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Housing Secretary of State says he is committed to getting new letting agency clampdown through

April 5, 2018

The Secretary of State for Housing, Sajid Javid, has brushed off accusations that there will not be enough parliamentary time because of Brexit to get a big raft of new lettings legislation through. Javid was also challenged over how the new legislation will be policed, replying that he wants to see one ombudsman only across […]

Letting agents ‘will scramble for exit as Government tightens its grip on sector’

A number of letting agents could put their businesses up for sale rather than face the hard work and costs imposed by increasing legislation. Ian Wilson, CEO of The Property Franchise Group, said that in the last week alone, franchisees have completed on three purchases of businesses looking for a quick exit. He said: “We […]

Your plain English guide to GDPR: Part two of our mini series

PART TWO: Consumer rights and data breaches Familiarise yourself with your customers’ rights Under GDPR, your customers are given comprehensive rights that can be enforced in relation to the collection, processing or storing of their data. These rights will limit how you handle customer data. So you will need to put procedures in place to […]

New Artificial Intelligence digital search business ‘to offer competition to Rightmove and Zoopla’

April 4, 2018

A new business has launched, backed by ex-Countrywide residential boss Bob Scarff, which says it will offer competition to Rightmove and Zoopla. Ems is a digital search agent that uses artificial intelligence, meaning that an individual’s search for a property is tailored specifically to them. Visitors to Ems are asked certain questions and artificial intelligence […]

OnTheMarket announces doubling of traffic to site since flotation

OnTheMarket this morning announced a sharp rise in traffic to its site last month, with 12m visits during March. It said this was more than double the traffic in February – when it was admitted to AIM – or in March last year. The statement to the stock exchange said: “The directors consider this growth […]

Your plain English guide to preparing your agency for GDPR: Part one of our new mini-series

A three-part series that provides agents with information that cuts through the GDPR jargon. Part two is tomorrow, and part three will be on Friday. Preparing your agency for the GDPR. Your role and responsibilities. Consumer rights, breaches and data principles. Marketing processes. PART ONE: Your role and responsibilities To achieve GDPR compliance, there are […]

Revealed! The most responsive letting agents in London

Renting app Movebubble has revealed what it says are the most responsive letting agents on its platform. Movebubble, founded by Aidan Rushby, a former branch manager for letting agents Ocean, allows pre-qualified renters to search available homes for rent in London and book viewings via an app. Tenants can also leave reviews of their agent […]

Sweeping rent controls set to be introduced via Private Member’s Bill in Scotland

The Scottish Labour party is planning to introduce a ‘Mary Barbour’ law which, if passed, will bring in strict rent controls. Mary Barbour was a leading campaigner during the rent strikes of 1915. Labour’s proposals include linking rents to average wages; and giving tenants the power to challenge rents and submit claims for rent reductions. […]

New crackdown – including possible criminal sanctions – on letting and managing agents announced

April 3, 2018

With bizarre timing the Government released an Easter parade of three important new updates relating to the private rented sector. They were issued just after midnight on Easter Day. One is described as a new crackdown – albeit one that has been heavily trailed – on letting and managing agents. A second is a round-up […]

Compulsory CMP to come in before fees ban which Government admits could drive some agents out of business’

Email to a friend Print The Government has officially recognised that the fees ban could result in agents closing down. It said that Client Money Protection is to come into force before the ban on tenant fees. This is to “ensure that client money is not lost” in the instance of any agent going out […]

Daily Mail asks whether ‘meteoric rise’ of Purplebricks is built on dodgy foundations

A major article on Purplebricks at the weekend in the Daily Mail said that its “meteoric rise” could be running out of steam. The Investment Extra article by Paul Thomas is headlined: “Is Purplebricks’ stunning rise built on dodgy foundations?” The piece said that in just four years, Purplebricks has become one of the sector’s […]

‘No Agent’ shoots over target in fundraising campaign and says it is worth £7m

No Agent – which despite its name lists on Rightmove and Zoopla – has gone over target in a crowdfunding campaign. The business has been going for under two years and values itself at just over £7m. It had hoped to raise £400,000 in exchange for a stake of 5.4%. However, by the end of […]

Rightmove admits gender pay gap because so few managers are women

Rightmove has told its shareholders that it expects further growth this year, with estate agents continuing to increase their spend. In its newly issued annual report for last year – when revenue and underlying profit were both up 11% – the portal says income per advertiser is still rising, with traffic to Rightmove growing for […]

