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Foxtons says it will respect court ruling after test case bans use of ‘admin fees’ as blanket term

September 19, 2017

Foxtons has suggested that it fully accepts last week’s ruling that it can no longer use ‘administration fees’ as a blanket term, but must provide a breakdown. The firm looks as though it will not be appealing – although it has 28 days in which to do so. Instead, it has welcomed clarification. The ruling […]

Video of the Week: And here’s an agent selling the perfect lifestyle

Estate agents’ videos are often a bit like Marmite – over-long, too much hard sell, annoying voice-overs and the wrong sort of music. However, the new type of ‘lifestyle’ video is much more engaging, we think. Next Chapter Homes, in Brentwood, Essex, has done its first such video – and we think it is very […]

How much will the lettings fee ban cost your business? Here’s where you can find out

How much will the impending fees ban cost you? Tenants’ repairs reporting service Fixflo has launched a new free tool, the Letting Fees Ban Calculator, available online now. All users need to do is enter information such as the number of properties they manage, the average length of tenancy and their average letting fee in […]

EYE newsflash: allAgents review site suspends Purplebricks account

September 18, 2017

AllAgents has suspended the Purplebricks account on its site. It has never before suspended an account. allAgents said it had taken the unprecedented action after “repeated threats of legal action forcing the removal of negative reviews from our website”. Allagents said it will continue to accept genuine customer reviews for Purplebricks although it will be […]

allAgents removes over 70 reviews of Purplebricks after legal challenges, claim

Over half the reviews of Purplebricks on the allAgents site have been removed, with Purplebricks saying it would vigorously defend its reputation against lies and defamation. Martin McKenzie, of allAgents, said that a legal letter had been received. He told EYE that 71 – over half the total reviews – have been removed He said: […]

Fraud agent who marked up invoices is ordered to repay £1m or face further seven years in jail

Email to a friend Print A former letting agent has been ordered to pay a confiscation order of £1m made under the Proceeds of Crime Act. It follows a financial investigation by Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards. Harpreet Garcha, who ran property lettings franchises Belvoir in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, all in Northamptonshire, was sentenced […]

No autumn bounce in asking prices as London and south drag down market

Asking prices of properties coming on to the market have fallen by 1.2% – meaning that the usual autumn price bounce has failed to materialise. It is the first monthly fall at this time of year since 2013, Rightmove said this morning. The average new asking price is now £310,003, down from August’s £313,663 – […]

Tenants paying more as annual rate of rental inflation rises

New rents rose 2.4% across the UK in August on an annual basis. It was the highest rate of annual inflation since last November. The average monthly rent now stands at £939 – although when London is excluded, it is £776. In London itself rents rose 2.5% on August last year following three successive months […]

UK industry doesn’t like us, laments Purplebricks co-founder Kenny Bruce

Spotted on social media – and it reminded us of Johnny No Mates or the Millwall fans’ chant, No One Likes Us. Kenneth Bruce, half of the successful brother duo behind the global phenomenon Purplebricks, is clearly a bit upset that he’s not more popular. Writing on LinkedIn on Friday, the day that Purplebricks launched […]

New RICS code for agents updates guidance on conflicts of interest and financial crime

A new Blue Book has been issued by the RICS – with no mention at all of online or hybrid agents. However, an RICS press release which promotes the Blue Book’s launch specifically cites an agent who warns against ‘online selling’. The Blue Book provides practice standards for agents working in both sales and lettings, […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Purplebricks is launching in America today

September 15, 2017

Email to a friend Print Purplebricks is formally launching in the US later today, it announced to the London Stock Exchange this morning. In line with the region by region roll-out in the UK and Australia, the US launch will start in Los Angeles before extending across California and other key States. In this morning’s […]

Exodus from EweMove revealed after franchisees ‘feel sold down the river’

An exodus of franchisees from EweMove has been revealed. Ian Wilson, CEO of the Property Franchise Group which acquired the business last year, told EYE that around 20 have either left the network or are in the process of leaving. He said: “When we bought the business, they felt they had been sold down the […]

New firm gets set to launch offering freelance agents commission of up to 70%

A new agency is to launch this month offering what it says is an entirely different business structure. Its agents, in teams of one or two and with their own personal limited companies, will run small portfolios, taking full responsibility for the total transaction of each individual property – handling everything from valuation to negotiation […]

