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New service launches for agents which combines conveyancing and Consumer Protection Regulations compliance

March 21, 2017

A new sister company to auction platform IAM Sold has launched, offering a white-labelled conveyancing service to agents. The Conveyancing Partnership is described as a software platform offering a white-labelled hybrid conveyancing and compliance solution for estate agents. Its launch follows 12 months of beta testing with a number of independent agents. It is the […]

Purplebricks growing faster in Australia than it did after UK launch

Purplebricks has launched in Perth, Australia, and says it is expanding at a faster rate in Australia than when it launched in the UK three years ago. Australian CEO Ryan Dinsdale says it has achieved 435 sales in its first six months and claims to have saved customers $5m in fees. Its Australian website shows […]

Estate agent finds himself social media sensation after valuation visit to flat crashes mums’ website

A modest estate agent found himself the focus of a search to find him after he became an unexpected hit on social media. All Dan Stevenson, 26, did was go to value a flat belonging to Lorna Hayward, in Wandsworth, London. But then Lorna uploaded a Facebook photo of him with her two small daughters […]

Transactions across England and Wales fall 14% compared with a year ago

Transactions last month fell almost 8% on January, and nearly 14% on February last year. The figures come from haart, based on its own statistics. While it reports that average house prices went up on an annual basis by 2.6%, it says they were down 1.4% on the month to stand at an average of […]

NEWS FLASH: Estate agent employees offered up to £100,000 to whistleblow on cartels

March 20, 2017

Estate agents, including employees, are among those being offered up to £100,000 to blow the whistle on illegal cartels. Making the announcement this morning, the Competition and Markets Authority said it is launching its first advertising campaign to crack down on cartels. Its press release specifically mentions the latest case involving agents, where firms in […]

Ban on letting fees to cost single-office business £85,000 a year, claim

A ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants will result in a loss of income of £85,000 for a single-office business and over £850,000 for a multi-branch network, it has been claimed. Agents representing firms from across the country discussed the proposed ban at a round table debate hosted by software provider Eurolink. The […]

Up and up – average asking prices in big monthly jump, says Rightmove

Asking prices of property new to the market have jumped an average of 1.3% this month, Rightmove reported this morning. The monthly rise, which equates to an average of £3,877, is the same as March last year, when there was a buying spree fuelled by the impending rise in Stamp Duty on the purchase of […]

Affordability worsens all over England and Wales as house prices rocket way ahead of earnings

House prices have been rising faster than earnings over the last two decades, highlighting a growing affordability gap. On average, working people could expect to pay around 7.6 times their annual earnings on purchasing a home in England and Wales in 2016, up from 3.6 times earnings in 1997. The figures are in a new […]

Rayhan’s Proptech column: Who will be the traditional letting agent’s next customers?

I’ve long written about Rightmove being the only winner in the traditional vs online agency wars. Regardless of how someone chooses to sell their home, Rightmove gets paid. But this dynamic isn’t true with lettings. There is no clear evidence, but it seems anecdotally obvious that many landlords forgo using an agent and list on […]

Agents beware – failure to show letting fees is resulting in penalties being issued all over country

The obligation to display your letting agency fees on your website and within branches has been a requirement for almost two years now, through section 83 of the Consumer Rights Act in 2015. Amazingly, a substantial minority of agents are still not complying. There are some who are still unaware of the obligation and that […]

Seller’s distress at finding her home on controversial Houser portal two years after withdrawal from sale

March 17, 2017

A woman has told of her shock and distress after discovering by chance that her home, which is not for sale, is being listed on property portal Houser. The pensioner’s property had been for sale with a Newton Fallowell office, but has no longer been on the market after being withdrawn two years ago. The […]

New Money Laundering Regulations ‘will create more problems’ for estate agents

The long awaited and very late Draft Money Laundering Regulation Consultation has now been published and it was nothing if not a surprise for us all in two distinct ways. Firstly, because they have not added something that was expected and secondly because they have added something that will create major problems for estate agents. […]

Landlords’ Barometer – #47: ‘Buy-to-let is dead’?

