Suttons City Living Blog

Agents warned on data protection over competition for leads

October 23, 2014

| October 23, 2014 Agents who are using perfectly legitimate sources to source new leads should nevertheless be very careful that they are not breaching the Data Protection Act. The warning from the Information Commissioner’s Office comes amid evidence of huge growth within the industry over the last three years – and increasing competition and […]

Latest City analyst report on ‘portal wars’ rips into Agents’ Mutual

| October 23, 2014 City analyst Jefferies has become the latest analyst to comment on the ‘portal wars’ market. In its report to investors on Zoopla, published yesterday, the firm reiterated its ‘buy’ rating on the portal. Using colourful language, it said: “Zoopla has seen more share price falls than gains of late, most of […]

For Sale by Tender agent rapped over adverts

| October 23, 2014 An estate agent selling homes by the For Sale by Tender method – by which vendors pay an admin fee and the buyer pays the commission – has had a complaint against it upheld by the advertising watchdog. Essex Countryside was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority by Spicerhaart after a […]

High-flying agent who hoped to be made partner is jailed

| October 23, 2014 A successful estate agent who earned £85,000 a year at the age of 30 and hoped to be made a partner has been jailed for 27 months after running a cannabis farm. Jordan McDonald has been brought down because of his long-term addiction to the drug. He worked for Next Home […]

New charity set up in name of Hunters’ beloved Nicki

| October 23, 2014 To recognise and remember the tragic death of Nicki Waterhouse a year ago, estate agency group Hunters has announced it is setting up a charitable trust in her name. The company said it continues to miss her sorely. She was the daughter of Hunters’ founding partner John Waterhouse and worked at […]

Tycoon pays cut-price online agency fee to sell £15.5m mansion

October 22, 2014

| October 22, 2014 Here is the most extreme case – so far – of a seller planning to save money by not using a high street agent. He owns a £15.5m house in Knightsbridge. It has six storeys, five bedrooms, a staff flat, wine cellar, gym and large garage. There are also, according to […]

City analysts warn on Agents’ Mutual after Eye story

| October 22, 2014 City analysts Exane BNP Paribas yesterday sent out a note based on Eye’s report of the Agents’ Mutual deal with Scottish website Citylets. The note said: “The estate agency trade press is reporting that Agents’ Mutual have announced their first exception to their only ‘one other portal rule’. In Scotland, lettings […]

Credit Suisse says threat to portals from Agents’ Mutual is ‘real’

| October 22, 2014 Another analyst, Credit Suisse, was also busy yesterday on the subject of the UK portals. It said that it sees limited threat from Agents’ Mutual to Rightmove and Zoopla – although it warned that the threat is “real”. It also expects Agents’ Mutual to reach its recruitment target of 5,000 agents […]

Number of house sales now dropping, says taxman

| October 22, 2014 There were 97,450 property transactions across the UK in September, HMRC has reported. The figure was down by 4.8% from 102,360 transactions in August – tallying with the drop in September’s mortgage lending that Eye reported yesterday. However, the figure is up 5% on the transactions reported by HMRC in September […]

London market showing further signs of falls as sales collapse 27%

| October 22, 2014 The prime central London market is showing further signs of decline, says Strutt & Parker. Its data for the third quarter of 2014 shows that both prices and transactions have slipped year on year. The overall value of properties transacted by the firm is down 21.1%. Properties sub-£2m saw a decrease […]

Busy Rightmove to raise its spending on marketing and services

October 21, 2014

| October 21, 2014 Rightmove says that it is on course for its busiest year on record. It says leads to member agents are up by over one fifth so far this year compared with the same period last year. The portal has also revealed plans to send out new “instruction getting” packs to members […]

Agents’ Mutual makes ‘one other portal’ exception for Scottish market

| October 21, 2014 Agents’ Mutual has entered into a co-operation agreement with Citylets, an independent specialist lettings website for Scotland. In a variation of Agents’ Mutual’s “one other portal rule”, Scottish letting agents will be able to list on Citylets plus OnTheMarket and one other competing portal. The arrangement will allow Scottish agents to […]

Will sellers be persuaded to go online route after Sarah Beeny programme?

