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Agent Provocateur: Proptech must prove that it really is going to be useful

December 20, 2016

I remember the first time technology really grabbed me. My son was travelling India alone and after a month in Goa was starting an ad hoc train tour of India. He asked if he could spend his first night’s late arrival in a hotel close to the train station in Pune. I agreed. At 10.30 […]

Misery piles on for prime London agents as Land Registry reveals latest transaction data

The collapse of the prime central London has continued, according to the latest Land Registry data. In the 12 months to the end of quarter three, transactions fell 24%. However, that figure hides far more dramatic year-on-year falls of 58% and 50% in, respectively, quarters two and three. In quarter one, there was a rise […]

Housing minister claims lettings fee ban will make it easier for tenants to shop around

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has failed to address concerns that the tenant fee ban will cause letting agents to pass on costs to landlords or just redefine charges. A written parliamentary question was asked to Barwell at the beginning of December by Conservative MP Dr Andrew Murrison, seeking clarification from the minister on “what steps […]

One quarter of UK estate agents ‘in financial distress’, warns insolvency firm

December 19, 2016

Almost one in five property companies are in financial distress, insolvency firm Begbies Traynor has said. It says that over 25,000 companies, including residential sales and letting agents as well as landlord firms and other property businesses, are facing financial problems, with the figure up 6.6% on a year ago. The firm said that residential […]

Recruitment market ‘awash’ with seniors axed by corporate agents

The industry jobs market has a glut of senior candidates who have been ‘let go’ by the big corporates. However, a number could find they are welcomed by independent estate agency owners looking to retire – but finding this is not the best time to sell. Josh Rayner, of Rayner Personnel, said that such owners […]

Juggling detection: New system to be offered free to regulators and redress schemes

The industry’s own anti-juggling system has now been seen by EYE. We were given a preview as to how it will work. The system, which claims to detect any unusual changes in portal listings and goes on to score listings that keep re-appearing, is being offered free to industry regulator NTSEAT, and also to TPO […]

Council cracks down on spread of estate agents in its borough

A local authority in central London is to act after a amendment to the law last year that now allows a shop premise to have a change of A2 use without the need for a planning application. The council has put in place an Article 4 Direction, meaning that anyone wanting to turn a shop […]

Purplebricks shares up 60% in first year of trading

Purplebricks ended its first year on the stock market with its shares up 59.67%. The online agent, which listed on the Alternative Investment Market on December 17, 2015, raising £58m at 93p per share, were 152p when markets closed on Friday. This gives it a market capitalisation of £375m and means it has almost overtaken […]

Fudge at Christmas – Portal Juggling

December 16, 2016

So it’s the time of year when the e-mails with numbers or percentages are sent out from all estate agents, claiming that the statistics show they performed the best over the year, generally claiming that they sold the most in 2016. In fact I received one such e-mail yesterday evening from a competitor, exclaiming that Zoopla […]

Does my bum look big (in this agent’s window)? Uproar on social media

A picture of two women’s all-but-bare bottoms in a letting agent’s window has been causing a stir after the image was posted on social media. Residents in Hull said the full-window display was ‘inappropriate’ and in ‘bad taste’, and ‘objectifying women’, with calls for it to be taken down as schoolchildren walk past the window […]

Housing minister Gavin Barwell expresses support for letting agents’ fees ban

The forthcoming ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants has been cited as “an important step” by the housing minister in the Commons. During a debate on homelessness, MPs expressed concerns at the costs of rental deposits. Housing minister Gavin Barwell – who called homelessness a “moral stain” – said the Government is attempting […]

Fees ban – and why this firm thinks it is a cause for seasonal cheer

Each year, London agent Stanley Chelsea gets out a political Christmas card. The latest one is not just political but topical, with Chancellor Philip Hammond waving his ‘No charges to tenants’ placard. And the exact relevance? Stanley Chelsea makes virtually no charges to tenants. Managing director Patrick Bullick told us: “The only cost that the […]

Countrywide looking at disposal of commercial subsidiary but emphasises no certainty of sale

