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Record number of complaints to TPO after law change

February 24, 2015

| February 24, 2015 The Property Ombudsman scheme received a record number of complaints in the three months after all letting agents were forced by law to join a redress scheme. Between October 1 and the end of the year, TPO was contacted by 2,246 tenants and landlords unhappy with agents. The number of lettings […]

Agents’ phone service Moneypenny launches in America

| February 24, 2015 Moneypenny, the telephone answering service used by many agents, has launched in the US. The company, which in 15 years has gone from a £10,000 start-up to the biggest business of its kind in the world, handles more than 9m calls a year for over 7,000 businesses in the UK. The […]

New crowdfunding campaign launches to back ‘next big thing’ in property

February 23, 2015

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 A new crowdfunding campaign opens today, enabling the public to invest in the “next big thing” in the property sector. Entrepreneur Faisal Butt said: “We are trying to invest in companies that are changing the property sector. “People working in the industry know property is changing. “More […]

Men jailed after hoodwinking ‘many’ letting agents in £35m drugs case

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 Letting agents were repeatedly conned by crooks looking for premises which could be used to grow cannabis. The sting was masterminded by Nirmal and Darryl Saund, who posed as respectable businessmen supposedly operating out of a company called The Cayman Group. Police said the pair acted “with […]

Agents facing competition from their own portal (apparently)

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 It’s a bit worrying when a national newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, explains to its readers: “Britain’s high street estate agents, already competing against low-cost online rivals and a new listings website, OnTheMarket, are now facing a threat from across the Atlantic.” But this was spotted in yesterday’s […]

ARLA launches monthly reports into PRS

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 ARLA has launched new monthly reports into the private rented sector, aimed at tracking key trends. Similar to the NAEA monthly surveys, the ARLA reports will be conducted among members. The first ARLA report, covering January, found that 27% of ARLA ‘licensed’ branches saw rents increase last […]

Housing costs for home owners drop but rise for tenants

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 Home owners are much better off than tenants in terms of the proportion of their income spent on housing costs. A “dramatic fall in interest rates” meant that housing costs for owner occupiers with a mortgage fell 38% between 2007 and 2013, taking the proportion of their […]

Fighting talk! Big T is still spitting about Spitting Image

February 21, 2015

This, That, and very little of the Other. Trevor Kent Written by: Trevor Kent | February 21, 2015 There’s estate agent bashing and there’s hammering a stake – with the For Sale board still attached – through our hearts. It must have been about late ’89 or maybe ’90 when the usually fantastic satirical show […]

Hostilities continue between Zoopla and OnTheMarket

February 20, 2015

| February 20, 2015 Hostilities show no sign of a ceasefire between Zoopla and OnTheMarket. Zoopla has hit out angrily at OTM boss Ian Springett’s latest update to members in which he announced the site’s millionth unique visitor and queried Zoopla’s own inventory. Springett said he stands by what he has said. Lawrence Hall, head […]

‘Proptech’ start-up says it will shake up status quo in lettings market

| February 20, 2015 Rental platform Movebubble says that in less than six months it has become a serious player in the lettings market. The business, which describes itself as “the LinkedIn of the private rental sector”, says that since launch there have been 1m-plus property searches on its platform, with over 30,000 tenants, private […]

House price growth shifts to lower-value cities, says Hometrack

| February 20, 2015 The impetus behind continuing UK house price growth is shifting towards cities like Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow, which bottomed out only two years ago, away from the cities that started to recover in 2009 but have since slowed. Hometrack said this morning that over the last six years, London and Oxford […]

Rents show another annual rise – but fewer tenants in arrears

| February 20, 2015 Rents are now 16.3% higher than five years ago, having risen by 2.8% over the last 12 months, according to the latest buy-to-let Index from Your Move and Reeds Rains published this morning. In absolute terms, the average residential rent across England & Wales has grown by £107 since January 2010 […]

Mortgage lending trails off in ‘weak’ start to year, say lenders

| February 20, 2015 Mortgage lending dropped last month on both a monthly and annual basis, lenders have said. The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £14.3bn in January. This represents a 14% decrease from December’s gross lending total (£16.6bn) and is 11% lower than the £16.1bn lent in January last […]

