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Letting agents pioneer product designed to help tenants boost credit rating

September 6, 2016

A small number of letting agents are pioneering a product designed to help private tenants boost their credit histories. Experian, in partnership with the Big Issue Invest, is rolling out the Rental Exchange in the private rented sector. It works simply by recording rental payments. Experian will not say how many letting agents are currently […]

NEWS FLASH: Ed Mead leaving Douglas & Gordon for new venture

September 5, 2016

Ed Mead, one of the most high profile estate agents in the industry, is leaving Douglas and Gordon to run Viewber, a radical new support service for the high street and online estate agency sector. Viewber matches estate agents with viewing agents (Viewbers) and local property experts. Started in April this year, it is already […]

Tell us what you think of online agents, Rightmove asks vendors

Rightmove is conducting a survey into sellers’ attitudes towards online agents. You have to get into the “partner promotion” survey to realise that this is the aim. The headline simply says: “Have you recently sold your property or are you thinking of selling this year? We’d love to hear from you!” In smaller text, it […]

Countrywide ‘to avoid redundances where possible’ as branches get set to close

Countrywide has confirmed it is closing 59 branches outside London. It has not, however, quantified the number of closures in London nor elaborated on its previous statement that “organisational changes involving branch consolidations, rebrands and closures” in London will affect only a “small” number of branches. There is also a discrepancy between the number of […]

Tenants forced to dig deep as deposits continue rising

Tenants are having to put down ever-increasing deposits – an average of £970.48 in England and Wales. While the average deposit is heading towards the £1,000 mark, the figure is fuelled by the high average deposit in London – heading towards the £2,000 mark. The Deposit Protection Service said the £970.48 sum was the figure […]

Retirement homes builder hit by ‘weakness’ in second hand homes market

McCarthy & Stone has reported “some weakness” in the second-hand homes market. Britain’s biggest builder of retirement homes says it has seen property reservations drop since the end of June and cancellations rise dramatically. McCarthy & Stone said that although customer sentiment had improved during August, it was too soon to predict whether the improvement […]

Independent seizes build to rent opportunity to become top agency player

The Acorn Group has been named as the highest placed managing agent in a league table of managers of new ‘build to rent’ developments in London. The Molior report which closely monitors private rented sector developments across all 33 London boroughs places Acorn fifth in the table. It is behind two build to rent specialists, […]

Guild launches new valuation tool for member agents

September 3, 2016

The Guild of Professional Estate Agents has launched two new services to all of its 800-strong network. One is an online valuation tool, called e-valuate. When positioned on an agents’ home page, the banner invites visitors to generate a free, instant property valuation in exchange for a few details. The valuation uses Land Registry data […]

Why are cars so often a pane for estate agent windows?

What is it with cars and estate agent windows? Every few months a story of vehicles crashing into estate agency branches motor through our inbox. There are more than 600,000 results if you search the phrase “estate agent car crash” in Google News. In many cases there have been lucky escapes. In July Lucy Roberts, […]

Three in ten EU citizens living in UK fear Brexit will make it harder for them to rent

Three in ten (31%) European Union citizens living in the private rented sector say they are worried that the result of the referendum will make it harder for them to rent in the UK. The findings, from the National Landlords Association, also show that 25% are worried that landlords will be less willing to let […]

Stories of the Week that got you talking

It’s been another hectic week for the industry, here is what has caught our eye. First: Purplebricks hits Australia Purplebricks launched in Australia on Monday, weeks ahead of expectations. At the start of last weekend, it had a website up and running in Australia and the Australian press reported the launch – with one headline […]

Firm claiming to be UK’s first fully digital agent launches today

September 2, 2016

A service claiming to be the UK’s first fully digital property management agency launches today. Called NoAgent.co.uk it says it will disrupt the lettings sector. Despite its name, it is listing on Rightmove and Zoopla, which only allow agents. However, while Rightmove has clearly accepted that is an agent that offers letting agency services, it […]

Over half of buyers find ‘old fashioned’ property search methods more effective than portals

