Suttons City Living Blog

Hamptons ups its forecast for house price inflation

August 11, 2014

| August 11, 2014 Hamptons International – part of Countrywide – this morning significantly hiked its forecast for house price inflation this year, but at the same time warned that the pace of growth is softening. Last autumn, Hamptons forecast 6% house price inflation for this year. This morning, that figure was upped to 8.5%. […]

Immigration checking guidance: Home Office publishes ‘factsheet’

August 8, 2014

| August 8, 2014 Guidance that has been urgently awaited by letting agents and landlords on checking the immigration status of prospective tenants has been finally issued. Most of it appears to fall well short of anything that could be described as useful. The Home Office document is called ‘Factsheet: Tackling illegal immigration in privately […]

Fergus Wilson loses appeal after assault on agent

| August 8, 2014 Britain’s best known landlord, Fergus Wilson, has lost his appeal against a conviction for assaulting an agent. Wilson, who is in the process of trying to sell his massive portfolio of properties in Kent, had been convicted of common assault against agent Dan Wells. He appealed, in a four-day hearing at […]

Interest rate rise could be as soon as October, warns Knight Frank

| August 8, 2014 Knight Frank has warned that the first rate rise could be as early as this autumn. The warning comes as estate agency group LSL this morning reported on the housing market, saying that there were 90,000 sales in July, a 10% monthly increase. LSL said there were 90,000 sales in July […]

Savills sell 20% more homes in first six months

| August 8, 2014 Savills made profits in the UK in the first half of this year that were 24% up on the same period last year. UK revenue was up by 15%. The UK performance of the company offset weakness in Hong Kong, China and Singapore where revenues dipped 7%. The UK was also […]

I’m an agent – and I’ve just been gazumped

| August 8, 2014 An agent has publicly revealed how he has been gazumped on his own home purchase. Writing in the London Evening Standard’s ‘diary of an estate agent’ column, Jonathan Hudson, of Hudson Property, said he was devastated by the turn of events. He told Eye that the gazumping has only just happened. […]

Knight Frank in court facing two charges in CPRs prosecution

August 7, 2014

| August 7, 2014 Knight Frank has been accused in court of misrepresenting a property in its marketing particulars. The case opened on Tuesday and has been adjourned until September 23. If it goes ahead, it could prove an important test case under Consumer Protection Regulations. The case, brought by Dumfries & Galloway Trading Standards, […]

Purplebricks prepares to expand into midlands

| August 7, 2014 Purplebricks.com is getting set to expand into the midlands after launching in the south-east in April. It is listing 12 areas where it is now looking for ‘Local Property Experts’: North Birmingham South Birmingham Derby Nottingham Worcester & Hereford Dudley & Wolverhampton Oxfordshire North Loughborough, Grantham & Melton Mowbray Walsall & […]

Countrywide spends £25m so far this year on buying up letting agents

| August 7, 2014 Countrywide says it has so far spent £25m on buying lettings businesses this year – and is hungry for more. In the last 12 months it has acquired 23 lettings businesses, including 16 in the first half of this year. Over a six-year period it has spent £60m on more than […]

Property Ombudsman calls on all letting agents to have CMP

| August 7, 2014 The Property Ombudsman has again called for all letting agents to have Client Money Protection – and for landlords to actively choose agents with the insurance. The call comes in the wake of several cases where landlords have lost thousands of pounds in rental income by dealing with agents without cover […]

Central London market wobbles as buyers get election jitters

| August 7, 2014 Strutt & Parker says that a wobble in the central London market is being caused by uncertainty over next year’s General Election and the possibility of a mansion tax. The firm said there was a 17.2% slide in the number of “cheaper” house sales – those below £2m – in the […]

Letting agents prosecuted and warned by council on warpath

August 6, 2014

| August 6, 2014 A council that has been on the warpath against letting agents has so far taken two to court, with another five awaiting prosecution, and a further 32 under investigation. One of the agents successfully taken to court pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations after […]

