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Don’t buy property – buy shares in Purplebricks and Rightmove instead!

September 29, 2016

Investment website The Motley Fool says that people should forget buy-to-let and buy shares in Rightmove and Purplebricks. It says of Rightmove: “The reasons for its popularity are clear: 77% market share, operating margins of 74.7% over the past six months, steadily increasing dividends and share buybacks, and a major shift in the way people […]

Purplebricks puts its prices up – but still claims big savings for vendors

Purplebricks has put its prices up. It is now charging £849 (up from £798) and in London £1,199 (up from £1,158). A spokesperson yesterday evening confirmed the hikes, saying that the new savings that the average customer can achieve compared with a traditional agent are now £6,267 in the London area and £3,035 outside London. […]

Portal juggling condemned by industry regulator as causing harm to honest agents

Industry regulator, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, has spoken out to back the Property Ombudsman’s stance on portal juggling. It has also spoken of the “harm” done to honest estate agents. James Munro, team leader of NTSEAT, yesterday said: “We welcome The Property Ombudsman’s update to its Code of Practice, which will require […]

Mortgage Advice Bureau gets set to launch in Australia

The Mortgage Advice Bureau, which works with hundreds of estate agents in the UK, is to launch in Australia before the end of this year. It said it intends to set up a new joint venture which will trade under the Mortgage Advice Bureau brand. It is not known who the partner in the joint […]

LSL on the look-out for more independent agents to buy

LSL Property Services has announced that, following reports of continued improvement in the market, it remains committed to growing its network of estate agency branches through selective acquisitions. Sellers will be able to choose the type of sale that will either let them quit altogether, or give them the funds to grow their business. The […]

Money laundering – legal responsibilities for letting agents come closer

September 28, 2016

The Government has released a new consultation on the Fourth Money Laundering Directive. The UK is obliged to ensure adherence to EU directives until exit negotiations are concluded. The proposals are of specific interest to estate agents and letting agents (page 31 of the document which can be found below). Proposals include making the membership […]

Nowhere to hide: Marketing breaks will breach TPO’s new anti-juggling Code of Practice

Marketing breaks – when a property is taken off the market and then swiftly re-listed as new – will not be tolerated by the Property Ombudsman under its updated Codes, which kick in this weekend. Meanwhile, the NAEA has utterly condemned the practice as deception which distorts the market, while Zoopla has said that any […]

What’s the difference between an online agent and a property portal?

More than one in three home buyers check in with estate agencies at least once a day when trying to tie up a deal, says new research for the Nottingham Building Society. It also found that the average home buyer registers with three estate agent offices and/or online services, and 12% have signed up with […]

Pictures of the Week: And it’s a property with a difference

Pictures of the Week – and here are two for you to enjoy, both courtesy of Purplebricks which seems to be turning into the gift that keeps on giving as far Pictures of the Week are concerned. First up is some bicycle space for sale through the agent. Strange but quite clearly true. We would […]

Ex-Countrywide boss Harry Hill says firm has ‘market share disaster’ on its hands

Former Countrywide boss Harry Hill has openly criticised the UK’s largest estate agent on social media. On Twitter he wrote: “Walked for four miles through S W London today and saw hundreds of agents boards, one of which was a Countrywide brand. Market share disaster!” Hill said that “wandering the streets was always a decent […]

End of the deception: Whistle-blowers ensure portal juggling scandal gets zero tolerance

September 27, 2016

In what is one of the biggest industry scandals to date, thousands of properties have been ‘juggled’ on the portals. Evidence suggests that somewhere between 200 and 250 properties were ‘juggled’ each month, re-listed at the rate of five per day, and 100 in the two-day period covering the first and last day of every […]

Zoopla launches new Invest channel making property investment ‘available to the masses’

Zoopla has launched its new ‘Invest’ channel which offers consumers and would-be property investors the opportunity to gain exposure to the UK property market from £100. It is the latest step for Zoopla as it transforms from being only a property portal to a multi-faceted, one-stop property resource for consumers. The new channel on the […]