Fewer than four in ten home movers end up buying a property they found on a portal. Consumer organisation Which? said that in research among 2,000 recent home movers, just 37% had discovered their new home by searching a property portal. However, a further 6% did so via an automated email from a portal and […]

Law Society welcomes reassurances that ‘stealth’ tax changes will not target landlords

The Law Society has welcomed reassurances that buy-to-let landlords will not be adversely affected by what it has called amendments slipped in to the Finance Bill. However, concerns have not gone away. The Law Society has called for the wording of the amendments to reflect this, and the National Landlords Association has said it will […]

Fixflo to join Mayor of London on trade mission to America

Lettings agent software provider Fixflo has been named as the sole representative for the proptech sector on a trade mission to New York and Chicago for the Mayor of London this month. Fixflo sales director Jon Chapman will spend a week in the US cities with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other companies showcasing digital-based […]

Six-branch joins OnTheMarket as portal inches towards target

A six-branch firm, Andrew Milsom Estate Agents in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, has joined OnTheMarket. The firm will now be listing on OTM and Rightmove, after removing its properties from Zoopla. Andrew Milsom, director, said: “We have been impressed with how quickly OTM has established itself, and we think the website is a refreshing change for […]

House sales fail to complete yesterday as high street bank struggles with workload

September 1, 2016

Did your end of August transactions all complete yesterday? This is a key date in the calendar, as families complete their moves to time with the start of the new school year. Yesterday afternoon, I was alerted to problems. At about 4 pm yesterday I received an email from a Bold Legal Group member firm: […]

Almost all home owners would now consider using online agent, claim

Almost all home owners would consider using an online estate agent to sell their property, it has been claimed. According to estate agency comparison website netanagent.com 85% would consider the option. The site, which allows home owners to research fees charged by both online and traditional agents, said this was among the responses in an […]

Homes with low EPCs could be banned from the sales market

People could in future be unable to sell their homes unless the properties meet minimum energy performance standards. They would be banned from the market, in the same way that lettings properties will be shortly. The latest proposal is in a report by Tory think tank Bright Blue. The document says that a minimum EPC […]

UK house prices continue to tiptoe up despite Brexit uncertainty

UK house prices continue to defy the Brexit vote gloom after rising 0.6% in August, Nationwide has revealed. The lender’s latest house price index showed the monthly increase also pushed up annual growth from 5.2% to 5.6%, giving an average figure of £206,145 in August. Robert Gardner, chief economist for Nationwide said the outlook for […]

Survey launches today into whether to make CMP mandatory for letting agents

Agents are being invited to take part in a national online survey which launches today as part of the Government’s review into whether to make Client Money Protection insurance mandatory for letting agents. The Property Ombudsman scheme offered to undertake the UK-wide survey following discussions with Baroness Hayter, joint chair of the DCLG review into […]

Countrywide announces ‘expansion’ of John D Wood as merger with Faron Sutaria is confirmed

August 31, 2016

Countrywide is chopping one of its best known brands to merge it into John D Wood & Co, and folding six others by re-branding them as ‘part of John D Wood & Co’. It is describing the exercise as an expansion. The official announcement, which critics will undoubtedly see as heavily spun, was made under […]

Complainant to advertising watchdog ‘surprised’ at decision allowing agent’s fee to be shown plus VAT

A complaint against Purplebricks has been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. However, the complainant in the case has told EYE that he is surprised that no further action has been taken, given that the ASA has now approved something it has banned in the past – the showing of an estate agent’s percentage […]

OnTheMarket reports 1,000 growth in listing offices over the last year

Property website OnTheMarket today reports that the number of estate and letting agent offices listing on the website has grown every month since the start of August last year. Last month marked the portal’s 12th consecutive month of growth. OTM, which is now just over 18 months old, had more than 6,400 listing offices at […]

Acorn Group pays moving tribute to George Low after senseless murder

The Acorn Group has paid the following tribute to their much-loved colleague George Low, killed at the age of 22. The wording supplied to EYE is unchanged and both mourns and celebrates a very special young man: The death of George Low on the last day of his holiday in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, on Sunday, […]

