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Owner of UK Century 21 franchise snaps up Graham Penny Auctions

April 6, 2016

Shepherd Direct, the owners of the UK Century 21 franchise, have bought Graham Penny Auctions. The acquisition of one of the best-known auction houses in the UK follows the purchase of CP Bigwood auction house in January. The two acquisitions combined have annual sales revenues of over £160m, taking it into the top four auction […]

Estate agent Oystons takes down Facebook reviews after complaint

Oystons Estate Agency was the subject of a complaint to the advertising watchdog about six reviews that appeared on its Facebook page. Four of the six reviews awarded five stars to Oystons. The complainant challenged whether the reviews were genuine and could be substantiated. Oystons removed five of the reviews and provided evidence to the […]

Whew! Over 1,200 deals completed by conveyancer on eve of Stamp Duty change

In the 24 hours before the Stamp Duty surcharge kicked in, Britain’s largest conveyancer completed a record number of transactions. On March 31, My Home Move completed 1,210 sales. This was not only a 40% jump on the firm’s previous record – in December last year – but made March a record month. During March, […]

Property platform that ‘removes need for estate agent entirely’ gets new backing

April 5, 2016

A new technology property business has announced a major investment by an investor which was the first to back lastminute.com and notonthehighstreet.com Thomas Teichman has now backed Settled via the brand incubator business that he co-founded with Sir John Hegarty, The Garage Soho. He has done so after a poor personal experience with an un-named […]

Creeping up: Is OnTheMarket now on target?

There now look to be 6,069 branches with membership of OnTheMarket – 29 more than last month. The monthly calculation is by one of our members, “smile please”, and appears on the ARENA section of our site. OTM has not released figures for some time. However, OTM is focusing on a figure of 7,500 branches, […]

Belvoir profits soar 25% in ‘pivotal year’

Franchise chain Belvoir has announced a rise in both revenue and profits for last year. In its preliminary results for 2015, it said group revenue was up 19% to £6.9m, with pre-tax profits up 25% to £2.2m. Last year, described as ‘pivotal’, was marked by the acquisition of franchise businesses Newton Fallowell and Goodchilds at […]

Lib Dems call for immediate ban on letting agent fees

The Lib Dems have called for an immediate ban on letting fees charged by agents. Leader Tim Farron said that private tenants were being treated like “cash cows”, with fees adding up collectively to over half a billion pounds. Farron said: “Private renters get a raw deal and urgent action is needed. They pay the […]

Dodgy as they come: Shelter’s take on fees

Still on agents’ fees, you may like to check out Shelter’s spoof website, Dodgy Lettings. A ‘search’ for rental properties yesterday showed properties with the warning “may not match your search criteria. For more accurate results you will need to pay our standard £50 accuracy fee”. Dodgy Lettings lists its own fees http://dodgylettings.co.uk/fees These include […]

Agent who stole over £120,000 from clients walks free from court

April 4, 2016

An estate and letting agent who stole £123,000 from his customers has escaped jail. David Whitefield has been given a two-year sentence suspended for two years. Victims remain out of pocket and have expressed outrage at the leniency of the sentence. Whitefield, who ran Whitefield Properties, took rental money due to landlords and tenants’ deposits […]

How many more times must these scandals be allowed to continue? EYE poses the question

How many more times? How many more times will there be administrations which leave a bad taste in the mouth? How many more times is the trade press going to have to report letting agents stealing deposits and rents – and just about getting away with it? How many more times these feeble sentences? Administrations […]

Labour issues consultation on housing policy

The Labour party has issued a consultation on housing. Specifically, it wants to know how the supply of affordable homes both to rent and buy can be increased. Accusing the Government of having failed to build the affordable homes needed, the document says that tackling the housing crisis “means drawing on the best of what […]

Mystery shopping exercise to 500 agents shows need for most to up their game

I believe that perception is everything and at the moment estate agents are having to deal with the perception that some of them don’t give a good enough service and that because of this the public’s expectations are low. What does this mean? Well, in my experience when people believe that the majority are giving […]

