Suttons City Living Blog

Martin & Co buys Xperience in £6m deal

October 31, 2014

| October 31, 2014 Martin & Co announced this morning that it has acquired the whole of Xperience – the estate agency franchising arm of Legal & General. It paid £5m in cash plus around £1m for the net assets of Xperience. Xperience managing director Michael Stoop stays with the business and has become group […]

UK’s biggest estate agent on course for best year ever

| October 31, 2014 The UK’s largest estate agent, Countrywide, is anticipating a bumper year after its best third quarter on record. Its report is in contrast to Foxtons, which last week issued a profits warning. But like Foxtons, Countrywide has also experienced a marked slowdown in the London market. In an interim report covering […]

David Newnes to step down from LSL – after 35 years

| October 31, 2014 David Newnes, one of the most respected names in estate agency, has announced his retirement. Widely respected and liked, Newnes, who is director of estate agency at LSL Property Services, has been with the company 35 years. He will be leaving at the end of this year, to follow personal interests […]

Prices edge up but ‘market losing momentum’

| October 31, 2014 House prices edged up 0.5% to stand at £189,333 this month, Nationwide has reported. Annual house price inflation is now 9%, said the lender. Despite the rises, Nationwide said that the housing market is losing momentum, with annual house price inflation slipping from 9.4% in September. It also said that mortgage […]

Zoopla launches feature for agents to show their professional credentials

| October 31, 2014 Zoopla Property Group has launched a new feature which allows members to display the professional associations and redress schemes they are affiliated with on various sections of the Zoopla and PrimeLocation websites. ZPG members can activate this new feature under their profile in ZooplaPro and activate the display of logos of […]

Newspaper group says it will not ban OnTheMarket logo in agents’ adverts

October 30, 2014

| October 30, 2014 Speculation is mounting as to whether some newspapers may ban the OnTheMarket logo from publications. Last night, Zoopla – which powers the property websites for a number of both local and national newspapers – neither confirmed the possibility nor ruled it out. However, this morning a spokesperson for Johnston Press told […]

A spirited (but serious) discussion: should agents disclose hauntings?

| October 30, 2014 Tomorrow is Halloween, which brings us to the ghostly topic of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. Under these, should an agent disclose whether a house is haunted? Of course, an agent may well take the view that he or she does not believe in ghosts. However, according to a […]

Jon Hunt ‘on prowl’ to buy Foxtons back – speculation

| October 30, 2014 Could Jon Hunt be on the prowl for his old firm Foxtons? A snippet in yesterday’s Telegraph City Diary suggests that this could be the case. It says there is speculation that Hunt “might be in the market for buying back the estate agent he sold at the peak of the […]

For richer or for poorer: UK’s property notspots are named

| October 30, 2014 Search engine Home has revealed property investment black spots where house prices are falling. In some of the worst performing areas, prices are falling by more than 7% per year. Landlords’ return on investment is also looking iffy where the value of the property depreciates by more than the annual rent. […]

Five million up – that’s one firm’s estate agency boards

| October 30, 2014 Seventeen years after launch, Agency Express has announced that it has put up its five millionth board. The milestone was reached while supplying redesigned boards for Norfolk agent and long-term client Arnolds Keys. Agency Express, founded and still run by former estate agent Stephen Watson, claims a 48% market share in […]

High street agents’ market share could fall to 50% within decade, prediction

October 29, 2014

| October 29, 2014 Property entrepreneur Faisal Butt has predicted that over the next ten years, online estate agents could attain a 30% share of the market. He said that ‘hybrid’ agents could win a 20% market share, leaving traditional high street agents with the balance. However, Butt also made the point that many traditional […]

House prices barely move – but are we looking at uplift in sales?

| October 29, 2014 House prices barely moved between August and September, going down by just 0.2%, the Land Registry has reported. The average house price in England and Wales is now £177,299 compared with the peak of £181,324 in November 2007. Annual house price inflation is running at an average of 7.2% but is […]