Mortgage approvals sink to 18-month low, says Bank of England

Property market doomsayers have been given new ammunition after the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases hit an 18-month low in July at 60,912, Bank of England data has revealed. The figures, representing the month after the Brexit vote, are the lowest since January 2015 when there were 60,315 approvals, and it is below […]

Purplebricks launches in Australia saying it will mimic rapid success in UK

August 30, 2016

Purplebricks launched yesterday in Australia – weeks ahead of expectations, and apparently catching the market on the hop – and with CEO Michael Bruce reiterating that the UK business will become profitable “during the course of this year”. Purplebricks had previously said only that an Australian launch would be before Christmas. At the start of […]

Fury as major buy-to-let tax amendments are ‘slipped in’ by stealth

Major amendments to the Finance Bill have been “slipped in” at committee stage. According to the Law Society, they set a disturbing and undemocratic precedent of avoiding proper consultation and scrutiny. The changes would result in property investors paying income tax rather than Capital Gains Tax on profits when they sell. The apparently covert changes […]

Police step up hunt for bogus letting agent who robbed tenants of thousands

Police have issued a CCTV image of a man they would like to speak in connection with an investigation in which a number of people fell victim to a suspected bogus letting agent. During March and April, 14 people contacted police after they were scammed by a man who said he worked as an agent […]

Australian agents told they must not organise boycott of two main portals

A group of estate agents in Australia hoping to organise a collective boycott of portals are being told to forget the idea. The 170 agents, represented by Property Media Group, wanted to protest against the “excessive” prices charged by realestate.com.au and doman.com.au They had applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for both collective […]

New Bill set to change the moment that private tenants become homeless

A new Bill aimed at reducing homelessness has been published. If passed, it would mean that private tenants will not have to wait for forcible eviction by bailiffs before being accepted as homeless by local councils. A notice of eviction would suffice. The Homeless Reduction Bill has been tabled by Tory MP Bob Blackman, a […]

Stories of the Week – and this is what get you talking

August 27, 2016

It’s been another hectic week for the industry, here is what has caught our eye. First: Bricks First it was the lack of new homes, then it was the greedy landlords keeping house prices high. Now, according to the NAEA, it may be the number of bricks. A report by the NAEA with the Centre […]

Insurance giant accuses estate agents of listing properties inaccurately

August 26, 2016

EYE has challenged research from insurance giant Direct Line that publicly accuses estate agents of listing properties incorrectly. The serious allegation was made in a first press release, embargoed for this morning. After our challenge, a second press release was issued, but only adding the word “potentially”. Direct Line also claimed that anyone who had […]

Signs of London slowdown spreading to other parts of the south

London agents were given the clearest possible warning this morning that prices will have to be cut – and that the re-pricing process is likely to last six months in a market that will continue to be hit by low turnover. There are also signs of a slowdown spreading to some other cities in the […]

MP asks letting agent to sign petition to get letting agent fees abolished

A letting agent has been invited by his MP to support a campaign to have “rip off” letting agent fees banned. The agent was sent an email by Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, who represents Carshalton and Wallington in Greater London. Brake, who is the party’s only MP in London, sent the email complete with […]

Manufacturers slam NAEA over ‘misleading and damaging’ report on bricks

Brick manufacturers have slammed yesterday’s report from the National Association of Estate Agents. They condemned it as misleading and damaging. The Brick Development Association, representing brick manufacturers in the UK, described the report as “out of date and unhelpful”. The NAEA, in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, claimed there is a […]

More local authorities seek to ban estate agents’ boards

The Government is considering four applications to restrict the display of estate and letting agent boards in certain parts of the UK. A Freedom of Information request by EYE has found that the Department for Communities and Local Government is currently reviewing four applications from the following councils: Charnwood; Bath and North East Somerset; Leicester; […]

NAEA chief warns that brick shortages could lead to ‘lifetime of astronomical house prices’

August 25, 2016

A shortage of bricks has helped push up house prices, the National Association of Estate Agents claimed this morning, and could lead to a “lifetime” of high house prices and falling levels of home ownership. The organisation said that the UK needs 1.4bn bricks in order to resolve the housing shortage. That is the equivalent […]

