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Costs hearing as battle between Agents’ Mutual and Connells brand continues

October 24, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of pounds could be knocked off the amount that OnTheMarket member agent Gascoigne Halman might be able to claim in any future costs order, as its legal battle with the portal’s owner, Agent’s Mutual, continues. While the possible recoverable costs have not been limited, the costs budget has, making recovery of costs […]

eMoov launches new fundraising round with £2.5m goal

eMoov is looking to raise £2.5m within the next two weeks, just over a year after successfully raising a similar sum. In a letter to existing investors offering them the chance to invest again, eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk drops a strong hint that the business could be sold at some point, in an “exciting […]

Please take part in our annual industry Salary Survey

If you are a boss, are you paying your staff the going rate? If you are an employee, how does your pay compare? Today we are asking for your help in completing an annual salary survey, which will benchmark pay in the industry. It will also enable us to ascertain whether pay has been going […]

Letting agency couple deny 38 counts of fraud

Two letting agents have denied fraud. George and Kim Overill, and two companies they run, face a combined 38 counts of fraud, engaging in unfair commercial practices and fraudulent trading. The couple deny all the charges on behalf of themselves and Oakpark Asset Management and Oakpark Properties UK, based in Harwich, Essex. Kim Overill, of […]

Tickets released for Estate Agency of the Year – but be quick to register

As industry media partner to The Estate Agency of the Year Awards, we are delighted to announce that all agents can now register for tickets to this year’s prestigious awards event on Friday, December 2. We can further tell you that the Awards, in association with The Sunday Times and The Times and sponsored by […]

Stop being dinosaurs, ditch the suits and relate to younger people, ex-agent tells industry

October 21, 2016

A former estate agent who still keenly follows the industry says young people view agents as dinosaurs. She said that, from her perspective, agents should show courage in a brave new world – and ditch both their suits and leafleting. Martina Murphy, who has now been out of the industry for two years but whose […]

More homes already being let than sold each year, says Savills expert

Earlier this week, Countrywide said it anticipated more properties being let than sold for the first time. But Neal Hudson, associate director of residential research at Savills, said that this is already the case – and that it has been so since the credit crunch. He has based his data on HMRC transactions and on […]

Former retail director at Countrywide joins Andrews as divisional managing director

Andrews Property Group has announced that it has appointed Alison Nunez to lead its lettings and management business. She joins from Countrywide, where she spent 15 years, and was retail director for the south of England for the past year. Her move to Andrews follows the promotion of David Westgate to the role of group […]

Mortgages being deliberately held back to depress housing market – claim

Mortgage lending has been deliberately held back to depress the housing market and reduce transactions, it has been claimed. The theory is advanced in a new book by estate agent and chartered surveyor Robert Smeaton. He believes that mortgage rationing has been exercised to aid the expansion of large corporate agents and that when they […]

First-time buyers outline help needed to get on the property ladder

First-time buyers would like the Government to introduce subsidies and abolish stamp duty as aspirations for home ownership fail to dissipate, research by the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows. A YouGov poll by the trade body found that 72% of adults want to be home-owners in two years’ time, and 80% hope to own in […]

Agents should pay towards their own regulation, says ex-Ombudsman Hamer

October 20, 2016

At the recent TPO Conference there was a suggestion (or was it a formal proposal?) from James Munro, the head of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) that his team would be better equipped to fulfil its regulatory role if sales agents paid a levy towards the cost of regulating the industry. As […]

Foxtons upbeat despite sales revenues slumping by one-third

Foxtons yesterday issued an upbeat trading update – despite revenue from sales being down by a third. In the three months to the end of September, sales revenue was £12.2m compared with £18.5m in the same quarter last year. Total group revenue for the quarter was £37.5m, down from £43.5m last year. Total revenue for […]

We must stop blaming Brexit for slump in transactions, say London agents

An agent has said that the industry “must stop blaming Brexit for a decrease in transactions in prime central London”. Charles Curran, principal at Maskells, said the 3% hike in Stamp Duty on purchases of second homes was the “fuel” for central London’s downturn; the Brexit vote had been the catalyst. However, said Curran, the […]

