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Letting agent’s jail sentence over maintenance bills mark-ups after huge investigation

February 5, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 5, 2016 The former Belvoir franchisee Harpreet Garcha, who was yesterday jailed after marking up maintenance bills, was described by investigators as “being at the centre of a sophisticated web of fundamentally dishonest financial criminal activity”. The case comes as it is known that there are other agents who […]

Criminal agent condemned by franchise firm Belvoir for ‘betrayal of trust’

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 5, 2016 Harpreet Garcha’s admission of guilt has been welcomed by national property lettings specialist Belvoir, with whom he held franchise agreements for offices in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, prior to his departure from the Belvoir Group in 2014. Commenting after yesterday’s sentencing, a Belvoir spokesman said: “This was […]

Agent who failed to disclose sale of property to wife awaits sentencing

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 5, 2016 An estate agent is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to fraud. He had tried to cheat a pensioner by buying her home cheaply in his wife’s name, with the aim of selling it on quickly for at least a £10,000 profit. Stephen Jones, of Conwy Estate Agents […]

Agent advertises properties which come with a ‘tragedy discount’

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 5, 2016 In EYE’s tireless quest to root out potential new business opportunities for our readers, we have come across a dead certainty. And it certainly adds new meaning to the phrase “ghost properties” which has put in increasing appearances on our site recently. An estate agent in Hong […]

Dirty tricks – and warnings over leasehold extensions

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 5, 2016 Agents should be advising sellers and buyers against the dangers of informal leasehold extensions. In an explosive message delivered at this week’s 2016 LEASE annual conference, speaker Louie Burns delivered a number of warnings. Burns, managing director of Leasehold Solutions, said that many of the UK’s 4.1m […]

NEWS FLASH: Letting agent jailed after frauds on tenants and landlords

February 4, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 4, 2016 A former letting agent has been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison after admitting fraud against both tenants and landlords. Trained accountant Harpreet Garcha, who ran three Belvoir franchises Belvoir in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, was investigated by Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards team […]

Fees in the spotlight as Telegraph runs poll about online agents

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 4, 2016 Estate agents’ fees are varying remarkably across the country. The Telegraph, reporting on a survey by online agent Urban, is running an interactive map, apparently showing average fees in different parts of the country. The paper says that fees vary between 0.9% and 2%, and asks its […]

OnTheMarket announces record estate agency recruitment

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 4, 2016 OnTheMarket achieved a record level of traffic in January and achieved the highest recruitment of contracted offices since January last year. Total visits were in excess of 6m, with 2.8m unique visitors, as measured by Google Analytics. The figures include a record number of visits to the […]

‘We’re passionate about our people,’ says Countrywide as buying spree set to continue

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 4, 2016 Countrywide has re-affirmed that it wants to buy more letting businesses, promising that it will look after staff. The firm – which has seen a string of key head office departures over the last year, including this week of Andrew Pennells who had been appointed to oversee […]

Foxtons grabs more market share as sales volumes dwindle across London

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 4, 2016 Foxtons put in a solid performance last year, with revenues up 4% to £150m. It also appeared to reject going down the online route, with more branch openings promised. Sales volumes last year also increased by 4%, despite an 11% drop in London transactions. In a trading […]

eMoov claims online agency sector set for ‘explosive rate’ this year

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 4, 2016 Online estate agent eMove is claiming record growth. eMoov says it has posted a listing performance for January that demonstrates growth of 160% year on year, It adds that this will set “the disruptive estate agency business up for an explosive rate of expansion over 2016”. eMoov […]

It’s a stampede! Investors rush to beat Stamp Duty deadline

February 3, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 3, 2016 There is resounding new evidence that buy-to-let investors are ramping up activity as they try to beat the April 1 Stamp Duty surcharge deadline. Also, more individuals appear to have turned themselves into companies in order to be exempt from an earlier clampdown announced by George Osborne […]

‘Most home owners would choose traditional agent to sell their home’

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 3, 2016 Most home owners would choose a traditional estate agent if they had to sell today, a poll has found. However, a significant proportion would go the online route – and younger people would actively choose an online agent rather than a full-service one. The poll asked: “If […]

