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New product launches today aimed at ending fall-throughs

April 27, 2015

| April 27, 2015 A new product launches today, designed to end gazumping and gazundering by locking in buyers and sellers once a sale has been agreed. The product, called Gazeal, has been designed by a group of solicitors and provides a lock-out agreement backed by title insurance. It is aimed at preventing fall-throughs initially […]

Police use tear gas against protesters after Foxtons targeted

| April 27, 2015 Foxtons was at the centre of a violent demonstration over the weekend – and there was industry outrage at a remark on Twitter by online agent Russell Quirk. The branch, in Brixton, had a large window completely smashed during the Reclaim Brixton protest while the words “Yuppies out” and “No evictions” […]

Legislation to outlaw letting agent fees could be just one month away

| April 27, 2015 If Labour wins power next week, it will legislate to abolish letting agent fees and introduce both longer tenancies and rent caps within the month. The proposed legislation would form part of the Queen’s Speech on May 27. Yesterday, Ed Miliband set out Labour’s policies for the private rented sector, while […]

If tenant fees are banned, what next? Boss of Martin & Co speaks out

| April 27, 2015 So Labour would ban tenant fees. MartinCo Group currently manages over 42,000 properties through its five franchise brands. You would have thought we would have been one of the most vocal opponents, but we have kept quiet. Why so? Firstly as a public company, we serve the whole community and do […]

Rent controls almost as efficient as bombing cities, says Pickles on warpath

| April 27, 2015 CLG minister Eric Pickles yesterday attacked Labour’s plans for rent controls. Using a quote from economist Assar Lindbeck, he tweeted: “Rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city except for bombing.” Which brings us nicely to our picture of the week. Thankfully, there were […]

Concerns as new approval scheme for letting agents launches

April 24, 2015

| April 24, 2015 The founder of a new “approval” scheme for letting agents has strongly defended its launch, saying he is simply trying to identify better letting agents. However, the scheme has sparked concerns. One source told Eye they were worried that a new body could be trying to step into the industry as […]

New estate agency review site officially launches into world of dirty tricks

| April 24, 2015 The new agency review site, raterAgent, has taken its website out of beta mode and officially launches today, saying it will put an end to “rampant fakery”. The launch seems to have entered a world of dirty tricks. The site says it has checked every single one of hundreds of reviews […]

Buyer numbers hit as they wait 50 days to receive mortgage offer

| April 24, 2015 Two-thirds of estate agents have seen a decrease in buyers and a quarter of mortgage brokers have experienced a drop in business following the Mortgage Market Review, which was implemented a year ago. Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director, said: “This Sunday is the anniversary of the MMR and we can now […]

Agent prosecuted for using multiple industry logos without consent

| April 24, 2015 The former director of two websites which used a number of well-known property logos without consent has been fined in court. Ziad Nassif, of London Room Let and Landlord Direct Investments, was taken to court by Westminster Trading Standards. At Westminster Magistrates Court, he pleaded guilty to breaching consumer protection legislation. […]

New app launches to help flatmates sort out rows over costs

| April 24, 2015 A free app has been launched to help housemates split costs, track expenses, share responsibilities and manage their home. Splittable has been founded by Nick Katz, 31, who says he is the youngest Fellow of the RICS. He is currently a flat-sharer, having so far shared nine properties with a variety […]

Letting agent fees: Another landmark ruling by advertising watchdog

April 23, 2015

| April 23, 2015 In an important ruling affecting how letting agents must advertise their charges, Countrywide firm Hamptons has had a complaint upheld against it over the display of “other fees may apply”. The advertising watchdog has effectively said that agents who say that “other fees may apply” could also be interpreted as saying […]

Which prime minister (surprisingly) saw house prices rise the most?

| April 23, 2015 With the election just two weeks away, Knight Frank has updated its assessment of how the UK property market has fared under recent prime ministers. It is interesting to see that the biggest price rises were under Tony Blair, whereas Gordon Brown is the only prime minister where house prices have […]

Miliband tells Rightmove – we WILL ban letting agent fees

| April 23, 2015 A new Rightmove survey reveals the single biggest concern among home-hunters is that house prices are too high (38%), with a lack of choice in the market coming in second (17%). This week, Rightmove reported an all-time high in new asking prices of £286,133. Against this backdrop and with the election […]

