Suttons City Living Blog

Landmark as RICS heralds first woman president

July 2, 2014

The RICS has its first woman president in a history spanning 146 years. Louise Brooke-Smith is due to give her inaugural speech today during the RICS governing council meeting in London. Alongside her presidency of RICS, she will continue to be involved with her Birmingham-based planning and development consultancy Brooke Smith Planning. Brooke-Smith succeeds Michael […]

Clash between lenders and conveyancers over PI

Lenders have hit out at proposals to reduce the requirements for conveyancers to hold professional indemnity insurance. The Solicitors Regulation Authority would require compulsory cover against claims by individuals, small companies, and smaller trusts and charities. Conveyancers would not have to have PI to cover claims by either larger bodies or any financial institutions, including […]

Portal pioneer accepts challenge of Scottish lettings

Nick Leeming, the father of the property portals business in the UK and one of the most respected figures in the industry, has joined the board of a Scottish lettings website – at a time when the industry is facing up to a number of challenges. Leeming, who launched Propertyfinder in 1995 and which was […]

Case of mayor who runs letting agency is raised in Parliament

The case of a local mayor who owns a letting agency and whose charity for the homeless is said to be under investigation by the Charities Commission, has been raised in Parliament. During exchanges on the private rented sector, the Tory MP for South Thanet, Laura Sandys, said: “Does my hon. Friend agree that we […]

Revealed: how Nationwide funds Generation Rent

July 1, 2014

The left-wing political lobbying organisation Generation Rent is being bankrolled by a charity set up by the Nationwide Building Society. Generation Rent, whose director Alex Hilton stood as a Labour candidate in the last General Election and which has been accused of peddling propaganda, received a grant of £725,000 from the Nationwide Foundation last September. […]

Mortgage lending falls to lowest for nearly a year

Lenders approved the fewest number of house purchase mortgages in almost a year during May. The latest Bank of England data shows that mortgage approvals for house purchase dropped to 61,707 in May from 62,806 in April. The figure compares with January’s figure of 75,901 and a pre-credit crunch average of over 100,000 approvals per […]

City where local searches are taking six weeks

Local property searches are taking up to six weeks – and posing a serious threat to sales. Searches by Exeter City Council were taking five working days until a month ago, but are now taking far longer. Roger Wilkinson, managing director of Wilkinson Grant & Co, said: “I am not finger-pointing, and I do have […]

New immigration checks could be costly for agents

The requirement for landlords – or their agents – to check the immigration status of all tenants from this October should not be under-estimated. Tony Williams, managing director of tenancy referencing firm UKtenantdata, said the new requirement could be a sleeping dog that wakes up to bite. He said: “It will not be unlike the […]

Robots will replace agents, predicts boffin

Estate agents could be replaced by robots, it has been claimed. Other occupations at risk include typists and retail workers. Altogether, nearly half (47%) of 702 occupations analysed are at risk of being replaced by robotic technology, according to Dr Carl Frey of Oxford University. He told the BBC: “I was somewhat surprised when we […]

Winkworth agency snapped up in retirement sale

Winkworth in Sheffield has changed hands after the franchise owner, Tony Snarey, retired at the age of 75. The new owners are Crucible Sales & Lettings, whose parent company is South Yorkshire Housing Association. Crucible’s profits go back into the local community via the association. Crucible managing director Phil Price, a Sheffield estate agent for […]

Agent admits to mistake after marketing home that wasn’t for sale

June 30, 2014

A home-owner has spoken of his profound shock to find that his house had apparently been put up for sale without his knowledge. The agent, Circle Sales & Lettings of Birmingham, has admitted that it happened but said that it made a mistake. Paul Arthur, a freelance photographer, bought his home in an area of […]

Property drought could go into reverse as appraisals rise

There has been a big rise in the number of market appraisals, the UK’s biggest estate agent said this morning. Countrywide said it carried out 24% more appraisals in June than in the same month last year – and it could be a sign that the property supply drought is ending. In London, where a […]