Apology after agent’s spam email chain about software floods inboxes

An email chain which started with an agent’s complaint to their software supplier was yesterday spammed many times to a large number of other agents. The software supplier has gone to lengths to repudiate the claims and the agent has now apologised. By yesterday afternoon, puzzled and angry agents were complaining about the bombardment which […]

Third of letting agents in major city face fines over failure to display fees

Nearly a third of letting agents in a major city are failing to comply with legislation despite being advised only last year of the need to display their fees. Of 47 letting agents in York, 15 (32%) have since been found to be non-compliant. A decision session of the city council was told that of […]

Government set to extend mandatory licensing of HMOs throughout England

October 19, 2016

The Government is planning to extend mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation, removing the current three-storey rule. Among its proposals, which apply in England only, is a minimum room size of 6.52 sq metres for one person and 10.23 sq metres for two people. The floor measurement would be “usable” and exclude any parts […]

Horror stories from the HMO sector are easy to find

Stories of horror conditions in the HMO sector are widespread – mostly, but by no means always, involving landlords managing their own properties. Here are two very recent cases, found without difficulty online. In the first, a landlord’s property has been seized by the local council after a total of 16 people were found to […]

Tenant fees – why the industry needs to act NOW

There is little doubt our industry is under attack from all sides. The motives are many, but I can’t help feeling that with the shift from home ownership to the PRS, votes feature heavily. It’s good PR for our detractors. We are a soft target as few have sympathy for what are perceived as rich […]

Sales volumes plunge almost one-third across England

Sales volumes across the UK plunged year on year this summer. According to the new official Government survey, on an annual basis transactions were heavily down in every country – and by almost one third in England. The data relates to June, the latest month for which transaction data is available. While June’s sales volumes […]

Agent’s complaint about competitor’s claims results in informal resolution

An agent’s complaint about claims made by a competitor have resulted in the case being informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority. The complaint, by Miller Metcalfe, centred on a leaflet for Harrisons Estate Agents which stated: “Join the fastest growing estate agent in Bolton” and “1st out of 79 agents. Our results speak for […]

Over 40 branches have returned in last fortnight says Zoopla – but here’s the inconvenient truth says OTM

October 18, 2016

The battle for property portal supremacy went up another gear yesterday as both Zoopla and OnTheMarket stepped up their battle to win the hearts, minds and budgets of estate agents. The portals war heated up with claims that more agents have returned from OnTheMarket to Zoopla – but with the latter saying that Zoopla’s estate […]

Letting agents urged to cap fees to fair levels, as fears over outright ban continue

The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) is launching a Fair Fees Forum. Separately, an independent agent is launching a website where agents can sign up to a scheme called Fair Renting Agents, where agents agree to cap their fees over the term of a tenancy, allowing tenants to shop around. Mark Reynolds, of Bedfordshire and […]

Crash! The very top of the housing market goes into meltdown

There has been a crash in the super-prime sales market – classified as homes valued at above £10m. According to new Land Registry data, the number of sales of super-prime properties was 86% down in the three months to August, compared with the same period last year. There were just five transactions – all in […]

Immigration Act: Essential update for agents on Right to Rent checks

In this new article for EYE, I am warning that a new Immigration Act upgrade is to come into force before the end of this year, with serious legal implications for both letting agents and private landlords. Concealed within the speech of the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, at the Conservative Party conference, was a statement […]

Agent Provocateur: The journey continues, says our new entrepreneur columnist

I don’t know what sort of brain you have but once mine’s into something it won’t switch off. That’s not always a good thing: obsessive thoughts at 3am or bleak thoughts at 7am are enough to make anyone bleary eyed. Twenty thousand estate agents – how to get the right message to them, salaried job […]

‘We sell 88% of instructions within ten months,’ Purplebricks boss says

October 17, 2016

Purplebricks sells 88% of its instructions within ten months, its founder said at the weekend. Michael Bruce was appearing on Radio 4′s Moneybox programme after a customer complained that in ten months, her property had received absolutely no interest but that she now had a bill to pay. Joanne Buckley Scott had earlier posted up […]