Home movers ‘letting to buy’ are starving market of instructions, says agent

| April 23, 2015 More and more people are “letting to buy”, an agent has said, and are hanging on to their homes when they move on to another. David Cantell, of Cantell & Co in Richmond, Surrey, said this is severely drying up the supply of property on the market in his part of […]

Agent launches online feature showing level of interest in each property

| April 23, 2015 Estate agent Hatched has introduced a new feature on to its website, with a pop-up revealing how many times a particular property has been viewed online and the number of bookings for physical viewings. The pop-up banner appears towards the bottom of the listing and is an example of ‘social proof’ […]

OnTheMarket is ‘struggling’ claims Zoopla

April 22, 2015

| April 22, 2015 OnTheMarket is struggling, Zoopla has said. OTM totally rejected the claims and described Zoopla’s attention to it as “flattering”. Zoopla, which once again used Hitwise figures, said: “Almost three months after its launch the latest data suggests that Onthemarket may not be making the right moves with consumers as it struggles […]

Story that grabbed Britain: Agents help frail pensioner achieve happy ending

| April 22, 2015 It is the story that made a nation feel at first worse about itself – and then a whole lot better. When vulnerable pensioner Alan Barnes, 67, was attacked by mugger Richard Gatiss outside his home, he felt no longer safe there and moved out. Drug-user Gatiss, 25, has now been […]

Innocent landlord caught up in short-let scam speaks out

| April 22, 2015 The person whose entirely legitimate business name and address was used without his knowledge by a supposed short-lets company has spoken out. Martin McGrath had registered the name ‘The Home Letting Centre Ltd’ in 2013, with the aim of launching a letting agency. Mr McGrath is a private landlord and small […]

Buy-to-let: All non-UK resident landlords should get properties valued now

| April 22, 2015 Here is advice that some agents may find useful to pass on to clients living abroad and who own rental properties in this country. According to one accountant, they should get these properties valued now, even if they have no intention of selling. She warns that failing to get a property […]

eBay-style auction service for homes to roll out after successful trial

| April 22, 2015 An eBay-style property auction service is to be rolled out this spring after a successful trial. Auction House founder Roger Lake said that so far some ten properties have been sold by the service, which has been piloted in East Anglia since February. It is completely free to vendors. Buyers pay […]

Big fall in transactions but house prices shoot up

April 21, 2015

| April 21, 2015 The number of property sales fell dramatically last month, says estate agent haart. Based on its own data, it estimates that in March there were 47,056 exchanges, down 6.3% on February and a drop of 19.3% year on year. Haart says that prices were up by 0.9% on a monthly basis […]

U-turn revealed on Tories’ flagship Right to Buy election promise

| April 21, 2015 The Tories appear to have performed a U-turn on their controversial extension of Right to Buy to social housing tenants. Just 18 months ago, then housing minister Kris Hopkins wrote to a Liberal Democrat MP, Tessa Munt, saying that “the Government does not consider that it would be reasonable to require […]

Labour’s mansion tax costs to hit property owners and all taxpayers

| April 21, 2015 Over 120,000 households could face a bill of up to £4,800 each to have their property revalued under Labour’s mansion tax proposals. The total cost to home-owners of having their properties revalued would be some £110m, says Savills. If they do not pay for the revaluations, they could face fines of […]

Purplebricks backer Neil Woodford raises £800m

| April 21, 2015 Hedge fund legend Neil Woodford has raised £800m for his Woodford Patient Capital Trust, which includes online agent Purplebricks in its portfolio. The sum is the most ever raised by a UK investment trust and was over-subscribed by almost 10%. Craig Newman, chief executive of Woodford Investment Management, said: “The support […]

Short-lets firm goes quiet as bank’s fraud department alerted

| April 21, 2015 Mystery continues to surround the company that has been trading as London Short Let Flats. Yesterday, its website was no longer available. When Eye tried to make contact, the phone line was apparently dead when our previous attempts to call simply went through to voicemail. It has also emerged that London […]