Reports that Countrywide is selling its commercial property subsidiary, Lambert Smith Hampton, have not been ruled out but have been described as speculation. Countrywide said in a statement to the stock market yesterday that there is “no certainty” that there will be a sale. It emphasised that it is only considering a potential disposal. Claims […]

UK estate agency marketing firm announces big investment in American photo technology

A UK firm has announced a major investment in new American cameras that it is claimed will showcase agents’ properties in a very different way. It says earlier trials show the public “absolutely love it”. Andy South, founder of estate agency marketing specialist Niche Communications, believes the Matterport 3D Showcase will be an instruction getter […]

Hunters reports strong results as it persuades more agents to join its network

December 15, 2016

Hunters has reported a strong performance in its latest trading update – bucking a trend where both Foxtons and Countrywide have issued warnings. The group has had clear success in recruiting established agents who have re-branded. It is a strategy that looks set to continue. The almost entirely franchised company said that it expects trading […]

Dexters estate agents picked out as ‘inspiring’ rising star by Stock Exchange

Dexters estate agency has been chosen for the third consecutive year in the London Stock Exchange and Growth Intelligence list of 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain. It is the only business in the entire real estate sector to have been included in the list for the past three years in a row. Compiled each year […]

Killing of young British estate agent discussed at Prime Minister’s question time

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has intervened in the case of the shocking killing of young estate agent George Low. George, 22, was killed on his last day on holiday in Cyprus in August. A friend he was with was also attacked, but survived. George was an immensely popular and talented sales negotiator in Dartford, Kent, […]

Gorgeous estate agent offices: And these are rather wee!

Here is a candidate for our occasional series on beautiful, quirky and interesting agents’ offices – and they certainly do not come any more interesting than this one. We hope you agree, Ladies and Gents! The Old Loos was a disused toilet block which is now home to Portsmouth agents Brewers. The conversion of The […]

Home owners benefiting from low rates but loans to new buyers fall

Low mortgage rates may be helping home owners remortgage but they were little use to buyers and landlords in October, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders suggest. Buy-to-let loans for house purchase fell heavily. Data from the CML shows lending to buyers dropped 8% between September and October, and was down 13% year-on-year for […]

Portal juggling – our fight goes on, says campaigner who queries Rightmove’s new 14-week ban

December 14, 2016

Campaigner Chris Wood has said that there is work still to do on the anti-juggling campaign – and has pledged to see it through. Wood welcomed Rightmove’s change as of yesterday afternoon, extending a two-week to a 14-week period in which previously listed sales properties cannot be re-entered as ‘new’ to the market. Zoopla yesterday […]

Renewal fees: Court rules that agent who did not show fee on front page of contract is not entitled to money

A judge has ruled that a firm of letting agents was not entitled to charge a renewal fee in the seventh year of a tenancy because the charge was not stated on the front page of the contract with the landlords. However, the judge rejected a claim for previous renewal fees to be repaid by […]

Clock ticks towards time when letting agents can be banned for first time

The Government has now published its consultation as to which offences a letting agent or landlord can be banned from the industry in England. It will be the first time that a legal mechanism will exist to ban either a residential letting agent or landlord. Because letting agents are not recognised as ‘agents’ under the […]

Tributes paid after death of leading industry figure Peter Light, a true gentleman

Warm tributes are being paid to Peter Light, a past president of the National Association of Estate Agents, who died at the weekend. An immensely popular, kind and respected figure, he was held in huge esteem. It is understood he died very soon after being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He was principal of his […]

Picture of the Week: And it’s a sad one, perhaps on a High Street near you

Our Picture of the Week is a sad one, showing the early morning closure yesterday of a Countrywide brand, Taylors, in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. It was snapped at around 6.30am by another agent who was on his way to work close by. It is understood that the branch listings have been moved to the Huntingdon […]

NEWSFLASH: Rightmove introduces new 14-week rule in portal juggling crackdown

December 13, 2016

Rightmove has today confirmed the introduction of a 14-week period as it cracks down on portal juggling. It means that a property that has previously been on the the portal cannot be re-listed as new within 14 weeks of it being taken off. A property that goes back on Rightmove within 14 weeks will keep […]

