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Purplebricks launches in Australia saying it will mimic rapid success in UK

August 30, 2016

Purplebricks launched yesterday in Australia – weeks ahead of expectations, and apparently catching the market on the hop – and with CEO Michael Bruce reiterating that the UK business will become profitable “during the course of this year”. Purplebricks had previously said only that an Australian launch would be before Christmas. At the start of […]

Fury as major buy-to-let tax amendments are ‘slipped in’ by stealth

Major amendments to the Finance Bill have been “slipped in” at committee stage. According to the Law Society, they set a disturbing and undemocratic precedent of avoiding proper consultation and scrutiny. The changes would result in property investors paying income tax rather than Capital Gains Tax on profits when they sell. The apparently covert changes […]

Police step up hunt for bogus letting agent who robbed tenants of thousands

Police have issued a CCTV image of a man they would like to speak in connection with an investigation in which a number of people fell victim to a suspected bogus letting agent. During March and April, 14 people contacted police after they were scammed by a man who said he worked as an agent […]

Australian agents told they must not organise boycott of two main portals

A group of estate agents in Australia hoping to organise a collective boycott of portals are being told to forget the idea. The 170 agents, represented by Property Media Group, wanted to protest against the “excessive” prices charged by realestate.com.au and doman.com.au They had applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for both collective […]

New Bill set to change the moment that private tenants become homeless

A new Bill aimed at reducing homelessness has been published. If passed, it would mean that private tenants will not have to wait for forcible eviction by bailiffs before being accepted as homeless by local councils. A notice of eviction would suffice. The Homeless Reduction Bill has been tabled by Tory MP Bob Blackman, a […]

Stories of the Week – and this is what get you talking

August 27, 2016

It’s been another hectic week for the industry, here is what has caught our eye. First: Bricks First it was the lack of new homes, then it was the greedy landlords keeping house prices high. Now, according to the NAEA, it may be the number of bricks. A report by the NAEA with the Centre […]

Insurance giant accuses estate agents of listing properties inaccurately

August 26, 2016

EYE has challenged research from insurance giant Direct Line that publicly accuses estate agents of listing properties incorrectly. The serious allegation was made in a first press release, embargoed for this morning. After our challenge, a second press release was issued, but only adding the word “potentially”. Direct Line also claimed that anyone who had […]

Signs of London slowdown spreading to other parts of the south

London agents were given the clearest possible warning this morning that prices will have to be cut – and that the re-pricing process is likely to last six months in a market that will continue to be hit by low turnover. There are also signs of a slowdown spreading to some other cities in the […]

MP asks letting agent to sign petition to get letting agent fees abolished

A letting agent has been invited by his MP to support a campaign to have “rip off” letting agent fees banned. The agent was sent an email by Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, who represents Carshalton and Wallington in Greater London. Brake, who is the party’s only MP in London, sent the email complete with […]

Manufacturers slam NAEA over ‘misleading and damaging’ report on bricks

Brick manufacturers have slammed yesterday’s report from the National Association of Estate Agents. They condemned it as misleading and damaging. The Brick Development Association, representing brick manufacturers in the UK, described the report as “out of date and unhelpful”. The NAEA, in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, claimed there is a […]

More local authorities seek to ban estate agents’ boards

The Government is considering four applications to restrict the display of estate and letting agent boards in certain parts of the UK. A Freedom of Information request by EYE has found that the Department for Communities and Local Government is currently reviewing four applications from the following councils: Charnwood; Bath and North East Somerset; Leicester; […]

NAEA chief warns that brick shortages could lead to ‘lifetime of astronomical house prices’

August 25, 2016

A shortage of bricks has helped push up house prices, the National Association of Estate Agents claimed this morning, and could lead to a “lifetime” of high house prices and falling levels of home ownership. The organisation said that the UK needs 1.4bn bricks in order to resolve the housing shortage. That is the equivalent […]

Foxtons scraps listing and says it will not act in sale of home at heart of bitter dispute

Foxtons has removed a listing for a property and declined to act in the transaction after listening to local residents’ concerns. It apparently took the action for reasons of social conscience, local concern and reputation, after the unhappy residents lobbied estate agents in the area last weekend asking them not to list properties on the […]

