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Number of first-time buyers reaches a decade-long high but buy-to-lets stumble, figures suggest

February 14, 2018

The number of first-time buyers in the market has hit a decade-long high, according to new figures. Nonetheless, growth in the mortgage market still looks set to be subdued this year, thanks largely to the faltering buy-to-let market. UK Finance has revealed that the number of first-time buyers (365,000) last year was the highest since […]

Hybrid agent: ‘We have not even begun to capitalise on market disruption’

February 13, 2018

Express Estate Agency, which claims to be the second biggest hybrid agent in the UK, says it has “not even begun” to capitalise on the disruption taking place in the world of estate agency. The Manchester-based business was founded by brothers Chris and Mark Brogan and business partner Sam Ballard in 2009 and has an […]

Urgent action needed on ‘McMafia-style’ residential property transactions, warning

Estate agents need to take urgent action to ensure they are fulfilling their anti-money laundering obligations, as new research suggested that residential property deals set off more red flags in the legal sector than any other activity. That’s the warning from anti-money laundering specialist Fortytwo Data, which said it had found that suspicious home transactions […]

‘Even estate agents hate estate agents’, claim

You might expect a respected estate agent to leap to the defence of his profession against the regular abuse it receives from the wider public. But that’s not the approach London estate agent John Horton has decided to take. In fact, he believes that many estate agents don’t even like each other and he has […]

Purplebricks adverts ridicule ‘thumb-twiddling’ agents

Hybrid estate agent Purplebricks has released a series of online adverts on the video sharing website youtube, which in some cases mock traditional estate agents. The five videos, posted last month, have racked up nearly 4m views between them. The short clips each address a question about the agent. One, which has had just over […]

Weight of intervention in rented sector means Government must think more strategically, new minister told

The huge amount of change being introduced by the Government in the private rented sector (PRS) means that it needs to think more strategically about its approach, a leading association has warned. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) urged the new Minister for the Private Rented Sector, Heather Wheeler, to consider the way in which the […]

Agent told to stop using Codling report when touting Purplebricks sellers

February 12, 2018

An agent who used the new Jefferies research to tout Purplebricks vendors has been asked to refrain from sending out any more similar letters. The request came from Purplebricks head office after iMove, in Crystal Palace, London, sent out the touts – described by Purplebricks as being of the type that brings the whole industry […]

OnTheMarket fails to excite on stock market debut

OnTheMarket will start trading at 148p today, having failed to set pulses racing when it debuted on the AIM market on Friday. Shares in OTM fell during their first day of trading. According to Hargreaves Lansdown, they opened on Friday at 163.5p and closed at 148p – a drop of around 9.5%. The volume of […]

Landlord wins long-running case against agent after tenancy went wrong

A customer has won a payout from Sequence after the Connells brand was refused leave to appeal. In a long-running case, amateur landlord Saul Shevlin brought action against Sequence after a tenant moved into his property, holding all-night parties to the dismay of neighbours. He alleged professional negligence and breach of contract over the selection […]

‘Just 12% of agents understand Anti Money Laundering obligations’

Estate agents continue to be at risk of fines from HMRC for non-compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering regulations – with widespread confusion in the industry as to requirements. Latest research from agency software provider Landmark shows worrying gaps in understanding when it comes to AML. Just 12% of those surveyed scored 100% in a multi-choice […]

Agent who committed fraud to keep business afloat must pay thousands of pounds to victims, court rules

An estate agent who “borrowed” hundreds of thousands of pounds from clients and friends to keep his business alive after it “fell off a cliff” during the financial crash, must repay a slice of the money he gained from his victims. Russell Baker, 60, ran Ashby’s Estate Agents (Devon) in Bovey Tracey. He was given […]

EYE exclusive: Secret ‘Project UHA’ wins 10% coverage of UK in two months

February 9, 2018

Email to a friend Print The top secret estate agency initiative code-named ‘Project UHA’ has now gained traction in over 10% of the UK, it is claiming. Within two months of launch, the project – which will allow agents access to an online offering – says it has won commitments from over 300 agents. Each […]

OnTheMarket finally launches on stock market this morning

OnTheMarket’s long-awaited stock market flotation took place this morning. The portal is due to start trading on AIM at 165p per share when the market opens at 8am. After this morning’s admission, Schroder Asset Management will hold 6% of the shares, investor Jason Walker will hold 3.1%, and stock broker and investment management firm Albert […]