Winkworth employee wins employment tribunal on age discrimination grounds

A woman who was told she might be “better suited to a traditional estate agency” was discriminated against because of her age, a tribunal has ruled. Carolina Gomes worked as branch administrator for a Winkworth franchise. She claimed constructive dismissal against Henworth, trading as Winkworth, and director Graham Gold. The discrimination allegations were denied in […]

No evidence of Purplebricks contravening reviews guidelines, says Trustpilot

Reviews website Trustpilot has clarified its policy on postings amid concern by agents over the validity of posts about Purplebricks, stating that the online agent hasn’t breached any guidelines. Agents have taken to Twitter in recent months to question why certain Purplebricks reviews have been removed and how genuine some are. Trustpilot said its investigations […]

Heartbreak as brave and inspirational Claire Grant finally loses her fight

Claire Grant, the inspirational wife of Peter Grant who founded industry software supplier VTUK, has died after a very long battle with cancer. Claire, well known to many in the industry, suffered from the rare Triple Negative breast cancer. Her courage and positivity was remarkable as she sought out different treatments, including alternative treatments and […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Case of national significance as council wins appeal against Foxtons

September 14, 2017

In a test case of national significance, Camden Council has successfully appealed against Foxtons using the term “administration fees” in their lettings agency work, leading to a penalty charge totalling £18,000. A partially successful appeal from Foxtons in October 2016, which followed over a year of activity by the Council’s Trading Standards and Legal teams, […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Despite EweMove woes, Property Franchise Group reports strong profits

This morning the Property Franchise Group – whose brands include Martin & Co, and online subsidiary EweMove – reported strong rises in both revenue and profit. This was despite last week issuing a statement saying that EweMove had lost £300,000 on revenues of £900,000 in the first six months of this year, which would knock […]

Concern grows as agency ‘closes down’ with no sign of director – Trading Standards urges people to come forward

A business appears to have closed down – with claims that a director has disappeared and that there may be money missing. Local Trading Standards last night said it was aware of the case. A Google review for CHQ Properties in Shepshed, Loughborough, apparently placed by a landlord in the last few days, says: “Darren […]

Winkworth reports 25% fall in profits as house sales take a dive

Franchising business Winkworth has reported a slide in revenues and a major drop in pre-tax profits after an 18% fall in the number of properties sold. In the six months to the end of June, its interim revenues were down 7.6% to £2.54m, while pre-tax profits plunged 25.2% to £0.54m, down from £0.72m for the […]

Proptech commentator says investing in OnTheMarket would be ‘horrible idea’

A proptech commentator has said investing in OnTheMarket is “a horrible idea”. Mike DelPrete, a US-based entrepreneur who has lately been getting his opinions around on proptech matters, said: “Critically, OnTheMarket is a bad investment because it doesn’t provide value to users. There is no compelling reason for consumers to use the product compared to […]

Fund manager Woodford maintains his belief in Purplebricks – despite rumours

Rumours that fund manager Neil Woodford last night looked to be bailing out of Purplebricks have turned out to be without substance. It could have raised serious question marks over investment into online agents generally and into Purplebricks in particular. Yesterday evening, after markets closed, Purplebricks issued a statement to the stock market detailing a […]

Chris Wood mounts bid to get NAEA election and AGM overturned

September 13, 2017

Email to a friend Print Chris Wood, whose application to be a vice-president of NAEA Propertymark earlier this year was blocked, has said he is going to seek to have the election overturned. Wood, a Cornish independent agent, says he will also seek to get June’s AGM overturned and to make the board subject to […]

Propertymark chief challenged to speak out when member agents are in hot water with ASA

An EYE reader has criticised Propertymark for allegedly not speaking up when its members get into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority. However, Propertymark said it would not make public comment. Marketing specialist Malcolm Barnard has called on NAEA Propertymark chief executive Mark Hayward to use the trade press to remind agents about good […]

Two more complaints about agents informally resolved by advertising watchdog

Email to a friend Print Complaints about two agents – both high street firms – have been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. Agent Michael Jones & Company, based in Worthing, West Sussex, was the subject of one complaint, where there was a challenge as to whether the following claims on the company’s website […]

Rent controls set to be introduced in two cities – a ‘step in right direction’ says politician

