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Place On The Market says it is not trading on OTM name

March 27, 2015

| March 27, 2015 A new service called Place On The Market has denied that it is trading off the coat tails of OnTheMarket. It has also strongly denied using some well-known agents’ logos on its site without their permission. Place On The Market, which aims to introduce estate agents to potential sellers, was launched […]

First virtual open house event takes place today – on Facebook

| March 27, 2015 An open house event is to be held today – on Facebook. It is thought to be the first time that a virtual open house has been staged. Viewers of the property will not have to physically visit the two-bed apartment in Hackney, London, but will be able to “see” the […]

Police probe estate and letting agency firm after sudden closure

| March 27, 2015 Police are investigating the sudden closure of an estate and letting agent. Eye had been alerted in the last few days about Abbey Gate in Battle, Sussex. The firm had been operating since 1990 but shut without warning on March 11, putting a notice on the door saying the closure was […]

Former Dragon James Caan puts £25,000 into proptech firm

| March 27, 2015 Ex-Dragon James Caan has invested £25,000 in Property Innovation Labs (Pi Labs) through crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The news comes after a £200,000 investment, also through Seedrs, by Countrywide. Pi Labs, which describes itself as Europe’s first property tech accelerator, has been jointly created by Juliette Morgan of Cushman & Wakefield and […]

Hunters adds block management firm as latest franchisee

| March 27, 2015 Hunters, currently the sixth largest UK estate agency group and which last month announced its intention to float on the stock market, has expanded into block management. A block management company, Dickinson Harrison (RMB), has now signed up to the Hunters franchise network and will be operating as a franchisee, branded […]

Concerns continue to mount over Budget sub-letting clause

March 26, 2015

| March 26, 2015 Private tenants being given the legal right to sub-let could result in insurance costs being hiked for landlords right across the board. The warning has come from Steve Jones, director of Rentguard Insurance, after a small print clause in the Budget said the Government would legislate to allow tenants to sub-let. […]

Tenants ‘could run small bed and breakfasts’ in landlord properties

| March 26, 2015 Should tenants have the right to sub-let their properties – or even run a small bed and breakfast business in them? A lawyer who specialises in landlord and tenant law says she sees some advantages. The proposal in the Budget – in the name of the “sharing economy” – has sparked […]

Agents help taxman recover record amount in unpaid landlord taxes

| March 26, 2015 With the help of letting agents, the taxman has recovered over £20m in unpaid tax from private landlords. Last year, hundreds of letting agents were sent statutory notices to provide details of rents collected on behalf of all landlords. Figures released this week by HMRC show over £20m recovered as at […]

Fears raised over flood insurance costs of flats and rented homes

| March 26, 2015 Industry bodies are demanding that new flood regulations should be delayed because of the implications for almost all flats and for the whole of the private rented sector. Environment Secretary Liz Truss has been asked to delay the final regulations of the flood insurance scheme, Flood Re. Flood Re, the deal […]

Agents praised for support of Boris’s lettings scheme

| March 26, 2015 Letting agents have been praised by Boris Johnson for their “enthusiastic” support of the flagship London Rental Standard scheme. This week, it was announced that there are now over 115,000 rental homes badged under the voluntary accreditation scheme, which launched last May. There are also 307 letting agency firms signed up, […]

Choose what commission to pay us, agency tells clients

March 25, 2015

| March 25, 2015 A property firm has launched into global estate and letting agency saying that consumers can choose how much commission to pay it. The deal applies to both vendors and to landlords. Strawberry Star has three offices in London – in Hanover Square, Wandsworth and Docklands – plus an office in Singapore […]

Zoopla says OTM has lost 25% of traffic within a week

| March 25, 2015 Zoopla has returned to the attack on OnTheMarket, sending out Hitwise data apparently showing traffic to OTM fell last week by 25%. Zoopla described OTM as struggling “to find an audience”. However, yesterday evening Ian Springett, chief executive of OnTheMarket.com, responded, saying: “Zoopla’s concerns about the growth of OnTheMarket.com at their […]