Asking prices soar to their highest-ever level

April 20, 2015

| April 20, 2015 The highest-ever average asking price is reported by Rightmove this morning at £286,133, as the property drought tightens. Today’s asking price is 1.6% up on the previous four weeks and dramatically up from the last peak in May last year, when asking prices were £281,782. The number of new sellers is […]

Agents blamed by bank for increase in moving costs

| April 20, 2015 The finger has been pointed at estate agents for raising their fees and driving up the cost of home moving. Lloyds Bank says the average cost of moving house now stands at £8,689, with estate agents getting most of the blame for a £431 increase last year. According to the bank, […]

Dale Eddison, Lynks and Stoneshaw triumph as top estate and letting agents

| April 20, 2015 Lynks Estate Agents in the north-west enjoyed a rewarding day at Friday’s ESTAs, winning silver as the best estate agent in the UK. The ultimate accolade as the UK’s best estate agent went to Dale Eddison Ilkley, while bronze went to Logic Estates. Lynks also picked up the gold award for […]

Green Party leader under attack for demonising private rented sector

| April 20, 2015 Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has come under attack after she attacked the private rented sector – and in particular, buy-to-let landlords whom she blamed for helping to cause the housing crisis. She cited very high returns for landlords in last Thursday night’s television debate between the opposition leaders. She said […]

Agent raises £60,000 for children’s charity after his death at 33

| April 20, 2015 A fund started by an estate agent who was killed in a road crash has raised £60,000 for a children’s charity since his death in September. Mark Davey, 33, who was a director at Indigo Residential in Luton, had survived cancer as a child. At the age of 30 he set […]

High street estate agents earn ‘money for old rope’ says Charles Dunstone

April 17, 2015

| April 17, 2015 Carphone Warehouse tycoon Sir Charles Dunstone has said that estate agents get “money for old rope” and that online agents will do the industry what Uber has done to black cabs. He made the claims in an interview with This is Money. Dunstone, who also heads up Talk Talk, invested £5m […]

TPO due to issue annual report this morning

| April 17, 2015 The Property Ombudsman is due to release his annual report this morning. Given that it is six months since all letting agents were made by law to join a redress scheme, it could be of particular interest to the rental sector. However, with a sales market that has been characterised by […]

A very real housing crisis on our hands, says RICS

| April 17, 2015 There was the smallest annual increase in house prices in March for 16 months, the LSL Acadata survey said this morning. But despite slower rises, average property prices across England and Wales hit a new high, averaging £275,123. March’s property sales were up on a monthly basis, but by only 11.6% […]

Agent puts homes on sale as ‘first that can be bought digitally’

| April 17, 2015 Two properties which can be transacted wholly online have gone on sale. Singer Vielle Sales is marketing the two apartments, which it believes are the first in the country that can be bought entirely digitally. Both properties are tenanted and in the same building in Greenwich, London. While both can be […]

Up to 221,000 housing association tenants could exercise Right to Buy

| April 17, 2015 As many as 221,000 housing association tenants could exercise their right to buy if the Tory manifesto policy is implemented. The figure comes from the National Housing Federation, which believes that this is the number of tenants who would be both eligible and able to afford to buy their homes. Those […]

Winkworth unveils new £50m fees record by franchisees

April 16, 2015

| April 16, 2015 Two of Britain’s best-known franchising firms, AIM-listed Winkworth and Belvoir, have announced their preliminary results for last year. Winkworth had less revenue – £5.5m compared with Belvoir’s £6.5m – but made more pre-tax profit at £1.93m, compared with Belvoir’s £1.8m. Winkworth’s revenue for the year to December 31 was up 11.3% […]

Belvoir announces 18th successive year of profits growth

| April 16, 2015 Belvoir has announced its 18th consecutive year of growth in profits – meaning that the franchise chain has grown every single year since inception. The company has reported an 11% rise in revenue to £6.5m, with pre-tax profits up 10% to £1.8m, for the year to December 31. The firm currently […]

Scottish agents lost £9,000 income a year per branch after fees ban

| April 16, 2015 Belvoir’s Scottish lettings businesses lost an average of £9,000 per year, per branch, after tenants’ fees were banned in late 2012. However, Belvoir director Dorian Gonsalves said that if a ban were to be introduced south of the border, the loss per branch would be higher. He said: “In Scotland it […]