Agent fined £38,000 after fatal fire in rental property

An agent has been hit with a bill of £38,000-plus after a fatal fire three years ago in which a 42-year-old woman died. A man was also taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation after the blaze in which Deborah Reynolds died. The firm was prosecuted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and […]

Regulation of letting agents in Scotland to have ‘teeth’

Scottish MPs have voted in favour of the mandatory licensing of letting agents. They will have to work to a strict code of practice, yet to be drawn up. The third stage of the Housing Bill was passed without rent controls or mandatory rights to longer tenancies being included, despite pressure from Labour. However, neither […]

Rightmove hosts international summit for portals

Rightmove has hosted a three-day property portal summit at its head office in Milton Keynes – an annual event where leaders from some of the world’s top property portals come together to share ideas and insight from their local markets. This is the first year that the summit has been held in the UK, with […]

Countrywide to hand Zoopla windfall to shareholders

Shares in Countrywide rose last week after the firm announced that it will be paying a special dividend worth a total of £20m – the gain it made in selling part of its stake in Zoopla. The dividend will be worth 9p per share and will be paid out alongside its interim divided on September […]

Most sales going through at under asking price

June 27, 2014

Only 7% of buyers are paying more than the asking price with the huge majority paying less, Rightmove said today. Meanwhile, Hometrack this morning reported that house price rises are stagnating. It said that while house price growth has continued this month, it is at half the rate three months ago. Average prices rose by […]

Rightmove to investigate ‘lookalike’ property listing

Rightmove is to investigate the agent who is marketing a property in Sutton Coldfield that appears to be identical to one being marketed by Savills in Oxfordshire. The probe comes after Eye’s story yesterday about Circle Sales & Lettings, in Birmingham. Savills has put the matter into the hands of their legal team. It is […]

Spectator magazine writer’s astonishing prostitute slur on agents

We are not quite sure what the journalist Harry Mount has against high street estate agents, but here he is – having another pop, this time in the Spectator magazine. This is the second time in under a month that Mount has written about “overpriced” estate agents. Earlier, in the Telegraph, he queried why someone […]

Bank’s clampdown on mortgage lending labelled a damp squib

The Bank of England’s supposed clampdown on the mortgage market will have barely any effect, said industry experts yesterday. Lenders are already being ultra-careful, they said. The Bank’s Financial Policy Committee yesterday announced that new mortgages lent on the basis of over 4.5 times the borrower’s income should represent less than 15% of an organisation’s […]

Entrepreneurial Jupix is bought by Property Software Group

Property agency software company Jupix has been acquired by the Property Software Group for an undisclosed sum. Jupix, based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, announced making two key hires from the Property Software Group – formerly owned by the Guardian – in only April this year. Both Gaynor Ollier and Andy Gray will find themselves back, albeit […]

MPs call for powers to ban rogue letting agents

A cross party group of MPs and peers is today calling for a full scale review of all regulations affecting the private rented sector. In particular, it wants letting agents to be subject to the same regulation as estate agents, so that they can be banned from the industry. The All Party Parliamentary Group for […]

Answer within 24 hours or risk losing the lead, Rightmove urges agents

June 26, 2014

Inquiries to letting agents are running at triple the number per property than inquiries about properties for sale, Rightmove has revealed. Research by the portal also showed that most people expect to hear from the agent almost immediately – often within an hour but definitely within 24 hours. But in a test involving more than […]

Savills calls in lawyers over lookalike house listing

Mystery surrounds a property for sale which is apparently in both Oxfordshire and Sutton Coldfield. One is being marketed by a Birmingham agent, Circle Sales & Lettings. It is a £1.5m property called The Cloves in Sutton Coldfield, and it is advertised on both Rightmove and Zoopla. But it appears to be identical to a […]

Agents caught in flagrante led to TPO complaint

A pair of estate agents who used a client’s home for sexual activity while the vendors were on holiday led to a complaint to the Property Ombudsman. The agents, working for an unnamed firm, were discovered in flagrante when a member of the family owning the property turned up unexpectedly. The owners complained, but while […]

