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House prices rise to record high – but does it herald tough time ahead for first-time buyers?

October 9, 2017

House price rises could be a real problem for first-time buyers who are also likely to face increases in mortgage rates. The warning has come after Halifax said house prices rose 0.8% last month, and by 4% annually, to stand at £225,109. Halifax said the figure is a record high. It is however considerably lower […]

We are just not seeing sales, un-named London agent tells Reuters

Huge uncertainty in the London property market has been revealed by Reuters. The news agency reports that out of 22 ‘property experts’, all said prices in London were over-valued, but their forecasts for the next three years ranged from a 17.5% drop to a 9% rise. Reuters reported: “Five estate agents said sales had effectively […]

Rental asking prices rise across Britain – but dip in London and south-east

Asking prices for rental properties in almost all regions have risen this year, Rightmove reports this morning. However, because of falls in London and the south-east, the average new asking price is actually down, by just 0.2%. In the south-east, new rental asking prices fell 2.3% in the third quarter compared with the second quarter. […]

Award win boosts agent’s sales by 10% and valuations by 22%

Awards are often criticised in the industry and one recent survey found that as far as members of the public are concerned, they are the least important factor when it comes to choosing an estate agent. But that is absolutely not the experience of Richard Fowler, of Northampshire independent Richard James. In the first eight […]

Ex-letting agent who conned top firms into handing over keys is jailed for burglaries

October 6, 2017

A former lettings manager has been jailed after pretending that he was still a lettings agent, persuading a string of top firms to hand over keys for fake viewings. He then used the keys to get into properties while the owners were out, and stole money and items including jewellery. The agents that were conned […]

New Rightmove boss profits to tune of £2.5m as he cashes in shares

Rightmove boss Peter Brooks-Johnson has cashed in 62,336 shares in the firm, netting over £2.5m. He exercised rights to acquire deferred shares acquired at no cost in March 2015 in respect of his 2014 bonus, plus performance shares awarded in 2013, and share options awarded in 2007. Brooks-Johnson promptly sold most at an average price […]

Countrywide board director to step down

A non-executive director is stepping down from Countrywide. Richard Adam – who has an extraordinary 153 director appointments listed at Companies House, although not all are active – was appointed to Countrywide in June 2014. His resignation is effective from the company’s next annual general meeting, likely to be held next April. Countrywide said a […]

Auctioneer I AM Sold breaks record with its highest-ever sales price

Auctioneer I AM Sold, which operates through white-labelled services provided to agents, has sold a property which achieved the highest value in the company’s history. The six-bedroom home set in an acre in Felbridge, West Sussex, was sold via agent Howard Cundey using the modern method of auction. It sold within 34 days for £10,000 […]

Purplebricks mistake on home sold in seven days last month is just ‘human error’

A publicity claim that a property was one of over 70 to have achieved ‘sale agreed’ status last month when it in fact sold in August has been put down to human error. Purplebricks in Lincoln used pictures of various properties in a flyer which it tweeted out, saying: “Another great sales month with over […]

EYE interview: Connells boss says group continues to back high street despite Hatched ownership

October 5, 2017

The boss of Connells Group, executive chairman Stephen Shipperley, this week marks his 40th year in the industry – all them spent at Connells, which he joined straight from school as a trainee negotiator. Here, in a special and remarkably wide-ranging interview with EYE, one of the most respected figures in today’s industry shares his […]

Beleaguered estate agent Countrywide attracts major new investor

Investment company Investec Asset Management has bought a 5.6% stake in Countrywide. It had not had shares in the UK’s largest estate agent before, but as of this week holds just over 13.3m shares. The purchase was announced at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, when the Countrywide share price stood at 113.50p. At that price, Investec’s […]

Prime Minister unveils £2bn extra funding for new generation of council houses

Theresa May has vowed to “get Government back in the business of building houses” after making an additional £2bn available to build affordable housing. Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister said councils and housing associations will be able to bid for the funds and some will be built for social rent below […]

Business as usual after major UK software supplier bought by global player

Estate agency software firm Qube Global Software – whose roots in the UK stem from SPA Miscrosystems which launched the ground-breaking Aspasia – has been bought for an undisclosed sum by global firm MRI Software. The acquisition means that MRI now serves 5,500 clients with a global team of over 1,000 employees, including 350 in […]