Email to a friend Print Rent controls look set to be reintroduced in the UK There is a proposal to bring in city-wide rent controls in Glasgow, while Edinburgh is likely to follow suit. In April the Scottish government announced that legislation would give councils powers to create rent controls in ‘rent pressure zones’. That […]

Franchisee, 27, acquires five-branch independent and takes on 35 new staff

A franchisee with three offices has completed the purchase of a five-branch business – tripling the size of his property portfolio and taking on 35 new staff. Mitul Gadhia, of Whitegates Leicester, has purchased Taylors, a well-established estate and lettings agency which has been operating since 1992 and which currently has five offices across Leicester […]

Average estate agent’s fee sinks to 1% – how low can it go?

September 12, 2017

The average estate agency fee has fallen to almost exactly 1% – and is likely to fall further, despite mounting costs for agents. Peter Knight, of the Property Academy, said that moving off the high street and/or going ‘hybrid’ would not be a solution for most agents because of their marketing and staffing costs. In […]

Outsourced viewings industry looks set to stay – and grow

The outsourced viewings industry looks to have established itself beyond doubt. One provider, Access2View, has announced its 50,000th accompanied viewing in just under five years. Ed Mead’s high-profile Viewber, now one year old, has already notched up 6,500 viewings. Jim Johnston, managing director of Access2View, said: “We’re proud to have hit this milestone. We’re an […]

New instructions drop almost 6% across UK year-on-year

New listings were down last month by almost 6% on August the year before, and down 13.1% on a monthly basis. Analysis of new listings on website Home has shown that in 100 UK towns and cities, supply dropped on a monthly basis in two thirds of places. The biggest falls were in Coventry (down […]

EYE’s Freedom of Information requests show collapse of self-build market despite claims

A Freedom of Information request by EYE to HMRC has revealed the astonishing shrinkage of the self-build market and highlights the uphill struggle of spin docors to make it meaningful in the context of the 1m new homes a year promised by the main parties. We asked the question because of attempts to talk the […]

Picture of the Week: And just look who’s under the stairs!

Picture of the Week – and it’s Pope John Paul II sitting in the cupboard under the stairs. The extraordinary sight forms part of the particulars of a property for short-term rent in central London. Without fear of contradiction, agents Kinleigh Folkard Hayward state: “We make no apologies that this property is not for everyone.” […]

NEWSFLASH: Way now clear for OnTheMarket stock market flotation to go ahead

September 11, 2017

The way has now been cleared for OnTheMarket to float on the stock market. Tomorrow the new members scheme – demutualising Agents’ Mutual – becomes effective. Ian Springett, chief executive of OnTheMarket, said: “The High Court of Justice Chancery Division this morning sanctioned the Members Scheme and the three Loan Note Schemes which were overwhelmingly […]

Whistleblower claims buyers who go with agent’s financial and conveyancing services are given £1,000 ‘bribe’

Email to a friend Print A whistleblower has told the Telegraph of dodgy practices used by a large chain which she says mean only the agents win while both seller and buyer lose out. One of the practices alleged is offering buyers a £1,000 incentive if they use ‘in-house’ conveyancing and mortgaging services. In reality, […]

Veteran firm Jackson-Stops to launch online strategy aimed at the ‘self-serve generation’

Veteran firm Jackson-Stops – which this month dropped the ‘& Staff’ from its name – is expected to announce an online strategy in the New Year. The business, with 45 offices, is also undergoing a strategic review. Chairman Nick Leeming told EYE: “It is a challenge for the industry as to how far agents position […]

Sanction Court today is final hurdle for Agents’ Mutual to prepare OTM for stock market launch

Today is likely to see the final step in the demutualisation process of Agents’ Mutual – although the outcome of the sanction court is by no means certain since the court has proved in the past that it is not a rubber-stamping process. However, if it does approve the new scheme of arrangement – for […]

Convicted thief who took part in jewellery robbery went on to work for agent

A home owner googled the agent who came to value his property after losing his business card – and was shocked to find that the agent had recently come out of jail for his part in a £300,000 robbery. Kane Oye was sentenced to three years in prison after he and an accomplice raided a […]

Will it, won’t it? Aspiring trade body CIELA stays silent three weeks from launch