Forget the ‘spray and pray’ approach of panel managed conveyancing, agents are urged

Agents worried about low instruction levels, high fall-through rates and the growth of online competitors should forget the “spray and pray” approach of panel-managed conveyancing. Instead, they should concentrate on getting more deals through – and more quickly than the average, which has now risen to 16 weeks between offer and exchange. Peter Ambrose, who […]

Double-digit rises in new home sales and instructions for Connells

Connells has recorded a 15% year-on-year upswing in the number of homes it sells, while new instructions are up 22%. The company said it sold over 9,000 new homes in 2017, which was a record for the business. Connells has relationships with most of the UK’s major national house builders, as well as a number […]

Home owner mortgage arrears at record lows but more landlords struggling

Landlord mortgage arrears have begun to increase, new industry data says, while a separate new study forecasts that even if house prices were to fall as hard as they did in the last crash, a far smaller percentage of home owners would be affected by negative equity. Figures from banking trade body UK Finance show […]

Online agent founded by teenager aims to sell £1bn of homes this year

February 8, 2018

An online estate agent whose 19-year-old managing director founded the business just last year is targeting sales of over £1bn worth of homes by the end of this year. Doorsteps, which was founded by Akshay Ruparelia while he was still in school, now lays claim to being the 14th largest estate agent in the UK, […]

Belvoir on the prowl for more independent agent acquisitions

Belvoir is on the hunt for more businesses to bring into its franchise model, as smaller independent agents look to exit. The company is predicting that there will be more consolidation in the sector as independent rivals struggle with the complexities of increased regulation and the prospect of a ban on tenant fees in 2019. […]

Estate agency burgled twice by prolific thief criticises ‘ridiculous’ jail sentence

An estate agency that has twice been burgled by the same thief has criticised the “ridiculous” sentence handed down to him, amid fears that he will return again. Michael Patterson, 50, forced his way into Madina Property Services’ office in Longsight, Manchester, last September and stole two envelopes containing nearly £6,000 worth of payments made […]

Agent looks to go head-to-head with EweMove and Purplebricks with franchise network launch

An agent is looking to turn himself into a franchise founder. Sean Dickson, a former agent with Rochester-based RedDoor Homes, has set up a company called Easy Online Agent that will aim to provide the technology and support services behind a new franchise network. Dickson, who left RedDoor Homes last year, fronted the agency’s award-winning […]

Housing minister gets in another Twitter spat with property journalists

New housing minister Dominic Raab has accused a respected property industry title of “fake news” just hours after he attacked another journalist’s article questioning his absence from a key ministerial meeting on housing as “tripe”. Raab took to Twitter yesterday morning to claim Inside Housing was “peddling fake news” for asking why he wasn’t at […]

MPs back legislation to make all homes comply with minimum EPC band C

February 7, 2018

Email to a friend Print MPs have backed a proposed Bill that could see all domestic properties bought up to a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C by 2035. Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, proposed the Domestic Properties (minimum energy performance) Bill during a Ten Minute Rule Motion yesterday. Such […]

Dramatic slump in buy-to-let lending blamed on Government intervention

Regulatory intervention has led to a huge 80% slump in buy-to-let investment. That’s according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), which has charted a steep drop from £25bn of net investment in the sector in 2015 to just £5bn last year. IMLA said tax changes had deterred landlords from investing and created difficulties re-mortgaging. […]

‘New type’ of agency botches sale of home after giving sellers wrong advice

A property professional from an unidentified “new type” of agency is alleged to have caused the sale of a couple’s home to be delayed by months. The agent apparently advised that the sellers go straight to market – as they did. For the next six months, they had just two viewings, while it turned out […]

Spicerhaart targets more high street branch openings after acquisition of independent firm

Spicerhaart will use its recent acquisition of the three-branch Brian Holt group in the midlands as a springboard to open a network of high street branches in the region. The business said it would set up a new region in Warwickshire under the haart brand, following its purchase of Brian Holt, which was announced earlier […]

Avocado toast lovers rejoice! NLA points to falling rents

The rent charged by one in five landlords in outer London is lower now than it was a year ago. That’s according to the National Landlords Association (NLA), which declared the finding good news “for avocado toast lovers” – an apparent reference to a PR campaign by Strutt & Parker which backfired badly last year […]