Public’s concern over estate agent fees continues to abate

People are increasingly concerned about the quality and availability of homes. They top a list of housing worries for adults in the latest annual survey conducted by YouGov for the HomeOwners Alliance. Fees charged by estate agents are much less of a worry than they used to be – a concern for 54% members of […]

Thanks George! New housing minister asked to apologise for ex-Chancellor’s flawed scheme

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has been urged to apologise on behalf of the Government and accused of misleading savers over the Help to Buy ISA scandal, despite it being former chancellor George Osborne who drew up the scheme. Although he has only held the housing portfolio for just over a month, Barwell has been on […]

Mortgage approvals dip in number in post-referendum month

The Brexit vote is yet to hit lending levels, the British Bankers’ Association has reported. As the waiting goes on for meaningful data to emerge, it does however appear that the doomsday scenario predicted by former Chancellor George Osborne is unlikely. The latest lending data from trade body the BBA, the first since the EU […]

Agents accused of kicking out tenants in order to earn ‘inflated’ fees

August 24, 2016

‘Inflated’ fees give letting agents an incentive to churn tenants – kicking them out, and in the process distorting the whole housing market. The accusations come from Generation Rent, as it steps up its campaign to get fees banned. Betsy Dilner, director of the lobbying organisation, said: “By charging inflated fees to tenants, letting agents […]

Housing transactions rise in month following referendum, says HMRC . . .

The number of residential property transactions rose in July, HMRC has reported. The number of UK transactions increased from 103,450 in June to 104,200 in July. The headline figures preferred by HMRC are the “seasonally adjusted” ones rather than the “actuals”. On a seasonally adjusted basis, transactions fell by 0.9% in July, down from 95,430 […]

Ombudsman to sound members out over mandatory CMP for letting agents

The Property Ombudsman scheme is launching a nationwide-wide survey of lettings agents to support the Government’s review into Client Money Protection insurance. The online survey will launch next week, and will run from Thursday until Friday, September 16. TPO agreed to undertake the survey in collaboration with Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, who is chairing […]

Developer shrugs off Brexit fears as reservations grow after Leave vote

Persimmon insists home buyer interest is “robust” despite Brexit concerns. Reporting its half year results, the house builder said while the outcome of the EU referendum has created increased economic uncertainty, visitor numbers to its sites were up around 20% ahead year on year. Jeff Fairburn, group chief executive of Persimmon, said: “Our private sale […]

Landlord power sees off introduction of licensing scheme

A west country council has dropped its plans for a licensing scheme after local landlords came up with “a number of other alternatives”. North Somerset Council says it is unable to reveal what the other suggestions are at the moment but confirmed the scheme will not go ahead on November 1 as planned. The idea […]

Mystery of Purplebricks review which suggests vendor was responsible for making listing go live

August 23, 2016

Mystery surrounds a TrustPilot rating of Purplebricks which seems to suggest that a vendor had at least some responsibility for “pushing” the listing for their home to go live on Rightmove and Zoopla. The matter has led to some speculation among agents, who are believed to have raised it with the portals. Purplebricks itself responded […]

Government launches consultation into making CMP mandatory for letting agents

The Government has launched a review into Client Money Protection and whether it should be made mandatory for letting agents. Depending on the responses, mandatory CMP could be added into the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The review estimates that 60% to 80% of agents voluntarily have CMP. However, the consultation document from the Department […]

Radio presenter Winifred Robinson to speak at TPO conference

The Property Ombudsman scheme has announced that BBC Radio 4 presenter Winifred Robinson will be joining its national conference on October 12 as panellist. Winifred will join the already confirmed line-up of property professionals, to provide a consumer’s viewpoint in a debate on estate agency generally. Winifred has been a regular presenter of the Today […]

Fantastic four swim overnight to France to raise money for agent’s charity

Congratulations to a fantastic foursome who swam the Channel last Thursday night to raise money for a cause close to their hearts. Greg Wood, Jason Ransley, Paul Hancock and Stuart Parris took part in the relay swim to France, raising funds for the Northwood Charitable Foundation. They took nine hours and 27 minutes, experienced severe […]

Online agent launches new site – and throws down price gauntlet to other onliners