Two injured as high-powered sports car crashes into estate agency branch

Two female pedestrians were hurt when a high-powered Maserati 3200 crashed into an estate agent’s premises on the corner of two streets. One, aged 25, was seriously hurt, and the other, aged 34, had minor injuries after the car smashed into the front of Fox and Sons in Brighton. One victim is understood to have […]

Anti-money laundering latest: HMRC insists it will stick to deadline despite glitches in its own system

March 29, 2018

Despite numerous problems that agents are experiencing in trying to re-register with HMRC for anti-money laundering, the April 1 deadline is going ahead. HMRC is not only holding to the deadline, but has said that agents who have not re-registered by midnight this Saturday will be de-registered, and will then be charged £100 as new […]

Big changes announced at Romans and Leaders in shake-up of company

A major shake-up appears to be going on at Romans and Leaders, with the departure of high-profile sales chief Vince Courtney. Courtney was managing director of sales at Romans for 21 years. His Linked In profile was yesterday evening unchanged, but the official statement said that he had “recently decided to step away from the […]

MPs urge Government to reduce deposit cap to five weeks to ease financial burden for tenants

MPs have called for the security deposit cap proposed in the Draft Tenant Fees Bill to be reduced from six to five weeks as part of a range of changes to the legislation. A report based on the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of the fees ban legislation, recognises that it “would […]

Landlords taking rentals off the market as thousands are set to miss Sunday’s deadline on minimum EPC ratings

Thousands of landlords are unprepared for new energy efficiency measures being introduced in just days, and many are taking properties off the market to gain more time to implement changes, ARLA Propertymark claims. Fines of up to £4,000 can be issued from April 1 if landlords are found to be renting out new lets with […]

Chancellors’ chairman James Scott-Lee died of stroke after being trampled by horses

James Scott-Lee, the chairman of independent estate agency chain Chancellors, was trampled by his horses, and died from a stroke a day later. An inquest into his death heard that Scott-Lee, a leading figure at the RICS’s residential faculty, had been out on a seven-mile carriage driving exercise. He was accompanied by horseman Kevin Merry […]

Former estate agent who planned national network jailed for nine years after £10m fraud

March 28, 2018

Email to a friend Print A former estate agent who planned to have a national network of branches has been jailed for nine years after committing fraud worth almost £10m. Jason Butler, who ran first Homestarter and then Jump Group, used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle which included a collection of supercars, a […]

Anti-Money Laundering: are YOU having difficulty with re-registration? Please let us know

Are there any agents who are still having trouble registering (or re-registering) with HMRC for anti-money laundering? The deadline of April 1 is just two working days away, but EYE is continuing to hear from agents who are having difficulty with the online system. One reader, Chris Willey, managing director of Wilsons in Taunton, Somerset, […]

Growth in asking rents slows since last quarter but has soared in past ten years – Rightmove

Rightmove has shed light on just how much asking rents have changed in the past decade. Its latest Rental Tracker for the first quarter of 2018 shows that listed rents on the portal for two-bed properties have increased 16% to £678 in the past decade in all areas outside of London and 25% in the […]

People moving home half as often as they did before the crash, reports BBC

People are moving home half as often as they did before the crash, the BBC has reported in a national news item. Based on research by Savills, the BBC yesterday evening reported that before 2008, home owners used to move 3.6 times in their lifetime after their first purchase. Now, it is 1.8 times, with […]

Estate agent launches campaign to help overcome the challenges of moving home with an autistic child

West Midlands estate agent Green & Company has launched a campaign to help families with an autistic child handle a house move. The campaign comes amid Autism Awareness Week, which runs until April 2. Using experiences from local autistic people and their families, Green & Company’s advice includes requesting extra viewings to help familiarise autistic […]

Bruce brothers to sell some of their stake in Purplebricks to Axel Springer as part of £125m deal

March 27, 2018

Purplebricks’ share price plunged yesterday, at one stage falling to 262p. The shares finished at 280p, 10% down from yesterday’s opening price of 311p. The fall came as Purplebricks made clear the scale of its global ambitions, announcing to the London Stock Exchange a £125m investment by Germany-based international publishing house Axel Springer. The £125m […]