| October 21, 2014 So, what did you make of the first Sarah Beeny television programme last night, featuring home sellers bypassing high street agents? In the first two case studies – a three-bed cottage in Sussex and a four-bed Victorian semi in Nottingham – one of the sellers said they had exchanged contracts after […]

Are anti-money laundering duties for agents set to be tightened up?

| October 21, 2014 Earlier this year, there were shock waves through the industry when three estate agents were fined enormous sums of money under anti-money laundering legislation. There was no suggestion that any money laundering had actually taken place or that any of the agents had been complicit in any crime – or even […]

Market may have reached plateau, say lenders

| October 21, 2014 The housing market appears to have reached a plateau, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. CML figures show that lending reached £17.8bn in September, which is 1% lower than August (£18bn), but 10% higher than September last year (£16.2bn). Gross mortgage lending for the third quarter was estimated at £55.5bn. […]

New performance table of agents launches – and aims to be instruction-getter

October 20, 2014

| October 20, 2014 A new service launches today which shows consumers how agents in particular areas have performed over the last six months, and is aimed to be an instruction getter for agents. Designed as an objective league table of performance, GetAgent shows the total number of agents in a postcode. It also shows […]

Mystery as new free UK portal is revealed

| October 20, 2014 Mystery surrounds a new – and free – UK property portal called Hus.co.uk, apparently based in Paphos, Cyprus, which is appealing for agents to sign up for a trial. It wants 100 to help trial its beta site. It says it will then proceed to phase two, with around 1,000 agents, […]

Purplebricks mulls stock market debut just six months after launch

| October 20, 2014 Purplebricks could be launched on the stock market next year, according to a report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. The paper said that such has been the strong interest from house sellers, that Purplebricks investors believe a float is on the cards. The “hybrid” estate agency was launched in April by brothers […]

New asking prices surge 7.6% in a year – but is ‘price flurry’ sustainable?

| October 20, 2014 Average asking prices for property new to the market has gone up 2.6% in a month, Rightmove reports this morning. The average new asking price is now £271,669 against £264,875 a month ago. Asking prices are now 7.6% up on this time a year ago. However, Rightmove queries whether the “price […]

Rents have hit all-time record high, says LSL

| October 20, 2014 Rents last month edged up to a new all-time record, averaging £768 a month in England and Wales, LSL has reported. The figure for last month is £10 (1.5%) higher than in September 2013. On a monthly basis September’s average rents are 0.8% higher than in August, representing a rise of […]

OnTheMarket to take up to 28% of agents’ spend on portals – forecast

October 17, 2014

| October 17, 2014 OnTheMarket is poised to take up to 28% of total portal spend, a new report has predicted. But the report, by Accounts and Legal, says: “However, many agents are still ‘on the fence’, which could push this even higher in the event of a successful launch.” The report adds that the […]

Rightmove is world’s benchmark portal, global conference hears

| October 17, 2014 Rightmove is said to have been held up to be the benchmark property portal at this month’s international property portal conference in Barcelona. It was described as “running like a machine, with tight cost control and an efficient operation”. According to a briefing note by brokers Ian Whittaker and Lisa Hau […]

Agents ‘getting better deals’ from portals, says Agents’ Mutual

| October 17, 2014 Agents’ negotiating hand with the big two portals has been strengthened by the emergence of Agents’ Mutual, it has been claimed. In a letter to agents who have not yet joined, Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett says: “The current major portals will no doubt be trying to bring you in […]

Sarah Beeny claims on TV all online agents have to be regulated

| October 17, 2014 Property guru Sarah Beeny claimed on national television yesterday that all online agents belong to a body which she named as the National Federation of Estate Agents. Beeny was appearing on ITV’s This Morning programme, and was asked by presenter Amanda Holden if online agents had to be regulated. Beeny replied […]

Landlord jailed after firemen rescue tenants from blaze

| October 17, 2014 A landlord has been sentenced to eight months in prison after fire fighters had to rescue his tenants when a blaze broke out. There were 11 bedsits in the two adjoining properties owned by Haresh Rambhai Patel in Leicester. Three tenants had to be rescued while others had to clamber out. […]

