Suttons City Living Blog

Housing transactions drop – or perhaps go up

June 25, 2014

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 […]

House prices rocket 10% across the UK, says ONS

UK house prices increased by 9.9% in the year to April 2014, up from 8% in the year to April, the ONS has claimed. It says annual house price inflation in England was 10.4% – greater than Wales (3.3%), Scotland (4.8%) and Northern Ireland (2.6%). The greatest rise was in London at 18.7% followed by […]

‘Arrogant’ Land Registry slated by searches group

A property trade body has hit out strongly at the Land Registry, calling it arrogant. CoPSO, whose members are property search organisations, said the Land Registry had shown “disrespect” to its customers and stakeholders. The accusation has arisen over plans to centralise the Local Land Charges Register – taking it away from local councils. CoPSO […]

Controls needed on For Sale by Tender – ombudsman

Property ombudsman Christopher Hamer has called for controversial For Sale by Tender methods to be tightly controlled. He was speaking after MPs decided on Monday not to ban the system, by which vendors pay an admin fee of usually some £300 and the buyer pays an “introduction” fee of usually 2%. Hamer said: “Having sought […]

Is Savills the most visited agency website?

Property Industry Eye (

We’re truly on our way, says Agents’ Mutual boss

June 13, 2014

A total of 264 new offices have signed up to Agents’ Mutual in the last month, it is revealed this morning. The number easily beats the average of 122 per month of earlier this year, and brings the total to over 2,450. In an update to supporters, Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett says: “This […]

Lending curbs ‘could kill off first-time buyers’

Chancellor George Osborne last night handed the Bank of England new powers to curb mortgage lending. Specifically, it will be able to cap the size of mortgage loans in relation to incomes. The power will come into play by the end of this Parliament, and was announced at last night’s annual Mansion House speech. The […]

allAgents under fire over listings deal with eMoov

A deal done between allAgents and online property business eMoov has come under fresh fire. Shaun Amner, a partner of two Winkworth businesses, said it was a “foolish move” on the part of allAgents. Amner said the review site had “sold its soul”. As revealed in an earlier story on Eye, allAgents now allows agents […]

Agents emerge as social heroes in C4 documentary

It is not often that agents are portrayed as heroes, let alone forces for social good – but that is exactly how those who featured in last night’s jaw-dropping C4 documentary came over. In the north-east, staff at Castledene said they weren’t support workers, but that is precisely what they appeared to be. With virtually […]

Boom or bust? Experts forecast more price rises

House prices across England and Wales will surpass 2008′s national peak in the next 12 months. The forecast was made this week by three economists at a “property boom or bust” event organised by think tank the Economic Research Council. Grainne Gilmore of Knight Frank, Matthew Pointon of Capital Economics, and James Wyatt of Parenthia, […]

For Sale by Tender slammed as unethical

June 10, 2014

The practice whereby agents are charging buyers, rather than sellers, in informal tender arrangements, has come under new attack from two industry heavyweights. Industry trainer Adam Walker and Winkworth director Hugh Dunsmore-Hardy – a former chief executive of the NAEA – have both said it is totally unacceptable. Yesterday afternoon, ombudsman Christopher Hamer reiterated his […]

Online agents are ‘parasites’ on portals, claim

Online agents could not exist without the platform provided to them by the current property portals. Ian Springett, chief executive of Agents’ Mutual, said: “Online-only agents could not function without the portals allowing them to co-exist alongside their main customers – full service, office-based agents. “In that sense the online only agents are parasitic.” He […]

Countrywide firm ‘would not reveal fees’ – landlord

A landlord who tried repeatedly to get a letting agent to disclose its charges has taken his business elsewhere. The landlord, with a property in Newcastle-under-Lyme, wanted to draw up a shortlist of agents. He emailed most of the agents in the area to ask for fees information and says that only one – Bridgfords, […]

Auctioneers race to sell 1,000 lots this year

There was a neck-and-neck race between Auction House and Allsop to become the first auctioneers to sell their 1,000th lot this year. Both achieved the milestone on the same day, with Auction House claiming a narrow victory. Auction House also said it had reached the 1,000 mark two weeks ahead of last year. The property […]

Countdown to new cooling-off regulations

June 9, 2014

Many agents are unaware of an important change that kicks in this week – the doubling of the cooling-off period from seven to 14 days. The change comes into effect on Friday but industry trainer Julian O’Dell says he has been shocked at the low level of awareness. He also warns that the Consumer Contracts […]

Zoopla relaunches MarketView intelligence as Vizzi becomes invisible

Zoopla is to relaunch its market intelligence tool for agents, MarketView, on Friday – with Vizzihomes to disappear. However, Zoopla has strongly denied claims that it is killing off its former competitor. Vizzihomes was acquired by Zoopla last June for an undisclosed sum. It had been launched by Kevin Hollinrake, of Hunters, and Jeremy Ward […]

