Gascoigne Halman – the rule described as defensive and protectionist. The hearing is examining competition issues over the ‘one […]

More agents taking pre-contract fees from prospective purchasers, claim

What is your view of agents charging prospecting buyers a pre-contract or reservation fee – and do you see any difference? According to the Guardian, “growing numbers of home buyers are in effect being charged for the privilege of having their offer accepted” – a practice banned in Scotland but not illegal in England and […]

Online firm claims it is ‘40% more likely’ to sell a home than traditional agent

Well, it’s quite a claim. This online agent says it is “40% more likely” to sell a home than high street agents. The claim comes from HouseSimple and has already got estate agency trainer Julian O’Dell wondering as to what the science is behind this bold statement. So, we thought we’d put his question to […]

Transactions slip nearly 17% in a year as property supply falters

Transactions fell sharply in January, the haart chain has reported. Based on its own data, it says that houses sales measured at exchange were 9.5% down in volume from December, and 16.6% down on January last year. The firm said that house prices were also down – 0.5% on the month and 3.5% year on […]

Martin & Co firm announces long-term deal with Zoopla

Over 350 delegates from across the UK’s property sector gathered together for the Property Franchise Group’s annual conference where a number of key announcements were made for 2017 and beyond. These include a long-term network-wide marketing and software agreement with Zoopla, as well as the group’s decision to withdraw fees currently charged to its franchisees […]

Rental business which cuts out letting agents ‘has had £600,000 investment from Countrywide’

February 3, 2017

A platform which allows “landlords and tenants to directly engage with each other” is raising funds. An email sent out to potential investors on its behalf by Angel Investment Network claims that Propoly has already had a £600,000 investment from Countrywide, which it describes as the “market leader in UK rental/management”. The pitch says that […]

Agents who took up discounted share options in Zoopla reap a £15m windfall

Agents who took up the offer to buy shares at a 20% discount in Zoopla Property Group when it floated on the stock market in 2014 have enjoyed a windfall, having seen the value of those shares increase by over £15m over the past two and a half years. ZPG member agents were all offered […]

New estate agency boss announced for parent company of Your Move

LSL, the parent company of brands including Reeds Rains, Your Move and Marsh & Parsons, has announced its new executive director for estate agency. She is Helen Buck. Although she comes from outside the industry, she has been an independent non-executive director at LSL for the last five years. LSL emphasised that during this time […]

Santander to review clause suggesting landlords hike rents to ‘maximum’ achievable

The Government may be focusing on letting agent fees to make renting fairer for tenants, but an interesting story has emerged regarding landlord contracts with their lenders. A clause in buy-to-let deals with Santander asks landlords to increase rents by “as much as can be reasonably achieved”. The clause states: “a) …a reasonable time before […]

Firm that is now a Hunters franchise pleads guilty to HMO offences

A letting agent that is now a Hunters franchise pleaded guilty in relation to offences relating to a House in Multiple Occupation. According to the local paper, a representative of County Rentals, trading as Valentines at the time, pleaded guilty on his company’s behalf for failing to implement satisfactory management standards following an inspection by […]

Online agent goes quiet despite expensive prime time TV advert campaign

February 2, 2017

An online agent which advertised expensively on prime time TV slots as well as on the London Underground appears to have shut up shop. This is according to an online blog, Selling Up, which specifically looks at the online agency sector. Its blog alleges that the online agent could have spent hundreds of thousands in […]

Ex-Countrywide top trio target purchases of 24 agency businesses a year

Newcomer on the block Nick Dunning is set to be a major force in industry acquisitions, leading an ex-Countrywide trio with a big budget to spend on the acquisition of around 100 businesses in the next five years. There is speculation that the group could even buy Countrywide itself. While Countrywide seems to have stopped […]

Letting agents’ fees ban: Industry bodies continue their fight

ARLA has called for an end to up-front fees. Instead, it is asking for the fees charged by letting agents to tenants to be spread over a six-month period. However, ARLA managing director David Cox has conceded that the Government seems set on a full ban. He also says that the Government is unlikely to […]

Marketing group rebrands to become Guild of Property Professionals

The Guild of Professional Estate Agents has rebranded to become the Guild of Property Professionals. With a membership of almost 800 independent estate agents across the UK, the Guild was launched 20 years ago. The new look brand was unveiled at the Guild’s conference last week. Marcus Whewell, CEO of the Guild, said: “We believe […]