CIELA, the aspiring trade body planning to launch on October 1, appears to have gone very quiet – although nothing has been said to suggest the launch will not go ahead as planned. Last week it was due to hold two more roadshows – in Leeds on Tuesday and in Liverpool on Thursday – but […]

easyProperty relaunches as it puts past mistakes – including THAT funeral procession – behind it

September 8, 2017

Email to a friend Print easyProperty has relaunched as a hybrid agency service vowing to “paint the country orange”. It says it is now the second biggest online player behind Purplebricks. The agency, which launched in 2015 ‘among the dinosaurs’ at the Natural History Museum, went on to deploy a public stunt which featured a […]

OnTheMarket ‘will not succeed as public company’, City analyst tells investors

Email to a friend Print A city analyst has questioned the chances of OnTheMarket succeeding as a public company. Meanwhile, the biggest losers appear to be those agents in breach of their contracts to Agents’ Mutual, who have had their membership terminated and will not receive new shares. Anthony Codling, an analyst for Jefferies, said […]

Online agent YOPA launches new Agent Guide – and the high street comes off worse

Email to a friend Print Online agent YOPA has a new feature called the Agent Guide on its site. It claims to compare high street agents in towns with YOPA itself. However, the comparison is between YOPA’s national inventory – which it puts at 3,293 – and the high street agents’ own local stock, which […]

We’re still getting agents returning to us, says Zoopla, as it announces ‘strong performance’

Email to a friend Print Zoopla has reported that its property division is trading strongly, with agents returning to it. In a short trading update, it said it was “very pleased” with current trading. It expects revenues and EBITDA to be towards the top end of expectations when it reports its full-year results on November […]

Hunters confident of full-year performance despite drop in profits for first six months

Email to a friend Print Hunters has announced its half-year results to the City, saying that it is confident of meeting expectations for the full year, despite a drop in profits. In interim results for the six months to the end of June, Hunters announced that its EBITDA figure had dropped from £923,000 for the […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: OnTheMarket to go for flotation after 89% Yes vote

September 7, 2017

Email to a friend Print Members of Agents’ Mutual have voted 89% in favour of demutualisation, with only 11% against. The vote will introduce a new parent company in preparation for an IPO on the AIM stockmarket. The size of the vote has not as yet been revealed. A court hearing to sanction the members’ […]

Lettings fee ban WILL happen but ‘unintended consequences’ to be monitored – housing minister

Email to a friend Print The lettings fee ban will happen but legislation has been introduced in draft so it can be properly scrutinised by all parties, the housing minister has said. In one of his first appearances discussing housing and agent issues in the House of Commons, Alok Sharma said the lettings fee ban […]

Rightmove introducing new packages for agents at up to £1,750 per month for each office

Email to a friend Print Rightmove has confirmed it is introducing new sales packages for agents. The packages look to be hikes for many agents on its current charges. The cheapest, ‘essential’ package, is at £1,000 per month per branch. It comes with the message “Access the most engaged audience”. The ‘enhanced’ is £1,450, tagged […]

Stop your ‘senseless’ war over sales boards, local authority tells agents

Email to a friend Print A local authority has written to all the estate agents on its patch urging them to stop “senseless competition” as to who can put up the most For Sale and Sold boards. And last night, the agent named as main culprit Connells said it would be ‘refreshing’ its local branch […]

Are you a star? Propertymark launches first TV advert starring its own members

Email to a friend Print Propertymark today launches its first national television advertisement, to highlight the importance of using an agent who is ‘Propertymark Protected’. Members from across the organisation took part in the filming for the advert (although blink and we might miss you – sorry!) which was produced by London based advertising agency […]

Former darling of stock market Foxtons sees shares fall to a new low

Email to a friend Print Foxtons’ shares reached a 52-week low on Tuesday at 85p. The price was also the lowest since Foxtons floated on the London Stock Exchange four years ago. Yesterday, the shares rose slightly in early trading to 87.5p but finished the day at 85.5p The shares hit a 12-month high of […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: Property Franchise Group tells City that EweMove made £300,000 losses on revenue of less than £1m

September 6, 2017

Email to a friend Print A trading update to the City has revealed that EweMove made losses of £300,000 on turnover of £900,000 in the first half of this year. As a result, this afternoon’s statement said, underlying profits for the Property Franchise Group this year will be below market expectations. PFG bought the business […]