Chris Wood joins Agency Mentors team

Estate agent Chris Wood has joined the Agency Mentors team as one of their panel of property trainers and consultants. He said: “I am delighted to have been asked to deliver consultancy and training courses alongside some of the best known and highly regarded names in property training in the country. “The best agents always […]

Foxtons explains big surge in Google reviews

April 1, 2016

Foxtons has explained why there has been a huge jump in the number of Google reviews over the last two or three weeks. The firm said that every single one is completely genuine and that Foxtons has been delighted by the response. EYE asked the firm for a comment after a reader – another agent […]

Despair for buyers and sellers as deals fail to make deadline

Overnight, the cost of buying a second home or buy-to-let property shot up as the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge kicked in at midnight. A number of deals failed to get under the wire, in some cases because of funds failing to arrive in time. The real deadline for most was not in fact midnight but […]

Home Information Packs to be brought back under Housing and Planning Bill

In a late amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill, Home Information Packs are set to be brought back. The amendment, one of no fewer than 2,572 to the Bill, has not only been tabled by a Tory – the party that got rid of them in 2010 – but by the housing minister himself, […]

It’s official: Most property portal visitors have no intention of buying

A new survey has confirmed that the large majority of people who visit property websites have absolutely no intention of buying. An average of 63% Britons admit they are simply window shopping, with the proportion being 74% in Sheffield, 72% in London and 70% in Newcastle. The study uncovered 2.6m self-confessed property addicts who browse […]

New custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme launches today

From today, there is to be a choice of custodial tenancy deposit schemes with the launch of a new service by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. TDS Custodial will run alongside the insurance-backed scheme. Chief executive Steve Harriott said: “As the UK’s leading provider of tenancy deposit protection, we know that landlords and agents in the […]

Total chaos! Conveyancers and lenders struggle against midnight Stamp Duty deadline

March 31, 2016

Well, the Chancellor has played a blinder this time. At least one major lender is struggling to cope with the Stamp Duty Land Tax deadline of midnight tonight. It is going to prove a very long day – again. Conveyancers were back at their desks before dawn broke this morning, with many not having stopped […]

Just hours to go before deadline and still Stamp Duty criticisms pour in

From midnight tonight the Stamp Duty Land Tax 3% surcharge kicks in on purchases of second homes – including on those deals that have failed to complete in the nick of time. Meanwhile there has been a flurry of last minute warnings – as well as a finding that landlords are unlikely to be shaken […]

Law on letting agents having to display fees is ‘not working’

Best-selling buy-to-let author and consultant David Lawrenson says that tenants in England and Wales are as much in the dark as ever about letting fees. This is despite the Consumer Rights Act, which came into force last May, requiring letting agents to show their fees. Lawrenson says the law is not working. He says that […]

House prices in tiny dip as transactions fall

Average house prices across England and Wales dipped in February by 0.2% from the previous month to stand at £190,275. The figure left annual house price inflation at 6.1%, according to the Land Registry. The average house price in London was up 0.6% on a monthly basis and up 13.5% annually, to stand at £530,368. […]

Rents creeping up over the last 12 months

The Office for National Statistics has published its latest ‘experimental’ index of private rental prices. Covering February, as usual it gives no actual prices. It says private rents in Britain rose by 2.6% in the 12 months to February, unchanged from January. Private rents grew by 2.8% in England, 0.2% in Wales and 0.7% in […]

Three complaints against Purplebricks upheld by advertising watchdog

March 30, 2016

Three complaints have been upheld against Purplebricks by the advertising watchdog. As a result Purplebricks must not repeat some claims that were in a TV advert. A further two complaints were not upheld. The complainants who approached the Advertising Standards Authority with concerns included a Purplebricks competitor, House Simple. The other two were members of […]

War of the words: Be careful about disparaging a competitor, warns ex-Ombudsman

It seems hardly a week passes without an announcement appearing in the industry press that another small estate agency has been bought up by a corporate entity. Whether that trend of consolidation will continue and whether the days of the independent agent are numbered, we will eventually find out. But as the market share of […]