Stability of housing market a concern for half of conveyancing firms

| October 29, 2014 Nearly half of conveyancers say that the stability of the housing market is a real issue for them. Findings from a new survey, by conveyancing search provider SearchFlow, also suggest that conveyancers believe that the market is levelling out. Only 16% of firms experienced growth of over 25% in the last […]

Anti-social tenants targeted by new ground for eviction

| October 29, 2014 A new ground for the eviction of anti-social tenants became law last week. However, significant doubts have been cast as to how much, if at all, it will be used in the private rented sector. Section 97 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, creates a new mandatory ground […]

Ordinary families to be hit by Stamp Duty reform – claim

| October 29, 2014 Scotland’s home building industry has warned that the new Land and Buildings Transactions Tax, due to replace Stamp Duty Land Tax next April, will hit ordinary hard-working families. Figures show that all buyers purchasing homes over £325,000 will be worse off under the new system than now. Homes for Scotland chief […]

Agent hits out at Tepilo over listing of property

October 27, 2014

| October 27, 2014 Any agent fed up with competitors who keep properties online as having been sold subject to contract, when in reality the sales were completed weeks or months ago, will sympathise with the agent who posted on Twitter at the weekend: “Sold, completed 3 months ago, refurbished & rented out. Yet still […]

Rightmove starts launch of Intel tool

| October 27, 2014 Rightmove has begun the launch of its new market insight tool. Some 1,200 estate agency branches around the country have just started using a pre-release version of the new RightmoveIntel – due to be available to all Rightmove members by the end of the year as part of their standard membership. […]

New call for ban on letting agent fees

| October 27, 2014 A new call for letting agents’ fees to be scrapped has come, this time from Manchester City Council. The council, which is to lobby the Government, has announced that Trading Standards will embark on a programme of visiting letting agents to ensure that their fees are accurate and transparent. The local […]

Tenant who supplied fake references to agents is jailed

| October 27, 2014 A woman who scammed her way into three tenancies in a row by supplying false references to agents has been jailed for two years. Sharon Watts, 47, of St Just, Cornwall, not only lied her way into three properties but then refused to pay rent or leave, Truro Crown Court heard. […]

Brokers review Foxtons after profits warning

| October 27, 2014 Equities researchers at the bank Credit Suisse have slashed their target price for Foxtons’ shares from 372p to 215p. Foxtons shares ended last week at 158p following its profits warning. Credit Suisse, which gives Foxtons an ‘outperform’ rating, appears to believe that its shares can recover by some 25%. Other analysts […]

Foxtons catches a cold and other agents sneeze

October 24, 2014

| October 24, 2014 Foxtons’ share price fell heavily yesterday after it issued a profits warning because of “sharp and recent slowing of volumes” in the London property market. The firm said it expected sales volumes in the second half of this year will be “significantly below levels during the same period last year”. Foxtons […]

New Hometrack report calls up market in 20 cities

| October 24, 2014 The newest house price survey launched this morning. And, we have to say, it is a bit of an oddity. The new UK Cities House Price Index is from Hometrack, which has binned its old one, which took reports from agents in each postcode. Whereas the old Hometrack index gave you […]

Falling market could ‘weaken’ online agents who launched in good times

| October 24, 2014 Industry consultant Michael Day says that there has been a “key” change in the property market – and that poorer conditions may weaken online agents. But Day, who runs Integra Property Services, also warned that high street agents must step up to the plate and embrace change in any downturn. He […]

Squatters in rental property discovered as an agent does viewing

| October 24, 2014 This is a story that makes for disturbing reading. A 101-year-old woman had a stroke and needed 24-hour medical care. Her home in Peterborough, where she has lived for 65 years, was the obvious source of finance and her family planned to let out the property. The property was redecorated and […]

Wider market slowing but first-time buyers defying trend

| October 24, 2014 Despite a wider market slow-down, the number of first-time buyers was up 11% in September. The claim comes in a new report out this morning from LSL, which has tracked first-time transactions at Your Move and Reeds Rains. Based on those, LSL estimates that there were 25,800 first-time buyer completions in […]

