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Purplebricks turns off ability for public to place reviews on Facebook

January 6, 2017

A Purplebricks spokesperson has confirmed that it is no longer possible for members of the public to post reviews via Facebook. The facility was disabled on Christmas Day, making it impossible to view or leave reviews. Instead, Trustpilot reviews can now be seen on the Purplebricks Facebook page. A Purplebricks spokesperson said: “We welcome genuine […]

Police voice concerns over pop-up brothels in the private rented sector

There has been a significant increase in ‘pop-up’ brothels in private rented accommodation, police have said. Counties where they are particularly prevalent are said to include Wiltshire, Somerset, Bristol and Gloucestershire. However, it is in Newquay, Cornwall, that the problem is apparently at its most acute: 14 holiday lets being used as temporary sex dens […]

OnTheMarket to launch new round of TV advertising

OnTheMarket is to launch a new round of TV advertising this month. Its advert will appear on over 40 channels, including Sky 1, Sky Sports and Sky News, although not on ITV. The portal also said yesterday that it will continue its ‘heavyweight’ investment in paid search on Google. The portal, which is coming up […]

Mother and daughter ‘fooled’ estate agents in plot to sell home they did not own

A mother and daughter were part of a plot to sell a £3m house in Kensington, London, a court has heard. Laylah De Cruz, 31, enlisted her mother Dianne Moorcroft, 62, to pose as the elderly owner of the property, fooling solicitors and estate agents into believing she was selling up to move to Dubai. […]

Henry Pryor begs to differ as he alone forecasts house price falls across UK this year

January 5, 2017

Housing commentator Henry Pryor is forecasting an average drop of 4% in house prices across the UK this year. He is alone among the housing experts who have given their forecasts to the BBC to predict a drop. The others, including RICS, Nationwide and Halifax, are all forecasting rises of between 1% and 4% – […]

Agent Provocateur: Some of the best known names in London are in real trouble

Happy New Year to everyone reading. There’s no one size fits all response to the “How was 2016 for you?” question, but the “Not bad, thank you” response seems to be reserved, for the first time in 100 years, to anyone working outside London and maybe even the south-east – unless you’re a letting agent, […]

Higher value properties now entering our system, says agents’ auctioneer specialist IAM Sold

e-Bay style auction business IAM Sold has said it is seeing higher-value properties entering its system via the estate agents which white-label its services. Managing director Jamie Cooke said that last year, the business saw a 55% uplift in the average value of properties and a 33% uplift in sales. Cooke is anticipating a new […]

Ex-Countrywide ‘Building our Future’ director Andrew Pennells joins proptech venture

Former Countrywide man Andrew Pennells has rejoined his old boss, Bob Scarff, at proptech firm Callwell. Pennells was sales director at Countrywide for over ten years until May 2015, when he was promoted to group transformation director, in charge of the Building our Future strategy. However, Pennells lasted less than a year in this role, […]

Letting agency ‘not registered for redress’ under investigation, says local paper

A letting agency is being probed by Trading Standards, which is bringing enforcement action against it. London Corporate Apartments, which manages properties across London, is being investigated following a tenant’s complaint about a mouse infestation at a property in Stoke Newington. It has emerged that London Corporate Apartments is not registered with a redress scheme. […]

Major £12.5m acquisition for firm behind estate agency comparison tool on consumer website

January 4, 2017

A firm which provides online comparison services in conveyancing has acquired a legal service as it ramps up its plans to penetrate the estate agency introducer market. ULS Technology already owns a one-third stake in the HomeOwners Alliance, which it acquired last year, and operates an estate agency comparison website This is offered directly […]

Why this is the year for the industry’s bodies to put their own houses in order

So. What’s coming down the track for the housing market in 2017, and what is the industry gearing up to do about it? And, as important, what are the industry organisations going to do to ensure their own houses are in order? We know that so-called agent’s fees – in reality excessive mark-ups on credit […]

Fourth time lucky? Government announces Starter Homes scheme yet again

The Government has trumpeted the beginning of its Starter Home scheme for first-time buyers, with building to start in 30 local authorities this year. A key manifesto pledge in 2015, the scheme will make properties on brownfield sites available to first-time buyers between 23 and 40 years old at a 20% discount to market value. […]

Rightmove listing removed after viewers spot ‘racist’ doll

All agents know that decent imagery can make or break a property listing, so it’s probably best to check what you are photographing. A Rightmove listing for a four-bed semi-detached in Wroot, Doncaster, by Epworth-based Grice & Hunter was removed yesterday after eagle-eyed visitors to the portal spotted what appears to be a golliwog. The […]

World-renowned Cheffins shifts the picture to focus on estate agency

Long-established property and auctioneering business Cheffins has announced that it is to intensify its focus on estate agency. The Cambridgeshire-based business, which has a global reputation in fine arts, has appointed Mark Peck to lead its residential department – a new appointment. According to a spokesperson, the emphasis will be on the upper end of […]

Agents who charge fees after ban could be put on database of rogue agents and landlords

January 3, 2017

The official database of rogue agents and landlords is to be introduced on October 1, it has been confirmed – and those on it could include agents who continue to charge fees to tenants. Answering written questions put by Lib Dem peer Baroness Grender, government minister Lord Bourne did not rule this out. He also […]

Agents’ duty of disclosure – What to do when you are asked to ‘hide’ a repossession

At the TPO Office we receive many queries from agents seeking advice on what to disclose in property particulars. The TPO Codes are quite clear that material information must be disclosed to potential buyers and tenants at the earliest opportunity. However, this is not always straightforward for agents when taking into account instructions received from […]

Will there be ‘blood on the carpet’ this year among agents who have been too slow to change?