Foxtons scraps listing and says it will not act in sale of home at heart of bitter dispute

Foxtons has removed a listing for a property and declined to act in the transaction after listening to local residents’ concerns. It apparently took the action for reasons of social conscience, local concern and reputation, after the unhappy residents lobbied estate agents in the area last weekend asking them not to list properties on the […]

Public’s concern over estate agent fees continues to abate

People are increasingly concerned about the quality and availability of homes. They top a list of housing worries for adults in the latest annual survey conducted by YouGov for the HomeOwners Alliance. Fees charged by estate agents are much less of a worry than they used to be – a concern for 54% members of […]

Thanks George! New housing minister asked to apologise for ex-Chancellor’s flawed scheme

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has been urged to apologise on behalf of the Government and accused of misleading savers over the Help to Buy ISA scandal, despite it being former chancellor George Osborne who drew up the scheme. Although he has only held the housing portfolio for just over a month, Barwell has been on […]

Mortgage approvals dip in number in post-referendum month

The Brexit vote is yet to hit lending levels, the British Bankers’ Association has reported. As the waiting goes on for meaningful data to emerge, it does however appear that the doomsday scenario predicted by former Chancellor George Osborne is unlikely. The latest lending data from trade body the BBA, the first since the EU […]

Agents accused of kicking out tenants in order to earn ‘inflated’ fees

August 24, 2016

‘Inflated’ fees give letting agents an incentive to churn tenants – kicking them out, and in the process distorting the whole housing market. The accusations come from Generation Rent, as it steps up its campaign to get fees banned. Betsy Dilner, director of the lobbying organisation, said: “By charging inflated fees to tenants, letting agents […]

Housing transactions rise in month following referendum, says HMRC . . .

The number of residential property transactions rose in July, HMRC has reported. The number of UK transactions increased from 103,450 in June to 104,200 in July. The headline figures preferred by HMRC are the “seasonally adjusted” ones rather than the “actuals”. On a seasonally adjusted basis, transactions fell by 0.9% in July, down from 95,430 […]

Ombudsman to sound members out over mandatory CMP for letting agents

The Property Ombudsman scheme is launching a nationwide-wide survey of lettings agents to support the Government’s review into Client Money Protection insurance. The online survey will launch next week, and will run from Thursday until Friday, September 16. TPO agreed to undertake the survey in collaboration with Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, who is chairing […]

Developer shrugs off Brexit fears as reservations grow after Leave vote

Persimmon insists home buyer interest is “robust” despite Brexit concerns. Reporting its half year results, the house builder said while the outcome of the EU referendum has created increased economic uncertainty, visitor numbers to its sites were up around 20% ahead year on year. Jeff Fairburn, group chief executive of Persimmon, said: “Our private sale […]

Landlord power sees off introduction of licensing scheme

A west country council has dropped its plans for a licensing scheme after local landlords came up with “a number of other alternatives”. North Somerset Council says it is unable to reveal what the other suggestions are at the moment but confirmed the scheme will not go ahead on November 1 as planned. The idea […]

Mystery of Purplebricks review which suggests vendor was responsible for making listing go live

August 23, 2016

Mystery surrounds a TrustPilot rating of Purplebricks which seems to suggest that a vendor had at least some responsibility for “pushing” the listing for their home to go live on Rightmove and Zoopla. The matter has led to some speculation among agents, who are believed to have raised it with the portals. Purplebricks itself responded […]

Government launches consultation into making CMP mandatory for letting agents

The Government has launched a review into Client Money Protection and whether it should be made mandatory for letting agents. Depending on the responses, mandatory CMP could be added into the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The review estimates that 60% to 80% of agents voluntarily have CMP. However, the consultation document from the Department […]

Radio presenter Winifred Robinson to speak at TPO conference

The Property Ombudsman scheme has announced that BBC Radio 4 presenter Winifred Robinson will be joining its national conference on October 12 as panellist. Winifred will join the already confirmed line-up of property professionals, to provide a consumer’s viewpoint in a debate on estate agency generally. Winifred has been a regular presenter of the Today […]