EasyProperty – with Harry Hill as chairman – aims to ‘mortally damage’ agents

| August 6, 2014 EasyProperty is planning to “disrupt” the property market and “mortally damage” high street agents. It says it will attack agents on both costs and service. Its chairman Harry Hill is the former Countrywide boss and Rightmove founder, while easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is a “brand” partner. Hill’s latest business ventures […]

Eric Walker calls for all deposits to be held in custodial scheme

| August 6, 2014 Eric Walker, managing director of lettings franchise company Northwood, has called for all tenancy deposits to be held in a custodial scheme. Walker, an ARLA member who has been a strong advocate of SAFEagent, has made his views clear in a blog on perhaps an unlikely place. It appears on the […]

Murder property sells for just £130,000

| August 6, 2014 A property which was the scene of a murder has sold at auction for £130,000. The former village store and post office, which includes a three-bedroom flat, was guided at that price by Hunters. In 2006, the property had been put up for sale at £450,000, but was withdrawn from the […]

Four out of five London homes now selling for under asking price

| August 6, 2014 There is further confirmation that London’s property market is cooling, with 80% of homes sold in July going for under the asking price. According to Lonres, which collects information from agents right across central London, “the bubble is now deflating”. Just over a fifth of all properties currently available to buy […]

Rightmove launches probe into 300-plus agents at Canary Wharf

August 4, 2014

| August 4, 2014 Rightmove is investigating agents in Britain’s single trendiest area – booming, high-profile and mega-affluent Canary Wharf, London. The site says it is doing so after an “unusually high” volume of customer complaints. The agents in Canary Wharf include all of the best-known names in UK agency such as Knight Frank, Savills, […]

Agents’ Mutual ‘no threat to big two portals’, say analysts

| August 4, 2014 City analysts are downplaying any threat to Rightmove by OnTheMarket, the portal to be launched in January by Agents’ Mutual. Catriona O’Grady, of UBS, said: “We believe the concerns are overdone and do not expect the service to have a significant impact on Rightmove.” Meanwhile, Jefferies International reiterated its ‘hold’ advice […]

Lomond Capital set to buy up many more UK letting agents

| August 4, 2014 Highly acquisitive lettings and property management firm Lomond Capital has received an undisclosed private equity investment, as it eyes up purchases of agencies across the UK. In just four years, from a cold start, Lomond has made 20 acquisitions and now has 7,500 properties under management. It started on the acquisition […]

Worries mount over leasehold management market

| August 4, 2014 The Government will not be asked to regulate the leasehold residential market. However, an official study of the residential property management sector has thrown up some serious early concerns – including rip-off charges, ‘bungs’ from tradesmen, poor service, little transparency and bad communication. The on-going study, which the Competition and Markets […]

Compensation proffered for garden city blight

| August 4, 2014 Households could receive State compensation if their home is blighted by a new garden city being built close by. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that such households could get council tax rebates during construction, or sell their homes to the State at a guaranteed price. The Government is currently suggesting […]

Connells reveals 85% rise in profits and ambitious acquisition plans

August 1, 2014

| August 1, 2014 Connells has announced an 85% rise in profits in the first half of this year – and made it clear that its acquisition plans mean it is ready to snap up plenty of other agency businesses, both large and small. It has also revealed the creation of 1,000 new jobs in […]

Countrywide chain set to have its best year on record

| August 1, 2014 Countrywide’s spectacular results, announced yesterday, showed the group’s strongest performance in seven years. The firm also said it is on course to deliver its best year on record. As reported in yesterday’s Eye, the UK’s largest chain reported income of £334.5m in the first half of this year – up 29% […]

Hatched’s Adam Day lays into Agents’ Mutual

| August 1, 2014 Online agent Adam Day of Hatched has thrown down the gauntlet to Agents’ Mutual. He has also accused the NAEA of discriminating against some of its own members – and taken a swipe at high street agents. He said: “I’ve actually been looking for properties myself recently, and having viewed three […]

Reminder: new TPO codes of practice launch today

| August 1, 2014 A quick but important reminder: the new TPO codes of practice for both sales and lettings come into force today. According to ombudsman Christopher Hamer: “They incorporate the many changes in legislation that have occurred over recent years, emphasising the importance of adhering to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations […]

