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ARLA and RLA unveil Autumn Statement wish lists

October 14, 2016

ARLA is calling for government regulation of letting agents as well as more tax allowances for landlords to make improvements to their property, as campaigners gear up for Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement on November 23. Explaining why regulation is needed, ARLA says in its submission: “In the absence of overarching Government regulation of […]

Portal juggling: ‘We will act’, regulator promises agents

October 13, 2016

James Munro, team leader of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, has pledged to take enforcement action against any agent identified as being engaged in ‘portal juggling’. Munro was on a property panel discussion at yesterday’s well-attended Property Ombudsman conference in which he made the industry regulator’s position very clear. Munro said that if […]

ARLA slams ‘secret’ database of rogue letting agents and landlords

A ‘secret’ list of banned letting agents and landlords will be of very little use, ARLA has warned. In a briefing note this week to MPs, ARLA raised its concerns that the proposed database of banned agents and landlords will only be available for inspection by local councils and the Department for Communities and Local […]

Online estate agent is kicked off Rightmove

OwnerSellers, which says it is the only free online agent in the UK, has been kicked off Rightmove. EYE featured the firm in our newsletter yesterday morning, with its expulsion from Rightmove announced by the evening. OwnerSellers charges 0% commission although does charge for add-ons such as EPCs and boards, saying that it enables sellers […]

Buyers gradually returning to housing market, says RICS

Buyers are shrugging off post-Brexit vote jitters and are slowly returning to the housing market, the RICS said this morning. The body said that buyer demand has increased for the first time in seven months, and that market confidence continues to improve. However, while home buyer demand rose modestly, the number of new instructions being […]

Strong lending for house purchase suggests buyer confidence in market

Mortgage lending for house buying purposes was up 11% in August on the same month last year – despite a drop of almost 40% in buy-to-let borrowing for house purchase. First-time buyers borrowed £5.1bn, up 13% on July and 24% on August last year. This equated to 31,800 loans, up 12% month-on-month and 19% year-on-year. […]

Online firm being re-vetted by Rightmove says sellers could have saved almost £2bn in fees

October 12, 2016

A business claiming to be the UK’s only free online estate agency and which says that UK vendors could have saved themselves over £1.87bn in agency fees in the first half of this year is being re-vetted by Rightmove. OwnerSellers charges 0% and effectively offers free space on Rightmove and Zoopla – whose logos feature […]

Agent Provocateur: Our new columnist sees the industry in a changed light

It has been a strange month. Leaving any company after 21 years – especially one as good as Douglas & Gordon – is always going to stir the emotions, and being able to say I’m not an estate agent after 37 years is also weird but somehow liberating. Life now, however, is like the beginning […]

Agent begs Chancellor to overturn Stamp Duty hikes as market falters

Haart is calling on the Chancellor to overturn the “negative” Stamp Duty hikes introduced by George Osborne after seeing house sales stumble in December. Haart says September sales were down 18.9% year on year, and 2.9% down on August. CEO Paul Smith said that the Stamp Duty hikes affecting those at the top end of […]

Is what agents do really so easy that it really is money for old rope?

Do agents really operate a ‘mysterious’ business model that makes pyramid selling look like a school tuck shop? That is the accusation of property writer Jayne Dowle in the Spectator, under the headline that suggests what agents do is money for old rope. She makes a number of claims, finding out first-hand that selling and […]

Agents failing to make tenants aware of their rights to switch energy supplier

Landlords and lettings agents are failing to make tenants aware of their rights when it comes to energy bills, MoneySupermarket has claimed. UK renters are missing out on savings worth more than £1bn collectively on their energy bills because they do not know they are able to switch suppliers, the website says. Analysis by the […]

End of an era for Andrews as chief executive Michael Robson steps down and successor named

October 11, 2016

One of the industry’s most respected figures, Michael Robson, has stepped down with immediate effect as chief executive of regional chain Andrews Property Group. It was announced yesterday that Robson, who has decided to retire, will remain with the company – which has 55 branches and some 700 staff – until the end of the […]

