Suttons City Living Blog

‘We’d be crucified without the portals’ says top agent

July 4, 2014

A leading high street agent has admitted that his business would be “crucified” without the current portals. Asked about Rightmove and Zoopla’s importance to his business, Richard Barber, sales partner at WA Ellis in London, said his firm would struggle without Zoopla brand PrimeLocation, and Rightmove. He said: “It is nothing to do with money, […]

Council gets set to introduce rent controls

A local authority is considering the introduction of rent controls. If successful, other councils could use the policy as a template. The plan is to offer private landlords financial incentives in the form of loans for capital repairs, if they agree to cap rent rises in line with inflation. Labour-led Camden Council in London has […]

‘Real reason why Rightmove boss sold shares’

Here is one of those newspaper snippets that seems carefully designed to irritate its target. In this case, it is Rightmove – and to a lesser extent, Zoopla – that has reason to feel needled. In the City diary in the Telegraph, the headline “Why Rightmove chief won’t be calling agents for London house” is […]

Agents asked to help in battle against serious crime

The Home Office has launched a Crimestoppers’ campaign aimed at raising awareness among letting agents and landlords of the potential for their properties to be used for commercial cannabis. A new booklet has been published as part of the campaign, giving guidance on how to spot the signs of commercial cannabis cultivation, how to report […]

Peter Wetherell honoured for achievements

One of London’s best known agents has been recognised for his achievements. Peter Wetherell, of Mayfair agency Wetherell, has been made a Fellow of the RICS. The Fellowship was awarded to Peter Wetherell at a ceremony by Michael Newey FRICS, outgoing president of the RICS. A Fellowship is the highest professional qualification awarded by the […]

Myhomemove and Countrywide are largest conveyancers

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Online home sellers sought for prime-time TV series

July 3, 2014

People who choose not to sell their homes through a high street estate agent are being recruited for a six-part prime-time TV programme to be presented by Sarah Beeny. In a move unlikely to be welcomed by high street agents, production company Red House says the series is set to go out on C4 on […]

Chestertons up for sale while Humberts disposes of its lettings business

Humberts has disposed of its entire regional lettings portfolio to Hamptons International, a subsidiary of the UK’s largest agent, Countrywide. Meanwhile, Chestertons – the firm from which Humberts recently demerged – is hoisting the For Sale sign over its entire business. Investment bank Cavendish Corporate Finance has been appointed to advise the company, which recently […]

MP denies telling buyers priced out of London to b***** off to Manchester

A senior Tory MP has insisted that he was only trying to be helpful when he said on TV that people priced out of London should get on a train to the north. Sir Richard Ottaway said after the programme that he had not been telling people to “b***** off to Manchester”. However, he stood […]

Search delays adding stress for buyers, sellers – and agents

Searches are taking weeks to come through in several parts of the country. Following our story on Monday’s Eye about searches in Exeter now taking six weeks, other blackspots have emerged. These include the London borough of Sutton, where searches have been taking over ten weeks and where the council has taken the unprecedented step […]

MP launches Bill to ban retaliatory evictions

A Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Teather, has launched a private member’s Bill seeking to outlaw so-called retaliatory evictions. Teather, who was formerly her party’s housing spokesperson and is currently MP for Brent Central although she has announced her intention to stand down at next year’s general election, introduced the Bill in the Commons yesterday. It […]

Housing minister says it is OK to ban benefit tenants

Housing minister Kris Hopkins has clarified comments he made during a Panorama programme which looked into evictions in the private rented sector. During the programme, Hopkins said it was “perfectly legitimate” for landlords to ban tenants on housing benefit. He was attacked over the remarks by shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds, who called them appalling. […]

‘Fake landlords’ causing more rent-to-rent grief, warns bailiff

July 2, 2014

Illegal rent-to-rent is on the increase, a bailiff has warned. David Carter, who is managing director of eviction firm The Sheriffs Office, said that the practice is catching out both landlords and tenants. Carter said that tenants find themselves out on the street, after thinking they had rented rooms in houses from legitimate landlords. However, […]

