Suttons City Living Blog

Powered By
Powered By Property Industry Eye

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 […]

Building society mortgage approvals leap 20% and sector says it is business as usual

Building society approvals rose 20% in the second quarter, according to new figures from trade body the Building Societies Association. Its members approved 118,600 mortgages in the second quarter, up from 98,300 in the same period of 2015, and up 8% from the 109,800 mortgages approved in the first quarter. The BSA said: “The figures […]

Buying demand for new-build flats in London drops by almost half

In echoes of the last recession, demand has plunged for new-build apartments in London as thousands more new homes are set to be built. Sales of new apartments in inner London are down 43% on last year. In contrast, the planning pipeline is up 20% compared with 2013, with 106,208 new units already approved. A […]

Is construction dip due to Brexit vote or because it’s summer?

A slowdown in the construction output and sales of new homes following the vote to leave the European Union point to a major decline in house building, it has been claimed. The National Housing Federation said the result of the referendum in June could wipe out more than a third of GDP growth (£142.5bn) and […]

Portal juggling: Industry regulator confirms active investigations of specific agents under way

August 15, 2016

The estate agency industry regulator has confirmed that it is actively investigating specific firms accused of portal juggling. The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team issued a statement last week which said, as many readers suspected, that the practice of portal juggling is illegal. But in a further comment to EYE a spokesman confirmed that […]

New asking prices drop exactly in line with usual seasonal trend, says Rightmove

The Brexit vote does not seemed to have exacerbated the usual summer listings lull, Rightmove data shows. Figures from the property portal’s latest house price index show that new listing prices fell 1.2% on average to £304,222 during August, in line with the usual seasonal drop over the past six years. The portal said 2016 […]

September to be a ‘pivotal’ month for housing market, says Knight Frank

Knight Frank has said that September will be a “pivotal month” for the housing market and give an indication of the autumn selling season. The firm says that while “a recession for the UK seems a real possibility, what appears less likely is an economic crisis, as being suggested in the days following the referendum. […]

Why can’t I buy a home on Airbnb, asks frustrated purchaser

Why can’t I buy a home on Airbnb? The headline caught our attention and made us think. Airbnb is, after all, a lettings site. Could it become a sales site? Furthermore, it is almost entirely a private lettings site. Could it become a private sales site? Could it even list its properties on Rightmove and […]

Picture of the Week: And we’re talking money (lots of it)

It’s Monday morning, everyone seems to be on holiday apart from us – and we have a bad case of salary envy. Courtesy of Estates Gazette, here is what two of our best known industry leaders are taking home. Countrywide’s Alison Platt and Foxtons’ Nic Budden are doing pretty well out of firms whose share […]

Not even Theresa May will be able to tame London housing market

August 13, 2016

Margaret Thatcher is often blamed for closing the mines or taking away free school milk, but now it appears she is also responsibility for the period of the highest house price growth in London. Data from agents Stirling Ackroyd shows that the Iron Lady’s tenure between 1979 and 1990 saw prices rise 251% from £31,379 […]

Here are some of the stories that got you talking this week

It’s been another hectic week for the industry, and here is what has caught our eye. First: Brexit: Should we listen to the agents or the surveyors? The housing market continues to shrug its shoulders over the impact of the Brexit vote. According to the LSL Housing/Acadata survey, transactions fell 20% in the second quarter […]

Victory for agents after industry regulator warns that portal juggling is illegal

August 12, 2016

Estate agents who deliberately mislead potential home buyers through the practice known as portal juggling are warned that they could be prosecuted and banned from the industry. The warning, issued yesterday afternoon, is from industry regulator the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, and represents a major victory for a handful of independent agents and […]

Three Foxtons agents ‘fired’ after fracas with demonstrators

Three Foxtons estate agents have apparently been sacked after brawling in the street with activists outside the London home of Boris Johnson. The men, all wearing dark suits, became wrapped up in the noisy protest staged by Class War activists. The agents were apparently caught on camera exchanging blows with the protesters before police intervened. […]

Agents warned that price-conscious vendors will want cheaper transaction costs

Countrywide’s earnings are due to deteriorate in the face of flat transactions and pressure on estate agent fees as consumers increasingly turn to hybrid, fixed fee agents. The forecast comes in a report by Scott Fulton of broking business Whitman Howard. The firm has cut its earnings forecasts for Countrywide by 32.4% this year, by […]

Don’t pay us – we’ll pay you to sell your home, agent tells vendors

An estate agent is to trial a new approach to the business of buying and selling homes – whereby he pays the sellers. Spencer Fortag, of Landmark Estates in Canary Wharf, London, and Dockside Property Services in Kent, is taking existing 0% sales methods a step further. Called For Sale by Tender and/or Modern Method […]

Number of private tenants evicted by bailiffs soars 88% in five years

The number of households living in the private rented sector in England evicted by bailiffs has gone up 88% in the past five years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal. In the 12 months to June, 22,592 private renting households in England were evicted by bailiffs compared to 11,989 in the same period in 2010/11. Campbell […]

Gloomy RICS reports fastest drop in house sales since last crash

August 11, 2016

Surveyors are reporting the fastest drop in transactions since 2008, but there is little consensus over whether this is caused by the Brexit vote or the aftermath of the Stamp Duty rush. The RICS residential market survey for July found 34% more respondents reported a fall in transactions for the second month in a row […]