Ombudsman quits property sector saying housing market is ‘broken’

February 6, 2018

Ombudsman Services is to quit the property sector, saying it no longer wants to officiate arbitration services as “a broken solution to a broken market”. The service has over 8,000 member businesses – not branches – in total, with the overwhelming number being 6,500 RICS firms. Its withdrawal leaves just two organisations offering redress to […]

New complaint about Purplebricks goes in to advertising watchdog

There have been three new developments concerning under-attack Purplebricks. In the first, well-known estate agent Trevor Kent has complained to the advertising watchdog about a Purplebricks TV advert. Kent, a former president of the NAEA and high-profile media pundit, is challenging Purplebricks’ claim that they are “not just online estate agents”. He is arguing that […]

Another bruising day for Purplebricks as market reacts to BBC radio investigation

Purplebricks’ share price endured another bruising day after the markets were given their first chance to react to the Radio 5Live investigation in which the firm’s UK CEO Lee Wainwright appeared. Shares dropped 7.2% (30.2p), having fallen nearly 15% on Thursday and Friday last week. The firm’s share price closed yesterday at 388.4p. The fall […]

Tenant in rental home for three years objects to ‘Let By’ board in her garden

A tenant living in her home for three years has allegedly been told that a ‘Let & Managed By’ board could be erected in her garden. The board would not be put up in the name of the agent that originally let her the property – but by the agent, a Connells brand, that has […]

Referral fees to estate agents prop up failing solicitors, legal expert claims

Lawyers who pay estate agents referral fees do so only because they can’t win the business on their own merit. That’s the claim from a legal expert who has renewed the call for a ban on the practice. David Knapp, from law firm Hart Brown, warned that the payment of referral fees raised ethical issues. […]

Our 78% sales figure is based on properties sold subject to contract, says Purplebricks boss

February 5, 2018

Email to a friend Print Purplebricks has admitted that its figure of 78% of homes it lists are sold is based on sales agreed – those sold subject to contract – and not on sales completed. Lee Wainwright, UK boss of Purplebricks, was speaking on Radio 5 Live yesterday when his firm was accused of […]

Purplebricks faces calls to provide more data, as shares slip 15% in two days

Purplebricks is continuing to face calls to release more information about how many houses it sells, following a bruising end to last week which saw its share price slide 15% in just two days. The company’s share price starts trading at 418.6p this morning after dropping from 489.8p on Wednesday — a fall of 14.5%. […]

Agency targeted by protesters is forced to lock doors and call police

A self-styled tenants’ union demonstrated for two days running outside a letting agent, which was forced to lock its doors, hire security officers and call police. The agent, Infiniti Properties in Glasgow, said that the demonstration was highly intimidating, totally unwarranted and caused its staff huge distress. A six-months pregnant woman was helped off the […]

Zoopla apologises for any offence after hermit crab campaign uses ‘Me too’

Zoopla has apologised for using its hermit crab advertising campaign, which features hermit crabs saying ‘Me too’. Objectors accused it of making light of the high-profile #metoo campaign against sexual harassment. The advert, running on the London underground, features a line of crabs all saying “Me too” in reply to another crab who says he […]

Spicerhaart dips into £26m war chest to snap up three-branch independent

Spicerhaart has acquired the three-branch Brian Holt group in the midlands for an undisclosed sum. The purchase builds on the acquisition of butters john bee. Spicerhaart says more acquisitions of high street firms will be announced shortly, making it clear that it is not interested in online ventures. Established in 1995, Brian Holt’s branches in […]

Shares in Countrywide slide to new low as UK’s biggest agent now valued at just 18% of Purplebricks

February 1, 2018

Email to a friend Print Shares in estate agency group Countrywide have fallen hard, wiping its market capitalisation down to less than one-fifth that of Purplebricks. Yesterday they tumbled for a second day running – at one point touching just 84p – with speculation that the cause was negative news about the housing market from […]

Broadcaster stirs up a storm with calls for ‘greater transparency from high street agents’

Email to a friend Print It started with a tweet – but it soon led to some very strong exchanges of views between consumer rights broadcaster Alice Beer and other twitterati. Beer was flagging up a piece on radio, and since it was about those beastly people, estate agents, what could possibly go wrong? Stumbling […]

Profits tumble by 28% at Arun Estates as sales fall away in ‘difficult market’