No time! Conveyancers’ anger over short gap between Budget and 3% Stamp Duty surcharge

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 3, 2016 Conveyancers have expressed serious criticisms about the short time frame between the Budget and April 1, when the new Stamp Duty surcharge is due to kick in. The final rules on the 3% surcharge on purchases of all but first and only homes are due to be […]

Countrywide brand John D Wood launches new cinema advert

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 3, 2016 Coming to cinemas shortly – an advert for Countrywide brand John D Wood & Co … although it hardly mentions the firm until the very end. Entitled ‘Welcome Home’, the 60-second commercial features a man reminiscing about his property before saying it is time for a new […]

Savills attacks ministers over clampdown on private rented sector

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 3, 2016 Demand for rented homes will rise by more than 1m households over the next five years, Savills has claimed. It says that demand will continue to grow, despite government measures to clamp down on private landlords and help ‘generation rent’ become ‘generation buy’. The Government has a […]

NEWSFLASH: Another key departure at Countrywide announced

February 2, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 2, 2016 Countrywide has announced yet another key departure – this time, of the man appointed only seven months ago as director of transformation. Andrew Pennells was formerly sales director with Countrywide’s estate agency division. Last July, as part of Countrywide’s large restructure following a string of departures, the […]

Touting letter sent by corporate to ‘seller’ of spoof property listed by agent

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 2, 2016 Readers with festive memories will recall the spoof property which EYE featured just before Christmas. It lit up our lives! Listed on both Rightmove and Zoopla, this was (apparently) a pretty little place, enjoying a peaceful and secluded location for 11 months of the year, with open […]

Local councils finally crack down on unlawful landlords

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 2, 2016 Illegal eviction prosecutions show that councils – long criticised for not using powers already at their disposal – are cracking down on rogue landlords. The Local Government Association said that four councils secured successful prosecutions in one month alone. However, it is calling for the legal process […]

Key document that must be provided to tenants is updated

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 2, 2016 The Government has updated its How to Rent leaflet to take into account changes introduced yesterday with the national roll-out across England of Right to Rent checks. The leaflet must be given by landlords and agents to tenants before the start of a tenancy. The new version […]

Mansion with £24m price tag goes on market with online agent

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 2, 2016 A mansion with 18 bedrooms and a sales tag of £24m is being sold through an online agent. The property, in Grosvenor Gardens, London, is on the market with Manchester-based My Online Estate Agent which says that it will save the owner more than £400,000 in normal […]

Belvoir reports strong results and hints it will make further purchases

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 2, 2016 Belvoir has reported good results for last year in a trading update. The firm, which started off purely in lettings but now offers sales, says that revenue from property sales grew from £0.8m in 2014 to £1.4m last year. The ratio of revenue from lettings to sales […]

Shares in online agent Purplebricks bounce back to near launch price

February 1, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 1, 2016 Purplebricks starts the new trading week with its shares practically back to launch price. They ended on Friday at 98p, just 2p short of their 100p price at flotation shortly before Christmas. The recovery was remarkable for the online agent, with its shares having sunk to 72p. […]

Shares of buy-to-let firms hit as tax changes for landlords get nearer

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 1, 2016 While Purplebricks’ shares have put in a startling recovery, ending on Friday at 98p, just below their flotation price, shares in companies operating in the buy-to-let sector have been hit hard. Millions of pounds have been wiped off their value. The 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge […]

Labour MP Stella Creasy launches new ‘awards’ for best and worst agents

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 1, 2016 Labour MP Stella Creasy is running her “awards” for a second year running, which will name the best and worst estate and letting agents in her London constituency of Walthamstow. The highly controversial awards last year received only about 200 votes. They also raised the question as […]

New ‘border control’ responsibilities kick in today for agents and landlords

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 1, 2016 As the new compulsory Right to Rent regime goes live across England today, opposition to the scheme continues to be fiercely voiced. One landlord body claimed that over 90% of landlords have not been given any official information about it, while housing lawyer David Smith said: “How […]

Agency buying organisation marches south with millions for acquisitions

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 1, 2016 Acquisitive property group Lomond Capital has purchased a Birmingham business, John Shepherd Estate Agents. It has also announced that it is currently in negotiations to buy un-named estate agents and lettings businesses in Bristol, Brighton, Reading, Oxford and Cardiff. Edinburgh-based Lomond began its giant acquisition spree in […]

Location, location, location – or will it be compromise, compromise, compromise?