Next property crash ‘could be triggered by great sell-off rush of landlord properties’, warning

Tax relief changes coupled with rent controls could trigger the next property crash. The warning has come from Gary Heynes, a partner at tax and business advice firm RSM. He says that as tax relief changes are increasingly phased in, landlords could find themselves paying more in tax than the net rental income they receive. […]

Online agents’ share of market bounces up 19% as millions spent on TV ads draw in consumers

October 4, 2017

Email to a friend Print Online agents’ share of the market has gone up 19% year on year – but still represents just under 5.5% of the market overall. The finding is in a new report, out today, which says that the growth in online market share is testament to the power of advertising and […]

New database laws will have ‘enormous implications for agents’, warning

Agents are being warned to contact everyone on their databases now and prepare for the introduction of the General Database Protection Regulations in May next year. They are also being told that the potential implications for their businesses of leaving plans too late are enormous. For example, businesses will only be allowed to hold data […]

Purplebricks is now the biggest agent in UK by listings on Rightmove, claim

Purplebricks is now the largest agent in the UK by listings on Rightmove, broker Zeus Capital has said. The claim has been made by Zeus Capital research director Robin Savage. Savage also said that Purplebricks’ growth has been “at the cost of its competitors who are not terribly happy”. He said that next spring Purplebricks […]

easyProperty to offer agents share options – and to launch Academy this month

Founder members of relaunched easyProperty are to be offered share options this week. The 150 businesses across the Fine & Country and Guild networks that chose to take out easyProperty licences will be sent the papers this week. Jon Cooke, easyProperty’s CEO, also revealed plans to launch easyProperty Recruitment very shortly, and by the end […]

Agent tells public ‘We decided not to clog up your high street with another estate agent’

London agent Douglas & Gordon which has 19 high street branches has rolled out its new hybrid offering into a new area, telling the public that it decided not to “clog up” the high street with another estate agency. Douglas & Gordon launched the new model in February last year in Streatham, south-west London. There […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Strutt & Parker sale to investment bank completes

October 3, 2017

The sale of Strutt & Parker to BNP Paribas Real Estate, part of the French banking group, has completed. The price has not been disclosed. Strutt & Parker’s residential, rural, development and planning teams will continue to operate under the Strutt & Parker brand, whilst the commercial arm of the business will operate under the […]

Aspiring new trade body CIELA holds out defiant last hope that it may still launch

Aspiring new trade body CIELA (the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents) – which failed to launch on October 1 as per its original timeline – says there is still a possibility it may get off the ground. The six month consultation pre-launch period ended as of Saturday, September 30, and CIELA – brainchild […]

Tenancy deposit replacement scheme announces £1.3m backing from Direct Line

The market for tenants’ deposit replacement schemes is set to become increasingly competitive after Hamptons International was named as one of the first customers of Canopy – which also announced a £1.3m cash injection from insurance company Direct Line. Rival Zero Deposit, heavily backed by Zoopla, is currently recruiting agents and is expected to launch […]

Government warned against ‘dangerous gamble’ of further Stamp Duty fiddling

The Government is being urged to consider the “fiscal damage” of any further residential tax increases after analysis of the record Stamp Duty intake shows the impact on London transactions. Property investment firm London Central Portfolio (LCP) warned that while Stamp Duty receipts hit record highs of £8.5bn in England and Wales during 2016, receipts […]

Agent Provocateur: Are wealthier owners falling out of love with the property market?

Driving through the picturesque village of Milton Abbas in Dorset on Sunday, I was slightly shocked to see no fewer than ten For Sale boards on the main street alone. I drive around there a lot as I live nearby and this is unprecedented, so it got me thinking about what’s going on in the […]

New franchise offering to encourage agents to expand into estate and block management

Property specialist SDL Group yesterday launched a new franchise focusing on estate and block management. The company, which already operates the UK Century 21 franchise business and is heavily involved in the build-to-rent sector, is targeting estate and letting agents wanting to diversify or expand their businesses, as well as sole practitioners and small firms […]

At last! Victory for industry campaigners as ministers finally bow to demands for letting agents to be regulated

