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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 […]

Property transactions slide again, but are the public to blame for not taking agent pricing advice?

New Land Registry data shows an increasing decline in transactions. The most up to date sales figures from the Land Registry show that property transactions completed in the UK last November fell by 11.3% to 82,398 when compared with November 2016. This is up from the 8.5% decline registered annually for last October. All parts […]

Setback for aspiring industry trade body CIELA with agent numbers still too low

March 20, 2018

A meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled at very short notice by aspiring trade body CIELA – the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents. The cancellation must cast significant doubt on CIELA’s plans to launch on April 2. The meeting was announced only on February 14 by Charter secretary Samantha Westlake, who asked […]

Online property auction by Countrywide brand is set to fetch UK’s highest price

A notorious city centre development site is being put up for sale at an online auction. With starting bids invited at over £5m, it is set to fetch one of the highest ever prices in an online sale. The price at the fall of the electronic gavel is likely to be considerably higher than £5m. […]

Huge scale of new private rented sector survey is revealed

The enormous scale of the new English Private Landlord Survey has been revealed – together with confirmation that only invited letting agents and landlords can take part. Shane Brownie, managing director of Mutton Research which has been contracted by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to undertake the project, told EYE that 100,000 […]

Six firms named as first-round winners in Treasury’s £2m rent competition

Six proptech companies have been named as first-round winners of the Treasury’s £2m rent challenge. They are: Bud, Canopy, CreditLadder, META Labs, Movem and RentalStep. Each will now receive £100,000 of funding to develop their products, aimed at improving the market for renters, allowing them to improve their credit scores and get on the housing […]

Clever move: ZPG business to sponsor Britain’s Got Talent series

Zoopla-owned uSwitch has been named as the headline sponsor of show Britain’s Got Talent. Adverts from the comparison website, featuring imagery shown below, will highlight how it can save money on household bills and financial products in between auditions showing the best, or worst, of UK variety-style performance such as dancing dogs or opera singers. […]

Prison for estate agent who fled country after £30,000 theft from vendor

March 19, 2018

Email to a friend Print An estate agent has been jailed for 18 months after he took out loans totalling £30,000 in the name of a woman whose house he was selling. James Beck, 39, of Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, was working for an unnamed estate agency in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, when he used the woman’s […]

Affordability worries mount as new asking prices hit record highs and Bank sounds warnings

New asking prices have hit record highs this month, jumping by 1.5%, with 5% fewer properties coming to the market compared with this time last year. Meanwhile the Bank of England has warned that as the house price boom continues, borrowers are stretching their incomes as never before to buy properties, with more than 27% […]

David Smith’s expert legal advice on GDPR: What ‘woefully under-prepared agents’ need to do

The GDPR is looming and comes into force on May 25. Many businesses are woefully under-prepared, with a recent government survey finding that 60% of UK businesses were entirely unaware of the GDPR, and that of the 40% who were aware, just 27% had actually done anything about it. There has been a certain amount […]

The 90-branch agent with no head office – and where only three out of 20 viewings come from portals

It started out as a single branch in Twickenham 25 years ago. Eight years ago it had 16 offices, and now it has almost 90, growing at an annual rate of 26%. We are talking about Dexters, now one of London’s largest estate agents – and still an independent. Jeff Doble, boss of Dexters, does […]

Client Money Protection could be mandatory for letting agents as early as next month

Key provisions relating to Client Money Protection, as published by the Government in February, come into force today. These allow the Secretary of State to pass Regulations, meaning that agents could have to offer CMP from as early as April 1 – two weeks away. Exact details of when and how the system will work […]

Mergers and acquisitions setting a trend on both high street and online

March 16, 2018

Email to a friend Print A flurry of acquisitions and mergers is taking place on the high street, while commentator Bob Scarff (see separate story in today’s news schedule) is forecasting the same story among online firms. EYE also understands that one of the better known online firms is being touted for sale, allegedly with […]

Big drop in use of Section 21 notices is because they are just too slow and difficult, says expert

Email to a friend Print Using Section 21 to evict a tenant is no longer the fastest way for a landlord needing to possess a property, an eviction specialist claims. Landlord Action says that the Section 21 ‘accelerated’ process is increasingly challenging to use and not always quicker than other methods. Ministry of Justice data […]

ARLA boss hits out at ‘truly ridiculous’ database of rogue agents and landlords

Email to a friend Print It was yesterday confirmed that the new database of bad letting agents and landlords and the introduction of banning orders for the worst offenders will come into force next month. The register will not be available for the public to see, and nor will agents recruiting new staff have any […]

Can online agents grow their market share to 25% within four years?