Ombudsman reports mystery short-lets firm to Trading Standards

| April 16, 2015 The company trading as London Short Let Flats which Eye highlighted yesterday has been reported to Trading Standards by the Property Ombudsman. The National Approved Letting Scheme has also reported it, both to Trading Standards and Action Fraud. Yesterday, TPO Christopher Hamer said: “We are aware of this company and can […]

Lib Dems and UKIP unveil their visions for UK housing market

| April 16, 2015 The Lib Dems will build 300,000 homes a year, including ten new ‘garden cities’, says the party’s manifesto. Nick Clegg’s party also pledged a rent to own scheme, where monthly rental payments build up a stake in the home. A help to rent scheme would lend would-be tenants money for a […]

Shock as man discovers short-lets firm is trading from his home address

April 15, 2015

| April 15, 2015 Mystery surrounds a company trading as London Short Let Flats which is displaying a number of industry logos, including TPO. The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) whose logo is also displayed has a warning about www.londonshortflats.co.uk and two others – www.london-citieslodge.co.uk and www.london-holidaylets.co.uk – on its website. The warning says that […]

Conservatives’ Right to Buy promise is blasted by the industry

| April 15, 2015 The industry has reacted with horror to the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to extend Right to Buy to the social housing sector. Altogether, some 1.3m housing association tenants would be able to purchase their homes after three years at a discount of 35%. Jeremy Blackburn, RICS head of policy, said: “Extending the […]

Second political party to abolish letting agent fees and bring in rent controls

| April 15, 2015 The Green Party has said it would abolish letting agent fees and insurance-backed tenancy deposit schemes. It would also introduce five-year fixed tenancy agreements and rent controls and encourage the setting up of local not-for-profit letting agencies. There would be mandatory licensing of all private landlords and tax reliefs currently claimed […]

It’s the law! And this is how changes will affect the private rented sector

| April 15, 2015 Over 100 delegates attended the fact-filled Landlord Law conference held yesterday at Homerton College, Cambridge. With a clear emphasis on legal matters affecting properties in the private rented sector, a very wide range of topics was on the agenda. Conference moderator Graeme Gee welcomed attendees before handing over to his wife, […]

Newly agreed rents rise 10% in a year

| April 15, 2015 Newly agreed rents are 10.2% higher than a year ago, referencing firm HomeLet has reported. It says the average rent on a tenancy signed in the first three months of this year was £902 per month, compared with £819 for the same period last year. Excluding Greater London, average rents across […]

Spring surprise – the highest number of property valuations since 2007

April 14, 2015

| April 14, 2015 March was the strongest on record for property valuations in any month since 2007, it has been claimed. In other positive news for estate agents, telephone answering service Moneypenny said that March was a particularly busy month. Connells Survey & Valuation said it saw a 36% increase in activity compared with […]

Labour confirms ban on letting agent fees in manifesto

| April 14, 2015 Labour’s manifesto, published yesterday, has confirmed that the party will ban letting agent fees if it wins the election. The manifesto also confirms that it will legislate to make three-year tenancies the norm and introduce rent caps. The manifesto says: “For the 11 million people who rent privately, we will legislate […]

Landlords already bailing out of Scottish rental market as legislation bites

| April 14, 2015 Landlords are bailing out of the Scottish rental market because of legislative changes being imposed by the Scottish Government, it has been claimed. Most recently, the Government confirmed it will be abolishing the “no fault” ground for possession in a new housing act this autumn. Thomas Ashdown, founder of specialist lettings […]

Bushells and Edmund Cude names disappear in rebranding

| April 14, 2015 Two noted and long-established estate agency names, Bushells and Edmund Cude, have disappeared from the London scene to be replaced by a new entity, Portico. Edmund Cude was one of the oldest agents in London, having been in business for nearly 200 years, while Bushells traded for nearly 80. The rebranding […]

Spending cutbacks lead to almost no HMO prosecutions

| April 14, 2015 Just one council in North Wales has prosecuted HMO landlords over the past three years for failing to maintain their properties properly, according to Freedom of Information figures obtained by local paper the Daily Post. Conwy County Council brought three cases before the courts between January 2012 and January this year. […]