Which? launches super-complaint to help property buyers who are victims of scams

Home buyers who are scammed by fraudsters posing as estate agents or conveyancers into parting with their purchase money are part of the focus of a super-complaint made by Which? The consumer organisation says that at the moment, no one falling victim to a bank transfer scam has a legal right to get their money […]

New service launches offering estate agents webchat

A new service has launched offering estate agents a manned ‘real people’ webchat service. Chat Heroes says that webchat can convert 40% of engaged website visitors into a lead. It is targeting smaller agents who do not have the manpower to offer webchat. Chat Heroes provides web chat services interacting with website visitors from 9am […]

Local authority set to name and shame letting agents charging high fees

Letting agents who charge “extortionate” fees are set to be named and shamed by one local authority. Southend Council’s ruling cabinet has backed a call by two independent councillors, Tino Callaghan and Laurence Davies, to publicise agents charging high admin fees. Davies said: “Registration fees can be astronomical and we have spoken to many tenants […]

NEWFLASH: Ombudsman updating Code of Practice to stamp out portal juggling

September 26, 2016

The Property Ombudsman is to issue updated versions of all its Codes of Practice in order to address emerging industry issues, primarily ‘portal juggling’. The practice involves the manipulation of property portals. TPO said today this misleads consumers by removing and re-listing homes on the portals, enabling agents “to hide price cuts and give the […]

Spicerhaart announces £26m buying spree as it chases high street expansion

Spicerhaart has set aside £26m to acquire more estate agencies across England and Wales. It has done so in the face of retrenchment by the likes of Countrywide. Spicerhaart has also totally refuted speculation that it is looking to downsize. The company instead said it is looking to infill in areas where it currently operates, […]

Pay up! Here’s how to tell it to one seller who hasn’t paid their agent

Chasing unpaid fees is one of the hazards of estate agency. We have to confess we rather like the style of this chase-up for payment. Brace yourselves. Here goes. “I’ve been made aware today that you have successfully sold your property through my company but have inexplicably opted not to pay us the £995 fee […]

Connells confirms sale of part of its shareholding in Zoopla

Connells has sold part of its shareholding in Zoopla, and now appears to have a stake of under 3%. As at December 31 last year, it had a stake of around 4%. Connells would not detail as to how many shares it still holds in ZPG, but the company told EYE on Friday afternoon: “We […]

Yes, we really are selling hundreds of properties each month, says Tepilo

Online agents are claiming considerable success. In her latest TV advertising, Sarah Beeny says her business, Tepilo, sells hundreds of homes every month. In the TV adverts she confidently repeats the claim and adds, “What else is there to say”. The firm has told EYE that the claim is completely true, has been accepted as […]

Agency launches staff property fund where each employee will have a stake

A letting agent is incentivising its employees by building a portfolio of owned properties in which each member of staff will have a stake. Umega Lettings will use its business profits to invest in a staff property fund. The fund will buy flats, with each employee owning a share in every property bought and let. […]

Talking point: Which planet is the property market on?

September 24, 2016

It is often said men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Perhaps the same could be said if you compare the difference between the latest asking price and house price indices. Rightmove’s September house price index had asking prices at £306,499 and had values a little lower at £295,813. But these are […]

That was the week that was: The stories that got you talking

It’s been another hectic week for the industry, here is what has caught our eye. First: Gone in 90 days There was plenty of scepticism over the launch of a proptech firm which intends to take 10% of the estate agency market by promising to sell a vendor’s home in 90 days or give them […]

NEWSFLASH: Director who led Countrywide’s Building our Future strategy programme quits

September 23, 2016

A very senior figure is quitting the executive management team of Countrywide amid what the business is calling “organisational change”. Countrywide is consolidating its London brands and bringing its London and Retail businesses closer together. Graham Bell, managing director for London, was appointed to his role in June last year after leading the Building Our […]

Major regional firm drops OnTheMarket to return to Zoopla

A regional agent with 11 branches has announced that it is dropping OnTheMarket to return to Zoopla. Yesterday, Howard Cundey, with offices in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, was showing the Rightmove and Zoopla logos on its site, but not OTM’s. It was still listing on OTM as well as Rightmove but only its commercial properties […]