‘How to burgle a home using property portals’ – advice on site which lists agents

February 19, 2015

| February 19, 2015 Top London agents, including Savills, Knight Frank, Douglas & Gordon, Marsh & Parsons, Chestertons, Winkworth and Savills, are all on a site which tells people how to burgle properties. The apparently tongue-in-cheek article, but which is likely to shock many in the industry as being totally inappropriate, appears on a website […]

London agents earned £1.1bn in fees last year, claims online agent

| February 19, 2015 High street estate agents in London earned £1.1bn in fees last year – an average of £9,384 per property sale and up 23% on 2013. As this is reported by both the Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard, it’s obviously true. In Kensington & Chelsea, agents earned £73m in commission, […]

Agency boards firm ploughs nearly £2m investment into growth

| February 19, 2015 Agency boards firm Kremer Signs is set to grow by a third this year by ploughing an investment of nearly £2m into its business. It has already invested £1.5m in new premises to accommodate its ongoing expansion. The site in Hambridge Lane, Newbury, houses Kremer’s head office and digital print centre […]

Solicitor working at estate agency pleads guilty to embezzlement

| February 19, 2015 A solicitor who worked in a Scottish estate agency and legal firm has admitted embezzling £13,000 of clients’ money. Steven Crommie, 37, took the money between 2013 and 2014 while working at Bell Park Kerridge in Dumfries. The court heard that a member of staff had noted that Crommie was taking […]

‘Brilliant’ agents praised for their hands-on support for homeless cause

| February 19, 2015 An estate agency which has done much more than simply fund-raise has been praised by a homelessness charity for the way their staff have engaged with it. Streets Ahead has been involved with Nightwatch for five years, offering both practical and financial support. Staff who recently handed £5,000 to the charity […]

OnTheMarket announces millionth visitor as war with Zoopla escalates

February 18, 2015

| February 18, 2015 OnTheMarket has announced its one millionth unique visitor. The site, which acknowledged “the PR battle” before launch, also reiterated its claim that 90% of its member offices have chosen to retain Rightmove as their “one other portal”. The site, which launched on January 26, last night gave a marked nod to […]

Online directory service 192.com to launch into property sector

| February 18, 2015 The online ‘directory’ service 192.com is launching a new service giving information on any property in England and Wales. Aimed at home hunters who might be looking to buy or rent, the new Property Reports, expected to go live next week, will cost £17.99 each including VAT. Each gives valuations based […]

Spark Energy agrees to pay £250,000 after damning regulator report

| February 18, 2015 Spark Energy, which supplies energy to tenants who are signed up by letting agents, has agreed to pay a £250,000 penalty to Citizens Advice after a probe by regulator Ofgem. Ofgem found that Spark had deliberately blocked requests to switch to a different supplier between June 2010 and May 2013. During […]

Firm that ran estate agency ordered into liquidation to protect public

| February 18, 2015 A company that operated an estate agency business has been ordered into liquidation on the grounds of protecting the public interest. A sum of half a million pounds remains unaccounted for. Matrix Company 1 ran Crown Property Professionals from 151 Rushey Green, Catford, south London, and had been under investigation by […]

UK house prices rose almost 10% in 2014, says ONS

| February 18, 2015 UK residential property prices rose 9.8% last year, the Office for National Statistics has said. Annual house price inflation was 10.2% in England, 4% in Wales, 5.5% in Scotland and 4.9% in Northern Ireland. On a “seasonally adjusted” basis, average house prices increased by 0.7% between November and December. In December […]

Online agencies ‘will soon force poor high street rivals out of business’

February 17, 2015

| February 17, 2015 Online estate agencies will force poor high street agents out of business within five years. The claim has come from property search firm The Buying Agents. It said that traditional agents delivering bad customer service will shut by 2020 as a result of “the growing number of quality online-based agencies emerging […]

London agent wins instruction to market £1.4m flats in Mumbai

| February 17, 2015 A London agent, Wetherell, has been appointed by an Indian developer to market apartments in what will be the world’s tallest residential skyscraper. World One Tower in Mumbai will be 117 storeys high when construction is completed next year. Developers Lodha Group want to target Indian super-rich buyers based in London. […]