Local agent launches campaign to warn public about ‘rife’ portal juggling

An agent has launched a campaign warning the public about portal juggling, which he said is now rife in the industry. He has done so after friends were caught out after having had their hopes built up by what turned out to be a fake listing by a local high street agent. The property they […]

No Agent sails way over investment target as it attracts surge of crowdfunders

No Agent has become the biggest mover on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. No Agent was looking for £350,000 but by yesterday evening had raised £566,296 – way over target. More than 200 investors have flocked to chip in their money, to secure a stake of almost 14% in the business. No Agent, which launched in September, […]

Financial regulator to explore estate agent and mortgage broker relationships

Commercial arrangements between estate agents and mortgage brokers could come under the regulatory spotlight after the City watchdog announced a study into “conflicts of interest” and “misaligned incentives” in the mortgage market. The Financial Conduct Authority is seeking responses to a market study to understand whether consumers are empowered to choose mortgage products and services […]

Home owners sitting on £5.6 trillion of property wealth

The value of housing stock has outpaced inflation and left UK home owners with an average value of £241,682, Halifax has claimed. Research from the lender based on ONS figures found the total value of privately owned housing stock in the UK has grown to over £5.5 trillion since 2006. In the past decade, total […]

Only 4% of ‘affordable home’ purchases were for new-builds

My Home Move has called the Government’s focus on new-builds into question after figures show that most affordable property purchases were for traditional flats and terrace properties. The conveyancer analysed Land Registry data from January to September this year and found that only 4% of ‘affordable’ homes bought in 2016, defined as those under £125,000, […]

Government still planning to call for evidence on home-buying and selling ‘in due course’

December 12, 2016

The Government is still planning to release a call for evidence on the home-buying process and met as recently as November to discuss it, EYE can exclusively reveal. Former Chancellor George Osborne announced in his March Budget that the “Government will shortly publish a call for evidence, looking at the process of buying a home”. […]

Asking prices hit by seasonal lull but supply is getting even tighter, says Rightmove

The asking price of property coming new to the market saw its usual seasonal fall at the start of December, but supply is getting tighter, Rightmove figures reveal. The portal’s latest House Price Index showed values at £299,159, down 2.1% on November and with annual growth slowing from 4.5% to 3.4%. Rightmove says this is […]

Astonishing – and heartwarming – result of agent’s offer of helping hand at Christmas

Could anything capture the spirit of Christmas more than this? This story of our times also offers a rather different take on letting agent fees and the low esteem in which the Government seems to hold agents. Castledene, based in County Durham and which has featured prominently on television for its work with tenants on […]

Fall in estate agency orders and Brexit both blamed for collapse of industry supplier firm

A number of estate agents are among the creditors owed a total of over £1.6m by Fairfield Displays & Lighting. The collapse of the firm is blamed on a decline in orders from estate agents this year and last, and the Brexit vote, and its impact on exchange rates, which resulted in costs rising. The […]

Fees ban latest: MP demands assurances that letting agents will not pass costs on to landlords

December 9, 2016

An MP has tabled a written question asking for reassurances that English letting agents will not pass costs on to landlords when the fees ban kicks in – or attempt to get round the ban in any way. Similar concerns have been expressed in Wales where a ban is also under discussion, and where the […]

Shock as sales to buy-to-let landlords are decimated by nearly 65% in a year

The Government’s ‘war on landlords’ has seen buy-to-let sales collapse 64% in 12 months – and 8.2% on a one-monthly basis in November. While this may have been exactly what former Chancellor George Osborne intended, the statistic from haart’s own figures looks unexpectedly stark. The firm also says that the number of landlords registering to […]

Online agent Hatched plans big expansion next year

Online agency Hatched has announced plans for significant expansion next year as it looks to recruit more local property consultants. All will be fully employed. Hatched was acquired last year by Connells Group and since then has more than doubled headcount. Adam Day, founder and director of Hatched, said the business has had “immense support” […]

‘We expect scepticism’ says new property portal as it gets set to launch next spring

A new property portal is set to launch in the UK in the spring, with agents being invited to sign up now. Yellf – said to have well-heeled, although undisclosed backers – says it will be the most consumer-friendly property portal on the market. To be launched by the Yellf Property Group, the new portal […]

Auction in New York to sell UK flats to dollar-happy buyers (but could referral fee make agents happy too?)