Email to a friend Print Profit at Arun Estates, which runs over 100 estate agency branches under a number of different brands in the south east, dropped by 28% in 2017. Pre-tax profit for the year to September 31 slid to £13.8m, down from just under £19.3m in 2016. Turnover also dropped, down 7.4% to […]

Taxman’s Stamp Duty take increases even though overall transactions drop thanks to additional properties surcharge

Email to a friend Print HMRC saw Stamp Duty receipts rise from £8.23bn in 2016 to £9bn in 2017, despite a fall in the overall number of transactions. The increase in the taxman’s take was thanks to a 3% surcharge on second homes buy-to-lets, which has more than offset a fall in overall transactions. The […]

Online agent EweMove’s losses are reversed, says Property Franchise Group

Email to a friend Print The losses that its online agent EweMove made in the first half of its financial year have been “substantially reversed”. That’s according to a trading update from its parent company The Property Franchise Group (TPFG) for the year to December 31, 2017, issued yesterday ahead of its full-year results on […]

EYE NEWSFLASH! Judge dismisses landlord Fergus Wilson’s lawsuit against YouTube vlogger

January 31, 2018

Email to a friend Print A lawsuit brought by prominent landlord Fergus Wilson against vlogger Danny Hyde regarding comments on his YouTube page has been thrown out. Wilson was suing Hyde for £10,000 under the Malicious Communications Act, but instead has been ordered to pay £3,000 costs. Wilson was angry about a video criticising the […]

Nearly a third of shareholders rebel against Zoopla boss’s £62m incentive scheme

Almost a third of ZPG’s shareholders voted against a lucrative incentive scheme designed to keep chief executive and founder Alex Chesterman in his post until at least 2021. Under what ZPG calls its Value Creation Plan (VCP), Chesterman will reportedly be able to earn as much as £62m over the next four years if he […]

OTM ‘not a threat’ to leading portals, broker asserts

OnTheMarket is not a threat to the established property portals Rightmove and Zoopla, at least not in the near future. That’s the view of analyst Peel Hunt, which has maintained a “buy” rating on Zoopla’s parent company ZPG following a “short but reassuring” trading update yesterday. ZPG updated investors on its progress for the trading […]

Mortgage approvals for house purchase shrink to three-year low

Mortgage approvals for house purchase hit a three-year low last month, Bank of England figures have confirmed. The latest lending data shows 61,039 approvals for house purchase mortgages, down from 64,712 in November 2017 and below the previous six-month average of 66,194. This was the weakest data since January 2015, the Bank of England said, […]

Former letting agency boss charged with fraud, false accounting and theft

The former director of a letting agency has been charged with fraud, false accounting and theft totalling around £450,000. Heather Crabb, who owned Drake Homes in Plymouth, Devon, from 2005 until it closed in September 2016, is due to appear in court in March this year, according to the Plymouth Herald. She was arrested in […]

EYE NEWSFLASH: OnTheMarket raises £30m to start trading on stock market

January 26, 2018

The board of OnTheMarket has announced that it expects to start trading on the stock market shortly. It has conditionally raised £30m through the placing of new ordinary shares, and expects that dealing in its shares on AIM will start on February 9. It expects agents to own more than 70% of the issued share […]

Foxtons’ ‘shiny shoes’ add a glow to its share price despite big drops in revenue and profit

Foxtons’ share price rose nearly 3% yesterday, despite releasing a trading update in the morning containing gloomy numbers covering last year. The agent also warned of “challenging conditions” this year. Yesterday, it posted a 12% slide in revenue and a 39% drop in adjusted EBITDA profits in 2017. Revenue from sales was down substantially, by […]

Regional property chain offloads its ‘non-core’ surveying arm

Regional chain Andrews Property Group has sold its surveying arm, Landmark Chartered Surveyors, to the SimplyBiz Group for an undisclosed sum. Andrews’ group chief executive David Westgate said the business did not “sit centrally to the core focus of Andrews Property Group” and that it decided to sell after an approach from SimplyBiz. Landmark was […]

Nearly a quarter of estate agencies would not pass anti-money laundering spot checks, claim

A significant number of estate agency businesses would struggle to pass an anti-money laundering spot check, while nearly a quarter could be breaking the law because they don’t have an AML officer in place. That’s the warning from identity verification business Credas, which polled 100 estate agency businesses. It found that 22% of those businesses […]