Accolade for Countrywide boss who turned company around

Grenville Turner, outgoing chief executive of Countrywide, has won a business turnaround award for his achievements in pulling Britain’s biggest estate agent out of the ashes. Just five years ago, Countrywide’s seemingly impossible mountain of debts was £740m. Turner, who picked up the award at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year London and South Awards, […]

Landmark as RICS heralds first woman president

The RICS has its first woman president in a history spanning 146 years. Louise Brooke-Smith is due to give her inaugural speech today during the RICS governing council meeting in London. Alongside her presidency of RICS, she will continue to be involved with her Birmingham-based planning and development consultancy Brooke Smith Planning. Brooke-Smith succeeds Michael […]

Clash between lenders and conveyancers over PI

Lenders have hit out at proposals to reduce the requirements for conveyancers to hold professional indemnity insurance. The Solicitors Regulation Authority would require compulsory cover against claims by individuals, small companies, and smaller trusts and charities. Conveyancers would not have to have PI to cover claims by either larger bodies or any financial institutions, including […]

Portal pioneer accepts challenge of Scottish lettings

Nick Leeming, the father of the property portals business in the UK and one of the most respected figures in the industry, has joined the board of a Scottish lettings website – at a time when the industry is facing up to a number of challenges. Leeming, who launched Propertyfinder in 1995 and which was […]

Case of mayor who runs letting agency is raised in Parliament

The case of a local mayor who owns a letting agency and whose charity for the homeless is said to be under investigation by the Charities Commission, has been raised in Parliament. During exchanges on the private rented sector, the Tory MP for South Thanet, Laura Sandys, said: “Does my hon. Friend agree that we […]

Revealed: how Nationwide funds Generation Rent

July 1, 2014

The left-wing political lobbying organisation Generation Rent is being bankrolled by a charity set up by the Nationwide Building Society. Generation Rent, whose director Alex Hilton stood as a Labour candidate in the last General Election and which has been accused of peddling propaganda, received a grant of £725,000 from the Nationwide Foundation last September. […]

Mortgage lending falls to lowest for nearly a year

Lenders approved the fewest number of house purchase mortgages in almost a year during May. The latest Bank of England data shows that mortgage approvals for house purchase dropped to 61,707 in May from 62,806 in April. The figure compares with January’s figure of 75,901 and a pre-credit crunch average of over 100,000 approvals per […]

City where local searches are taking six weeks

Local property searches are taking up to six weeks – and posing a serious threat to sales. Searches by Exeter City Council were taking five working days until a month ago, but are now taking far longer. Roger Wilkinson, managing director of Wilkinson Grant & Co, said: “I am not finger-pointing, and I do have […]

New immigration checks could be costly for agents

The requirement for landlords – or their agents – to check the immigration status of all tenants from this October should not be under-estimated. Tony Williams, managing director of tenancy referencing firm UKtenantdata, said the new requirement could be a sleeping dog that wakes up to bite. He said: “It will not be unlike the […]

Robots will replace agents, predicts boffin

Estate agents could be replaced by robots, it has been claimed. Other occupations at risk include typists and retail workers. Altogether, nearly half (47%) of 702 occupations analysed are at risk of being replaced by robotic technology, according to Dr Carl Frey of Oxford University. He told the BBC: “I was somewhat surprised when we […]

Winkworth agency snapped up in retirement sale

Winkworth in Sheffield has changed hands after the franchise owner, Tony Snarey, retired at the age of 75. The new owners are Crucible Sales & Lettings, whose parent company is South Yorkshire Housing Association. Crucible’s profits go back into the local community via the association. Crucible managing director Phil Price, a Sheffield estate agent for […]

Agent admits to mistake after marketing home that wasn’t for sale

June 30, 2014

A home-owner has spoken of his profound shock to find that his house had apparently been put up for sale without his knowledge. The agent, Circle Sales & Lettings of Birmingham, has admitted that it happened but said that it made a mistake. Paul Arthur, a freelance photographer, bought his home in an area of […]

