Suttons City Living Blog

House prices still rising – but rate of growth slows

December 19, 2014

| December 19, 2014 House prices have increased by 8.9% over the last year, but there has been a continued slowdown in the monthly rate of growth in recent months. Hometrack said this morning that the rate of house price growth in London slowed by two-thirds in the last quarter. By contrast, house prices in […]

Rents edge downwards for first time in eight months

| December 19, 2014 Rents have fallen on a monthly basis for the first time in eight months, according to Your Move and Reeds Rains. The firms, both part of LSL, said November’s rents were down 0.2% compared with October. Monthly rents last month across England and Wales averaged £768. The slight dip reflects the […]

New Court of Appeal decision in tenancy deposit case

| December 19, 2014 A new Court of Appeal decision could affect some long-standing tenancies. In the case of Charalambous v Ng the deposit was taken in 2002, before tenancy deposit protection became mandatory in April 2007. The tenancy went periodic in 2005, and in 2012 the landlord served a Section 21 notice. However, the […]

Woman estate agent found guilty in gang’s mortgage scam

| December 19, 2014 A woman estate agent was among a gang of four involved in a massive mortgage scam involving nearly three dozen properties and almost £5m. The four, who operated across Swansea and south-west Wales, stole and invented identities, set up dozens of different bank accounts, falsified documents such as pay slips, and […]

Major Scottish agent will drop Zoopla

| December 19, 2014 Major Scottish firm CKD Galbraith has announced that it will be dropping Zoopla in favour of Rightmove. The firm, which is an Agents’ Mutual gold member, said it was “confident that this decision is in the best interests” of its clients. CKD Galbraith has branches across Scotland and employs 225 staff. […]

Rightmove gives away its real-time data feed spec as portal wars hot up

December 18, 2014

| December 18, 2014 Rightmove has this morning announced what looks like an extraordinary tactical give-away as the portals war hots up. In a surprise move, it will offer the technical specifications for its Real-time Data Feed (RTDF) free of charge to rival portals. Development of Rightmove’s RTDF has been very costly, both in terms […]

Chestertons to drop Rightmove, while Savills will ditch Zoopla

| December 18, 2014 Chestertons, one of London’s largest estate agencies, has announced that it will be advertising on the Zoopla and PrimeLocation websites from January. In contrast, Savills has said it will drop Zoopla and use Rightmove as its “one other portal”. Both firms are founding members of Agents’ Mutual and will be listing […]

Developers flock to site which bans agents

| December 18, 2014 Developers have shown strong support for a portal that bans agents. The iProperty Company is free for developers and private sellers and landlords, and says there has been an “explosion”in interest in private sales. It has formal backing from the NHBC and is used by a number of big house builders […]

Cyber crimes warning to agents as hackers step up activity

| December 18, 2014 Five cases of cyber crime at agents’ businesses have been uncovered this year by just one company. All could have been fatal events for the companies concerned. Four cases involved the agents’ own staff using systems to sell on landlord and property data, and the fifth was a third party professional […]

Agents warned over water charges

| December 18, 2014 Letting agents in certain areas of the UK will have to face up to important changes over the next few weeks on behalf of their landlords. They concern the obligation of landlords to file certain information about their tenants with the water authority. If they do not notify this information, then […]

Knight Frank chooses Rightmove in major blow for Zoopla

December 12, 2014

| December 12, 2014 Knight Frank, one of the founding agencies behind Agents’ Mutual, is to drop Zoopla when OnTheMarket launches on January 26. Under the “one other portal” rule, most agents are effectively having to choose between the existing big two. Knight Frank’s announcement follows a similar announcement by Spicerhaart, and was welcomed by […]

Landlord wins in David and Goliath case over licensing

| December 12, 2014 A David and Goliath case has resulted in an extraordinary victory for a single small landlord, protesting against a local authority’s plans for a licensing scheme. Constantinos Regas, the landlord of just one property in the London borough of Enfield, pursued his case successfully. But the council says it will now […]

‘Cartel’ allegations against agents advertising in local press set to drag on for months

| December 12, 2014 An alleged “cartel” case involving three estate agents and local newspaper advertising is unlikely to be resolved until next June. The case, which has already dragged on for almost a year, originally encompassed all members of the Three Counties Estate Agents Association in the south of England. The Competition and Markets […]