Welcome to my first Landlords’ Barometer following the Spring Budget 2017. Here is some of our latest content from what is the UK’s busiest landlord community: 1. Spring Budget 2017 – property perspective and reactions On the surface, the Budget did not hold much for landlords and property investors, but dig a little deeper and […]

Free places for agents on Julian O’Dell training course

There are some free training places available for agents in Norwich, Cheltenham and Southampton. Julian O’Dell of TM training & development is on a mini tour running his acclaimed “Surviving and Thriving in 2017” course. The free places are thanks to Rightmove who are backing the events by funding a number of places on the […]

House prices ‘could fall 4% this year’ as result of Article 50, claim

Average house prices could fall between 3% and 4% this year as a result of Brexit being triggered. The claim comes from online agent YOPA which has launched a ‘Brexit House Price Tracker’ that collates industry predictions and compares them to the indices from Halifax, Nationwide, Rightmove and the Land Registry. Predictions have been taken […]

It’s pay day! Bruce brothers cash in over £17m from Purplebricks share sales

March 16, 2017

Michael Bruce, CEO of Purplebricks, this morning cashed in some 3.6m shares in the company. The shares were held by his wife Isabel. CEO Bruce will still hold an interest in 37.7m shares, or a 14% stake in the business. The result of the book build of altogether some 7.9m shares was announced this morning, […]

Crooked letting agent jailed for 19 months after fleecing would-be tenants

A crooked agent who kept over £15,000 in holding deposits has been jailed for 19 months and banned from being a company director for five years. Thirugnanaselvam Damayantharan, 53, conned his victims out of sums ranging from £300 to £1,449, in frauds relating to 33 tenancies. He ran two firms in Croydon called See Own […]

Surprise as Treasury announces letting agents will NOT have to obey money laundering laws after all

Letting agents will not be regulated under anti-money laundering law – despite overwhelming support, including from within the industry, that they should be. However, the screws tighten on sales agents. The unexpected move on letting agents was announced by HM Treasury in its response to the EU’s 4th Money Laundering Directive. Barring a U-turn, letting […]

Strutt & Parker silent on speculation that investment bank could buy it

Strutt & Parker has declined to comment on speculation that it could be bought by an investment bank. The Financial Times is reporting that BNP Paribas, France’s biggest bank, is in talks to acquire the agent – but is likely only be interested in the commercial side of Strutt & Parker. The FT speculates that […]

Estate agent pleads guilty after stealing clients’ IDs as he showed people around homes

An estate agent who photographed clients’ bank cards while showing prospective buyers around their homes has pleaded guilty to fraud. He has admitted to seven counts, but asked to 69 other offences to be taken into consideration. Ayodele Oladuti, 29, of South Croydon, London, photographed bank cards on his phone, and took bank statements and […]

Good lord! Ex-Foxtons agent picks up £7.2m investment for his business

March 15, 2017

A proptech firm started by a former Foxtons agent has raised £7.2m in investment from venture capitalists. Goodlord – a service which allows agents, tenants and landlords to sign tenancy agreements online – was founded in 2014 by Richard White, now 39, and brothers Tom and Philip Mundy. Its latest fundraising comes after a £2m […]

Humberts makes key hire as it gets back into lettings

Humberts is making a return to lettings three years after it sold that part of its operations and has recruited Suzanne Diamond to run the new business. Her CV includes stints with Countrywide’s John D Wood brand and latterly with Surrey independent Curchods where she was group lettings director. At John D Wood, she was […]

Another ‘cut for Countrywide’ as sales support centre due to close, claims leaked announcement

Countrywide looks set to close its sales support office in Cheadle, Cheshire. According to a leaked internal email sent yesterday, which appeared to be genuine and which EYE has seen, “colleagues at the Sales Support Centre in Cheadle” were told on Monday that Countrywide proposes to close the office “later this year”. The announcement, from […]

Four new Winkworth launches to take network to almost 100

Winkworth Franchising is to launch four new outlets. They are in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; Kingsbury, London; Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire; and Brentford, west London. This will bring the total number of offices to 60 in the capital and 97 nationwide. Milford-on-Sea is due to open later this month, with Kingsbury in April and the remaining two in May. […]

Eight months to go to Budget Day. Start work. Now!