January 30, 2016

Written by: Marc Shoffman | January 30, 2016 Location remains key in the property market, but increased demand could push buyers to look further afield. Doug Crawford, chief executive of conveyancer My Home Move, warned buyers may need to start getting more flexible as demand continues to outstrip supply. He said: “Compromise may have to […]

IMPORTANT REMINDER: All landlords and letting agents in England to make Right to Rent checks from Monday

January 29, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 29, 2016 All letting agents in England are reminded that as from Monday (February 1) they will have to perform Right to Rent checks on all prospective tenants. David Cox, managing director of ARLA, warned that agents who have already agreed contracts or agree some over this weekend for […]

OnTheMarket: Time for agents to take that leap of faith

Written by: Paul Smith | January 29, 2016 I wonder how many detractors of OnTheMarket have been eyeing their most recent portal bills with Rightmove and Zoopla and are starting to question just how long they can continue to give away their profits to someone else’s shareholders. I suppose it is different if you happen […]

UK’s second largest agent ‘outperforming’ market

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 29, 2016 Shares rose in LSL yesterday after the owners of businesses including Your Move, Reeds Rains, Marsh & Parsons, Davis Tate and Thomas Morris, announced a robust performance last year. Operating profits for 2015 are expected to be slightly ahead of 2014′s. Overall estate agency income was up […]

Leading property figure slams Government’s ‘catastrophic’ hammering of landlords

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 29, 2016 A leading figure in the property industry has hit out at the Government’s “hammering of buy-to-let landlords”, saying the policy will hit tenants. Auctioneer Clive Emson said that changes to tax relief and extra Stamp Duty could have a “catastrophic” effect. He said there is no point […]

Landlord evicted tenants illegally after agent served proper notice

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 29, 2016 A landlord who illegally evicted a family of nine has been fined £700. He has also been ordered to pay costs of £1,500 and a victim surcharge of £70 after he took matters into his own hands and ignored the two-month notice his agent had given the […]

Former Countrywide boss tells OTM to drop its ‘one other portal’ rule

January 28, 2016

Written by: Bob Scarff | January 28, 2016 After 37 years of playing the game, I have found myself watching from the touchline for the past few months. For the first six months I was advised by the doctor (OK, the employment lawyer) to take a complete rest from the game. The situation was apparently […]

‘Over-priced’ shares in Purplebricks should be avoided, says Telegraph

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 28, 2016 There has been a damning assessment of Purplebricks in the Telegraph, with a recommendation to sell shares. Yesterday EYE reported that Purplebricks’s share prices went up, with purchasers including CEO Michael Bruce and chairman Paul Pindar. A glowing report on Purplebricks’ prospects was written by its own […]

The war for talent: It’s today’s biggest challenge for estate agents

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 28, 2016 Keeping and developing talented staff is today’s biggest challenges for estate agency bosses. Specialist recruiter Joshua Rayner said that counter offers – where current employers bid against prospective employers for a particular candidate – have become increasingly common and are here to stay. Rayner said that it […]

Local letting agent runs free weekly taxi service for students

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 28, 2016 A local letting agency is running a free transport service for students. The students – including those who do not rent through Keylet, in Cathay – are being offered free lifts into Cardiff city centre every Wednesday evening throughout February. Wednesdays are when the students have their […]

Posting etiquette on EYE: Please ditch the mud-slinging

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 28, 2016 Comments on stories are very welcome on EYE but please can I ask all posters to observe the usual etiquette. This week, some posters said that they were so unhappy with the tone of some of the comments, that they no longer wished to contribute to the […]