An online agent has launched a new website, saying that the intention is to “give control back to home owners”. Rebecca Peach, who has run I Am The Agent for some five years, says that the new site has been designed to simplify the process of selling or letting a home online. She said the […]

Traditional estate agency is dead, says ex-Countrywide boss Bob Scarff

August 22, 2016

Bob Scarff says that agents should not class themselves as “traditional estate agents” because traditional agency is dead – and that online-only agents are not just dead, but were never really born. The former head of estate agency at Countrywide said that any firm classing itself as a “traditional estate agent” is in trouble. He […]

Agent’s online auction sale attracts 88 bids in under two days and piles on the pounds

An online property auction has been held, the first to be run in partnership with an estate agent and Network Auctions’ new initiative, Network E. The property, marketed by Power Bespoke in Surrey, started off with a price guide of £355,000 late afternoon on Wednesday last week. The three-bedroom house in Redhill, Surrey, with planning […]

Countrywide says house prices across UK will fall next year

House price growth is expected to slow everywhere across the UK this year and go into reverse next. The forecast comes from Countrywide which says house prices will fall by 1% next year after growth slows to 2.5% this year. The UK’s largest agent is predicting that house prices in London will slow to 3.5% […]

Demand from home buyers falls by a third year on year, says NAEA

Demand has fallen by over a third, the NAEA has reported. It says that last month, demand was down 35% on July last year, and that it is at its lowest since November 2013. Applicants per branch dropped to 298 from an average of 330 in June. Last July, the number of applicants per branch […]

Purplebricks annual report predicts more migration away from high street

Shareholders in Purplebricks have been given notice of the AGM on September 15, and also been sent the 2016 Annual Report, according to a stock market announcement. The annual report covers the year to the end of April and is an interesting document, featuring images including “Kenny” and “Michael” on the front cover – the […]

Touting: Can it be right to canvass by knocking on an ill pensioner’s door?

August 20, 2016

EYE readers were rightly shocked about a story of touting in Canada last week. A picture emerged on Facebook of a note that two agents had posted through a widower’s door expressing sorrow for the loss of his wife but also touting for business. That is shameful enough, but I wanted to share a story […]

Stories of the Week – and how you reacted

It’s been another hectic week for the industry, and here is what has caught our eye. First: The right move on portal juggling? The National Trading Standards Estate Agents Team began the week by finally speaking publicly about the illegality of portal juggling and confirming it was investigating a number of firms. Rightmove has made […]

Will Countrywide shareholders lose patience with firm’s ‘retail’ strategy?

August 19, 2016

Rumblings at Countrywide With pre-tax profit at Countrywide down by 25% year-on-year for the first six months of 2016 and the company’s share price dropping like a stone over the past year, I wonder what their shareholders now think of the CEO’s ‘retail’ plan for the future? Can a management team who have supervised a […]

Haart has a purple moment – and it’s a clever bit of marketing

How’s this for marketing? Paul Smith (see his column above) doesn’t mention his firm’s uncharacteristic purple moment, but after being spotted in a newspaper advert for the haart branch in Lincoln, we asked about it and it turns out to be a new company-wide campaign for haart. Haart is offering a special deal on its […]

Picture of the Week: Exposed (shh!) – but do its owners know the naked truth?

Now here is one of those barely there stories. The Evening Standard carries a silly season story about a naked rooftop bar launching in London. Recognise anyone in it, by the way? Or recognise the venue? Well, one of EYE’s eagle-eyed readers certainly did. It is none other than the roof terrace on top of […]

Less than 2% of social tenants apply for Right to Buy in trial of scheme

Only 1.6% of households in the pilot to extend the Right to Buy to housing associations have applied to purchase their social home, Inside Housing has revealed. Umbrella group the National Housing Federation has confirmed to the trade magazine that 790 applications have been received by the five social landlords trialing the policy. Housing associations […]

Landlord who crammed 24 people into home meant for seven hit with £40,000 bill

A landlord faces a court bill of almost £40,000 after cramming 24 people into a house meant for no more than seven. Willesden Magistrates’ Court heard Tilak Raj Sarna initially claim innocence but then accept his guilt after two days of cross-examination. Brent Council had granted Sarna a licence to house seven people at the […]