Home owners to be big winners from short-term rental change

| February 17, 2015 Home owners in London stand to earn a small fortune if the Deregulation Bill, currently at its final review in the House of Lords, receives Royal Assent as expected. It would allow London residents to rent out rooms in their homes, or their entire property, for up to three months of […]

Immigration ‘right to rent’ trials showing discrimination

| February 17, 2015 Prospective tenants with foreign accents are being rejected, according to the first indications from the Immigration Act “right to rent” pilot scheme. According to ongoing monitoring of a pilot scheme by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, new rules which require landlords or their agents to check the immigration […]

Pre-election jitters ‘spooking the market’, says haart

| February 17, 2015 The average London house price slipped back 1% between December and January, and is now the same as a year ago. According to estate agents haart, the zero annual inflation for London compares with the overall UK rise in house prices of 8.8% over the last year. Haart puts average UK […]

Property drought tightens its grip with record low levels of stock

February 16, 2015

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 16, 2015 As the property drought tightens its grip, average asking prices for property new to the marked bounced up by 2.1% over the last month, Rightmove reported this morning. The increase equates to an average of £5,729, with annual asking prices up 8.2% on this time last year. […]

Referencing firm expands as it constantly monitors tenants’ credit records

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 16, 2015 A tenancy reference and insurance firm launched by lettings chain Martin & Co is recruiting ten full-time employees to add to its existing 38 headcount. The Landlord Hub, based in Peterborough, was launched in 2012 with just five staff to serve the Martin & Co network. However, […]

Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward set to open more branches

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 16, 2015 Major London agent Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward is to add to its network with several new openings this year, staff have been told. The firm already has over 50 branches across the capital, and its business divisions include block management, commercial property and surveying. Altogether it employs […]

Wake up and smell the coffee! A good way for agents to use local papers?

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 16, 2015 We enjoy some of these local newspaper editorial interviews with agents – and here is one of the best we’ve seen. It features Gavin Juniper, who runs an estate agency with a difference, Housepresso in Kentish Town, London. As well as selling homes, Juniper is also a […]

Agents Giving gets ready for a bumper year of events

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 16, 2015 The estate agency world has a lot to look forward to this year as Agents Giving confirms the fundraising events it has planned. Flagship events include a golf day, a gala ball, a ‘soapbox challenge’ and a dedicated ‘Agents Giving Day’ on which agents will be encouraged […]

In which our columnist runs foul of the ‘only one other cake’ rule at teatime

February 14, 2015

This, That, and very little of the Other. Trevor Kent Written by: Trevor Kent | February 14, 2015 My failure to columnise last week was entirely due to the latest LGF’s insistence that I take her for a short break to what she so kindly described as my ‘spiritual home’, viz Holmfirth in beautiful West […]

We are NOT a ‘short-term’ event, declares OnTheMarket

February 13, 2015

| February 13, 2015 OnTheMarket boss Ian Springett has countered claims made in yesterday’s trading statement by Zoopla that OTM would be a “short-term” event. Springett said that the phrase demonstrated “just how out of touch Zoopla is with the commitment of our member agents to create a superior market-leading, mutually run property portal”. The […]

London continues to turn as supply shoots up and demand slackens

| February 13, 2015 Sellers’ asking prices are rising quickly in London and the south-east, the property portal Home has reported. However, it says that supply in the capital “seems to be overwhelming demand” as the typical time on market in London is now 20 days longer than it was in February last year. Home […]

Amendments on tenancy deposits and evictions get through Lords

| February 13, 2015 Controversial measures to deal with so-called retaliatory evictions have been approved by the House of Lords. A Government amendment to the Deregulation Bill would prevent repossession of a private rental property within six months of a tenant’s written complaint about the condition of a property where the landlord had not given […]

Tragedy as 24-year-old estate agent is killed in crash

| February 13, 2015 A 24-year-old estate agent was killed this week when his X-type Jaguar flipped over on a road and hit a tree. Joseph Root was a senior negotiator with Sinclair Hammelton Estate Agents in Bromley, Kent. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, which police are investigating. He had […]