Agents warned on data protection over competition for leads

October 23, 2014

| October 23, 2014 Agents who are using perfectly legitimate sources to source new leads should nevertheless be very careful that they are not breaching the Data Protection Act. The warning from the Information Commissioner’s Office comes amid evidence of huge growth within the industry over the last three years – and increasing competition and […]

Latest City analyst report on ‘portal wars’ rips into Agents’ Mutual

| October 23, 2014 City analyst Jefferies has become the latest analyst to comment on the ‘portal wars’ market. In its report to investors on Zoopla, published yesterday, the firm reiterated its ‘buy’ rating on the portal. Using colourful language, it said: “Zoopla has seen more share price falls than gains of late, most of […]

For Sale by Tender agent rapped over adverts

| October 23, 2014 An estate agent selling homes by the For Sale by Tender method – by which vendors pay an admin fee and the buyer pays the commission – has had a complaint against it upheld by the advertising watchdog. Essex Countryside was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority by Spicerhaart after a […]

High-flying agent who hoped to be made partner is jailed

| October 23, 2014 A successful estate agent who earned £85,000 a year at the age of 30 and hoped to be made a partner has been jailed for 27 months after running a cannabis farm. Jordan McDonald has been brought down because of his long-term addiction to the drug. He worked for Next Home […]

New charity set up in name of Hunters’ beloved Nicki

| October 23, 2014 To recognise and remember the tragic death of Nicki Waterhouse a year ago, estate agency group Hunters has announced it is setting up a charitable trust in her name. The company said it continues to miss her sorely. She was the daughter of Hunters’ founding partner John Waterhouse and worked at […]

Tycoon pays cut-price online agency fee to sell £15.5m mansion

October 22, 2014

| October 22, 2014 Here is the most extreme case – so far – of a seller planning to save money by not using a high street agent. He owns a £15.5m house in Knightsbridge. It has six storeys, five bedrooms, a staff flat, wine cellar, gym and large garage. There are also, according to […]

City analysts warn on Agents’ Mutual after Eye story

| October 22, 2014 City analysts Exane BNP Paribas yesterday sent out a note based on Eye’s report of the Agents’ Mutual deal with Scottish website Citylets. The note said: “The estate agency trade press is reporting that Agents’ Mutual have announced their first exception to their only ‘one other portal rule’. In Scotland, lettings […]

Credit Suisse says threat to portals from Agents’ Mutual is ‘real’

| October 22, 2014 Another analyst, Credit Suisse, was also busy yesterday on the subject of the UK portals. It said that it sees limited threat from Agents’ Mutual to Rightmove and Zoopla – although it warned that the threat is “real”. It also expects Agents’ Mutual to reach its recruitment target of 5,000 agents […]

Number of house sales now dropping, says taxman

| October 22, 2014 There were 97,450 property transactions across the UK in September, HMRC has reported. The figure was down by 4.8% from 102,360 transactions in August – tallying with the drop in September’s mortgage lending that Eye reported yesterday. However, the figure is up 5% on the transactions reported by HMRC in September […]

London market showing further signs of falls as sales collapse 27%

| October 22, 2014 The prime central London market is showing further signs of decline, says Strutt & Parker. Its data for the third quarter of 2014 shows that both prices and transactions have slipped year on year. The overall value of properties transacted by the firm is down 21.1%. Properties sub-£2m saw a decrease […]

Busy Rightmove to raise its spending on marketing and services

October 21, 2014

| October 21, 2014 Rightmove says that it is on course for its busiest year on record. It says leads to member agents are up by over one fifth so far this year compared with the same period last year. The portal has also revealed plans to send out new “instruction getting” packs to members […]

Agents’ Mutual makes ‘one other portal’ exception for Scottish market

| October 21, 2014 Agents’ Mutual has entered into a co-operation agreement with Citylets, an independent specialist lettings website for Scotland. In a variation of Agents’ Mutual’s “one other portal rule”, Scottish letting agents will be able to list on Citylets plus OnTheMarket and one other competing portal. The arrangement will allow Scottish agents to […]

Will sellers be persuaded to go online route after Sarah Beeny programme?