Portal juggling: Rightmove says it will help in any investigations of cases

August 18, 2016

Rightmove has made it clear it will assist industry regulator the National Trading Standards Estate Agents Team as it investigates so-called portal juggling, and will also pass over any suspicious possible evidence. Yesterday, a spokesperson told EYE: “Rightmove welcomes NTSEAT’s move to publish guidance about agents trying to deliberately remove and relist properties to make […]

City analyst warns some estate agency branches may close after Brexit vote

An investment bank has warned that some estate agency branches will be forced to close in the wake of the Leave vote. However, it considers a housing recession unlikely. Jefferies said that sellers must be prepared to accept “softening house prices” in order to spur market activity but said that some vendors would simply take […]

MPs slam how all the help ‘many’ homeless people get is a list of local letting agents

A rise in homelessness is being driven by the cost and availability of housing, a cross-party group of politicians said today. They include estate agent Kevin Hollinrake, chairman of Hunters and MP for Thirsk and Malton. In an unusually hard-hitting report, the MPs are calling for a renewed government-wide strategy, and criticise the way many […]

Flat-sharing website accuses ‘greedy’ letting agents of profiteering

Letting agents have been accused of profiteering from lack of supply in the private rented sector. Property website Easyroommate claimed they are responsible for huge rent hikes for flat-sharers and charging “arbitrary” admin fees. The rental budgets of flatmates in the UK have increased by 27% in the past four year, according to the web […]

Belvoir calls on ministers to reverse Osborne’s ‘disastrous’ taxes on landlords

Franchise chain Belvoir is calling for the Government to reverse “punitive” tax policies that are hitting the private rented sector. Instead, it is calling for incentives for landlords to invest in the rental market in order to increase supply and make rents more affordable. Belvoir managing director Dorian Gonsalves said: “Disastrous anti-landlord tax policies which […]

Thanks George! New figures show sheer size of transactions crash after Stamp Duty hike

August 17, 2016

Housing transactions crashed in volume during April, official new figures reveal. The consequences of the Stamp Duty surcharge on April 1 have been laid bare in the latest ONS/Land Registry house price index. The latest report for June reveals housing transactions for April – the most up to date month for which data is available. […]

House price inflation gathering pace in pre-referendum period

Annual house price growth nudged up from 8.5% to 8.7% in the final build-up to the EU referendum, with the east of England leading the way, data from the Office for National Statistics and Land Registry have revealed. The June house price index showed the average UK house price was £213,927, up 1% on May, […]

Agent prosecuted in court after claiming to be NAEA member

An estate agent has been hit with a bill of over £3,000 after claiming on its website to be a member of the National Association of Estate Agents and the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers. Stephen Parry & Company, based in Leamington Spa, pleaded guilty to two offences of engaging in a commercial practice […]

New start-up offering alternative to tenancy deposit protection announces seed investment

A London-based property and financial technology start-up, Reposit, is aiming to offer an alternative to tenancy deposit protection. The firm’s offering is said to be far cheaper for tenants, while offering agents referral fees, and is also described as offering a speedier way of settling claims for damages and cleaning. Yesterday, it announced a seed […]

Thanks to our generous readers, charity auction for ‘Catfest’ raises £1,000

Many thanks to those who took part in our auction where you could bid for an original portrait drawn by industry trainer Julian O’Dell. The auction, which closed on Monday at midnight, is in aid of the cancer charity Macmillan. Julian’s wife Cat has the illness, and the £1,100 raised will go into the “Catfest” […]

Local council’s private lettings agency has let just two properties in ten months, claim

August 16, 2016

A letting agency aimed at private landlords and tenants, set up by a north London council ,has let just two properties in ten months. The revelation calls into question private agencies set up by other local authorities.. Haringey Council’s Move 51 Degrees North, which has so far cost £406,618 in setting up and running costs, […]

House sales hit by long delays after new local property search forms introduced

Local authority search delays are holding up property sales after new forms were introduced last month. One authority, South Hams Council in Devon, which normally turns around searches within a week, has apologised for the delays, stretching its normal turnaround time to five weeks. It says that this is due to “unforeseen technical issues” and […]