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Heartbreak for tenants made homeless after being ripped off by fake letting agent

May 11, 2016

A bogus letting agent has conned members of the public out of thousands of pounds, making some of them homeless in the process. Police believe there may be as many as 17 victims of the man, who claims to work for ‘Red Bricks Estate’. Prospective tenants were caught after seeing an online advertisement for a […]

Over 100 agents in rebel group meeting against OTM, claim

May 10, 2016

More than 100 agents are said to have attended yesterday’s meeting of OnTheMarket dissidents. All press had apparently been banned, including us. EYE was told: “The press both industry and national will not be allowed to attend. We will provide statements after the meeting as advised by barristers.” We can therefore only report on what […]

Try to damage us and we will only grow stronger, OTM warns its enemies

Noise and scaremongering from the detractors will only strengthen OnTheMarket, say grassroots supporters. OTM yesterday afternoon released excerpts of letters written to it by member agents, pledging their support. Ian Springett, chief executive of OTM, said: “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, OnTheMarket is here to stay and we know that our […]

Foxtons shareholders prompted to rebel over boss’s pay

Foxtons could be the latest company to face a shareholder rebellion over remuneration. The firm has awarded chief executive Nic Budden a rise in basic pay from £461,250 last year to £550,000. It has also raised the maximum bonus he can earn from 125% of basic salary to 150%. However, two City advisers have recommended […]

Distortion to housing market caused by Stamp Duty is biggest yet, say lenders

The distortion to the housing market caused by the new Stamp Duty charge was larger than anything seen before associated with a tax change. The Council of Mortgage Lenders has become the latest body to warn of a likely slowdown in the housing market because of the Stamp Duty ‘stampede’ in the weeks leading up […]

New online agent launches radio advert campaign after backing by mystery investor

A new online agent is officially launching this week, primarily into the London market, after securing investment. MyKeyLocation is starting a year-long radio advertising campaign in the capital but has national ambitions. The website went live last year but has so far been a part-time venture. It has listed a few properties, and its most […]

Are utilities a good way for agents to keep in touch with home owners?

The problem: Agent revenues are being squeezed Traditional estate and lettings agencies have for a number of years been under pressure from new technologies aimed at ‘disrupting’ them. With online agents helping to lower fees and increasing regulation increasing costs ­ like the new Right to Rent checks ­ many agencies are looking for additional […]

Average asking prices being chopped by over £25,000, says Zoopla

Original asking prices are being chopped by over £25,000, Zoopla has reported. The average discount, says the portal, is now £25,265 compared with the typical reduction of £21,570 in January. Almost one third – 29% – of properties on Zoopla have had their asking price cut at least once. Eight of the ten areas with […]

Industry regulator calls for mandatory qualifications for all estate agents

May 9, 2016

The estate agency regulator is calling on the industry to make its views known in a review of cutting red tape. The National Trading Standards Estate Agents Team says it will be making its own views clear, and far from asking for red tape to be cut, it is asking for more: it will be […]

Foxton apologises to wheelchair user after threat of legal action over lack of access

A wheelchair user and Foxtons have reached agreement after disabled Youcef Bey-Zekkoub was unable to access a branch and threatened legal action. Bey-Zekkoub claimed he was left “embarrassed and humiliated” because there was no ramp at Foxtons’ Streatham branch. Bey-Zekkoub, who works for the charity Transport for All, said he was left outside the branch […]

Will new London Mayor be a friend or foe to the property world?

London agents are waking up to a new week with a freshly-installed London Mayor. Labour’s Sadiq Khan was announced as London Mayor on Friday evening on a ticket of a capital for all Londoners. But estate agents will be hoping he keeps to those promises despite his previously-held views on the sector. Khan launched a […]

Zoopla shares hit 52-week high on day that OTM tells of growth

Zoopla shares reached a 52-week high on Friday, peaking at 302p and finishing the day up 1.63% at 299.40p. The prices compare with a 52-week low in January of 189.90p. The shares are 42.5% up on a year ago. The new high came in the same week that a consensus forecast among 15 analysts advised […]

Number of home owners aged under 40 ‘has plunged by a third’

The number of younger people who are home owners has fallen by over a third in the last 20 years, the housing minister has confirmed. Brandon Lewis was giving a reply to Tory MP Julian Sturdy, who represents York Outer. Sturdy asked what assessment had been made of the potential effect of the starter home […]

It’s a goal! Can a winning football team really help local property prices?