This will be another challenging year for the residential property industry as changes in legislation, taxation and the political landscape will all continue to impact with associated knock-on effects in the economy and market confidence. The pace of change in new technologies and business models will also continue apace and grow in influence with both […]

Lettings fee ban: Rents will rise – and independent agents may quit, warning

Dorian Gonsalves, boss of 300-outlet franchising chain Belvoir, is predicting on-going rent rises after the Government’s attacks on the private rented sector. He is also forecasting that disillusioned independent letting agents may want to leave the sector this year. He said: “Agents nationwide have been predicting that rents are likely to rise considerably faster than […]

Picture of the Week: And it’s just four candles

Here’s the New Year’s first contender for Picture of the Week – and there’s only just time to get this one under the radar as the 12 days of Christmas draw to a close. It’s only a picture of four candles. Or should that be fork handles? It’s not even a new picture – and […]

NEWSFLASH: Boxing Day and the gloves are off with Purplebricks new adverts

December 26, 2016

A new ad campaign by Purplebricks launches today to highlight the commission householders have been paying to traditional estate agents when moving home. The ads, produced by Snap London, introduce “commisery”, described as the “misery you feel when you have spent thousands on commission and got nothing more for your money”. Purplebricks charges a flat […]

Quiz of the Year – all you have to do is spot the correct answers

December 22, 2016

Here we are – EYE’s final contribution for what has been an extraordinary 12 months in the industry in the shape of a Quiz of the Year. There is just one correct answer lurking in each of the multi-choices. The last 12 months have proved unpredictable, and we suspect that next year will prove even […]

Trio at Purplebricks sell shares after exercise of options

Three senior employees at Purplebricks who exercised their options to acquire shares in the company two days ago have now sold them. David Kavanagh, chief technology officer, David Shepherd, chief information officer, and Matthew Farrow, finance director, have sold 101,502 shares, 84,589 shares and 600,016 shares, respectively. The announcement was made at noon yesterday. All […]

Property transactions buck the seasonal trend, HMRC says

Residential property transactions bucked their usual downward trend in November, HMRC figures have revealed. Transactions usually have a seasonal drop in November, but the latest HMRC transaction statistics shows 104,670 residential deals in the month, up 5.1% on the month before. The figure is however down 4.3% year-on-year. In November 2015, there were 109,370 transactions. […]

Housing minister slates leasehold system as ‘widespread problem’

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has called the current leasehold system a “widespread problem that needs addressing” during a debate in the House of Commons. Speaking at the end of a wide-ranging debate on the Leasehold and Commonhold Reform Act of 2002, Barwell said: “[The Secretary of State and I] have been looking closely at the […]

True spirit of Christmas as agents give time and money to fantastic causes

With the best will in the world, we cannot cover all of our readers’ fantastic attempts at raising money for causes close to their hearts. There are simply too many. However, and please forgive the very many we have to leave out, we would like to congratulate two. First up are the staff of Spicerhaart […]

First-time buyers postpone plans to get on housing ladder as Help to Buy scheme ends

December 21, 2016

First-time buyers are ditching their plans to get on the housing ladder when one of the Help to Buy schemes ends, while there is concern that lenders are becoming more reluctant to lend to those with a small deposit. Mortgage approvals grew 1.3% in November compared with the previous month, national valuations firm e.surv is […]

Not giving up, says agent whose new business was destroyed by fire

This has been a strange and unpredictable year – and one that a number of people will look back on almost with disbelief. None more so than Kathryn Hunter. Starting a business can be stressful at the best of times. But when your office burns down three weeks after you move in it can seriously […]

House prices up £57 a day in 2016, says Zoopla

Home owners benefited on average almost £57 a day from rising prices, according to analysis by Zoopla. The portal says price rises in 2016 “weren’t too far from reality”, coming in at 7.35% on average, while predictions had ranged from zero to 6% growth. At the start of 2016, Zoopla highlighted, Halifax was predicting increases […]

Estate agency numbers drop in four out of ten London boroughs

The number of estate agents in four out of ten London boroughs has fallen this year, although the overall number in the capital is up very slightly. The largest fall was in Barnet, where there were 125 agents at the start of the year and there are now 116 – a fall of 7.2%. Other […]

Transactions to fall in 2017 but Housing White Paper could be ‘defining moment’ – RICS

RICS has described the release of the long awaited Housing White Paper next month as a “defining moment” for 2017. Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy for RICS, said the document would show if “more radical thinking in Whitehall is a reality”. He said: “The UK needs a co-ordinated strategy for building across tenures, using all […]

Nine in ten tenants and landlords do not ask agents how their money will be handled

December 20, 2016

A nationwide survey carried out by The Property Ombudsman has revealed that 90% of tenants and 89% of landlords fail to ask how their money will be handled by their letting agent. TPO’s survey suggests that many members of the public simply have no idea that their money could be at risk through rogue agents, […]

Countrywide Greene & Co flagship branch closes its doors after just two years

An almost-new branch of Countrywide brand Greene & Co has shut its doors. The flagship Greene & Co office, in Kentish Town, opened with considerable fanfare just under two years ago in January 2015, with a number of launch events including a pop-up cinema. Months later, in May, the whole Greene & Co business, founded […]

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

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 […]