Agent taken off Rightmove says it did not put sellers’ contact details on boards

The founder of Owner Sellers, the free online agent removed from Rightmove last week, has hit back at claims it says were made by the portal that it put vendor contact details on For Sale boards. Rupert Cattell, founder of Owner Sellers, said this is untrue. In a statement he said: “This is the future […]

Pressure rises on calls to ban letting agent fees as petition handed to housing minister

An MP has presented a petition at Parliament calling for a ban on letting agent fees. Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, was joined in a protest at College Green, Westminster, by Shelter, Lib Dem peer Baroness Grender and by the online publication aimed at young women The Debrief. The Make Renting […]

Agent reveals “utter nightmare” of Windlestone Hall fraudster

An estate agent has described how she was duped by a fraudster who managed to fool Durham County Council into selling him Windlestone Hall – the birthplace of former Conservative Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden – for just £241,000. Jan Dale, director of Durham agents Urban Base was one of many victims of the lies […]

Home buyers having to stump up more for deposits as ‘easier’ lending becomes dearer

People buying with a mortgage have had to put down higher deposits – even though deposits have fallen 1% as a percentage of the price. On average, deposits have increased by £5,000 year on year across England and Wales, says conveyancing firm My Home Move. The average deposit in the first half of this year […]

Deadline looms for lettings agent licensing in Wales

Lettings agents have just under six weeks to comply with new licensing rules in Wales as data reveals thousands of Welsh landlords face missing the deadline. From November 23 all landlords must register and agents and self-managing landlords must obtain a licence in a scheme called Rent Smart Wales. The aim is to eliminate rogue […]

Asking prices shoot up 4.2% but north-south divide emerges

A north-south divide has emerged as the property market hits autumn, Rightmove has claimed. The price of property coming to market on Rightmove for October increased to £309,122, up 4.2% annually, above the 4% rate of growth during September, according to its latest house price index. The figure is also up 0.9% on the previous […]

Agents could fund Trading Standards to regulate their own industry in future

October 14, 2016

Agents could help fund the regulation of their own industry in future. The idea was floated at this week’s Property Ombudsman conference when delegates were surprised to be effectively told: “If you want enforcement, you will have to pay for it.” One agent who was among the delegates said he could hardly believe his ears. […]

Firm used by Experian in private rented sector conceived by online estate agent

Experian, the giant credit ratings agency, is using a private company to collect data and rents that is owned by an online estate agent. However, the online agent, Makeurmove, yesterday assured us that protections are in place to prevent any possibility of data breaches. The Rental Exchange scheme, launched by Experian in March, aims to […]

Letting agent which did not show its fees loses appeal against £5,000 fine

A letting agency which was fined after not showing its fees has had its appeal against the maximum £5,000 fine rejected by a judge. Hamlet Homes was fined by Reading Borough Council after breaching the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The council has previously said that nine in ten agents in the town do not comply. […]

Ever-increasing regulation ‘costing compliant agents time and money’

Every time new regulation is brought in for the lettings industry, compliant agents lose valuable time and earn less, said a leading supplier to the lettings industry. Rajeev Nayyar said that his motivation is to keep agents’ costs down while helping them comply. “But the real difficulty for agents is not just complying with the […]

ARLA and RLA unveil Autumn Statement wish lists

ARLA is calling for government regulation of letting agents as well as more tax allowances for landlords to make improvements to their property, as campaigners gear up for Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement on November 23. Explaining why regulation is needed, ARLA says in its submission: “In the absence of overarching Government regulation of […]

Portal juggling: ‘We will act’, regulator promises agents

October 13, 2016

James Munro, team leader of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, has pledged to take enforcement action against any agent identified as being engaged in ‘portal juggling’. Munro was on a property panel discussion at yesterday’s well-attended Property Ombudsman conference in which he made the industry regulator’s position very clear. Munro said that if […]