House price inflation falling as pace of growth slows across south

Annual house price growth has fallen to 8.2% as the slowdown in cities across the south of England intensified in August. Hometrack published its latest data covering 20 UK cities this morning. The index recorded its lowest level of quarterly growth for six months as a seasonal lull in market activity combined with weaker demand […]

Summer mortgage lending hits 11-year record for August

Mortgage lending in August was the highest for any August since the same month in 2007 – before the crash. The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £22.5bn in August – 7% higher than July’s lending total of £21.1bn and 15% up on the year. In August 2007 gross lending reached […]

UK housing market still ‘peachy’, says Jackson-Stops & Staff

Conditions in the UK housing market have been described as “peachy”. The description is from Jackson-Stops & Staff, which said: “The UK property market remains peachy three months after the Brexit vote.” It says supply has risen 1% since the vote, but the proportion sold subject to contract has gone down. However, the dip is […]

Are agents really still unaware of Consumer Protection Regulations?

Are many agents really still unaware of Consumer Protection Regulations? Or do some simply try to ignore the law – and, presumably, in the case that follows, in the hope that the buyer won’t bother to commission their own survey. We came across this online, in a Linked In group for RICS members. A surveyor […]

NEWSFLASH: Countrywide sells last of its shares in Zoopla to raise over £29m

September 22, 2016

Countrywide announced this morning that it has sold in aggregate 9,234,473 ordinary shares in Zoopla Property Group at an average price of £3.17, raising £29.2m. The shares were sold between the period from August 9 to yesterday. Following the disposal, Countrywide no longer has a holding in Zoopla’s ordinary share capital. Countrywide said the proceeds […]

Industry is ‘sleep-walking’ into outright ban on letting agent fees, warning

The National Approved Letting Scheme has warned that the industry could be sleep-walking into a ban on letting agent fees. Isobel Thomson, chief executive of NALS, called for the industry to work together. Speaking after Citizens Advice repeated its calls for a ban, which is also being sought by Shelter, she said: “Efforts to explain […]

Sales volumes across England and Wales revealed as the lowest on record BEFORE Brexit vote

New data from the Land Registry lays bare the extent to which the housing market across England and Wales was already suffering before the Brexit vote. The data relates to the second quarter of this year and shows a dramatic fall in sales volumes. In England and Wales, 115,895 sales were registered. These were down […]

New portal launches in UK with major advertising campaign in media

A portal new to the UK is setting out its stall as having all the functionality of Zoopla and Rightmove, but offering much more. The World Property Network – TWPN – has taken out big press adverts, including a full page in the Sunday Times Home section last weekend and this, and London Evening Standard. […]

Landlord hit with £7,000 bill after cramming whole families into just one room each

A landlord has been hit with a bill of almost £7,500 for cramming six families into a suburban semi-detached house. Willesden Magistrates Court in north London heard that Mohammed Mehdi Ali had not bothered to license the property, which was built as a four-bedroom family home but now has six bedsit-style rooms and a shared […]

Landlords’ Barometer – #40: Is the private rented sector bleeding to death?

Welcome to “Landlords’ Barometer #40” … bringing you trending landlord and property topics. 1. 5 reasons why the PRS is bleeding to death In this hard hitting, no holds barred post, I look at the key factors that are draining the private rented sector of landlords and money. 2. Buy to let hotspots for 2017? […]

Estate agent launches promising to sell homes within 90 days – or lend vendors the cash

September 21, 2016

A proptech company has launched, which intends to take 10% of the estate agency market by promising to sell a vendor’s home in 90 days or give them the cash. Nested, which goes live today, guarantees the sale within 90 days or lend the seller the full amount, interest free, enabling them to move on. […]

Call for Chancellor to ditch Stamp Duty and transfer tax from buyer to seller

Stamp Duty should be replaced by a seller’s tax – effectively meaning that it would transfer transaction tax costs from buyer to vendor. The call has come from Yorkshire Building Society, ahead of the Autumn Statement in November, which says that it would make it easier for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder. […]

Testimonial for agent was written by a director, advertising watchdog told

An agent which carried a testimonial on its site without making it clear that it was written by one of their own directors was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. Residential lettings and management company Oyster Estates, which displays a number of logos on its site including ARLA, and is based in Bognor Regis, West […]