Compulsory redress for letting agents moves closer

The Government has published a draft Statutory Instrument making it a legal requirement for letting agents to belong to a redress scheme. The order, which relates to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, does not give any dates for compliance, but says it will come into force 28 days after being made. It also […]

Labour loses new attempt at letting fees ban

Labour was defeated at Westminster yesterday afternoon on proposals to bring in rent controls and mandatory longer tenancies. In an Opposition Day debate, MPs were also asked to support a ban on letting agent fees. Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds told MPs that tenants faced “exorbitant rates”. She said a Labour government would cap rent […]

Drought of affordable properties, says Shelter

Only a tiny proportion of homes for sale in parts of England are affordable to average buyers, Shelter has claimed. It says that just 0.3% of properties for sale in London – equating to 86 homes – are affordable, while in the south-east region, just 4.2% of properties are affordable. In Exeter, Devon, out of […]

Rightmove to look into agent whose vendors set their own valuations

June 25, 2014

A national online agent whose sellers value their own properties and upload their own adverts says it believes its service is an industry first. Mouse House lists on both Rightmove and Zoopla, and currently has 148 properties for sale, ranging from a £1.2m house on the Isle of Wight to an £80,000 terrace in Nottingham. […]

Immigration checks could be legal nightmare for agents, warning

An immigration lawyer has warned that a legal minefield strewn with ambiguities awaits landlords and letting agents. Simon Kenny, a senior solicitor at Moore Blatch who advises employers about immigration law, says there are still far too many unanswered questions posed by the Immigration Act, which will introduce a duty to perform checks on the […]

Housing transactions drop – or perhaps go up

There were nearly 100,000 property transactions last month, HMRC has reported. The “seasonally adjusted” figure, which is also provisional, was 99,320 for May – a monthly drop of 3.5%, although 14.89% higher than May last year. Muddlingly, however, the “not seasonally adjusted” figure is higher, at 100,360 transactions. Indeed, the “not seasonally adjusted” figures – […]

Another council set to introduce blanket licensing

Another council is set to introduce borough-wide mandatory licensing of all private rental accommodation. Croydon, part of Greater London, says that its proposed scheme is a key part of its “Don’t Mess with Croydon” campaign. Every private landlord will be required to obtain a licence and pass “fit and proper” checks. As elsewhere that has […]

MPs told by researchers: letting fees ‘extortionate’

MPs have been officially advised that letting agent fees are “extortionate”. The advice is in a new update on the regulation of letting agents which has been published and lodged in the House of Commons library. Although the paper starts by pointing out that in fact there is no statutory regulation of letting agents in […]

Crucial debates on rent controls in Parliament today

Westminster MPs are to be asked once again to ban letting agents’ fees to tenants and bring in rent controls. In an opposition debate, Labour is proposing: “That this House recognises the private rented sector’s growing role in meeting housing need; notes that there are nine million people, including more than one million families with […]

House prices muted since last General Election – everywhere except London

June 24, 2014

House prices have risen by 31.5% in London since the last General Election, but by just 0.16% across the rest of England and Wales. Since May 2010, average house prices in the capital have risen by £103,323 on average from £331,711 in 2010 to £435,034 this year. This means that someone who purchased a property […]

Zoopla could lose £30m after Agents’ Mutual launch

Zoopla stands to lose almost £30m in revenue if Agents’ Mutual signs up 5,000 agents who decide to pull their stock off Zoopla, the Telegraph has reported. However, Alex Chesterman, who founded Zoopla and steered it through its successful flotation last week, sounds unworried. He told the Telegraph that Zoopla has spent the last six […]

Lenders set to squeeze mortgages, warns Bank

Lenders will squeeze mortgage approvals over the next three months, despite rising demand. In the sort of news that estate agents do not want to hear, the Bank of England says that lenders are forecasting a “lower appetite for risk”. As a result, mortgage approvals are set to fall “significantly” in the third quarter. The […]

Generation Rent accused of spreading propaganda with ‘manifesto’