Knight Frank partners to share £84m bonus pot after record revenues

Knight Frank has reported a record turnover, despite experiencing a 20% fall in exchanges on homes worth over £750,000 since the EU referendum. However, the firm conceded that the aftermath of the Brexit vote has been “less dramatic” than feared, with volumes and prices down but activity gradually recovering. The number of offers being made […]

Fraud agent spared jail after ‘borrowing’ almost £160,000 to keep business going after crash

An agent whose business “fell off a cliff” during the financial crash and borrowed nearly £160,000 from clients and friends to try and keep his business afloat has been spared jail. The agent had promised high rates of return, but only £9,000 of the money was repaid. Russell Baker, 59, who ran Ashby’s Estate Agents […]

John Healey returns to Corbyn cabinet as shadow housing miniser

John Healey has returned to Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet as shadow secretary of state for housing. Healey – who was the last Labour government’s ninth and final housing minister in 12 years, holding the post between 2009 and 2010 – had previously had the shadow role until resigning this summer. Like other shadow ministers he […]

allAgents ratings site names its winning agents

Review site all Agents has today announced the results of its fourth annual Estate and Letting Agent Customer Experience Awards. The collated votes are said to have been taken from the reviews left by the customers of agents during the 12 months up to the end of August. Overall winner for 2016 is Manning Stainton. […]

All-women demonstration closes Foxtons office at weekend

October 10, 2016

A group calling themselves the Women’s Death Brigade protested outside Foxtons in Islington, north London, on Saturday. The all-women demo, organised by Class Warfare, featured women wearing masks and holding up placards saying “F*** Capitalism, f*** Patriarchy”. One woman posed with a large fake hammer, making it look as though she was trying to smash […]

Row heightens as tenants face eviction only for their homes to be used for homeless

A major row is heightening over the eviction of 74 households whose homes will then be used to house homeless families. It is to be the subject of a meeting this week called by a local MP. Peterborough City Council – already in the headlines because of its £1.4m housing over-spend due to its use […]

Journalist uses social media to accuse agents of poor practice

A national newspaper property journalist has accused agents of poor practice. Ruth Bloomfield, who writes for the Evening Standard and Independent, tweeted: “My househunt horror stories: 1 agent refused to show a house until I listed my flat with him; another wants to help me gazump someone’s sale.” She did not name the agents. She […]

Entrepreneur behind UK flatshare portal off to US

The founder of highly successful property website SpareRoom is going to America to take his flatsharing concept there. Entrepreneur Rupert Hunt founded the site in 2004, launching a step change into how tenants had previously had to rely on small ads and cards in newsagents’ windows. Hunt reveals in this interview that he initially tried […]

Zoopla shares start new week of trading after hitting record price

Shares in Zoopla start the new week of trading after hitting an all-time high last week, reaching 349p and being tipped to go as high as 390p. Although ending the week down at 328.40, the price is way up from the start of the year when the shares hit a 52-week low of 189p. At […]

Acute lack of supply keeps average house prices up – but only just

House price inflation continued to slow in September, Halifax has revealed. House prices did go up last month, but by just 0.1% on August. The lender’s latest house price index recorded average prices at £214,024 for September, up 5.8% annually, which is down from 6.9% in August. On a quarterly basis prices fell 0.1%, their […]

New petition launches calling for mandatory licensing of agents

An online petition has been launched calling for the introduction of mandatory licensing of estate agents. It has been launched by Russell Quirk of eMoov. He said: “How can it be that taxi drivers are licensed and so are pension salespeople and mortgage brokers. Betting shops and fast food shops too . . . but […]

Romans to continue expansion trail after snapping up lettings business

Romans, the Thames Valley headquartered group now merged with Leaders, has made another acquisition. It has bought Alliance Property Services, in Surrey. John Freeland, senior partner of Alliance, will be turning his focus to the company’s block management business. He said: “We needed to team up with a substantial, well established property company, and after […]

Agent announces abandoning listing with OTM to go back to Zoopla

An agent is calling time on its six-month deal with On The Market and returning to Zoopla. The Jeffries Group, which has eight branches in Hampshire, said it has signed a new long-term agreement with ZPG for both marketing and software services. Stuart Whiting, managing director of the Jeffries Group, said: “We are big supporters […]