May 7, 2016

Leicester City football club will officially be crowned Premiership champions this weekend and everyone has been jumping on the bandwagon to share in their success, including property market commentators. Many Leicester-based agents sent out tweets of congratulations and property portal the House Shop released data showing house prices in the city have gone up when […]

Our stories of the week – and what got you talking

It’s been another hectic week for the industry with lettings agent fees at the forefront. First: Lettings agent fees Letting agent fees were in the spotlight this week as MPs debated caps and the advertising watchdog separately reprimanded Hamptons. Conservative MP for Lewes Maria Caulfield called for the fees to be capped during a House […]

Agents warned by OTM of ‘concerted propaganda’ campaign against it

May 6, 2016

OnTheMarket is this morning sending out an email to all its member agents. The email, from OTM boss Ian Springett, says that overall support for OTM has now reached over 7,000 offices, and that the number of branches listing on the portal stands at over 6,250. His email, which is reproduced fully below, also warns […]

Agent apologises after sending out flyer showing Cenotaph

An agent has issued a “whole-hearted” apology after sending a flyer to residents showing a picture of the local Cenotaph with the word SOLD above it. Entwistle Green, a Countrywide brand, sent the leaflet in an attempt to get more listings in the Victoria Park area of Widnes, Cheshire. However, the picture chosen was of […]

Estate agent’s shopfront destroyed a second time in months

It has been a rough year so far for agents Roger Dean in Stockport. In January, a driver smashed through its front window, causing at least £15,000 worth of damage and wrecking desks, computers, lighting and carpets as well as the entire shopfront. Now the front window has been completely smashed in again and computers […]

Agent who conned ‘vulnerable’ tenants out of deposits is jailed

A former agent with Reeds Rains has been jailed after conning overseas student into paying deposits for accommodation that he knew he could not let to them. Barinder Uppal, who worked for the company in Coventry, cheated 12 students and also a man wanting to buy a property. Uppal, 29, who turned up for viewings […]

Connells reports strong first quarter of the year

Connells has reported a buoyant start to the year. It says that sales instructions were up 1% in the first quarter, the number of buyers entering the market was up 31%, and sales agreed were up by 7%, compared with the same quarter last year. The average value of a home sold by Connells was […]

Purplebricks appears to be streets ahead of rivals

May 5, 2016

A new league table of online agents shows just how decisively Purplebricks has pulled away from the pack. The table, put together by SellingUp, ranks 35 online agents. It did so by assessing how many properties each had available for sale on Zoopla this week. The rankings show Purplebricks in first place with 6,582 properties; […]

Lettings firms with same director thrown out of Ombudsman scheme

Two letting agents sharing a common director have been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme following complaints from landlords and tenants. Consumers in Southampton are being warned that both agencies, trading as ‘The Flat Agency & Michael Browns Ltd’ and ‘Property Vibe Ltd’ have been expelled from lettings redress membership of TPO scheme for at […]

Hunters’ founder Kevin Hollinrake MP: Case for capping letting agent fees

Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake – the founder and now chairman of Hunters – has told the Commons that there is an argument for capping fees charged by letting agents. However, Hollinrake warned against abolishing the fees altogether. The Government itself has warned that it will keep letting agent fees under review – and may act. […]

New call for estate agents to be licensed as MPs probe money laundering

MPs have been told that estate agents should be licensed as billions of pounds ‘slosh’ through London, with some of the world’s vilest dictators buying up property. The recommendation is now likely to be put through to the Government. Housing expert Henry Pryor made the call for licensing when appearing before the Home Affairs Select […]

New boss announced for Hamptons after Countrywide restructure

Countrywide has appointed a new managing director for Hamptons International. He is not from an estate agency background but Countrywide emphasised his retail commitment to ensuring customers’ journeys. Nick Hughes has previously worked across the leisure, hospitality and banking sectors, with his CV including senior roles at Barclays and American Express. Hughes will also join […]