Correction notice and unreserved apology to Zoopla

October 14, 2014

| October 14, 2014 Correction notice and unreserved apology to Zoopla We would like to issue a correction notice and offer Zoopla Property Group a full and unreserved apology. In an article published on 14th October 2014 we reported incorrectly that Zoopla Property Group was specifically targeting vendors of agents who were quitting for Onthemarket […]

Talking point: What is the value of belonging to a membership body?

| October 14, 2014 Now here’s an interesting discussion. “What do I get from ARLA once I’ve passed its entrance exams?” That is the question posed by one fresh-faced negotiator on ARLA’s own discussion forum. An annual invoice and bills, says more than one answer. A blank look on your landlords’ faces when you mention […]

Warren Buffet? Good name but no thanks, say agents

| October 14, 2014 UK estate agents are turning up their noses at the idea of being able to license Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway brand. The legendary American – he’s 80 – seems likely to make little headway in the British market where existing US-based franchise names include Century 21 and RE/MAX. While we are […]

Dream of home ownership dies for up to half of tenants

| October 14, 2014 Nearly half (49%) of non-home owners do not expect that they will ever own a home. But some would be prepared to emigrate if it meant they could become home owners. A study by Santander Mortgage reveals that 1.1m (7%) would consider emigrating, while 9% would be willing to move jobs […]

Illegal HMO costs landlord who wanted ‘to line his own pockets’ over £40,000

| October 14, 2014 The unlawful conversion of a family home into an HMO has cost a landlord over £40,000. After investigating complains of building work, Ealing Council enforcement officers discovered that Muhammad Sohaib Anwar, of Acton, London, had changed his property to an HMO without planning permission. He had split the first floor of […]

Zoopla letter direct to agent’s client is confirmed as genuine

October 13, 2014

| October 13, 2014 A letter sent by Zoopla to a house seller appears to be going viral among the estate agency industry. One agent who told Eye about it queried its authenticity. Other agents have forwarded it to Eye after being sent it themselves. The heavily creased letter appears to have been scanned, almost […]

Bogus letting agents ‘set up shop’ in Airbnb scam

| October 13, 2014 A lettings scam that operates via Airbnb and involves bogus letting agents has been uncovered. It is a variation on the one that has been going for some time where rogues often use Gumtree to advertise rental properties and persuade would-be tenants to pay deposits. In the Airbnb fraud, an owner […]

People ‘still like local’ says Rightmove’s Miles Shipside

| October 13, 2014 People still value traditional high street agents, Rightmove’s Miles Shipside told an audience chiefly of conveyancers and property lawyers. Speaking at the packed Property Forum Dinner in London, Shipside said that it was “vitally” important for agents to differentiate themselves. He said: “People still like local, so agents need to offer […]

Hundreds of millions of pounds now protected by deposit schemes

| October 13, 2014 Official figures show the huge sums of money being held in tenancy deposit protection schemes. The total value runs into many hundreds of millions, with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme for England and Wales alone protecting £1.2bn – £340m more than any other scheme. The figures from the Department for Communities and […]

Trading Standards authorities on prowl for letting agents breaking law

| October 13, 2014 Letting agents are being warned that if they have not joined one of the compulsory redress schemes, they face investigation and possible prosecution by Trading Standards. Trading Standards can impose fines of up to £5,000 on non-compliant letting agents. The newest of the ombudsman schemes, the Property Redress Scheme, said it […]

At last! Confusing official house price surveys to be replaced by just one

October 8, 2014

| October 8, 2014 A consultation has been launched on the development of a single definitive house price index. It comes four years after official recognition that different surveys are sending out contradictory messages. A single new UK-wide index, likely to be launched in 2016, would replace both the Land Registry and ONS monthly surveys. […]

‘We want to help the next Zoopla’ says property entrepreneur in new venture

| October 8, 2014 The business partner of former Dragon James Caan has launched a new venture. It aims to find and accelerate a new high-tech company with the potential of Zoopla. Property entrepreneur Faisal Butt’s business, called Property Innovation Labs, or Pi Labs, is backed by property firm Cushman & Wakefield and by Butt’s […]

Avoid ‘ready, willing and able’ purchaser clauses, sellers told

| October 8, 2014 Sellers are being told not to accept a “ready, willing and able purchaser” clause in contracts with agents. The Home Owners Alliance has produced advice for the public on estate agents’ contracts. It includes this: “Ready, willing and able purchaser – Do not accept this! It means you have to pay […]