Landlords lose legal fight to get Osborne’s tax changes overturned

October 7, 2016

Landlords are licking their wounds after a Judge yesterday ruled against a Judicial Review of former Chancellor George Osborne’s capping of the amount of mortgage interest that they can offset against tax. It means that landlords Steve Bolton and Chris Cooper have lost their legal challenge to overturn a measure announced in a Budget. Yesterday […]

Landlords’ Barometer – #41: How landlords feel about court ruling

Welcome to “Landlords’ Barometer #41” … bringing you a “Tenant Tax” special with exclusive content from yesterday’s procedural hearing into whether there can be a Judicial Review into Section 24. This was a landmark event in the PRS and the issue affects the future of the entire sector. Live from the Judicial Review hearing I […]

Foxtons faces possibility of yet another protest this weekend

Class War is due to hold a protest at lunchtime tomorrow (Saturday) at Foxtons in Islington, north London. The organisation had earlier said it would stage a demo on Wednesday this week but this did not go ahead. Its site is now saying there will be a women-only protest tomorrow lunchtime, aimed at Foxtons, “male […]

City where over half letting agents are failing to display fees

Research has found that fewer than a third of letting and managing agents in one city are displaying their fees in full accordance with the requirement of the Consumer Rights Act. McCartan Lettings and Property Management, in Swansea, checked the websites of 50 agents across the seven postcodes where it operates and found only 17 […]

Bank of Scotland tops list for complaints about mortgages

The number of complaints about mortgages and home finance products remained broadly flat in the first half of 2016, but the amount of redress has increased, data has revealed. Complaints data from City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority shows there were 76,137 complaints about home finance in the first half of this year, slightly up […]

Estate agent who sold home for bogus owners not liable for buyer’s losses

October 6, 2016

An estate agent and a law firm have successfully defended a claim brought against them after they acted for a bogus seller. The case considered for the first time the liability of an estate agent – in this case, a Winkworth franchisee – to the buyer. It also seems to have said that an agent […]

Commentary on landmark case: Will it lead to regulation of estate agents?

It is important to mention firstly that although these cases are similar there are some subtle differences between P&P Property Ltd v (1) Owen White & Catlin (2) Crownvent Ltd t/a Winkworth ] and Purrunsing Secondly they could be appealed. One thing is certain though, the outcome of this latest case is definitely not of […]

Question mark remains as to whether Local Property Experts must sign up for redress

Self-employed Local Property Experts may or may not need to register with a redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman, with the regulator saying it is not prepared to give public judgement. After new additional guidance on redress schemes was published yesterday by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, EYE asked for clarification as […]

Could Facebook succeed where Google failed in entering property sales market?

The new Facebook Marketplace service could be used to buy and sell homes, and has been described as capable of entering into the classified space currently dominated by portals such as Rightmove. Launched this week, with the feature initially rolled out across the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, one property has already been listed […]

No ban on letting agent fees for now, housing minister tells ARLA

New housing minister Gavin Barwell has said he will not ban letting agent fees – for the time being. Barwell’s stance emerged in the course of a meeting with ARLA’s managing director David Cox about improving the private rented sector. At the meeting Cox raised a number of topics with the minister, including the recently […]

Industry regulator issues new guidance over membership of redress schemes

October 5, 2016

The industry regulator has issued supplementary guidance for estate agents as to whether legally they need to join a redress scheme. However, the new advice from the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team seems to stop short of spelling out whether self-employed agents – typically, Local Property Experts working for online agents – must belong […]

Agents face jail from December over Right to Rent lapses

Agents who repeatedly fail to carry out Right to Rent checks or who do not take steps to evict illegal migrants will face the possibility of jail as from December. Two provisions included in the Immigration Act 2016 are to come into force before the end of this year, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced yesterday. […]

We’re selling over 250 properties every single month, says Sarah Beeny

TV presenter Sarah Beeny has backed up her TV advertising – in which she says her online agency Tepilo sells “hundreds of properties” every month – by specifying that the number is over 250 “every single month”. In an email yesterday to its database, headed “Better because . . .”, she said: “I created Tepilo […]