Call for rent caps when properties let to tenants on benefit

A local politician claims to be in talks with the Government about introducing rent caps when landlords let to tenants on benefit. The leader of Southend Council says his town is being used as a “dumping ground” by London borough councils. With Local Housing Allowance, and now the housing allowance element within Universal Credit, local […]

Letting fees: Advertising watchdog upholds complaint against Hamptons

May 4, 2016

The advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint that the way Hamptons International showed its letting fees was misleading. Hamptons – part of Countrywide – has been told it must make its fees clearer in future. In an Advertising Standards Authority case with implications for a number of agents, Hamptons had displayed its fees on its […]

Tory MP calls for end to ‘exploitative fees’ charged by letting agents

Last night, the Government rejected a bid to have letting agent fees capped or banned in a debate called by a Tory MP who hit out out at letting agents charging “arbitrary and exploitative fees”. Conservative MP for Lewes Maria Caulfield called for the fees to be capped. She made her views clear on the […]

Complaint about Purplebricks’ claims is informally resolved

A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about claims on Purplebricks’ website has been informally resolved. The website stated: “Facts and figures . . . No. 1 . . . 17 days average time to find a buyer . . . 99% of properties sold or let achieve asking price or more . . . […]

Portico snaps up eight-branch agent – and reveals £10m for more purchases

London estate agent Portico has acquired an eight-branch business, Spencers, and announced that it has a £10m facility for further acquisitions. Spencers, based in East London, was founded 24 years ago. It will continue to trade under its existing name with managing director Alan Spencer and operations director Keith Cross retained as consultants. Portico was […]

Picture of the Week: All 35 of them!

Here is our Picture of the Week. Or, to be precise, our 35 Pictures of the Week. And it is only a one-bedroom flat. There is white paint. A lot of it. There are doors which are open and shut. And if you persevere until shot number 26 you will see a tap. It is […]

Jail for trusted manager who stole from agency at rate of £40,000 a year for decade

May 3, 2016

Angela Clift, an employee of Keith Pattinson estate agents in Newcastle, has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison for stealing almost £400,000 from her employers. She admitted theft at Newcastle Crown Court. Jailing her, Judge Tim Gittins said: “The scale of offending is breathtaking, it was vast.” Clift, 48, of West […]

Would-be crime czar is online agent ‘sacked from previous job for gross misconduct’

An online estate agent who is bidding to become a police commissioner was previously sacked from his job at the former Serious Organised Crime Agency for gross misconduct. The Liverpool Echo and BBC both report that David Burgess-Joyce, a candidate for the £85,000 a year job of being Merseyside’s police and crime commissioner, was sacked […]

Plight of family where landlords refuse point blank to consider tenants on benefits

What happens to tenants who have to leave their home because the landlord is selling up? An unusually troubling account on Property Tribes is well worth reading – and it is just possible that there are local agents who may be able to help. The piece is all the more moving because it is written […]

Dissident Countrywide investors vote against bosses’ pay packages

Just over 20% of shareholders at last week’s Countrywide AGM voted against the remuneration report. The report reveals that CEO Alison Platt is on a basic salary of £575,000 while finance director Jim Clark is on a basic of £340,000. However, the basics represent 28% and 30% respectively of what each could potentially earn this […]

New managing director for LSLi announced

Greg Young, managing director of Intercounty Estate Agents, has been promoted to managing director of LSLi with immediate effect. LSLi is the arm of LSL that provides growth and development and also exit opportunities for independent estate and letting agents. It currently has nine estate agency brands under its banner, including Intercounty and Davis Tate, […]

Stories of the week – and what you made of them

April 30, 2016

It’s been another hectic week for the industry with portal juggling getting more attention and trading updates from some of the big names First, portal juggling started to go mainstream Portal juggling has been a key area of concern for EYE readers for months, and finally the mainstream press is taking notice. The Financial Times […]

The X Factor: How will Boris’s successor influence London housing market?