What’s cooking? Strutt & Parker turn heat up for charity

| August 1, 2014 Strutt & Parker has launched a new charity cookery book featuring 52 celebrity recipes by actors, singers, chefs, politicians and sportspeople in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Highlights of the book, entitled Food with Heart, include David Cameron’s very own Italian pasta dish, which he likes to cook […]

Shadow housing minister makes house prices a political football

| August 1, 2014 A gloomy future for the housing market lies ahead if the Tories win next year’s General Election, Labour has warned. Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds predicted that home buyers would need an average deposit of £72,000. House prices would, she said, rise to an average of £359,000 by 2020 – 13 […]

City speculation on Rightmove and Zoopla merger

July 31, 2014

| July 31, 2014 There is City speculation that Rightmove and Zoopla could merge, according to the London Evening Standard. It follows the acquisition of US portal Trulia by its bigger rival Zillow, who have agreed a £2.1bn deal. The speculation is run under the headline “City bets on Zoopla and Rightmove after US mega-merger”. […]

Connells snaps up Peter Alan agency for £16.4m

| July 31, 2014 The Connells Group has acquired Peter Alan, with 26 branches across Wales, for £16.4m. Meanwhile, Countrywide this morning announced a huge 202% rise in profits for the first half of this year, together with a 29% rise in revenue. Countrywide said they were the strongest results for seven years. However, notably, […]

HIPs firm that came close to collapse marks turnaround

| July 31, 2014 The boss of a former Home Information Pack business which came close to going under after HIPs were abolished, has told the astonishing story of his firm’s turnaround. Peter Ambrose, of The Partnership, reinvented his proposition, as a conveyancing specialist taking referrals from estate agents. He now employs 34 people at […]

MovewithUs is sold in multi-million pound deal

July 30, 2014

| July 30, 2014 MovewithUs, one of the best known names in the estate agency world, has been acquired by the equity firm behind a fast growing new legal network, QualitySolicitors. The deal is intended to create Britain’s legal giant of the high street, as smaller firms squeezed by regulation and tight margins fall by […]

Rightmove puts a smile on City’s face as profits soar 22%

| July 30, 2014 Rightmove delivered to its shareholders a set of dazzling half-year results this morning, showing that its agents are now paying an average of £671 per month – a rise of 13% on the £593 per month they were paying last year. With the number of advertisers up 3%, there are now […]

Hunters goes hunter-gathering in merger deal

| July 30, 2014 Hunters Property Group, the 105-branch national estate and lettings agents, has united with a smaller estate agency business with an almost identical name. Hunters Group, based in the west midlands, has eight offices and the deal has been done on undisclosed terms. It is, however, being described as a merger and […]

Lenders raise forecast for number of home sales this year

| July 30, 2014 Lenders have lifted their forecasts for housing transactions this year. At the start of 2014, the Council of Mortgage Lenders was predicting 1.14m house sales. It is now forecasting 1.23m. It thinks transactions will dip slightly next year to 1.15m. Both sets of figures are well ahead of the market lows […]

More tenants happy to be evicted as they want a council house

| July 30, 2014 Evictions specialist Paul Shamplina says that most landlords are not serving Section 21 notices as “retaliatory evictions” but simply because of changes in the market. He said that some landlords want to cash in on a stronger sales market. In other cases, he says the tenants themselves want to be evicted […]

House prices fall across most of England and Wales

July 29, 2014

| July 29, 2014 The average house price across England and Wales stood at £172,011 in June, the Land Registry has reported. The figure means that house prices rose just 0.1% from May, but were up 6.4% from June 2013. The average house price is still below the peak of November 2007 when the Land […]

America’s largest property portal buys its nearest rival for £2bn

| July 29, 2014 In a move for which the UK equivalent would be Rightmove acquiring Zoopla, giant American property portal Zillow has announced its purchase of heavyweight rival Trulia. It is paying $3.5bn (approx £2bn). The transaction will be all in stocks, and is expected to complete next year. The combined company will operate […]