So the rumours of changing taxation in the property market that gained such credence during the run-up to the Budget were unfounded after all. Surprise. Surprise. Housing, newly christened dysfunctional, is to stay dysfunctional for a while longer. Or until dysfunction in housing becomes the status quo. Dysfunction rules, despite the flurry of protestation from […]

FREE helpline is launched today by EYE for our subscribers

March 14, 2017

Today we launch a FREE compliance helpline as a new service for EYE subscribers. Available to both sales and lettings businesses, it is being provided by David Beaumont, who has been assisting agents with compliance and training for many years through his consultancy business Compliance Matters. Prior to that he worked in Trading Standards. A […]

The ‘average sale price’ of £300,000 UK property that never was

Your Move raised a few eyebrows when it reported in its January house price index that values had breached the £300,000 barrier. The agent’s January HPI recorded prices at £300,169, but then the February data that came out yesterday said prices last month had “risen” to £297,832, which is of course a lower number. It […]

No one will ever be a good valuer without self-awareness

One of the regular discussions we have on our instructions training programmes centres on what attributes and qualities are essential to ensure that a valuer achieves constantly exceptional performance. Predictably, the usual suspects include punctuality, presentation, trustability, knowledge and a will to win. However, one of the most important elements in a valuer’s success is […]

Estate agency auction business IAm Sold set to double in size

Auction business IAM Sold is set to announce a £12.7m turnover for last year, and plans to more than double in size over the next three years. Currently employing 70 people, it plans to take headcount to 150 and double the number of estate agencies signed up for its auction services, including the Modern Method […]

Is the worst finally over for central London market? Buying agent reports return of gazumping

Agents are reporting the prime central London (PCL) market is returning to life, with a suggestion that gazumping is back. Buying agent Camilla Dell, managing partner of Black Brick, said properites in the prime central London area are now selling fast and often at over asking price. She said: “In the first quarter of 2017, […]

Connells accused of hard-sell tactics to get buyers to use mortgage services

March 13, 2017

Connells has been accused by a newspaper of telling prospective purchasers that to be a “premium buyer” they must use their mortgage services. Connells has denied the claim, also telling EYE it is hampered by looking into the matter because the newspaper has not named the branch. The story in Metro alleges that Connells applicants […]

Lettings administrator who stole over £14,000 in deposits is spared jail

A lettings administrator who stole over £14,000 in tenants’ deposits has escaped jail. Julie Feilden, 51, stole the money over a six-year period, and has now been given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years. She has also been ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and pay £1,250 costs. She admitted 13 charges. […]

Rayhan’s proptech opinion: Is Countrywide really going to go the full Purple?

Imagine a hypothetical scenario where the largest company in a sector undergoes a slow motion car crash in plain sight of their peers and the public markets. No, I’m not talking about IBM, or Microsoft during Steve Ballmer (the guy that wrote off the iPhone in 2007). The focus today is on Countrywide, the UK’s […]

Average house price at nearly £300,000 as cash transactions play their part

The average house price across England and Wales stood at £297,832 in February, Your Move has claimed. The price is hugely ahead of those given by the Halifax House Price Index for February at £219,949 and Nationwide’s at £205,846, although these cover mortgaged purchases only. However, it is very close to the average asking price […]

eMoov asks the question – ‘Any reason why you wouldn’t want to list with us?’

It might be what is called a rhetorical question. Or it might be a way of eMoov getting a response from potential new vendors. “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to list with us today?” it asks. EYE couldn’t think of anything witty to put in the box, other than the obvious: “Because […]

Within eight years, there will be as many private tenants as home owners in London

March 12, 2017

Private renting in London is predicted to catch up with owner-occupation by 2025. The private rented sector was once the largest single housing tenure in London, but shrank from 46% of households in 1961 to just 14% in 1991. By 2001 – the latest date quoted in a new report on housing in the capital […]

NEWSFLASH: Former Countrywide managing director joins Purplebricks in leading role

March 10, 2017

One of Countrywide’s most senior figures, Lee Wainwright, has joined Purplebricks as operations director. Wainwright was with Countrywide as managing director for 27 years, leaving in December – amid a significant number of high-level departures in Countrywide’s latest re-structure. Latterly, between October 2015 and December last year, he was managing director of Bairstow Eves and […]

Vendors could claim against agents in illegal cartel scheme, says CMA

Vendors who lost money due to agents illegally price-fixing their commissions may be able to claim compensation, the Competition and Markets Authority has said. The agents, in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, colluded to set a commission rate of 1.5%. Four agents – Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Abbott and Frost, Gary Berryman Estate Agents and its parent company Warne […]