Gazundering is back as London buyers slash offers by thousands

| December 12, 2014 Gazundering is sweeping back into the London market, with buyers of expensive properties slashing their prices in the last week – after offers have already been agreed. It follows last week’s Autumn Statement on Stamp Duty Land Tax – which has resulted in cuts in the tax for the majority of […]

Project launches to see if immigration checks on tenants discriminate

| December 12, 2014 A research project has been launched to assess the experiences of tenants and landlords experiencing immigration checks in the west midlands pilot. Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX), together with Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing, is doing the research to monitor the checks for discrimination and human rights implications. MAX is […]

Landmark case as agent is held to account over tenants’ behaviour

December 11, 2014

| December 11, 2014 A landmark ruling could have implications for letting agents and landlords in connection with the behaviour of tenants. A noise abatement notice was issued by Poole Council in Dorset to letting agent Michele King on April 1 this year. She appealed it but this week lost her case. The authority acted […]

New ruling on bedrooms says size doesn’t count

| December 11, 2014 A court ruling on what constitutes a bedroom could have implications for estate and letting agents nervous about how they describe the number of bedrooms in a property. It’s tiny: so is it a bedroom or would you be safer calling it a boxroom? Essentially, says a new ruling, if you […]

Sales to pick up by no more than 5% after Stamp Duty reforms – RICS

| December 11, 2014 House price growth in November dipped for the sixth consecutive month, the RICS reported this morning. The organisation also said that Stamp Duty Land Tax reforms would see only a muted response – a lift in transaction volumes of just 2–5%. Some 15% more surveyors reported a decline in new buyer […]

Simon Embley moves back to key position at LSL

| December 11, 2014 LSL, parent company of estate agency brands including Your Move, Reeds Rains, Marsh & Parsons and Davis Tate, has announced a number of changes. As from January 1, its former chief executive Simon Embley becomes the group’s non-executive chairman. Embley led the group from 2000 until standing down in September 2013 […]

New director appointed at ‘market redefining’ Lonres

| December 11, 2014 Peter Wetherell, chief executive of Mayfair estate agent Wetherell, has been appointed as a non-executive director of the Lonres board. He takes up the position with immediate effect. As part of the role, he will also sit on the board of Central London Estate Agents, who are a stakeholder in the […]

Tenancy eviction process ‘in utter chaos’

December 10, 2014

| December 10, 2014 The county courts system is in utter chaos so far as evictions are concerned, it has been claimed, with lost files, year-long delays and basic admin mistakes leading to extra costs for landlords and their agents. Some landlords are facing repossession by their mortgage lenders as a result of the alleged […]

Are boilers a problem for agents and landlords in rental properties?

| December 10, 2014 Eye is beginning to feel the stirrings of a campaign coming on – but we need your help, please. Do you have horror stories relating to boilers in your rental properties? For example: how much did they cost, how long did they last, how quickly did they break down, and when […]

Property crowdfunding company recruits Google man

| December 10, 2014 A crowdfunding company that lets members of the public invest in residential companies at the click of a button has appointed a new chief operating officer. Jalin Somaiya, pictured, joins Property Partner from Google, where he has had senior roles in operations, strategy and marketing. Property Partner describes itself as a […]

Holiday lettings industry worth £4.35bn a year

| December 10, 2014 A report by the London School of Economics has put the annual value of the UK’s holiday rental industry at £4.35bn a year. It also says that the industry has created over 95,000 jobs nationwide. The report, produced in conjunction with a firm called HomeAway.Inc, says the self-catering holiday rental industry […]

Portal’s tracker shows rents lagging inflation in Scotland

| December 10, 2014 Scottish portal Citylets claims to have laid to rest the ‘myth’ that the Scottish private rented sector is an out of control market requiring government intervention. Citylets has launched an ‘inflation tracker’ while the Scottish government holds a current consultation into the sector. Its proposals include rent controls. The tracker compares […]