Latest clampdown on landlords to cut buy-to-let lending by up to 20%

Lending to buy-to-let borrowers is to be tightened up, with ‘stress’ levels raised. Lenders will have to assess borrowers on the assumption that they will be able to cover their interest payments on the basis of borrower rates being 5.5% for five years. The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority says that this should reduce […]

Buyers allowing vendors to stay on after completion

Buyers are allowing vendors to stay in their home after completion in order to beat this Fridays’ Stamp Duty Land Tax deadline. Central London agent W.A. Ellis said that there has been a rush to complete purchases of second homes and buy-to-let properties, but warns that the market will slow ahead of the EU referendum. […]

Trustpilot takes down reviews from online agent site

Trustpilot removed reviews from the Lovepad site yesterday. A spokesperson said: “Trustpilot is aware of concerns raised about the reviews of Lovepad.co.uk and our compliance team has been investigating the matter. “All but one of the reviews in question have been removed from our site and we will be following up with Lovepad to investigate […]

Scam warning: Agents’ properties scraped and given price cuts to lure inquiries

March 29, 2016

Agents are being warned of a new property scam in which their listings are scraped – but given far cheaper prices in order to lure inquirers, who innocently give up personal details in order to obtain information. Nigerian scammers are said to have been responsible for placing these properties on website www.propertysell.co.uk (“the UK’s trusted […]

Welcome to a week of chaos with Stamp Duty deadline midnight Thursday

It is likely to be a very chaotic few days until April 1. The pressure for certain transactions to complete before Friday will be great. Conveyancers were pushed to complete numerous transactions before Easter and many will have been working, behind the scenes over the break so they are able to hit the ground running […]

Sale of Land Registry into private hands comes closer

The official consultation on selling the Land Registry into private hands has now been launched, with anger that it was pushed out just as the Easter bank holiday weekend was beginning. The timing was reminiscent of the consultation on the 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge, which was sneaked out during the Christmas break. The […]

Osborne’s war on buy-to-let: Further clampdowns to come

The Chancellor is set for a new crackdown on buy-to-let mortgages. While there was speculation last week that this would be within months, the Mail on Sunday said it could be as early as today when the Bank of England releases a report on its preliminary findings into standards of lending. George Osborne said last […]

Winkworth sets out goal for lettings to account for half business

Winkworth franchisees brought in £49m last year, with the franchisor itself earning £5.87 in revenue – a rise of 6.7% on the previous year. Pre-tax profits at Winkworth slipped 1% to £1.91m. During the year, two new offices opened and eight franchises were re-sold. CEO Dominic Agace said: “Despite headwinds for much of 2015 we […]

Online agent is so new it has no properties – but plenty of reviews

A new online agent has launched, called Lovepad. Its fees are from £595 upfront to £1,199 on completion and it says that customers could save £3,751 on the sale of a £250,000 house. Extras include a personal account manager at £149. At the weekend, it had no properties listed but an astonishing number of glowing […]

Countrywide firm Hamptons snaps up niche agent Patterson Bowe

Countrywide firm Hamptons has acquired Patterson Bowe, an upmarket London agency operating in Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea. Established over 25 years ago, the agency has handled the lettings transactions of some of the capital’s finest properties. Patterson Bowe staff will join Hamptons’ Knightsbridge branch with immediate effect, while directors Stuart Patterson and Allister Bowe will […]

High street agent slams onliners for work caused by their lack of sales progression

March 24, 2016

A high street agent has spoken of his anger and frustration at the lack of progression work done by online agents. He says that he is essentially doing all the work for them and their vendors, and for free. He is now suggesting that agents should charge those customers for the many hours of work […]

One in three home owners ‘would seriously consider selling through an online agent’

One in three home owners would “seriously consider” using an online estate agent if selling tomorrow, says a new YouGov survey. But while 32% would give it serious consideration, only 4% of home owners would definitely use an online agent – against the 19% who would definitely use a traditional local agent. In the YouGov […]

One in three home owners ‘would seriously consider selling through an online agent’

One in three home owners would “seriously consider” using an online estate agent if selling tomorrow, says a new YouGov survey. But while 32% would give it serious consideration, only 4% of home owners would definitely use an online agent – against the 19% who would definitely use a traditional local agent. In the YouGov […]