LSL says it plans to get back on the acquisition trail

LSL has issued its annual report for last year, telling shareholders that it delivered a robust performance in subdued market conditions. The report highlights its “strategic investment” in online agency Yopa as a milestone of last year. In 2017, group revenue was up 1.2% at £311.6m, but pre-tax profits were down almost 37% at £40.1m. […]

Chestertons goes back to Zoopla – but also signs new five-year agreement with OnTheMarket

Chestertons, a founder member of OnTheMarket, has signed a listings agreement with ZPG. However, it is continuing to list its properties with OTM and has recently signed a new five-year agreement. The agent is the second OTM founder member to return to ZPG in the last few weeks following the return of Douglas & Gordon. […]

Price falls set to increase across UK’s biggest cities – Hometrack

The annual rate of house price growth in London has reached a seven-year low and could be in negative territory by the middle of this year, research claims. The February Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index shows two fifths of the capital’s postcodes registering year-on-year price falls. The housing data firm said London registered annual […]

Mystery four agents not (yet) outed on Twitter after refusing to settle bills

After yesterday’s EYE story about the unknown agent featured on Twitter after broadcaster Jeremy Vine heard her discussing prices, names, and addresses, here is a new social media mystery. Just who are the four agents, also not named, who are alleged on social media to have booked places on training courses, on Integra Property Services, […]

Agents claim Stamp Duty exemptions are starting to work as first-time buyer sales hit new high

The Stamp Duty exemptions are starting to have an impact on first-time buyers, agents claim, as sales to them reached a three-year high last month. Data from the NAEA Propertymark February Housing Report found that the proportion of sales per branch to first-time buyers (FTB) rose to 29% from 27% in January. Year on year, […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Publishers Axel Springer pump £125m into Purplebricks

March 26, 2018

International media company Axel Springer has poured £125m into Purplebricks. The money includes a £100m subscription for new shares which will accelerate Purplebricks’ roll-out in the US and support its entry into new markets. The money will also fund “technological innovation and expand Purplebricks’ service offering”. In exchange Axel Springer will own approximately 11.5% of […]

Estate agent in first-class train carriage broadcasts details of property deals – and Jeremy Vine listens in

Email to a friend Print Who was the mysterious estate agent apparently travelling first class and who upset fellow passenger Jeremy Vine? BBC presenter Vine was astonished by the information the agent was broadcasting on her mobile. Vine says she says spoke loudly of private information, including the names, addresses and prices of those involved […]

OnTheMarket shares hit a new low despite positive news of growth

OnTheMarket shares start trading this week at a low of 120.5p. A fall of almost 9% on Friday took the share price down to well below its launch offer price of 165p. There appeared to be no reason for the fall, and OTM itself has put out a steady stream of positive news since its […]

Agent hit with £31,000 bill after tenants’ complaint about pigeons in loft

An agent who failed who failed to repair a pigeon-infested loft has been hit with a bill of £31,026, including an order to pay £7,638 compensation to the tenants. A couple complained to Brent Council in May last year after Adilsons Property failed to act on a complaint about pigeons roosting in the loft and […]

Stamp Duty receipts up by almost 12% in a year despite drop in transactions

HMRC’s latest statistics reveal that the number of UK property transactions is on the decline, but Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) receipts are still rising. A £1.3bn increase in the year to the end of February has taken receipts to just over £13bn in the last 12 months. However, tax advisory firm Blick Rothenberg says […]

Landlord Fergus Wilson cleared of charges after ’email sent via letting agent’ to tenant

Landlord Fergus Wilson has been acquitted of charges brought against him by Kent police in relation to alleged threats to a tenant. It had been claimed that in an email sent via his letting agent, he had threatened a family with being shot dead by the Romanian mafia. At Maidstone Magistrates Court last week, the […]

‘Online agency sector facing acquisitions and mergers’ despite the millions spent

March 23, 2018

Email to a friend Print The online agent claiming to be the longest-established in the UK is predicting consolidation, with acquisitions and mergers in the sector. Mark Readings, who co-founded House Network in 2003, forecast that the industry will shake out over the next two or three years. He said that the cost of customer […]

Government confirms new UK registry of foreign property owners will be created

Email to a friend Print The Government is to introduce a new register of property ownership that will be the first of its kind in the world, set up to tackle corruption and money laundering. The register will show who owns and controls overseas companies and other legal entities that own property in Britain. A […]

Landlords warn that tenant deposit cap ‘will create charter for rent cheats’

Email to a friend Print Landlords are calling for the six weeks deposit cap in the Draft Tenant Fees Bill to be increased to eight weeks to avoid “rent cheats”. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is warning that the proposed cap risks creating a charter for rent cheats after it found that 40% of private […]

Woss goin’ on then? EastEnders never ‘eard of tenancy deposit protection?