Purplebricks says launch in Australia has been great success

Purplebricks has flatly denied press speculation that its launch in Australia has “tanked”. Instead, it says that the launch has been a great success. An article in The Australian Financial Review asked whether the “low-cost” UK agent had “tanked” on its debut. It described Purplebricks’ inventory as “modest”, saying that two DIY property portals had […]

Agent escapes prison after stealing over £21,000

An agent who stole over £21,000 worth of money including tenants’ deposits confessed to what she had done in a short email to her boss, and then walked out of the office, leaving the bank paperwork on her desk. Tracey Skeels, 59, was a property manager for Bairstow Eves, in Billericay, Essex. Her email read: […]

Advertising platform offers private owners space on Rightmove and Zoopla

October 4, 2016

The major portals are investigating an advertising service which is allowing home owners and landlords to list their properties on Rightmove and Zoopla. It charges £237 for a sales property to be listed for up to six months, and £27 for a lettings property. LetsAdvertise emphasises that its service “is exclusive to home owners and […]

Complaints resolved by Property Ombudsman rise by a third

The Property Ombudsman scheme has reported both a rise in the number of consumers contacting the scheme for help, as well as a large increase in the number of complaints resolved. Almost all the complaints were resolved in favour of the complainant. It is the first annual report since Katrine Sporle took up her appointment […]

Zoopla says over 500 branches have returned from OTM this year

Zoopla Property Group has claimed that over 500 agent branches have returned to it from OnTheMarket. ZPG also said 53m visits were made to all its websites in September, up 13% year on year. It said it provided over 2m leads to agents, up almost 18% year on year, with app downloads in excess of […]

More new homes promised by minister at Tory conference

A £3bn fund for home building is to be launched, CLG Secretary Sajid Javid said at the Conservative Party Conference. He has also promised a white paper on housing later this year. Javid said the new £3bn fund would help build over 225,000 new homes and create thousands of jobs. He also promised to accelerate […]

Landlord hit with record £700,000 bill after illegal lettings

A landlord has received a record fine after illegally dividing a semi into nine flats. However, the case has dragged on for ten years and involved numerous court appearances. Said Rahmdezfouli has now been ordered to pay over £700,000 at Wood Green Crown Court after he refused to take heed of the council’s refusal of […]

Property Ombudsman scheme expels four agents

October 3, 2016

An agent whose two previous firms went into liquidation has set up for a third time with a similar name, the Property Ombudsman has alleged. The second of the two firms had an estimated deficit of nearly £200,000, it said. TPO has expelled that firm. Miaisa Ltd, which traded as Gallery@HD1, a sales and lettings […]

Two firms stole over £1m worth of client money between them, says ARLA

Two letting agent firms, both members of ARLA, each misappropriated more than £500,000 worth of client money. The cases are both historic – ie, over three years old – and there are no further details. However, the revelation is made in the ARLA response to the official consultation – which closes at the end of […]

Transaction levels could be reduced to ‘rubble’, lawyers warn new Chancellor

Conveyancers are calling on Chancellor Philip Hammond to reverse his predecessor’s tax attacks on the private rented sector. The Society of Licensed Conveyancers said that George Osborne’s measures “have had a significant impact on property investment with a consequent impact on the whole property sector”. Simon Law, chairman of the society, said: “In spite of […]

Purplebricks says Local Property Experts must not have conflicts of interest

A highly critical review of Purplebricks by a vendor on TrustPilot raises the question as to whether Local Property Experts could have commercial conflicts of interest. The unusually negative TrustPilot review, which gives Purplebricks the lowest possible rating against the usual very high ratings, says that the hybrid agent will “be the estate agency for […]

Thanks a million! Agents break the magic barrier for your favourite charities

No further proof is needed that agents really are spectacularly generous when it comes to raising money for your favourite causes. At the Agents Giving Ball on Friday evening – the best to date, by the way – Agents Giving chairman Peter Knight announced that to date, £80,000 of grants have been made by Agents […]