| October 21, 2014 So, what did you make of the first Sarah Beeny television programme last night, featuring home sellers bypassing high street agents? In the first two case studies – a three-bed cottage in Sussex and a four-bed Victorian semi in Nottingham – one of the sellers said they had exchanged contracts after […]

Are anti-money laundering duties for agents set to be tightened up?

| October 21, 2014 Earlier this year, there were shock waves through the industry when three estate agents were fined enormous sums of money under anti-money laundering legislation. There was no suggestion that any money laundering had actually taken place or that any of the agents had been complicit in any crime – or even […]

Market may have reached plateau, say lenders

| October 21, 2014 The housing market appears to have reached a plateau, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. CML figures show that lending reached £17.8bn in September, which is 1% lower than August (£18bn), but 10% higher than September last year (£16.2bn). Gross mortgage lending for the third quarter was estimated at £55.5bn. […]

New performance table of agents launches – and aims to be instruction-getter

October 20, 2014

| October 20, 2014 A new service launches today which shows consumers how agents in particular areas have performed over the last six months, and is aimed to be an instruction getter for agents. Designed as an objective league table of performance, GetAgent shows the total number of agents in a postcode. It also shows […]

Mystery as new free UK portal is revealed

| October 20, 2014 Mystery surrounds a new – and free – UK property portal called Hus.co.uk, apparently based in Paphos, Cyprus, which is appealing for agents to sign up for a trial. It wants 100 to help trial its beta site. It says it will then proceed to phase two, with around 1,000 agents, […]

Purplebricks mulls stock market debut just six months after launch

| October 20, 2014 Purplebricks could be launched on the stock market next year, according to a report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. The paper said that such has been the strong interest from house sellers, that Purplebricks investors believe a float is on the cards. The “hybrid” estate agency was launched in April by brothers […]

New asking prices surge 7.6% in a year – but is ‘price flurry’ sustainable?

| October 20, 2014 Average asking prices for property new to the market has gone up 2.6% in a month, Rightmove reports this morning. The average new asking price is now £271,669 against £264,875 a month ago. Asking prices are now 7.6% up on this time a year ago. However, Rightmove queries whether the “price […]

Rents have hit all-time record high, says LSL

| October 20, 2014 Rents last month edged up to a new all-time record, averaging £768 a month in England and Wales, LSL has reported. The figure for last month is £10 (1.5%) higher than in September 2013. On a monthly basis September’s average rents are 0.8% higher than in August, representing a rise of […]

OnTheMarket to take up to 28% of agents’ spend on portals – forecast

October 17, 2014

| October 17, 2014 OnTheMarket is poised to take up to 28% of total portal spend, a new report has predicted. But the report, by Accounts and Legal, says: “However, many agents are still ‘on the fence’, which could push this even higher in the event of a successful launch.” The report adds that the […]

Rightmove is world’s benchmark portal, global conference hears

| October 17, 2014 Rightmove is said to have been held up to be the benchmark property portal at this month’s international property portal conference in Barcelona. It was described as “running like a machine, with tight cost control and an efficient operation”. According to a briefing note by brokers Ian Whittaker and Lisa Hau […]

Agents ‘getting better deals’ from portals, says Agents’ Mutual

| October 17, 2014 Agents’ negotiating hand with the big two portals has been strengthened by the emergence of Agents’ Mutual, it has been claimed. In a letter to agents who have not yet joined, Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett says: “The current major portals will no doubt be trying to bring you in […]

Sarah Beeny claims on TV all online agents have to be regulated

| October 17, 2014 Property guru Sarah Beeny claimed on national television yesterday that all online agents belong to a body which she named as the National Federation of Estate Agents. Beeny was appearing on ITV’s This Morning programme, and was asked by presenter Amanda Holden if online agents had to be regulated. Beeny replied […]

Landlord jailed after firemen rescue tenants from blaze

| October 17, 2014 A landlord has been sentenced to eight months in prison after fire fighters had to rescue his tenants when a blaze broke out. There were 11 bedsits in the two adjoining properties owned by Haresh Rambhai Patel in Leicester. Three tenants had to be rescued while others had to clamber out. […]