Property drought could go into reverse as appraisals rise

There has been a big rise in the number of market appraisals, the UK’s biggest estate agent said this morning. Countrywide said it carried out 24% more appraisals in June than in the same month last year – and it could be a sign that the property supply drought is ending. In London, where a […]

Agent fined £38,000 after fatal fire in rental property

An agent has been hit with a bill of £38,000-plus after a fatal fire three years ago in which a 42-year-old woman died. A man was also taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation after the blaze in which Deborah Reynolds died. The firm was prosecuted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and […]

Regulation of letting agents in Scotland to have ‘teeth’

Scottish MPs have voted in favour of the mandatory licensing of letting agents. They will have to work to a strict code of practice, yet to be drawn up. The third stage of the Housing Bill was passed without rent controls or mandatory rights to longer tenancies being included, despite pressure from Labour. However, neither […]

Rightmove hosts international summit for portals

Rightmove has hosted a three-day property portal summit at its head office in Milton Keynes – an annual event where leaders from some of the world’s top property portals come together to share ideas and insight from their local markets. This is the first year that the summit has been held in the UK, with […]

Countrywide to hand Zoopla windfall to shareholders

Shares in Countrywide rose last week after the firm announced that it will be paying a special dividend worth a total of £20m – the gain it made in selling part of its stake in Zoopla. The dividend will be worth 9p per share and will be paid out alongside its interim divided on September […]

Most sales going through at under asking price

June 27, 2014

Only 7% of buyers are paying more than the asking price with the huge majority paying less, Rightmove said today. Meanwhile, Hometrack this morning reported that house price rises are stagnating. It said that while house price growth has continued this month, it is at half the rate three months ago. Average prices rose by […]

Rightmove to investigate ‘lookalike’ property listing

Rightmove is to investigate the agent who is marketing a property in Sutton Coldfield that appears to be identical to one being marketed by Savills in Oxfordshire. The probe comes after Eye’s story yesterday about Circle Sales & Lettings, in Birmingham. Savills has put the matter into the hands of their legal team. It is […]

Spectator magazine writer’s astonishing prostitute slur on agents

We are not quite sure what the journalist Harry Mount has against high street estate agents, but here he is – having another pop, this time in the Spectator magazine. This is the second time in under a month that Mount has written about “overpriced” estate agents. Earlier, in the Telegraph, he queried why someone […]

Bank’s clampdown on mortgage lending labelled a damp squib

The Bank of England’s supposed clampdown on the mortgage market will have barely any effect, said industry experts yesterday. Lenders are already being ultra-careful, they said. The Bank’s Financial Policy Committee yesterday announced that new mortgages lent on the basis of over 4.5 times the borrower’s income should represent less than 15% of an organisation’s […]

Entrepreneurial Jupix is bought by Property Software Group

Property agency software company Jupix has been acquired by the Property Software Group for an undisclosed sum. Jupix, based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, announced making two key hires from the Property Software Group – formerly owned by the Guardian – in only April this year. Both Gaynor Ollier and Andy Gray will find themselves back, albeit […]

MPs call for powers to ban rogue letting agents

A cross party group of MPs and peers is today calling for a full scale review of all regulations affecting the private rented sector. In particular, it wants letting agents to be subject to the same regulation as estate agents, so that they can be banned from the industry. The All Party Parliamentary Group for […]

Answer within 24 hours or risk losing the lead, Rightmove urges agents

June 26, 2014

Inquiries to letting agents are running at triple the number per property than inquiries about properties for sale, Rightmove has revealed. Research by the portal also showed that most people expect to hear from the agent almost immediately – often within an hour but definitely within 24 hours. But in a test involving more than […]

Savills calls in lawyers over lookalike house listing

Mystery surrounds a property for sale which is apparently in both Oxfordshire and Sutton Coldfield. One is being marketed by a Birmingham agent, Circle Sales & Lettings. It is a £1.5m property called The Cloves in Sutton Coldfield, and it is advertised on both Rightmove and Zoopla. But it appears to be identical to a […]