Email to a friend Print Did the EastEnders script writers miss a trick – or could it possibly be that they have never heard of tenancy deposit protection? A recent storyline has focused on wicked landlord Masood Ahmed and his lovely tenant Carmel Kazemi (no cliches there, then). When Masood, who is facing financial difficulties, […]

Barclays raises the amount first-time buyers can borrow – despite Bank of England warning

Email to a friend Print Barclays yesterday raised its Loan to Income multiple to 4.49 across all its mortgages, meaning that customers including first-time buyers can borrow up to 4.49 times their annual income. Until yesterday, it allowed 4.49 Loan to Income for those earning over £50,000. For those earning less, the maximum Loan to […]

Debt-ridden Countrywide insists it will re-set itself after disastrous retail strategy

March 22, 2018

Email to a friend Print Countrywide has declared that it will re-set itself the disastrous ‘retail’ strategy which was the hallmark of Alison Platt’s time in office. Its annual report is introduced by executive chairman Peter Long, who has effectively taken over her role in the interim. Long savages the ‘retail’ approach saying: “The restructuring […]

GDPR: Don’t let anyone scare the living daylights out of you

Not a day has gone by without some ‘expert’ or other telling us about the GDPR May 25 ‘deadline’ and of course the potential for a €20m penalty for breaching the Regulations. Having been around compliance for far too many years it amuses and irritates me in equal measure, because it happens every time there […]

Property sales bounce back in all but one UK region as first-time buyers replace investors

Residential property transactions rebounded in most UK regions during February, HMRC data shows. The taxman’s UK Property Transaction Statistics for February 2018 shows 83,230 sales last month on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. This is an improvement on the 81,580 recorded in January and reverses two consecutive months of falls. England saw a 3% increase on […]

OnTheMarket share price sinks over 8% as volatility hits agents

OnTheMarket shares start trading today at 131p after an 8% stumble downwards yesterday. At one point, they dipped to just 130p, with a market capitalisation of around £87m. OTM was admitted to AIM last month with a market cap of some £100m with share prices opening at 165p. The reasons behind yesterday’s fall are unclear […]

Government unveils £300m housing package for UK regions

The Government has unveiled a £300m investment package to support the development of homes in Greater Manchester, the west of England and Oxfordshire. Greater Manchester is set to receive £68m funding to support the delivery of 227,200 homes by 2035. This includes £50m for a Land Fund to help councils in the region to prepare […]

Advertising watchdog throws out complaint that allAgents solicits ‘bad reviews’ of Purplebricks

March 21, 2018

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint regarding negative Purplebricks reviews on allAgents. The unnamed complainant alleged that allAgents was soliciting negative reviews for just one estate agent, and their challenge included tweets relating to negative Purplebricks remarks. The complainant stated this meant allAgents could not claim to be “independent” in its advertising. However, […]

The end: Final curtain for CIELA as founder blames industry for being at war with itself

The once-aspirant trade body, CIELA, has finally thrown in the towel and will permanently cease to exist on March 31. Founder Charlie Wright confirmed its closure within hours of EYE’s story yesterday about the body cancelling a meeting of supporters at less than 48 hours’ notice. Wright has not quit without taking a pot-shot at […]

Agent jailed after faking bank account in vendor’s name confirmed as working for Knight Frank

The agent who took out loans totalling £30,000 in the name of a woman whose home he was selling worked at the time for one of the country’s most prestigious agents, Knight Frank. EYE reported the case on Monday. James Beck, 39, who has now been jailed for 18 months, was at Knight Frank in […]

Agent’s use of phone number where it had no office leads to complaint

An agent advertising a job vacancy on its website used a contact telephone number in a town where it has no office. It led to a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority from a complainant which challenged whether the advert was misleading. Lovell Estate Agency, in Lincolnshire, advertised for a “Newark Personal Agent”, giving a […]