New group of agents holds inaugural meeting

A group of independent estate agents came together at the first meeting of the North East Agents Marketing Group (NEAMG). The companies, representing some 150 offices, ranged from newly established one-office practices to firms established for more than 25 years with over 15 offices. Agents travelled to the meeting, sponsored by Agents’ Mutual, from Durham, […]

Landlord with unlicensed HMO told to repay rent

A landlord has been ordered to repay rent money to a local council in respect of housing benefit tenants who had bedsits in an unlicensed HMO. The residential property tribunal that made the ruling has advised other tenants who were not claiming housing benefit that they will be able to claim back their rent. Jonathan […]

Agents’ Mutual could pose threat, Zoopla admits

June 6, 2014

Zoopla published its share prospectus yesterday afternoon – and it specifically acknowledges Agents’ Mutual as a possible threat. It warns prospective shareholders that Agents’ Mutual members could terminate their Zoopla subscriptions. Zoopla confirmed that its ‘member offer’ is open to agents that list on the site, offering them a 20% discount per office. Agents will […]

Lenders are halting deals after exchange of contracts, say lawyers

June 5, 2014

Deals are in danger of collapsing or racking up huge costs for buyers because lenders are reassessing mortgage offers after buyers and sellers have exchanged. Peter Ambrose, who heads up major conveyancing firm The Partnership, said that in two cases, Halifax has stepped in to prevent completion taking place on the dates agreed. He said […]

Agent sentenced after baseball bat incident in street

An estate agent who thought he had acted as an “honest broker” has been given an 11-month prison sentence suspended for two years after admitting being in possession of an offensive weapon. Richard Hall, owner of Brooklands estate agents in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, had been asked by a landlord, Karen Yates, for help. She had been […]

Agent takes down listing after abusive calls

An estate agent has removed a listing from Rightmove after details of the property went viral. A photo of the tiny flat showed the bed inches away from the kitchen sink. Reports suggested that the intimate size of the room was ideal for breakfast in bed. The extremely self-contained ‘studio apartment’ was listed at £170 […]

Rightmove staff go on an away day – today!

Rightmove has told agents – don’t call us today. The portal is taking its customer service and sales teams off duty, so that they can attend a company conference and training day. In an email to agents, the firm says: “To minimise disruption, we will increase our customer service staffing levels both before and after […]

Agents’ golf day raises £5,500 for good causes

A total of 13 teams took part in the Agents Giving golf event, raising a total of £5,500. Held at De Vere Wychwood Park, Cheshire, the winning team was Atlas Displays, a shopfitting firm, while Karl Tatler won the prize for the longest drive, and Mark Montgomery, of myhomemove, bagged the prize for the worst […]

Rightmove denies hacking after sending fake leads to agents

June 4, 2014

Agents have been receiving fake leads from Rightmove this week – with the firm confirming a scam but denying that it has been hacked. Rightmove sent out an alert to agents late on Monday about the scam, which apparently originates from Afghanistan. It is designed to trick agents into dialling premium rate numbers where they […]

Foxtons share price falls after boss steps down

Foxtons’ boss Michael Brown has stepped down permanently for undisclosed personal reasons. He had been on compassionate leave since early April, with chairman Garry Watts assuming executive responsibilities. Brown, 51, will be succeeded from the start of next month by chief operating officer Nic Budden. Brown will stay on at Foxtons, where he was in […]

Renewal fees – what should tenants be told?

At a time when letting agent fees are under the spotlight, where do you stand on renewals? A letter from a Countrywide agent was shown to Eye, asking tenants to pay a renewal fee of £125 for a further six-month fixed term tenancy – or move out. Interestingly, the tenant does not seem to have […]

Challenger portal makes key appointment

Would-be challenger portal LocalPropertyIndex has appointed Robert May as its head of business development. May was formerly sales director at estate agency software provider CFP, with sales of over £2m annually. May said: “I decided to join because LocalPropertyIndex has a tremendous opportunity to become a game-changer in the property portal industry. “The team here […]

One in four London properties have price cuts

Another London agent has warned that the market in the capital has fallen. Richard Barber, partner at Knightsbridge-based W.A. Ellis, made his remarks following those of fellow agents Ed Mead and Peter Rollings. Last week, Rollings, of Marsh & Parsons, called the top of the market, while Mead, of Douglas & Gordon, said that the […]

Manchester City Centre to Benefit From Cheaper Bus Fares

November 30, 2012

Travellers in Manchester and Oldham are set to benefit from cheaper bus fares, according to the First transport group. First Bus staff promoted the new fares system with a mock “protest” in Manchester city centre this week. Brandishing placards, the “power to the people” protesters handed out vouchers for free travel cards in order to […]

Plans Approved to Move Manchester City Centre Cenotaph

November 23, 2012

The Cenotaph is to be moved to a different part of Manchester City Centre, it emerged this week. The Manchester Cenotaph, currently in St Peter’s Square, will be moved to a new site near to the town hall, according to plans that the city council approved earlier in the week. English Heritage had previously objected […]