Exane Paribas says Agents’ Mutual ‘challenging for now’ to Zoopla

January 27, 2016

Written by: EYE Correspondent | January 27, 2016 Following a briefing by Zoopla’s CEO Alex Chesterman and CFO Stephen Morana, Exane Paribas yesterday issued an alert document to investors stating that the effect of Agents’ Mutual on Zoopla is ‘challenging for now’ but that ZPG is ‘confident longer term’. The report goes on to say […]

Purplebricks shares rise after chairman and chief executive top up holdings

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 27, 2016 Shares in Purplebricks rose yesterday after the online agent posted its first set of interim results to the City. That was despite reporting losses of £6.4m in the six months to the end of last October. Yesterday, chief executive Michael Bruce and chairman Paul Pindar both topped […]

Rentify launches £1m crowdfunding round and plans to float within five years

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 27, 2016 Rentify, an online firm which helps landlords let and manage their own properties, has launched a crowdfunding pitch for £1m. With 29 days still to go of its 30-day pitch, by yesterday afternoon it had got past the halfway mark, raising £541,140 from 20 investors. The £1m […]

Online agent launches No Sale, No Fee, saying public distrust upfront payments

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 27, 2016 Online estate agent HouseSimple has launched a No Sale, No Fee payment plan, saying that consumers are uncertain about paying money upfront. It now does not have an upfront payment option. The new package costs up to £995 and replaces a pay-as-you-go option launched in July last […]

Chestertons boss dismisses ‘scaremongering’ about OnTheMarket

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 27, 2016 Robert Bartlett, CEO of Chestertons, said his firm hopes not to be on any other portal than OnTheMarket. He dismissed what he called ‘scaremongering’ on the day that the challenger portal marked its first birthday. Bartlett, also a non-executive director of Agents’ Mutual which launched OTM, said […]

Property portal ‘could not prove properties were listed with owners’ permission’

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 27, 2016 A property website advertising student properties was said to have listed accommodation without the owners’ consent. Lancaster Property Network (Management), trading as One Stop Lancaster, was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. The complainant challenged whether the website misleadingly implied the properties listed were available to rent. […]

NEWS FLASH: FT reports speculation that Zoopla could be vulnerable to take-over

January 26, 2016

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 26, 2016 The Financial Times has this morning reported on speculation that Zoopla could be vulnerable to a take-over. The FT says in a column by Bryce Elder: “Property portal Zoopla was up 5.7% to 215p, albeit on thin volume, after the resignation last week of its finance director […]

One year on: OnTheMarket says it has become recognised challenger brand

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 26, 2016 OnTheMarket.com marks its first birthday today. The portal, launched by Agents’ Mutual, said last night that it has already cemented its position as one of the UK’s leading portals and as a major challenger brand. However, OTM did not clarify whether it had overtaken Zoopla – as […]

OnTheMarket’s first anniversary: ‘Agents pouring money into black hole’ claim

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 26, 2016 Today is the first anniversary of OnTheMarket which Russell Quirk has marked by hitting out at the challenger portal. He claims that agents are pouring their money into a financial black hole and that their support of it is proving “shockingly expensive”. But last night, a spokesperson […]

Controversial agent Purplebricks reports first figures to City

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 26, 2016 Purplebricks made a pre-tax loss of £6.4m in the six months to October 31 last year, the firm reported this morning. The loss was higher than for the same period in 2014, when the figure was £2.5m In its first set of interim results to the City […]

Online rental fraud on the rise as more scam landlords lure tenants

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 26, 2016 Online rental fraud is rising sharply, the BBC reported last night. There were 3,193 cases of alleged rental fraud in England and Wales last year, reported to Action Fraud – up from 2,216 in 2014. The fraudsters offer rental accommodation which they do not own, taking deposits. […]

Romans signals further acquisitions as director Peter Fuller changes roles

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | January 26, 2016 The ambitious Romans Group has signalled its determination for further expansion. Lettings managing director Peter Fuller has become director of mergers and acquisitions. Romans, based in the Thames Valley, has made a number of acquisitions and has a significant war chest for more. It has been tipped […]