Londoners will go to the polls next Thursday to decide on a new Mayor of London. Whoever replaces Boris Johnson could have an influence on the way London agents run your business. All candidates agree 50,000 extra homes are needed each year, but there are some policy differences when it comes to regulation in the […]

Hunters reports big increases in revenues and profits

April 29, 2016

Hunters, which floated on the Alternative Investment Market last July, has issued a strong set of maiden results to the City. Network income was up 42% on the previous year at £30.2m, turnover up by 31% to stand at £12m, and pre-tax profits up 59%. Earnings before costs (EBITDA) were up 46% to £1.57m. Hunters, […]

Negative Twitter comments represent only ‘tiny fraction’ of business, says Purplebricks

Purplebricks has emphasised that negative comments on Twitter represent only a very tiny handful of customers. PDFs of some Twitter comments are said to be circulating and EYE received copies, which we showed to Purplebricks. A spokesperson told us: “Purplebricks is proud of the exceptional level of customer service that we offer to our customers […]

Rise in private rental stock more than triples increase in owner-occupier homes

The latest official estimates on housing stock in England have been published by the Government. As of March 31 last year, there were 23.5m homes – up by 171,000 on March 31, 2014. Of that number, 14.7m were owner occupied, 4.7m were in the private rented sector and 4m were social rented homes. Between March […]

Countrywide snaps up single-office letting agency – and want more

Countrywide has acquired a single-branch letting business – and made it clear that it is still on the hunt for further acquisitions of any size almost anywhere in the UK. Its latest purchase is of the Letting Bureau in Colne, Lancashire. It will be rebranded as Entwistle Green from May 9. All staff are being […]

More first-time buyers climbing on to the housing ladder

Life may be getting tougher for buy-to-let landlords but first-time buyers could finally be catching a break. Data from Your Move and Reeds Rains’ latest First-Time Buyer Tracker show that the highest number of first-time buyers since June 2014 climbed on to the ladder in March. The total number of completed first-time buyer transactions last […]

NEWS FLASH: Industry regulator investigating almost 50 cases against agents

April 28, 2016

The industry regulator has received 248 complaints about estate agents since it came into being just over two years ago and is currently investigating 48 live cases. However, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team has been unable to state how many cases it has proactively initiated in its role as a result of its […]

First the surge – now comes the slowdown, says Foxtons

Sales at Foxtons were up 28.5% in the first quarter of this year compared with the first three months of 2015. The rise in sales pushed revenue up 16.2% in the quarter, as purchasers of second homes and buy-to-let properties rushed to beat the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge. Because a “large number” of completions were […]

Purplebricks shares soar to new heights

Purplebricks shares hit their highest-ever price yesterday, touching 180p. Although they suffered a sharp fall shortly before the close and ended at 166p, it still meant that the shares rose 4.75p on the day, giving it a market capitalisation just shy of £400m. Purplebricks floated on the stock market in mid-December at 100p. Canny investors […]

Petition against letting agent fees gathers over 250,000 signatures

A petition against letting agent fees has now gathered some 250,000 signatures. It has been organised by Vicky Spratt, from young women’s online publication the Debrief. Earlier this week, Spratt appeared on The BBC’s Daily Politics show, presenting a a two-minute film explaining why she thinks the rental market is broken, and calling for people […]

Many landlords ‘will stop renting to tenants on Universal Credit’

The Government’s new Universal Credit payments could have a disastrous impact on the private rented sector, with more and more landlords refusing to let to tenants on benefits. The warning comes from the Residential Landlords Association. It says landlords are frustrated with the new system, which sees benefits paid directly to claimants, who are then […]

Thanks George! Landlords’ confidence at its lowest ebb for a decade

Buy-to-let tax changes have pushed landlord confidence down to its lowest level for ten years, a consultancy has claimed. BDRC Continental has run a quarterly landlord panel, based on more than 1,000 National Landlord Association members, since 2006 and has found just 41% are feeling positive of the sector. This is the lowest level of […]

Agent speaks of horror after woman viewer falls down well

April 27, 2016

An estate agent boss has told of his shock after a woman fell 30 feet down a disused well during a viewing. The 39-year-old fell at around noon on Saturday, with her ordeal lasting until 3.30pm when she was pulled out. Miraculously, she was able to walk to the ambulance which took her to hospital. […]