Housing lawyer admits ‘nothing can be done’ to close down agents expelled from redress schemes

Housing lawyer Tessa Shepperson has defended accusations that property redress schemes are “useless”. The accusation was levelled at Carter Stones, an agent in Ilford, Essex, which has featured both in EYE and the BBC You and Yours programme. Both landlords and tenants complain that they are owed money by the agent – including money handed […]

How private landlords’ tax bills will rocket after ‘unjust legislation’

There will be an enormous leap in tax bills for private landlords when tax reforms kick into place. Dr Ros Beck, a private landlord, has done research which shows that the tax bill could almost triple – and that landlords will be effectively paying at a tax rate of 67%. Her calculations are said to […]

Two councils publish league tables on how much agents charge tenants

New data on how much local letting agents charge in tenants’ fees has been published by the councils of Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove. The data has come from Generation Rent, and in both cases claims that Leaders charges the most – £624 in both places. Allison Thompson, managing director at Leaders, yesterday evening told […]

Tax break for people letting out spare rooms via Airbnb ‘could vanish’

People who let out spare rooms could lose a valuable tax break, because of concerns over Airbnb. At the moment, the Government’s rent-a-room scheme means that people who do let out spare rooms can make £7,500 a year in rent before they have to pay any tax. The tax break becomes even more valuable for […]

NEWSFLASH: Countrywide profits slaughtered

March 9, 2017

Pre-tax profits at Countrywide, the UK’s largest agent, fell by well over half last year, to £19.5m, from £47.7m the year before. The firm is now immediately going to raise around £40m to roll out its digital offering, suggesting a seriously well-funded challenge to Purplebricks in this country. Announcing its annual results for last year […]

Shhh! Just don’t mention the housing market, Mr Hammond

Yesterday’s Budget proved the dampest of squibs as far as the housing market was concerned. And it was the subject that dared not speak its name. Indeed, Chancellor Philip Hammond mentioned the H word – “housing” – only once. That was some three-quarters of an hour into his speech and was purely in the context […]

No wonder Chancellor didn’t want to reform Stamp Duty Land Tax – the money’s rolling in

Many have wondered why the Government has ignored calls for Stamp Duty Land Tax reform, but new economic forecasts out yesterday may provide some answers. Economists have increased their forecasts for the Government’s tax take from Stamp Duty over the next year. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which is independently run but used by […]

Agents warned that new anti-money laundering requirements drawing nearer

Agents are reminded that the clock is ticking towards a new anti-money laundering regime that will affect both sales and lettings. It is set to ensure that both lettings and sales agents will have to make anti-money laundering checks on sellers and buyers, and on tenants and landlords, from the end of June. The checks, […]

Now it’s official – Chestertons boss Robert Bartlett HAS quit

Days after spotting that long-standing Chestertons’ CEO Robert Bartlett no longer appears in the executive team line-up, and shortly after a social media post headed ‘Gone Skiing’ told us that Bartlett was in the Alps, the firm yesterday afternoon issued an official statement. It reveals that Bartlett’s successor, Allan Collins, has taken over on an […]

NEWSFLASH: Crash in profits at Foxtons – and there could be worse to come

March 8, 2017

Profits at Foxtons crashed by over half last year, the agent said this morning. In its preliminary results for the year to the end of December, pre-tax profits were £18.8m – down from £41m the year before. Group EBITDA was also well down, from £46m to £24.6m, and the adjusted EBITDA margin stood at 18.5%, […]

Industry big hitter Jon Notley quits Zoopla to ‘pursue new venture’

Industry big hitter Jon Notley is leaving ZPG where he has been chief commercial officer. His departure is at the end of this month, said a ZPG spokeperson yesterday. It appears there will be no successor in his role. There is speculation that Notley may have been squeezed out. Notably, there was no warm tribute […]

Gone skiing! Former Chestertons chief’s confirmation of departure

Robert Bartlett has confirmed on social media that he has left his job as group CEO at Chestertons. In a post on Linked In, where his profile is now headed “Gone Skiing”, Bartlett says that he is currently on sabbatical and likely to be found in the Alps. The post adds: “Previously Group CEO at […]