October 2, 2017

Email to a friend Print All letting agents across England will have to be registered under new legislation, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said yesterday. He made the announcement yesterday afternoon at the Conservative party conference, making clear: “We will regulate letting agents who want to operate.” It means that the days of anyone being able […]

Former agent in court denies seven counts of fraud relating to tenants’ deposits

A former agent has appeared in court, denying seven counts of fraud. Simon Cawley, 52, who worked for Severn Sales and Lettings in Worcester, pleaded not guilty to all the counts. The alleged offences are connected to not securing deposit money in ways compatible with the tenancy deposit scheme, and failing to transfer money to […]

Only tiny handful of portal leads result in sales or tenancies, claim

Just 4% of sales leads from the portals are resulting in an accepted offer, while only 2.9% of lettings leads convert into a tenancy. Software supplier Reapit describes the sales figure as “surprisingly small” – but says it is actually a slight improvement on the 3.2% it recorded last year. It urged agents to look […]

Ex-estate agency boss loses employment tribunal case ‘after comparing owners to North Korean dictatorship’

A former estate agency boss has lost his attempt to claim constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal. Nick Elgey, who resigned last year from his job at Cumberland Estate Agents in Carlisle, claimed he had had no choice but to leave. He had allegedly compared the parent company, Cumberland Building Society, to North Korea’s dictatorship. […]

If interest rates rise soon ‘housing market will take a dive’, warning

A rise in interest rates could damage the housing market, a senior industry figure has warned. Bank of England governor Mark Carney gave the clearest indication yet on Friday that interest rates will rise before long, although he did not say exactly when or by how much. Carney spoke as the Bank released data showing […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks reports strong progress while more woe for Countrywide

September 29, 2017

Purplebricks reported ‘strong progress’ across its business this morning, with revenues up and a ‘smooth’ launch in America. There are now 640 Local Property Experts in the UK, up from 540 only three months ago. This morning’s trading update did not, however, mention what profits the company expects to make. It said: “Strong progress has […]

Mystery as ‘hot’ new portal launches with thousands of agents on board – are you one of them?

A portal has launched with what appears to be an impressive number of agents advertising on it – and offering search engine optimisation for agents’ own websites. Hot-houses has almost 22,000 estate agency offices plus some 20,000 letting branches – making it highly likely that you and that maybe at least some of your properties […]

Countrywide and ZPG agree new three-year marketing deal

ZPG has renewed its long-term marketing agreement with Countrywide. As part of the new agreement, Countrywide will advertise all of its property listings on Zoopla for a further three years from the start of 2018. ZPG and Countrywide said they “are also committed to maximising the strategic benefits from their partnership”. Countrywide CEO Alison Platt […]

Agent holds Macmillan coffee morning – and collects £100 fine for inviting passers-by

A branch which was holding a charity coffee morning for Macmillan advertised the event on a temporary pavement sign right outside its door – and was fined £100. Connells branch manager Lee Hassan was so upset that he put up a tweet saying Chelmsford City Council’s action had been appalling, and using the hashtags “have […]

Agent who overcame cancer is chosen for charity calendar

An estate agent is appearing in a charity calendar for next year. Peter Sharman represents March in the Macmillan Awareness calendar. Like all those featured in the calendar, Sharman has experience of cancer. Nine years ago he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer which had started to spread, and underwent treatment. Today, the co-founding director […]

Countrywide, LSL and Foxtons facing £26m annual profit cut from lettings fee ban

September 28, 2017

Email to a friend Print The UK’s three biggest listed estate agencies could have their profits hit by a combined £26m once the lettings fee ban is introduced. A report by analysts Peel Hunt, looking at the prospects of listed agencies Countrywide, LSL and Foxtons, paints a bleak picture for them and the wider market. […]

Opinion piece: Is it time to break up Countrywide and sell off the parts?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone when to stop, but has that moment now arrived for Countrywide? We have been witnessing a rapid decline in its business in recent years, with poor results, declining profits and an exodus of good staff. Any shareholder worth their salt would be saying enough is enough – and if […]

How local is local? Average high street branch is 3km from listings while Local Property Experts ‘cover more ground’

The average local estate agency branch is around 3km (about 1.9 miles) away from their properties – whereas Local Property Experts with Purplebricks list properties that are typically 10km (about six miles) apart from each other. The claim comes from estate agency comparison website GetAgent, but doubt has been cast as to the independence of […]

When is an expert not an expert – and isn’t local knowledge the key?

