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Firm which offers agents immersive technology does ‘game-changing’ deal with Google

May 12, 2017

Matterport, the American company whose ‘immersive’ technology includes virtual tours marketed to UK estate agents, has done a deal with Google. From this summer, owners of Matterport Spaces will be able to publish directly to Google Street View. The 3D images will be accessible almost instanteously on Google Maps and Google search results, serving to […]

The end of tenancy deposits? New insurance app claims to have a solution

A UK startup which claims to have the solution to the contentious issue of tenancy deposits has introduced the concept of tenants’ passports. InsureStreet, an app backed by serial entrepreneur Vin Murria and insurance provider HISCOX, is pitched as an alternative to the “dead money” of tenancy deposits that would free up £4bn to go […]

Marketing times hit fastest level since 2008 in north England as London continues to slow the market

Regions outside London and the south-east of England have become the “saving grace” of the property market, according to The portal’s Asking Price Index for May found prices were up 2.8% year-on-year across the UK to £304,740 but were down 1.6% in London to £544,103. The east of England saw the largest annual growth, […]

Countrywide’s online agency venture comes under scrutiny at ‘pivotal point for industry’

May 11, 2017

Countrywide’s strategy to combat the rising tide of online agencies has come at a pivotal point for the whole industry. But its venture into online agency is not a ‘fighter’ brand, new analysis has found. Proptech experts Eddie Holmes and Mike Delprete conclude that “significant changes” are needed if Countrywide’s digital offering is to succeed. […]

Seven out of eight biggest letting agents ‘charge tenants more than average’, claim

Out of eight of Britain’s biggest letting agents – those with over 100 branches – seven are charging tenants more than the average fee. The accusation comes from Generation Rent, which says its research shows that the average cost is £404, based on two adults renting an unfurnished two-bed property. LSL, parent company of Your […]

Today’s big question for agents: Which road should we take on the digital super-highway?

The most common sight we now all see whether travelling on public transport, at work or even at the dinner table, is people with their heads down, not in prayer but tapping away at social media. It is one of the biggest social changes we have seen since William Caxton introduced the printing press to […]

High street independent becomes first to sign up to new online service

A high street agency in Liverpool has become the first to sign up to a new service that will allow it to offer customers a separately branded online estate agency. Bluerow Homes will now offer the Love2move brand, designed to offer sellers a fixed price service at £895. Love2move, designed by Lancashire estate agents Moving […]

‘Real estate’ named by London Stock Exchange as UK’s fastest growing sector

‘Real estate’ has been named as the fastest growing sector in the UK, in the latest ‘1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ report by the London Stock Exchange Group. The report says that average annual revenue has grown at the rate of more than 100%. The report specifically looks at small to medium size companies, and […]

Online agent’s claims of saving £2,800 on high street fees are withdrawn

May 10, 2017

A complaint about an advert for online agent easyProperty has been informally resolved. The advert featured text which said: “Get an offer within 20 weeks”; “Save £2,809 on estate agent fees”; “No commission fees”; and “Save with low fixed fees”. The advert came up in a Google-sponsored search result for easyProperty and was reported to […]

Don’t get caught out: Important update on Money Laundering registrations and renewals

Don’t get caught out. Estate agents must have registered their business with HMRC to meet their obligations under Money Laundering Regulations. A registration is required for every business entity and every trading branch must also be registered. Failure to do so means the back registrations fees will need to be paid from the date you […]

Ex-employee sues agency boss for unfair dismissal after ‘sex act’ claims

An estate agent boss at Your Move is being sued by a member of staff, who alleges that she offered to ‘perform a sex act on him’ if he hit target. Sarah Thompson is said to have made the offer to perform the sex act if Paul Elworthy hit his targets. An employment tribunal at […]

New managing director announced at Hamptons International

Countrywide brand Hamptons International has a new managing director. She is Lesley Cairns, formerly head of lettings at Hamptons. Cairns has already announced plans to expand Hamptons beyond London and the south-east. In the restructure at Hamptons, Jon Pitt has been appointed head of lettings to succeed Cairns; Mary Beeton has been appointed head of […]

Outspoken critic of Shelter says charity should change its name and stop hounding landlords

A landlord who has previously criticised Shelter says she appears to have been banned from its Facebook page. Dr Rosalind Beck claimed that she can still see Shelter on Facebook, but has no right to reply. In an open letter – written, she says, because she cannot make her arguments on Facebook – Beck calls […]