An American auction house is offering UK agents £1,000 to register a bidder – even if that bidder is unsuccessful. Concierge Auctions is to sell its first British properties on December 20, with seven prime central London apartments on offer. This will be its first sale of any property in the UK. The auction, which […]

Sales of Britain’s priciest properties in state of collapse, Land Registry confirms

December 8, 2016

Sales volumes of prime homes right across the country have been hit hard, cutting the Government’s take from Stamp Duty Land Tax by millions. Asking prices have also been sharply reduced, as the top end of the London market has crashed. In the six months from May to October there was a 75% reduction in […]

Databases of private tenants as proposed by the RICS already exist

This week, the RICS called on the Government to introduce an online database of good and bad tenants, to replace the referencing service for which letting agents currently charge tenants. The proposal would mean that agents would not necessarily have to pass the charge on to landlords. However, an online database of tenants is not […]

Can this property really have been and come and gone eight times in the last two and a half years?

It was this anguished tweet, above, that caught our eye. But could this property really have been and come and gone a total of eight times? Working in reverse order, we can see it was listed on Rightmove on December 7 at £575,000. By yesterday morning, just one day later, it had gone. It was […]

Mergers and acquisitions of independent estate agencies gathering pace, says law firm

The Government’s decision in the Autumn Statement to ban letting agent fees places yet more pressure on agents. At the same time, consolidation in the industry continues apace, including some distressed sales. But whatever the economic pressures or market trends, mergers between agents – both lettings and sales – are an inevitability. The ambitions of […]

Tenants launch national campaign to press Chancellor for early fees ban

A national campaign has been launched by tenants groups in reaction to the impending ban of letting agency fees. The ban was announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement with a consultation to follow before legislation. The campaign has been launched by Bristol-based Renters Rising, an umbrella group launched in September by activists Acorn. […]

Purplebricks’ shares rocket again – but investor website says £360m valuation is ‘crazy’

December 7, 2016

The Purplebricks share price rocketed yesterday for the second day running. As a result, the firm starts today’s trading with a valuation of some £360m – yet, as one financial website, the Investor’s Champion, pointed out yesterday, it has “yet to make a bean”. Purplebricks had reported a ‘maiden’ profit of £300,000 but this was […]

RICS calls for database which would show ‘good’ and ‘bad’ tenants’ records

In the wake of the impending ban on letting agents’ fees, the RICS has called on the Government for the creation of an online database where all tenants’ references and payment histories could be viewed online. The RICS is also demanding mandatory licensing of all landlords in England, following the existing regime in Scotland and […]

This has been an ‘annus horribilis’ for landords, says Connells firm

Buy-to-let landlords are holding off their purchases and home-movers are reluctant … to move. Instead, it appears that both types of property owner are preferring to remortgage. Drawing on its own data, Connells Survey & Valuation said that remortgage valuations were almost 5% up on a monthly basis in November, and up almost 25% on […]

Remote viewings service claims agents could use it to raise profit margins

A new remote viewings service trialled with several agents in conjunction with Zoopla is claimed to have resulted in 5% of properties being either sold or let without a physical visit. Smart Viewing said the estate agency industry could increase it profits by a fifth through the use of its online remote viewing platform. The […]

Coming to an estate agent’s window soon – a home built in the air

Coming to a For Sale or To Let board soon … a new type of home. It’s a pre-fab which is designed to sit on an elevated platform above outdoor car parks. The micro-homes require only air rights, with no need for land, and can be bought or rented. The entry level model of the […]

Shares in Purplebricks storm up after online firm reports its first profit

December 6, 2016

Shares in Purplebricks stormed up yesterday after it reported a sharp increase in revenues and a maiden profit of adjusted EBITDA of £300,000 in the six months to the end of October. That figure compared to a loss of £6m in the same period last year. EBITDA, said Purplebricks, is after costs, depreciation and share […]