Young agent’s death shocks colleagues and football world

| July 29, 2014 A young agent has died suddenly while on holiday in Turkey. Jordan Tabor, 23, worked for Taylor’s Estate Agents in Oxford. The firm said he was a funny and kind person who had brought a smile to everyone’s faces. Jordan, who is believed to have fallen from his hotel room, spent […]

American hired to head up new agents’ London operation

| July 29, 2014 Keller Williams, the American franchise brand planning to launch in the UK, has appointed a chief executive to develop the London operation. She is Pam O’Bryant, who was previously chief executive for Keller Williams in Arlington, Virginia, in the States. She has spent over 30 years in the property industry although […]

Quarter of young working adults can’t afford housing

| July 29, 2014 One quarter of all under-35s who have jobs are still living at home, according to Shelter. The charity said that 48% of 20 to 34-year-olds are doing so because they cannot afford to move out. Data from the last Census, released to Shelter, showed 1.97m working young adults living with their […]

Landlord says legal challenge to licensing scheme was ‘last resort’

July 28, 2014

| July 28, 2014 The landlord who is mounting a legal challenge to his local authority’s plans to introduce a selective licensing scheme, has said he is taking the action as a last resort. Constantinos Regas, who has applied for a judicial review of Enfield Council’s scheme, said that his concerns had so far been […]

Rents creep up by just 1% in a year across Britain, says ONS

| July 28, 2014 Private rents rose across Britain by 1% in the 12 months to June this year, the Office for National Statistics has reported. However, agreed rents for new tenancies have shot up by 6.3% in the last year, according to another new report, published this morning. The ONS report – which rather […]

Nearly £3bn protected by deposit schemes

| July 28, 2014 The three tenancy deposit protection schemes between them are protecting 2.85m deposits worth nearly £3bn. The figures, accurate as of March 31 this year, are released in a new briefing paper by Steve Harriott, chief executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The paper says the average tenancy deposit is £1,006 and […]

This is more than seasonal, says Hometrack, as housing market growth slows

July 25, 2014

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | July 25, 2014 The pace of house price growth has slowed to the weakest in 18 months – and the London market is cooling “rapidly” and “dramatically”. Reporting this morning, Hometrack said that weakening demand and a slowing in property price inflation are “more than just a seasonal slowdown”. It […]

Clash after NAEA’s claims on first-time buyers make national headlines

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | July 25, 2014 First-time buyer numbers have increased, property chain LSL reported this morning. It said that numbers of first-time buyers rose by over 30,000 in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year. The report chimes with what Halifax has also said, but it […]

Agent wins landmark ruling in licensing case

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | July 25, 2014 An agent has won a significant victory which has major implications for all local authority licensing schemes. Paul Brown, of Eafield & Maple estate and letting agents, challenged his local authority, Hyndburn Borough Council in Lancashire. The challenge, heard by a residential property tribunal, was to conditions […]

‘We’d be crucified without the portals’ says top agent

July 4, 2014

A leading high street agent has admitted that his business would be “crucified” without the current portals. Asked about Rightmove and Zoopla’s importance to his business, Richard Barber, sales partner at WA Ellis in London, said his firm would struggle without Zoopla brand PrimeLocation, and Rightmove. He said: “It is nothing to do with money, […]

Council gets set to introduce rent controls

A local authority is considering the introduction of rent controls. If successful, other councils could use the policy as a template. The plan is to offer private landlords financial incentives in the form of loans for capital repairs, if they agree to cap rent rises in line with inflation. Labour-led Camden Council in London has […]

‘Real reason why Rightmove boss sold shares’

Here is one of those newspaper snippets that seems carefully designed to irritate its target. In this case, it is Rightmove – and to a lesser extent, Zoopla – that has reason to feel needled. In the City diary in the Telegraph, the headline “Why Rightmove chief won’t be calling agents for London house” is […]

Agents asked to help in battle against serious crime

The Home Office has launched a Crimestoppers’ campaign aimed at raising awareness among letting agents and landlords of the potential for their properties to be used for commercial cannabis. A new booklet has been published as part of the campaign, giving guidance on how to spot the signs of commercial cannabis cultivation, how to report […]