This car will be on the market come January!

| October 8, 2014 Spotted … the very first OnTheMarket branded vehicle. It is the work of Yorkshire agent Noel Wood, who is director of Peter David Properties which covers Halifax, Calderdale and Brighouse. The firm also displays the OnTheMarket logo on its website. http://www.peterdavid.co.uk/ Like(6)

Lending to buy-to-let borrowers could get a lot tougher, warning

| October 8, 2014 The Bank of England’s request for extra powers to control lending to buy-to-let borrowers could mean that some landlords will have to find a 40% deposit. The prediction has come from Countrywide Residential Lettings. The powers sought by the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee will allow it to ask lenders to stress […]

Campaign under way to get north-east agents to quit portals on same day

October 7, 2014

| October 7, 2014 A campaign is gaining momentum to get agents in the north-east to quit all other portals apart from OnTheMarket – and pull off at the same time. Estate agent Mark Small, of Signature, which has four branches, launched the initiative. Small is one of some 190 members of a regional group […]

Reeds Rains agent in court on 20 charges of fraud

| October 7, 2014 An agent is awaiting trial on fraud charges. Claire Waldron, 42, from Prenton, Birkenhead, appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court in Northern Ireland. She pleaded not guilty to all 20 charges of committing fraud by abusing the position she held at the Reeds Rains Northern Ireland franchise. She is alleged to have […]

Scary stuff: housing market ‘due to hit turning point’ in 2015

| October 7, 2014 We hope agents haven’t been losing too much sleep over yesterday’s reports that house prices will fall next year. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, next year will be a “turning point” for the housing market. However, prices will go up – by 7.8% – this year, before […]

Four out of ten people think a Mansion Tax would be unfair

| October 7, 2014 A Mansion Tax on homes worth more than £2m would affect just 1% of properties – yet 38% of consumers think it is unfair. The finding, in a new poll by Rightmove, comes as the Lib Dems announced yesterday that they will not have a Mansion Tax policy after all. Labour, […]

First Agents Giving ball raises £20,000 for good causes

| October 7, 2014 The inaugural Agents Giving ball last Thursday night has raised some £20,000 for the charity. It did so with the usual heads and tails game – conducted by the anarchic Bobby Davro – and a silent auction. The money will help agents’ own good causes by topping up the amounts they […]

OnTheMarket could become ‘quickly dominant’ says Gold member agent

October 6, 2014

| October 6, 2014 An Agents’ Mutual gold investor says that confidence in the venture is building and he sees no reason why OnTheMarket should not become quickly dominant. On Saturday morning, Agents’ Mutual announced that it has reached the 4,000 recruitment milestone – see our full story below. Rob Sargent, group chief executive of […]

Zoopla confirms it does contact sellers and landlords directly

| October 6, 2014 Zoopla has confirmed that it does make direct contact with sellers and landlords. It said this is part of its consumer awareness campaign. The issue was raised in a post on Friday, and also in an interview Eye did with Robert Sargent, group chief executive of Acorn (see today’s separate story). […]

Agent who stole £400k from employers jailed

| October 6, 2014 A former employee of Bournemouth lettings agent Allan & Bath – part of Leaders – has been sentenced to prison for the theft of almost £400,000 from the company. Shirley Player, 61, who had pleaded guilty to stealing £390,550 from company funds between February 2007 and March 2014, was sentenced to […]

Partial victory in landlord’s legal fight to halt licensing scheme

| October 6, 2014 A landlord’s legal fight to prevent a local authority bringing in mandatory licensing has resulted in only partial victory. Enfield Council’s decision to introduce a selective licensing scheme was found to be lawful by the High Court. The scheme will impose blanket licensing on all rental properties occupied by single households. […]

Agents’ Mutual hits crucial 4,000 milestone

October 4, 2014

| October 4, 2014 Agents’ Mutual has passed the critical 4,000 member office milestone and says it is confidently on track for reaching its pre-launch target of 5,000 offices. Its portal OnTheMarket is due to launch in January, giving some three months for the final push. CEO Ian Springett said: “Our sales team is now […]