Email to a friend Print A year ago, estate agency guru Bob Scarff forecast that in five years time 25% of house sales would be by vendors who had opted for some form of self service. One year in, he reckons online/hybrid agents have around 7% market share, meaning that the sector will have to […]

Strong results for Savills – but firm warns of lower transaction levels this year

Email to a friend Print Savills has reported strong results for last year, with group revenue up 11% at £1.6bn and pre-tax profits up 13% at £112.4m. The performance came despite what outgoing group chief executive Jeremy Helsby called “challenging conditions in a number of markets”. Savills, which is active globally, reported substantial commercial transactions […]

ARLA attacks Government for handing out ‘billions’ to social landlords while ignoring private rented sector

March 15, 2018

Email to a friend Print ARLA has furiously slated Government lack of support of the private rented sector while “billions of pounds” have been given in grant aid to social landlords. ARLA made its scathing views clear in its response to a government consultation on plans to amend energy efficiency rules in the private rented […]

How low will they go? New online agent undercuts the opposition at £89

Email to a friend Print A new online agent is charging sellers a fixed fee of £89 – plus the chance to win £10,000 in a draw. Clever Moov, based in Congleton, Cheshire, says the £89 cost includes advertising on Rightmove and Zoopla in the price. It says that someone selling a £300,000 property could […]

New Rightmove TV advert campaign launches to appeal to Generation Rent

Email to a friend Print Rightmove has launched the second in its latest series of TV ads, airing on Channel 4 from yesterday. The new ad, Bachelors, is designed to appeal (actually, we’re not quite sure ‘appeal’ is the right word when you look to see who’s sitting on the sofa) to the renter and […]

As GDPR gets closer, Information Commissioner debunks scaremongering ‘myths’ about changes

Email to a friend Print The UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has said there are some “outlandish myths” circulating around the forthcoming changes to data protection – the General Data Protection Regulations, GDPR. She said that there are eight major myths “swirling around” which agents should be aware of. Myth 1 The biggest threat to […]

EweMove franchisee completes on network’s biggest acquisition to date

Email to a friend Print EweMove has completed on its biggest acquisition to date via its Sheffield branch. Owned and operated by Bob Brown, it has taken over Castle Estates in the same city. It has added over 350 properties to the EweMove sales and lettings portfolio with five new team members joining the ‘flock’. […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: One thousand up – OnTheMarket recruits 1,000 more offices since flotation

March 14, 2018

Email to a friend Print OnTheMarket has announced this morning that in the first five weeks since flotation, additional agent firms with more than 1,000 offices between them are now in listing agreements with it. The total number of UK estate agency offices covered by listing agreements with the company is now over 6,500. While […]

Half of sellers have no problems with their estate agent – leaving half that do, says Which?

Sellers are almost evenly split in their experiences of estate agents, with 48% having had no problems, but 47% having had at least one issue. Which? has come up with the finding after surveying just over 2,000 home owners but has not yet detailed what the issues typically are. It has, however, now issued new […]

Online agent Emoov reported to watchdog after displaying two sets of prices and savings

Online agent Emoov was reported to the advertising watchdog after different costs and savings claims were shown on its website. The fixed fee was shown as both £795 and £679. The average saving for customers was shown as both £2,672 and £4,378. A complainant challenged whether the two savings claims could be substantiated and whether […]

First-time buyers claiming Stamp Duty relief to cost Treasury up to 20% more than expected

Around 60,000 first-time buyers have benefited from the Stamp Duty relief announced last year, the Chancellor claims, but it is costing more than the Government expected. There have also been calls for more information about these first-time buyers. Philip Hammond used his first Spring Statement speech yesterday to reveal the number of first-time buyers who […]

No we WON’T give up our avocado on toast, aspiring home buyers confirm

The overwhelming majority of people will not give up avocado on toast in order to get on the housing ladder. In total, 87% out of 2,000 surveyed will not give up the luxury – even though one in three regard home ownership as one of life’s top priorities. Rather than giving up their favourite luxury, […]

Can it be true? Worried agents hold summit as to why grotty bedsits aren’t selling for £1m

Senior staff from Foxtons, Knight Frank and Savills have held a summit to try and find out why tiny bedsits in the grimmer parts of Clapham are not meeting their £1m valuations. An optional feature of these “single-room human containment units” is the hybrid kitchen sink and urinal, available for an extra £22,000. The agents […]

‘Lazy’ agents warned that they cannot outsource money laundering and due diligence obligations

March 13, 2018

A lawyer has warned that estate agents trying to offload their anti-money laundering responsibilities via outsourcing to a third party will not succeed. Arthur Robinson, director at north-east law firm Emmersons, said: “Recently my firm received a request from an estate agent in relation to confirmation on how we carried out customer due diligence and […]

Former employee wins over £60,000 after constructive unfair dismissal from Countrywide

A woman who was unfairly dismissed from Countrywide has won over £60,000. She had complained of a drop in staff morale, and her inability to lodge tenants’ deposits after Countrywide bought the firm she worked for. Mrs A. Fletcher won her claim to have been constructively unfairly dismissed at an employment tribunal which looked into […]

Purplebricks UK boss given option to subscribe for 100,000 shares

Share options have been granted to the CEO of Purplebricks in the UK. Lee Wainwright has been given options to subscribe for 100,000 shares in the company. The options were granted under the company’s share option plan for employees and have an exercise price of £4.15 – the closing price as at March 2. However, […]