Lobbying group Generation Rent has been accused of spreading propaganda, after it published its ‘manifesto’ ahead of next year’s General Election. The ‘manifesto’ calls for overall reform of the private rented sector, claiming that it fails millions of tenants who live in fear of eviction, and is ‘second class’ compared with home ownership. But a […]

Hamptons makes second acquisition this year

Hamptons International has acquired a long-established independent, Humphreys Skitt & Co, for an undisclosed sum. It is the second acquisition by Hamptons this year, with the firm – which is part of Countrywide – planning to expand its UK network which currently consists of 73 branches in London and the south. Humphreys Skitt & Co, […]

Letting agent working at coalface of poverty scoops top award

June 23, 2014

One of Britain’s most unusual and caring letting agents, Castledene, has won the Times and Sunday Times Letting Agent of the Year. The firm, whose social conscience is a large part of what makes it so different, featured in a recent TV programe and operates in some of the poorest parts of the country. Run […]

Beware of terrorists, agents told in new anti-money laundering guidance

New anti-money laundering guidelines for estate agents suggest that terrorist criminals may pay large deposits which they re-claim later, pay prices for properties just below Stamp Duty thresholds, bribe staff, or attempt to rush transactions through. Estate agents should also beware of buyers who have not viewed the property, but only seen it on the […]

Six in ten eviction notices have errors, claim

Over six out of ten legal notices served by agents and landlords on tenants are incorrect. The claim comes from eviction specialists Landlord Action which looked at the last 200 instructions received from agents and landlords that had served their own legal notices on tenants (Section 8 and Section 21). The findings reveal that 62% […]

Rightmove gives £100k to kick-start agents’ charities

Rightmove has launched a £100,000 fund which will be used to support agents in the set-up costs of their charitable activities. The fund, which will also benefit house builders, aims to maximise the amount that can then be donated to good causes. The fund will be administered by Agents Giving, the industry charity for estate […]

Buyers far too reliant on using portals, says agent

It is often said that almost all property hunters start their search on the internet. But one home searcher who relied purely on portals, agents’ websites and their alerts, rather than registering with an estate agent, found he was missing out on properties coming to the market. This particular property searcher was – and is […]

Online agent considers legal challenge over Agents’ Mutual ban

June 20, 2014

Online agent Russell Quirk of eMoov is considering mounting a legal challenge to Agents’ Mutual. He told Eye yesterday: “This would be on the basis that it is entirely unlawful to discriminate against one estate agent or another. “Their statement, along the lines that they will not allow cheaper online agents to list, is blatantly […]

One in five sellers getting over the asking price

One in five sellers is achieving more than the asking price, according to the NAEA. Reporting for last month, it says the supply of houses has dropped 27% over a year to just 44 properties per branch. Buyers have been forced to increase their offers to beat off competition and secure their property. The proportion […]

Stop saying PRS is in crisis, politicians told

Politicians should stop trying to portray the private rented sector (PRS) as a national crisis for tenants, an industry leader said this morning. David Newnes, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move, both part of LSL, spoke out after his firm said that rents have barely gone up for months – and certainly by less […]

Mother and daughter letting agents in court battle

Mother and daughter letting agents have faced each other across court in a bitter row – with each claiming against the other. Caroline Baines used to work with her mother, Nicola Low, at Halcyon House lettings agency in Welwyn Garden City, Herts, but fell out in 2010. The court heard that Mrs Low decided to […]

How far should agents go to help tenants at weekend?

Seen on Facebook and re-posted by a landlord on a landlord forum (the agent is un-named): “Waking up to make yourself a soothing drink for tonsilitis and realising the kettle isn’t working is one thing [writes the tenant]. “Realising the electric went in the middle of the night and you cannot do anything is another. […]

Zoopla valued at £918.8m ahead of stock market launch

June 18, 2014

Zoopla has set its launch share price at 220p, giving a total market capitalisation of £918.8m. The price is in the middle of the range first mooted, of 200p to 250p per share. However, the share price immediately went above the 220p mark. Just 20% of estate agents and developers who advertise on Zoopla have […]