Uncertainty drags on as CMA opens merger probe into Zoopla’s purchase of Expert Agent

May 9, 2017

The waiting goes on for staff at industry software business Expert Agent, uncertain as to who their future employer might be. The Competition and Markets Authority has opened its merger investigation into the acquisition by ZPG of Websky – the company that operates Expert Agent. The CMA issued its initial enforcement order on March 31, […]

Wanted: Someone with experience of scraping Rightmove, says job advert

Here’s an intriguing job advert – someone is looking for a freelancer with “experience in data scraping on Rightmove”. The advertiser is looking for someone with the knowledge on where to find the addresses that are for sale. Apparently, it is for a direct mail campaign. The scraping job itself will last less than a […]

Ah misery! And yes – THAT video is available for generic use

Ah misery! The feeling you get when you save a bit on commission and lose out on the value of your home. Yes, we’re talking about THAT video (over 6,500 reads on our story by yesterday afternoon, and still counting). The spoof Purplebricks advert was enjoyed by a number of readers who wondered if they […]

Shelter not letting up on pressure to make sure ‘fees ban goes through’

Shelter is keeping up the pressure on the Government – whichever it may be – to ban letting agent fees. Yesterday it tweeted a message, below, asking: “Hit reply to tell us what you’ve spent on letting agent fees and we’ll present it to the government. Let’s make sure the ban goes through.” Meanwhile, campaigners […]

Agents appointed to let and manage Mayor’s first ‘London Living Rent’ scheme

The Acorn Group is letting and managing the first ‘London Living Rent’ housing scheme. The build-to-rent scheme, in Beckenham, was visited by London mayor Sadiq Khan as the first tenants moved in. The new London Living Rent scheme helps people save for a deposit by offering below-market rents at up to 30% discounts. Acorn is […]

Sale Agreed, Under Offer, and Sold Subject to Contract – there’s no difference, says the Ombudsman

May 8, 2017

The Property Ombudsman has said that in her view, there is no difference between ‘Sale Agreed’, ‘Under Offer’, and ‘Sold Subject to Contract’. We asked Katrine Sporle for definitive advice after our story about Purplebricks on Friday. Purplebricks’ Google adverts claim that the agent sells a home every 30 minutes, and puts one under offer […]

A Purplebricks sale every 30 minutes? Or is it every 16 minutes? The mystery continues

The great mystery continues – just how many homes does Purplebricks sell or put under offer? According to Google ads very recently spotted by one of our readers, it’s every 30 minutes. Which, says East Anglian agent Andrew Overman, equates to 17,520 or so a year. But only last December, as EYE reported at the […]

Which? calls for next government to review role of estate agents

Consumer organisation Which? is calling for the next government to review the role of estate agents in the ‘out-dated’ home buying and selling process. Which? also said that all political parties should set out in their manifestos how they intend to improve the home-buying process for consumers. In particular, said Which?, parties should commit to […]

Why no proptech successes in the UK other than those of the purple persuasion?

The name Brendan Wallace won’t mean much to most people, but his influence just greatly increased. Alongside his co-founder Brad Griewe, he has raised $212m for a proptech fund. This is their first official fund, after a few years of advising on proptech fundraising and participating in a number of successful investments. To date they’ve […]

Picture of the Week – and it’s a property with a problem

Picture of the Week – and frankly it’s a tip. Or, as the agents for this three-bedroom home in Exeter say in the details, “in need of modernisation” which seems to be a euphemism for “You’ll need several skips and a year’s supply of Marigolds”. We wondered how the late great Roy Brooks would have […]

Purplebricks shares soar after trading update showing 83% growth in instructions

May 5, 2017

Purplebricks shares shot up some 6% in value yesterday after its trading update. They ended the day at around 342p, the closest yet to their record price in March of 365p. In yesterday’s trading update, Purplebricks reported a strong performance with an 83% growth in instructions. However, it did not report how many properties it […]

Ah misery! The pain of saving on commission only to lose out on the price: Here’s the advert

On Tuesday, our proptech writer Rayhan Rafiq Omar penned a possible advertising script – loosely based on the notion of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery – for use by a high street agent. He laid down the challenge: “Personally, I’d like to see someone do a spoof the Purplebricks advert.” But would it […]