The big interview: Douglas & Gordon boss speaks out over online model

The boss of one of London’s best known agents, Douglas & Gordon, has said that people need to be ‘thoughtful’ before instructing an agent to sell or let their home. In an interview with EYE, James Evans, who joined Douglas & Gordon as CEO last November, said: “There is space in the market for online […]

Zac Goldsmith signals desire to see ‘expensive’ letting agents wiped out altogether

Tory mayor candidate Zac Goldsmith has launched his housing manifesto for London – with letting agents firmly targeted. In fact, wealthy MP Goldsmith seems to want them to disappear altogether. A manifesto commitment reads as follows: “I will work with London’s tech community to develop rental apps that cut out the need for expensive middlemen. […]

Buy-to-let market will ‘drop like a stone’ after Stamp Duty surcharge

The Stamp Duty surcharge on buy-to-let purchases which comes into effect next week will increase rent costs for tenants and trigger a decline in the supply of available properties. The forecast comes from ARLA, which says that in February half (52%) of its members reported an uplift in interest from buyers ahead of the April […]

NEWS FLASH: Peter Rollings steps down from Marsh & Parsons

March 23, 2016

One of the industry’s best known and most respected figures, Peter Rollings, who currently serves as Marsh & Parsons chief executive officer, has decided to retire from his current role. Commenting on his decision to retire, Rollings said: “Over the course of the last 11 years, I have been fortunate to be CEO of Marsh […]

Bumper pay-out to charity owners by agency group Andrews

Andrews Property Group, which is owned by three charitable trusts, has announced a record dividend to its shareholders. The pay-out of £633,000 outstrips last year’s by £40,000. The pay-out is a reflection of the booming market, with its founder believing that the more successful Andrews could be, then the more it could help the vulnerable […]

EYE celebrates our second birthday with thanks to readers for your support

They say that as you get older the gaps between birthdays appears to decrease. It’s certainly true for Property Industry Eye because, quite unbelievably, this week marks our second birthday. It only seems five minutes ago that we were celebrating the first one. So here we are, all grown up and thoroughly enjoying bringing you […]

Mortgage Advice Bureau reports seventh successive year of growing profits

Mortgage Advice Bureau, which operates largely out of estate agents’ offices, has reported soaring revenue and profits for last year. Revenue was up 33% to £75.5m and pre-tax profits up 51%, to £10.4m. MAB also recruited 35% more advisers, with numbers at the end of last year standing at 720. MAB floated on the stock […]

Average house prices spike at record high in England

Average house prices stood at £192,000 in January, the ONS has reported. The figure brings annual house price inflation to 7.9%, while average house prices moved up 0.9% on a monthly basis. The annual rise was driven by increases in the south-east of 11.7%, in London of 10.8% and in the east by 9.8%. Excluding […]

Industry regulator promises it WILL ‘fully’ investigate portal juggling

March 22, 2016

The industry regulator has confirmed that it will be fully investigating allegations of “portal juggling” by some agents. An investigator at the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team yesterday gave the confirmation in an email to Chris Wood, of Cornish firm PDQ Estates. Wood is among a group of agents infuriated by the alleged practices […]

Petition calls on housing minister to ban letting agent fees

A new petition has been launched, calling on housing minister Brandon Lewis to ban letting agency fees. It has been launched by journalist Vicky Spratt, who says she has been renting for nine years, during which time she has handed over £2,000 in letting agent fees. “This is money I’ll never get back. “It turns […]

Local authorities under fire as they sit on £1bn of money for affordable homes

Local authorities are sitting on almost £1bn of money pledged by developers to build affordable housing. Estates Gazette has found through Freedom of Information requests that £1.2bn in affordable housing payments has been committed by developers since 2010 – but only 20% has been spent. London’s 11 inner boroughs received over £800m – 68% of […]

Vote to leave Europe ‘would have no effect’ on UK housing industry

A vote to leave Europe would have very little effect on the UK housing market, Capital Economics has said. The economic consultancy says a vote for Brexit is unlikely to trigger a collapse in the housing market or the general economy. However, it cautions that the period before the referendum itself could cause uncertainty because […]