Private sales sites dressing themselves up as online agents, claim

December 9, 2014

| December 9, 2014 A For Sale By Owner website says that a number of online agencies are really private sales sites in all but name. Franki Chaffin-Edwards, of The Little House Company, said they are simply dressed up to look like agents, for no other reason than to secure listings on Rightmove and Zoopla. […]

Who’s this on the phone and why? Rightmove will tell you

| December 9, 2014 Rightmove has unveiled ambitious plans to help agents get more out of phone leads from the site. It is to launch a prototype piece of technology that will pre-brief them about callers at the point at which they are ringing in – allowing agents to identify the most important leads. Agents […]

Major discrepancy revealed by housing minister in tenancy disputes

| December 9, 2014 An extraordinary disparity in results has been revealed between one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes and the others. MyDeposits, a spin-off of the National Landlords Association which is run by insurance firm Hamilton Fraser, finds in favour of the tenants in 70% of cases. That figure compares with a 57% […]

New ‘lite’ version of Fixflo launched to small landlords

| December 9, 2014 A new scaled-down version of Fixflo has launched, aimed at small landlords who manage their own properties. Called TenantRepair.com, the site is free. It enables tenants to report repair issues using simple visual prompts and in a choice of over 40 languages. The site has in-built advice to help tenants fix […]

Council set to order that all new homes must be lived in

| December 9, 2014 A local authority is pioneering a step-change in planning policies which would require all new homes to be regularly lived in. Islington Council in north London is to consult on its proposals. They are an attempt to stop the ‘buy to leave’ phenomenon by which new homes are bought as investments […]

Stamp Duty stampede as deals are done late into the night

December 5, 2014

| December 5, 2014 High-end agents are still recovering from the night that none will ever forget: the great Stamp Duty stampede. Hours of drama, excitement, hits and near-misses followed the Chancellor’s surprise reform of Stamp Duty Land Tax. Agents right across London, and in other affluent spots, worked with solicitors to pull off exchanges […]

‘Some very cross buyers’ as losers count their costs minutes before reforms

| December 5, 2014 While much has been made of the great stampede, what of the reverse – those buyers who could have gained had they been advised to delay completions by as little as 11 hours? Wednesday is not a busy day for completions, compared with Fridays, and most completions take place between noon […]

I’ll press ahead with Mansion Tax, vows Balls

| December 5, 2014 Despite the Stamp Duty Land Tax reforms making house purchases cheaper for 98% of home buyers, revenues from the tax are still likely to soar. Paul Johnston, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said that SDLT revenue is forecast to increase from £7bn in 2013-14 to £16bn in 2019-20. He […]

Prices up, says Halifax – and then quotes Land Registry data, not its own

| December 5, 2014 House prices in November were 0.4% up on October and 8.2% up on November a year ago. According to the Halifax, the average house price is now £186,941. Halifax economist Martin Ellis said the pace of annual house price inflation is now at its slowest since February. He said this was […]

Government to try again on revenge evictions despite defeat of Bill

| December 5, 2014 The Government is to try to revive attempts to outlaw so-called revenge evictions. After the defeat of Sarah Teather’s Tenancies (Reform) Bill a week ago, the Government is tabling an amendment to the Deregulation Bill. Teather’s Private Member’s Bill had full government backing and yet was talked out by two backbench […]

Agents burn midnight oil after Chancellor’s Stamp Duty reforms

December 4, 2014

| December 4, 2014 Reforms to Stamp Duty Land Tax which kicked in at midnight caused mayhem in much of the market yesterday. Almost before George Osborne had sat down, the announcement triggered an intense wave of activity at estate agents, lawyers and accountants – with deals, particularly in London, being hurried through to exchange […]

Reform after years of campaigning – but what will it do to prices?

| December 4, 2014 There are predictions that the new SDLT regime will raise house prices. One accountant said that prices could rise “overnight”. Account Robert Dowling, of MHA, said: “Purchasers buying houses under £937,500 will now be better off under the new rules which broadly equate to 98% of residential transactions. “There will, however, […]

Australia’s answer to Agents’ Mutual goes off like a damp Squiiz

| December 4, 2014 A new property portal owned and operated by estate agents has had a problematic launch, it has been claimed. Australian portal Squiiz.com.au launched in October. At launch, there were some 3,500 agencies listing on the site, with another 2,000 due to be using it shortly, according to CEO Nick Christian. In […]