Countrywide employee wins by default employment tribunal case on ‘indirect sex discrimination’

A woman has won her case against Countrywide estate agents on grounds of indirect sex discrimination, constructive unfair dismissal and breach of flexible working regulations. The judgment of the employment tribunal was made by default, in the absence of a response from the company. A “remedy hearing” estimated to last three hours was due to […]

Seasonal pick-up fails to materialise as mortgage approvals for house purchase dip again

The number of mortgage approvals fell to a six-month low in March, the Bank of England has reported. March’s figure included 66,837 approvals for house purchase, down from February’s figure of 67,936. March was the second month in a row that the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase went down. Altogether 122,918 mortgages were […]

Agent Provocateur: Why is there such a gap between asking and sold prices – and why is it growing?

I’ve been trying to think why the gap between Rightmove asking prices and what the ONS tells us is the average sale price, swings around as it does. Can the difference really be as much as 30%, up from nearer 20% 15 years ago? The straightforward answer is no, despite some commentators out there trying […]

NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks reports huge growth in instructions

May 4, 2017

Purplebricks told the City this morning that trading has been strong with instructions in the UK up 83% in the second half of its financial year. Giving an update on its year, which ended on April 30, Purplebricks said that its UK business is expected to “record an adjusted EBITDA profit for the full year, […]

Incoming ARLA President ‘in discussions over relinquishing company name’ to Peter Knight

The incoming President of ARLA Propertymark, Sally Lawson, yesterday entered into talks to surrender the name of one of her companies, The Property Academy. The name is well known in agency circles as a training and mentoring business run by Peter Knight. Meanwhile Lawson has underlined that she will continue her training activities during her […]

Mystery as ex-Zoopla big hitter Jon Notley announces he is CEO – but of what?

Former Zoopla big-hitter Jon Notley has announced on LinkedIn that he has become chief executive officer – but of what, he has not revealed. The former chief commercial officer of Zoopla left in March. A well-known and highly respected figure in the industry, known to many agents, his departure caused considerable surprise. Notley had been […]

Fair Fees Forum calls for compulsory registration of all letting agents

Concerns have been voiced that as a result of the fees ban, more landlords will decide to self-manage when they have limited experience and knowledge. Members of the Fair Fees Forum, which met yesterday, also said that if agents are not allowed to charge for referencing, then this could lead to the exclusion of vulnerable […]

Cluttons ‘bought out of administration in pre-pack deal’ claim

Central London property firm Cluttons has reportedly been bought out of administration in a pre-pack deal. The company, one of the UK’s oldest firms of chartered surveyors dating back to 1765, also has an office in Brighton plus operations overseas. According to reports, it blamed its difficulties on ‘unsupportable’ pension liabilities and ‘difficult trading conditions’ […]

Watchdog says investigation into complaint about Purplebricks TV advert could take ‘considerable time’

CIELA – the aspiring new trade body for the industry, the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents – says that its complaint about Purplebricks to the Advertising Standards Authority has passed the first hurdle. It submitted a complaint about Purplebricks’ ‘commisery’ TV advertising and website to the ASA on March 9. Yesterday, CIELA said: […]

The fight goes on: Tenant referencing MUST be exempt from letting fees ban, plea

May 3, 2017

ARLA Propertymark is calling for referencing to be exempt from the letting agents’ fees ban. In a note to member agents yesterday, chief executive David Cox said: “Tenant referencing must be exempt from the ban. “The reasons for this are manifold. Referencing ensures that tenants do not take on a financial commitment which is unsustainable. […]

‘Homes go faster’ through online estate agents – claim

An online agency comparison website, sellingup, says that vendors can sell more quickly through online agents “and still get a great price”. The piece initially cited research by Which? The article said: “In fact, according to research by Which? properties sell on average faster through an online estate agent than a traditional agent, thanks largely […]

Picture of the Week: And it’s a case of RIP for this particular property

Here’s today’s contestant for Picture of the Week – and it’s an estate agent’s board resting peacefully beside a cemetery, although we fear we’re too late to buy this one. We were, of course, particularly interested in its ‘further potential’ and wondered what this could be. However, the body of evidence shows that advertising cemeteries […]

‘I just bearhugged the woman’: Connells agents turn heroes following petrol explosions