ARLA slams ‘secret’ database of rogue letting agents and landlords

A ‘secret’ list of banned letting agents and landlords will be of very little use, ARLA has warned. In a briefing note this week to MPs, ARLA raised its concerns that the proposed database of banned agents and landlords will only be available for inspection by local councils and the Department for Communities and Local […]

Online estate agent is kicked off Rightmove

OwnerSellers, which says it is the only free online agent in the UK, has been kicked off Rightmove. EYE featured the firm in our newsletter yesterday morning, with its expulsion from Rightmove announced by the evening. OwnerSellers charges 0% commission although does charge for add-ons such as EPCs and boards, saying that it enables sellers […]

Buyers gradually returning to housing market, says RICS

Buyers are shrugging off post-Brexit vote jitters and are slowly returning to the housing market, the RICS said this morning. The body said that buyer demand has increased for the first time in seven months, and that market confidence continues to improve. However, while home buyer demand rose modestly, the number of new instructions being […]

Strong lending for house purchase suggests buyer confidence in market

Mortgage lending for house buying purposes was up 11% in August on the same month last year – despite a drop of almost 40% in buy-to-let borrowing for house purchase. First-time buyers borrowed £5.1bn, up 13% on July and 24% on August last year. This equated to 31,800 loans, up 12% month-on-month and 19% year-on-year. […]

Online firm being re-vetted by Rightmove says sellers could have saved almost £2bn in fees

October 12, 2016

A business claiming to be the UK’s only free online estate agency and which says that UK vendors could have saved themselves over £1.87bn in agency fees in the first half of this year is being re-vetted by Rightmove. OwnerSellers charges 0% and effectively offers free space on Rightmove and Zoopla – whose logos feature […]

Agent Provocateur: Our new columnist sees the industry in a changed light

It has been a strange month. Leaving any company after 21 years – especially one as good as Douglas & Gordon – is always going to stir the emotions, and being able to say I’m not an estate agent after 37 years is also weird but somehow liberating. Life now, however, is like the beginning […]

Agent begs Chancellor to overturn Stamp Duty hikes as market falters

Haart is calling on the Chancellor to overturn the “negative” Stamp Duty hikes introduced by George Osborne after seeing house sales stumble in December. Haart says September sales were down 18.9% year on year, and 2.9% down on August. CEO Paul Smith said that the Stamp Duty hikes affecting those at the top end of […]

Is what agents do really so easy that it really is money for old rope?

Do agents really operate a ‘mysterious’ business model that makes pyramid selling look like a school tuck shop? That is the accusation of property writer Jayne Dowle in the Spectator, under the headline that suggests what agents do is money for old rope. She makes a number of claims, finding out first-hand that selling and […]

Agents failing to make tenants aware of their rights to switch energy supplier

Landlords and lettings agents are failing to make tenants aware of their rights when it comes to energy bills, MoneySupermarket has claimed. UK renters are missing out on savings worth more than £1bn collectively on their energy bills because they do not know they are able to switch suppliers, the website says. Analysis by the […]

End of an era for Andrews as chief executive Michael Robson steps down and successor named

October 11, 2016

One of the industry’s most respected figures, Michael Robson, has stepped down with immediate effect as chief executive of regional chain Andrews Property Group. It was announced yesterday that Robson, who has decided to retire, will remain with the company – which has 55 branches and some 700 staff – until the end of the […]

Knight Frank partners to share £84m bonus pot after record revenues

Knight Frank has reported a record turnover, despite experiencing a 20% fall in exchanges on homes worth over £750,000 since the EU referendum. However, the firm conceded that the aftermath of the Brexit vote has been “less dramatic” than feared, with volumes and prices down but activity gradually recovering. The number of offers being made […]

Fraud agent spared jail after ‘borrowing’ almost £160,000 to keep business going after crash

An agent whose business “fell off a cliff” during the financial crash and borrowed nearly £160,000 from clients and friends to try and keep his business afloat has been spared jail. The agent had promised high rates of return, but only £9,000 of the money was repaid. Russell Baker, 59, who ran Ashby’s Estate Agents […]