We know that the internet hybrid agents are calling their valuers ‘Local Property Experts’. But how do you define ‘an expert’ in the eyes of the buying public? And if someone fails to meet that definition, should there be some form of recourse or sanctions against them for declaring themselves to be something they are […]

Corbyn’s pledge to introduce rent controls comes under fire

Jeremy Corbyn’s confirmation that a Labour government would introduce rent controls has come under attack. Yesterday, at the close of Labour’s party conference, Corbyn said: “We will control rents. “Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.” The […]

Agent Provocateur: Why won’t the public put more value on agents – and is it our fault?

September 27, 2017

Email to a friend Print I recently took part in an RICS debate that asked “What does it mean to be a professional in residential estate and lettings agency?” The audience, at RICS HQ, were budding and present chartered surveyors. Partly to start a debate I jumped straight in and said that I thought the […]

Two more advert cases against agents informally resolved – but formal resolutions up on last year

Email to a friend Print Two more informally resolved complaints against agents have been reported by the Advertising Standards Authority. In the first case, Cityzen Properties was challenged as to claims made on its website and Facebook. A complainant queried whether the claims “serving the whole of London” and “one of the leading east London […]

Lettings fee ban to result in job losses and lack of morale

Email to a friend Print Jobs will be lost when the letting fees ban comes in, and morale among remaining staff will drop like a stone. Potential newcomers to the industry will look for jobs elsewhere. The warning comes from estate agent recruitment consultancy Property Personnel which claims the ban will have an extensive impact […]

Review of the Week: And this is one super-fan of online agents

Email to a friend Print Review of the Week – and please excuse our grammar, as it should really be Reviews of the Week, all in one generous helping. The reviewer, one Connie Doull, appears to be based in America but can only be described as a super-fan of online agents, especially the British variety. […]

‘Bleak picture’ for tenants as a third of agents report landlords increasing rents

Email to a friend Print The number of letting agents seeing landlords increasing rents has hit a two-year high. The latest ARLA Propertymark Private Rented Sector report, based on a survey of 216 member branches, shows the proportion of letting agents who saw landlords increasing rent costs for tenants rose to 35% in August – […]

Rightmove reviews membership of franchise firm after claims of re-selling space on portal

September 26, 2017

Email to a friend Print Rightmove said last night that it is to review membership of US franchise firm Keller Williams. The firm is one of the largest property firms in the world, with over 139,000 ‘associates’ and some 790 ‘market centres’ in 13 countries. Keller Williams, which arrived in the UK in 2013 and […]

Huge operation to crack down on letting agents across London under way today

Email to a friend Print Agents throughout London are being placed on standby today for a major one-day crackdown by Trading Standards. Officers from 15 Trading Standards offices in the capital will today be visiting letting and property management agents – and scouting for evidence of compliance, for example on the display of fees. Failure […]

Get rid of your fake listings and ban rogue agents, new petition tells Rightmove

Email to a friend Print A petition to Rightmove is calling on the portal to implement wide-ranging changes, including a ban on rogue agents and a filter to curb ‘fake’ listings. The Home Buyers&Sellers petition has been placed on Change.org, which describes itself as the world’s largest petitions platform. The petition claims: “We have found […]

Woman says challenged review on allAgents is identical to one that has been on Trustpilot for a year

Email to a friend Print A reviewer of Purplebricks, who has received an email from allAgents querying whether her review of Purplebricks is genuine, says that an identical assessment is on Trustpilot – where only reviews from verified customers appear. Joanne Buckley received a note from Martin McKenzie of allAgents which says: “Purplebricks has flagged […]

Agent hits out at dirty tricks of unscrupulous ‘underbelly of industry’

Email to a friend Print A high street firm has accused agents across the UK of dirty tricks, describing them as the “underbelly of the industry”. James Pendleton, which has ten offices in south and west London, said regulation may be the only way to stamp out poor practices. Founder Lee James Pendleton said the […]