Thanks George! House prices have further to fall in London, says Savills

House prices are set to fall hard in London, Savills has predicted, with Stamp Duty rather than Brexit to blame. The firm says that in prime central London, house prices will tumble 9% this year, after falling since 2014 (down 0.4% in 2014 and down 3.3% last year). House prices in other prime London areas […]

Zoopla boss Alex Chesterman sells 4.25m shares in the company

Alex Chesterman, CEO and founder of Zoopla Property Group, has sold a tranche of shares for almost £14m – £13,812,500. The statement confirming the transaction reads: “ZPG announces that it has been advised by Alex Chesterman that he has sold 4,250,000 ordinary shares of 0.1p each in the Group representing approximately 1% of the issued […]

OnTheMarket’s ‘special offer’ to agents will end next week

September 20, 2016

OnTheMarket is to close a “special offer” at the end of next week as it continues its recruitment drive in the heated portal market. Some agents, currently not members, have received the following email: “A few months ago created an opportunity for a select number of agents to list on for 12 months […]

Zoopla launches new service enabling agents to see which buyers really can buy

Zoopla is launching a service by which agents can see which potential buyers are pre-qualified for mortgage purposes. It follows the announcement earlier this year that Zoopla has invested in online mortgage broker Trussle. The proptech start up is the brainchild of Ishaan Malhi and launched as the first online-only mortgage broker in December last […]

Citizens Advice steps up demands for a ban on letting agent fees

Citizens Advice is stepping up its calls for a ban on lettings agent fees following a surge of complaints from tenants. The organisation claims there should be one charge paid for by landlords as they are in a better position to shop around. Citizens Advice says students and young people aged 17 to 24 are […]

‘Rising estate agent fees’ blamed for pushing up costs of moving home

Stamp Duty costs and estate agency fees have been blamed for pushing up the cost of moving home over the past year, Lloyds Bank has claimed. According to the lender, the average cost of moving home in the UK has increased by £870, or 9%, in the past 12 months to £10,996. But there are […]

Rise of the ‘silver renter’ as tenants under 35 are in the minority

Almost half of tenants living in private rental accommodation across the UK are aged over 46, signalling the rise of the ‘silver renter’. The finding comes from research by Your Move which involved 36,500 participants and was commissioned to provide insights into the 4.5m privately rented households in the UK – a number which is […]

Shock as Marc Goldberg quits Countrywide brand Hamptons International

September 19, 2016

One of Countrywide’s most high profile figures and best known names, Marc Goldberg, has quit. Goldberg has been head of sales at Hamptons International and with the firm for some 30 years. No reason has been given for what is the latest in a string of departures as the upheaval at Countrywide continues. Experienced, successful […]

Agents’ Mutual ordered to make further payments into court as legal battle continues

Agents’ Mutual has been ordered to make further payments into court as the legal battle with Gascoigne Halman continues. Agents’ Mutual has already paid £1m into court regarding the case, due to be heard in February. Gascoigne Halman was an early supporter of Agents’ Mutual and remains a Gold member, still listing on OnTheMarket. However, […]

LSL sells 7.8m shares in Zoopla as it seeks to reduce debt

LSL, parent company of brands including Your Move, Reeds Rains and Marsh & Parsons, has sold 7.8m shares in Zoopla at an average £3.20 per share, it announced on Friday. The sales were made between July 20 and September 16. LSL continues to hold 3.5m (3,533,786) Zoopla shares, representing 0.8% of Zoopla’s ordinary share capital. […]

Agency owners warned against selling up too cheaply

Leading industry figure Adam Walker has warned independents not to under-sell their businesses, whether to corporates, regional chains or competitors. Walker said that while Countrywide and several other buyers may be temporarily out of the acquisitions market, estate agency and letting businesses are still being sold. The problem for sellers, said Walker, is that buyers […]

New asking prices bounce up – especially for first-time buyers

Properties coming to market appear to be in a post-Brexit vote bounce, Rightmove has claimed. The portal’s September house price index found that the asking price of property coming to market rebounded by 0.7% in the month, up £2,277 to £306,499 following a 3% drop in the previous two months. The figures are up 4% […]