Major lender cuts amount it will lend to first-time buyers

| February 13, 2015 Santander is today cutting its lending limit from five times to four-and-half times salary for first-time buyers. It means that a first-timer earning £40,000 will not be able to borrow £200,000 any more, but a maximum of £180,000. The move by Santander follows Barclays which last month cut its limit from […]

Purplebricks overtakes eMoov – and Tepilo is gaining listings too

February 12, 2015

| February 12, 2015 New research has shown that Purplebricks is topping a leader board of online agents with a national presence. Although Purplebricks – advertised in a prime time slot last night during ITV programme Midsomer Murders – describes itself as a hybrid model, it has been included in a number crunching exercise by […]

Zoopla tells City of loss of agents due to OTM launch

| February 12, 2015 Zoopla this morning reported what one analyst described as “significant agent losses”. Zoopla said in a trading statement that it had record levels of consumer traffic, with 50.5m visits in January. It said that it had grown its reach and audience “significantly” and was continuing to invest in marketing its brands […]

Buyer interest is fading away, says RICS

| February 12, 2015 The housing market across England and Wales is continuing to cool, the RICS said this morning. Only 2% of its estate agency members are expecting prices to rise over the next three month although there is more optimism on transaction levels, which 48% expect to increase. The RICS said that in […]

New rents shoot up nearly 3% in a month, says Countrywide

| February 12, 2015 Rents rose strongly last month as demand outstripped supply, according to Countrywide. The average rent for newly let properties in the UK was £883 pcm, up from £859 in January 2014 – an increase of 2.8%. One and two-bedroom properties saw the biggest increase in rent, up 8.5% and 3.6% to […]

Rats! The tenants let them in, claims landlord in court case

| February 12, 2015 A landlord prosecuted over a run-down house said that rats were in the property because his tenants had opened the door and let them in. Kamran Qurban, 26, was renting out all seven bedrooms of the three-storey house but had failed to register it as a House in Multiple Occupation. Aylesbury […]

Portals war hots up as Zoopla claims OTM defectors are returning

February 11, 2015

| February 11, 2015 Eye had this press release from Zoopla late yesterday, which we reprint in full below: “As latest independent data shows ZPG audience around 100x that of OTM The latest data from independent web monitoring firm Hitwise shows that over the first two weeks since the launch of OnTheMarket (OTM) it has […]

Zoopla defends itself after agent’s attack on misleading ‘valuations’

| February 11, 2015 Zoopla has defended its online valuations, saying they are simply estimates. A story in the Hull Daily Mail quotes an agent, Freda Dean, manager of Zest – which displays prominent OnTheMarket branding in its window – saying that the valuations are panicking some home owners, while raising false hopes in others. […]

Broker cuts forecasts for both Rightmove and Zoopla after OTM launch

| February 11, 2015 Two new analysts’ reports have come up with numbers following the launch of OnTheMarket. Broker Canaccord Genuity has cut its forecasts for both Zoopla and Rightmove, but played down the impact of OTM. According to Canaccord, the estimated number of estate agent offices using Rightmove since January 26 has fallen by […]

So whodunnit? We’re putting out a reward for ConTheMarket

| February 11, 2015 It is possibly the greatest whodunnit since JR was shot, suggested one of Eye’s posters yesterday. We are of course talking about the Twitter account, ConTheMarket. We only had two suspects but both have eliminated themselves. So, given that it is neither Stephen Jury nor Russell Quirk – even though the […]

‘Estimated savings’ on adverts not misleading, insists eMoov

| February 11, 2015 Online agent eMoov has defended its use of “estimated savings” shown on properties listed online. Yesterday, Eric Walker, managing director of franchising business Northwood, drew attention in a post on Eye to an eMoov listing which quoted a “saving” on a particular property. However, could the “saving” perhaps be seen as […]

New property search app with Zoopla listings hits out at OnTheMarket

February 10, 2015

| February 10, 2015 A new property search app has launched whose listings are all powered by Zoopla. Patch claims to be the first property app to be fully native to the iPhone, for which it has been specially developed. This is claimed to give it a better look and feel, and to make it […]