Estate agency review site looks to raise £75,000 via crowdfunding

| March 25, 2015 New agency rating website raterAgent has become the latest property company-related company to launch a crowdfunding bid. The company, which has ambitions to challenge and overtake allAgents, wants to raise £75,000 in exchange for a 7% equity stake. Within its first day yesterday, it had raised £8,850 from 12 investors, with […]

Firm snapping up agencies across UK makes key appointment

| March 25, 2015 Lomond Capital, the private equity backed property management company which is snapping up agencies right across the UK while allowing them to keep their own brand identities, has made a key appointment. It is that of Michael Groves who becomes chief executive of the north of England and midlands operation. He […]

Agents ‘forecast industry damage’ if Labour wins election

| March 25, 2015 Seven in ten letting agents believe that landlords would quit the industry if Labour wins the General Election and implements its plans for the private rented sector. ARLA members came out strongly against Labour’s plans to introduce three-year tenancy agreements and rent controls, and to make it more difficult to evict […]

Rightmove explains how new email leads tool adds value for agents

March 24, 2015

| March 24, 2015 Rightmove has responded to concerns about its new email lead mapping tool, emphasising that it does not give details as to specific seller or buyer leads, or which agents have been sent those leads. One agent posted on Eye on Friday their concerns about the new tool. The post said: “RM […]

City licks its lips as Purplebricks gets closer to flotation

| March 24, 2015 Online estate agent Purplebricks is to make a final decision on a stock market flotation within weeks, although the share sale is unlikely to take place before the election. The firm is pencilling in a london marketing launch on May 1. It is usual for the actual flotation to take place […]

New buy-to-let property portal gets set to launch

| March 24, 2015 A new property portal focusing entirely on the buy-to-let market is set to launch next week – ahead of the pension reforms which could see a new wave of landlords. The site will enable investors to search for rental properties and compare annual rental yields, and will also categorise properties into […]

Risks from not declaring referral fees – money ‘belongs’ to the client

| March 24, 2015 Are agents right to focus on the possibility of letting agency fees being scrapped if Labour wins the election – or is there something more important they are ignoring? Yesterday, Twitter spread the word about a case we suspect most agents have never heard of – largely because it concerned the […]

Feeble feedback as CMA asks for comments on poorer tenants

| March 24, 2015 An official blog on low-income tenants in the private rented sector has attracted only three comments. It was published by the Competition and Markets Authority earlier this month, with the stated aim of raising awareness and encouraging support. The CMA wants feedback on this specific blog before the end of this […]

Listings gap between Rightmove and Zoopla ‘wider than expected’

March 23, 2015

| March 23, 2015 A new report by investment bank Morgan Stanley has claimed that the listings gap between Rightmove and Zoopla “is wider than expected”. It also says that Rightmove could be earning a lot more out of agents, with more “legroom” for products such as premium listings. According to Morgan Stanley, Rightmove could […]

New global ‘stock market’ for residential property investment gears up

| March 23, 2015 Residential property crowdfunding platform Property Partner has launched a £5.2m funding round, aimed at transforming the way people can invest in the residential property market. The firm enables people to invest as much or as little as they like in individual residential properties – just as they can in company stocks. […]

Agent demands information after asking about deposit schemes

| March 23, 2015 An agent that wanted information on tenancy deposits was given varying information by the three schemes. One simply sent the information requested. It is alleged that a second said it could not release the data, and that the third asked for payment to give the information. North-east letting agent KIS, which […]

Property portal which bans agents reaches 60% of crowdfunding target

| March 23, 2015 The iProperty Company, which is seeking £500,000 via crowdfunding site Seeds.com, has reached its 60% target with three weeks to run. The pitch puts the valuation of the company, which operates globally but has a tie up with developers in the UK via the NHBC, at £8m. Its portal allows new […]

Supervision of agents falls to bottom of list for Trading Standards

| March 23, 2015 A new report paints a disturbing picture of what appears to be almost non-existent supervision of agents by Trading Standards. It suggests that budget cuts have heralded an era where rogue businesses could operate completely untroubled by the thought of a knock on the door. The report says that letting agents […]