Agents caught in flagrante led to TPO complaint

A pair of estate agents who used a client’s home for sexual activity while the vendors were on holiday led to a complaint to the Property Ombudsman. The agents, working for an unnamed firm, were discovered in flagrante when a member of the family owning the property turned up unexpectedly. The owners complained, but while […]

Compulsory redress for letting agents moves closer

The Government has published a draft Statutory Instrument making it a legal requirement for letting agents to belong to a redress scheme. The order, which relates to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, does not give any dates for compliance, but says it will come into force 28 days after being made. It also […]

Labour loses new attempt at letting fees ban

Labour was defeated at Westminster yesterday afternoon on proposals to bring in rent controls and mandatory longer tenancies. In an Opposition Day debate, MPs were also asked to support a ban on letting agent fees. Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds told MPs that tenants faced “exorbitant rates”. She said a Labour government would cap rent […]

Drought of affordable properties, says Shelter

Only a tiny proportion of homes for sale in parts of England are affordable to average buyers, Shelter has claimed. It says that just 0.3% of properties for sale in London – equating to 86 homes – are affordable, while in the south-east region, just 4.2% of properties are affordable. In Exeter, Devon, out of […]

Rightmove to look into agent whose vendors set their own valuations

June 25, 2014

A national online agent whose sellers value their own properties and upload their own adverts says it believes its service is an industry first. Mouse House lists on both Rightmove and Zoopla, and currently has 148 properties for sale, ranging from a £1.2m house on the Isle of Wight to an £80,000 terrace in Nottingham. […]

Immigration checks could be legal nightmare for agents, warning

An immigration lawyer has warned that a legal minefield strewn with ambiguities awaits landlords and letting agents. Simon Kenny, a senior solicitor at Moore Blatch who advises employers about immigration law, says there are still far too many unanswered questions posed by the Immigration Act, which will introduce a duty to perform checks on the […]

Housing transactions drop – or perhaps go up

There were nearly 100,000 property transactions last month, HMRC has reported. The “seasonally adjusted” figure, which is also provisional, was 99,320 for May – a monthly drop of 3.5%, although 14.89% higher than May last year. Muddlingly, however, the “not seasonally adjusted” figure is higher, at 100,360 transactions. Indeed, the “not seasonally adjusted” figures – […]

Another council set to introduce blanket licensing

Another council is set to introduce borough-wide mandatory licensing of all private rental accommodation. Croydon, part of Greater London, says that its proposed scheme is a key part of its “Don’t Mess with Croydon” campaign. Every private landlord will be required to obtain a licence and pass “fit and proper” checks. As elsewhere that has […]

MPs told by researchers: letting fees ‘extortionate’

MPs have been officially advised that letting agent fees are “extortionate”. The advice is in a new update on the regulation of letting agents which has been published and lodged in the House of Commons library. Although the paper starts by pointing out that in fact there is no statutory regulation of letting agents in […]

Crucial debates on rent controls in Parliament today

Westminster MPs are to be asked once again to ban letting agents’ fees to tenants and bring in rent controls. In an opposition debate, Labour is proposing: “That this House recognises the private rented sector’s growing role in meeting housing need; notes that there are nine million people, including more than one million families with […]

House prices muted since last General Election – everywhere except London

June 24, 2014

House prices have risen by 31.5% in London since the last General Election, but by just 0.16% across the rest of England and Wales. Since May 2010, average house prices in the capital have risen by £103,323 on average from £331,711 in 2010 to £435,034 this year. This means that someone who purchased a property […]

Zoopla could lose £30m after Agents’ Mutual launch

Zoopla stands to lose almost £30m in revenue if Agents’ Mutual signs up 5,000 agents who decide to pull their stock off Zoopla, the Telegraph has reported. However, Alex Chesterman, who founded Zoopla and steered it through its successful flotation last week, sounds unworried. He told the Telegraph that Zoopla has spent the last six […]