Estate agents at a Connells branch in Milton Keynes have become local heroes after helping evacuate their local area during a fire. The staff at Connells spotted smoke coming out of two nearby garages and came to the rescue as petrol stored inside exploded. They knocked on the doors of local residents to evacuate the […]

Estate agency fees ‘top Stamp Duty as largest moving cost’ claim

The cost of using an estate agent has increased by almost a third in the past decade, research suggests. Analysis by Post Office Money into the additional costs of moving home ranked agency fees as the largest outlay when moving. Estate agency fees have increased 31% to £4,310 between 2006 and 2016, while surveying costs […]

The advert that says so much about where our industry is going

May 2, 2017

There I was, minding my own business on London’s underground* when this Bairstow Eves advert assaulted my eyes: In case you don’t know, this is the main London brand of estate agency giant Countrywide. I’d like to analyse this advert, as it says much about where our industry is going: Bairstow Eves is no longer […]

Rapidly expanding purchaser of agencies across UK arrives in the south with latest acquisition

Lomond Capital, the rapidly expanding property group, has announced the purchase of a majority stake in a prominent south coast agency. Brand Vaughan currently has three offices in Brighton and Hove, and will continue to trade under its own name. The price Lomond has paid has not been disclosed but it would appear to be […]

Refunds: Ombudsman confirms sellers have up to a year to complain if agent lets them down

The Property Ombudsman has confirmed that if a complainant accepts a goodwill offer from an agent, then TPO will consider the matter closed. However, if the complainant does not accept the offer, the complainant has a whole year in which to escalate their complaint to the redress scheme. Online debate had suggested that the time […]

A bit close to home! Spicerhaart is among four agents prosecuted over boards

Four estate agencies have been taken to court over allegedly illegal boards. Among the four that Colchester Council prosecuted was Spicerhaart – which is headquartered in the town. The council also brought charges against William H Brown, Saxons and David Martin Group. The council said the signs had been put up as advertisements and did […]

Online agents have given high street firms a kicking – but industry figure says the ‘moaning’ must stop

Industry consultant Christopher Watkin says that high street agents have had a long overdue kick up the backside delivered by the arrival of online firms. He says that the industry had become lazy order-takers and that they should stop moaning about online agents. In a new video, he also says that agents are wrong to […]

How low can they go? Agent launches special offer – just £25 to include listing on Zoopla

April 28, 2017

No sooner do we run a story on a new online agent offering a £99 package than just days later along comes another – under-cutting it with a £25 deal. Daniel Thomas Estates yesterday tweeted the offer for May as a “£25 Zoopla listing offer”. Zoopla yesterday evening told EYE it was investigating after we […]

Supply of property on estate agent books at lowest level since 2002

The number of homes for sale has hit a 15-year low, estate agents claim. Meanwhile Nationwide this morning claimed that house prices had fallen for a second consecutive month – although this was on a ‘seasonally adjusted’ basis. Without seasonal adjustment, house prices actually crept up to stand at £207,699 in April, copared with £207,308 […]

Major housebuilder sets aside £130m to resolve ‘leasehold scandal’

Taylor Wimpey has set aside around £130m to alter contracts with freeholders following revelations that the house builder included ten-year doubling ground rents clauses in leases on some properties between 2007 and 2011. The company has been undertaking a review of the leases and yesterday announced that despite the doubling clauses being considered “entirely legal”, […]

Rightmove chairman cashes in over £4m worth of shares

Righmove chairman Scott Forbes has raised over £4m by selling shares. Altogether he sold 100,000 ordinary shares at an average price of £42.64 each, netting him £4.26m. Forbes still has a holding of 219,300 shares in Rightmove, representing 0.237% of all shares in issue. Forbes has been chairman of Rightmove since July 2005. In 2014 […]

Agent Provocateur: Is this why so many agents are resistant to change?

Over the last few weeks I’ve started being asked in by agents keen to gain an objective understanding of what’s happening out there in the world of estate agency. The day to day ups and downs of Viewber, and sheer busyness, meant it was difficult to focus at first, but being out on the road […]

NEWSFLASH: Countrywide and LSL both report falling revenues in first quarter of this year

April 27, 2017

Countrywide this morning reported income for the first quarter was £162m – down from £187m in the same period in 2016. The group said this was “in line with our expectations”. It said the first quarter of 2016 was boosted by the acceleration in transactions on buy-to-let properties and second homes in response to the […]