Estate agents and local newspaper hit with £775,000 bill in ‘cartel’ case

March 20, 2015

| March 20, 2015 A group of estate agents, three of its members and newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror have been fined more than £775,000 between them after a ‘cartel’ ruling. The Competition and Markets Authority said it is looking at similar alleged conduct involving agents across the UK. The cartel, in and around the small […]

New property TV station has crowdfunding pitch pulled

| March 20, 2015 A crowdfunding pitch for a TV channel called Property TV has been pulled. Investors have apparently been told that their investment will no longer be processed via Crowdcube. Concerns had been expressed online on social platforms. The pitch on Crowdcube closed, raising some £320,000 – some 58% over its target – […]

Landlord of damp and dangerous homes ordered to pay £70,000

| March 20, 2015 A landlord said to own properties managed by her partner’s letting agency has been hit with a bill of nearly £70,000 for letting out damp, dangerous and mice-infested homes. The two properties in Chatham, Kent, included one where tenants lived in rooms riddled with damp and dangerous electrics. There were also […]

New Government-backed lettings portal dismisses ‘misunderstandings’

| March 20, 2015 Scottish lettings portal East Hub Home Choice has issued the following statement, which Eye is happy to publish in full: The East and Central Scotland Housing Advice Hub*has been considering concerns expressed in Property Industry Eye, and elsewhere, about its new ‘Home Choice’ private lets portal. Unfortunately, certain misunderstandings have emerged […]

Further slump in mortgage lending in weak start to year

| March 20, 2015 Further evidence of a continuing slump in mortgage lending has come from the industry. The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £13.4bn in February. This is 9% down on both January and on last February, in both of which months £14.8bn was advanced. This is the lowest […]

WARNING: New cases of conveyancing scam come to light

March 19, 2015

| March 19, 2015 Here is an important warning for agents, conveyancers and their clients. On Monday, Eye ran a story about the so-called ‘Friday afternoon scam’ being practised on conveyancers with large amounts of client money in their accounts. Fraudsters typically hack into a law firm’s systems. This could apparently be done by the […]

Premium phone rate scam aimed at agents moves up a gear

| March 19, 2015 An agent has warned that the 070 telephone premium rate scam seems to be alive and kicking, and has moved up a gear. In the scam, callers are charged from the moment they hear the ring tone. The ring tone is then heard for a long time before a lengthy message […]

Help to Buy ISA could be ‘very juicy carrot’ for first-time buyers

| March 19, 2015 The Budget launched what looks like a voter-pleasing Help to Buy ISA which will act as a 25% top-up on deposits. The Chancellor described it as a tax cut for first-time buyers. One delighted agent called it a “very juicy carrot”. However, there are also warnings that the scheme will need […]

Budget surprise for rented sector – all tenants to be allowed to sub-let

| March 19, 2015 After the Chancellor sat down, it emerged that there are plans to make it illegal to prevent private tenants from sub-letting. The small print of the Budget – which often proves crucial – reveals the intention to make it illegal for tenancy agreements to include clauses that prevent sub-letting. While the […]

Less and less interest paid out to tenants by custodial deposit scheme

| March 19, 2015 The custodial tenancy deposit scheme run by the Deposit Protection Service has paid less and less interest to private tenants. The scheme, which physically banks deposits, was designed to be self-funding from the interest on the money lodged with it. In a Parliamentary question, Labour MP Andy Love, who represents Edmonton, […]

House price rises scupper first-time buyer hopes as lending crashes

March 18, 2015

| March 18, 2015 First-time buyers are being increasingly pushed out of the housing market because they cannot keep up with price rises. The increase in house prices over the last two years has been more than average take-home pay in one fifth of local authority areas. The claim, from the Halifax, comes as latest […]

End this housing crisis, protesters implore politicians

| March 18, 2015 Around 2,500 people representing over 300 organisations marched on Westminster yesterday to demand an end to the housing crisis. The rally, organised by Homes for Britain, called on the next government, regardless of its political hue or composition, to end the housing crisis within a generation and to draw up plans […]

Chestertons calls for mandatory licensing of ALL agents

| March 18, 2015 With the Budget today, Chestertons has called for a number of measures to improve the housing market, including the introduction of compulsory licensing for all sales, letting and managing agents. The firm is also asking for Client Money Protection insurance to be made mandatory. The firm is calling for a separate […]