Man awaits sentencing after property fraud trial

| December 4, 2014 A 46-year-old man is awaiting sentence after being been found guilty of property-related fraud. He had swindled companies out of £461,146 in an elaborate scheme involving non-existent property and land development deals. Jason Lee Churchill, of Harrogate, was found guilty of three counts of fraud by false representation following a three-week […]

Agent rapped after ‘sexist’ advert showing women in bikinis

| December 4, 2014 An agent which used a rear-view image of bikini-clad women in a local paper to promote its services has been told off for its “sexist” and “demeaning” advert. Whirlybird Property, of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, took out the advert in the Bucks Free Press. It featured a picture of six women, from behind, […]

Stamp Duty Land Tax reforms from midnight tonight

December 3, 2014

| December 3, 2014 Stamp Duty Land Tax is to be changed at midnight after today’s Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne. Osborne announced that he would be completely reforming what he described as a “badly designed tax on aspiration”. He has jettisoned the old “slab” structure, by which home buyers paid SDLT on the […]

Portals and passion: divided opinions show just how much agents care

| December 3, 2014 by Nick Salmon, managing director of Property Industry Eye The Property Industry Eye independent portal price survey – which we analysed over the last two days – contained a section for making comments, and we were braced for some vociferous views. Passionate views did indeed shine through the responses, but happily […]

Agents’ Mutual launches Bronze membership option to agents

| December 3, 2014 OnTheMarket.com has announced its pre-launch Bronze membership scheme. It completes the suite of planned membership contracts as set out in successive Agents’Mutual information memorandum documents published to agents. Unlike the Silver and Gold schemes, this Bronze scheme does not require a five-year listing agreement. It is aimed primarily at those agent […]

OnTheMarket lays on more briefing meetings as demand surges

| December 3, 2014 Next week’s UK-wide meetings, at which agents will be briefed on Agent’s Mutual’s plans and able to see, pre-launch what OnTheMarket.com will look like, have been hugely over-subscribed. Originally, there were due to be 26 events taking place between December 8 and 11. The number has now been increased to 39 […]

Agents will have to give more information when selling flats

| December 3, 2014 Agents selling leasehold flats will have to give information about service charges and ground rent on property details. The Competition and Markets Authority has made this one of its key recommendations after an eight-month study into the residential property management industry. It said that prospective purchasers might not understand about leasehold, […]

Most OTM agents in Eye survey will choose Rightmove as ‘one other portal’

December 2, 2014

| December 2, 2014 The majority of estate agents surveyed by Eye who are already committed to OnTheMarket say they will be listing with Rightmove under the “one other portal”rule. This rule, requiring OnTheMarket agents to list their properties with only one other portal, effectively means that most agents will have to decide between the […]

What you are paying Rightmove and Zoopla all-in

| December 2, 2014 Here is some more analysis from Eye’s survey on property portals. Yesterday, we looked at what agents are paying for basic subscriptions. Here we look at what agents are paying Rightmove and Zoopla in total. The question was: “What total amount are you currently paying per branch per month (net of […]

Concern mounts as Land Registry delays drag on

| December 2, 2014 Long delays at the Land Registry are causing serious problems for home movers and conveyancers. The Society of Licensed Conveyancers and Bold Legal Group have expressed their serious concerns. The bodies say that delays in registrations are being experienced in different parts of the country, and have persisted for many months. […]

Agency bosses change bonus terms in bid to hang on to staff

| December 2, 2014 Estate agency bosses have got wise to the “New year, new job” mentality of itchy-feet staff, it has been claimed. Recruiter Josh Rayner said: “Many have changed the terms of their bonus and commission schemes to lock agents in until March 2015. “In many cases, the year now runs from April […]

Civil Aviation Authority warns agents over illegal drones

| December 2, 2014 The Civil Aviation Authority has warned that it is aware of cases where estate agents may have broken the law by operating drones without a licence. The CAA says they are risking fines of up to £5,000 and that it will prosecute companies that use drones without a licence for commercial […]