Leaders makes key hire as it expands into estate agency

| March 18, 2015 The previous national sales director of Spicerhaart has joined Leaders in the same newly created role. The firm – as with other lettings businesses Martin & Co and Belvoir – is expanding into estate agency sales. Kevin Shaw was with Spicerhaart for 15 years and has also worked for Andrews. He […]

Agent in Australia prosecuted for advertising artificially low guide price

| March 18, 2015 In a story which could resonate with some UK agents and auctioneers, an estate agent in Australia is being prosecuted for alleged ‘under quoting’. This is how the Australians term a practice by which properties are advertised for sale at a lower guide price than the agent’s own valuation. ‘Under quoting’, […]

Now Zoopla hits out at ‘very expensive’ OnTheMarket

March 17, 2015

| March 17, 2015 Data released yesterday by Zoopla shows that OnTheMarket has “got off to a slow start”, said the portal. Zoopla also said its own traffic has been unaffected by the launch of OTM and that it had more hits in a single day than OTM had over the whole of February. It […]

Belvoir warns of consequences if Labour win power

| March 17, 2015 Franchisees across the Belvoir network are being urged to write to their landlords and tenants warning them of the consequences of Labour gaining power and implementing proposals for rent capping and outlawing agents’ fees. Dorian Gonsalves, director of commercial and franchising for Belvoir, said that Labour’s proposals were “flawed” and likely […]

Conveyancers get to grips with big workloads after industry cull

| March 17, 2015 Conveyancing firms that survived the recession are handling more cases than in 2007, even though conveyancing activity is well down. Last year, in an industry that experienced a cull of nearly one in four conveyancers, seven firms completed 6,000-plus cases – only one did the same ten years ago – and […]

‘Agents not interested in cash buyers’ accusation

| March 17, 2015 Eye spotted this letter in a local newspaper, the Southern Daily Echo, yesterday (we have removed only the name of the sender). We know this is not exactly a new issue, but would nevertheless be interested in your feedback. “Until recently I did not realise how extremely hard and frustrating it […]

Outline planning permissions for new homes soar to almost 200,000

| March 17, 2015 Planning permissions were granted in outline for over 195,000 new homes in England last year, up 12% on the previous year and 39% on 2012. The figure is the highest since 2008. The number of ‘in principle’ permissions for private homes was up 23%, says a new report from the Home […]

OnTheMarket shreds claims it will not catch up with Zoopla ‘any time soon’

March 16, 2015

| March 16, 2015 A claim that OnTheMarket will not catch up with Zoopla “any time soon” was last night totally rejected by OTM. The challenger portal also made clear that it still plans to do just that – and soon. The site said that more than 4,800 offices are now signed up to OnTheMarket. […]

Conveyancers hit by ‘Friday afternoon’ fraudsters who target client money

| March 16, 2015 So-called ‘Friday afternoon’ scammers are hitting conveyancers as they work under pressure to complete sales. The Solicitors Regulation Authority says it is getting four reports a month of the fraud, which results in large amounts of money being stolen from client accounts. In November, four firms collectively had £2m taken after […]

Asking prices close to all-time high as supply drought hits first-time buyers

| March 16, 2015 Asking prices are close to an all-time high, Rightmove reported this morning. The average new asking price is just £30 below last June’s record high of £281,782 and is 1% up on a monthly basis. Rightmove quotes the average new asking price for a first-time buyer property at £169,414 and for […]

Councils may have to go back to drawing board on licensing

| March 16, 2015 Liverpool City Council is urgently studying the small print of last week’s announcement that the Government is clamping down on selective licensing schemes. Other councils planning to launch licensing schemes are also studying the implications in what looks to be a potential legal minefield. Liverpool is set to be the first […]

Over 200,000 affected by retaliatory evictions each year, claims Government

| March 16, 2015 Over 200,000 people are affected by retaliatory evictions every year, the Government has said. Revenge evictions are to be tackled in a new law which the Government expects to come into force on October 1. The new law is also set to make it illegal to evict tenants where there is […]