Suttons City Living Blog

What’s cooking? Strutt & Parker turn heat up for charity

August 1, 2014

| August 1, 2014 Strutt & Parker has launched a new charity cookery book featuring 52 celebrity recipes by actors, singers, chefs, politicians and sportspeople in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Highlights of the book, entitled Food with Heart, include David Cameron’s very own Italian pasta dish, which he likes to cook […]

Shadow housing minister makes house prices a political football

| August 1, 2014 A gloomy future for the housing market lies ahead if the Tories win next year’s General Election, Labour has warned. Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds predicted that home buyers would need an average deposit of £72,000. House prices would, she said, rise to an average of £359,000 by 2020 – 13 […]

City speculation on Rightmove and Zoopla merger

July 31, 2014

| July 31, 2014 There is City speculation that Rightmove and Zoopla could merge, according to the London Evening Standard. It follows the acquisition of US portal Trulia by its bigger rival Zillow, who have agreed a £2.1bn deal. The speculation is run under the headline “City bets on Zoopla and Rightmove after US mega-merger”. […]

Connells snaps up Peter Alan agency for £16.4m

| July 31, 2014 The Connells Group has acquired Peter Alan, with 26 branches across Wales, for £16.4m. Meanwhile, Countrywide this morning announced a huge 202% rise in profits for the first half of this year, together with a 29% rise in revenue. Countrywide said they were the strongest results for seven years. However, notably, […]

HIPs firm that came close to collapse marks turnaround

| July 31, 2014 The boss of a former Home Information Pack business which came close to going under after HIPs were abolished, has told the astonishing story of his firm’s turnaround. Peter Ambrose, of The Partnership, reinvented his proposition, as a conveyancing specialist taking referrals from estate agents. He now employs 34 people at […]

MovewithUs is sold in multi-million pound deal

July 30, 2014

| July 30, 2014 MovewithUs, one of the best known names in the estate agency world, has been acquired by the equity firm behind a fast growing new legal network, QualitySolicitors. The deal is intended to create Britain’s legal giant of the high street, as smaller firms squeezed by regulation and tight margins fall by […]

Rightmove puts a smile on City’s face as profits soar 22%

| July 30, 2014 Rightmove delivered to its shareholders a set of dazzling half-year results this morning, showing that its agents are now paying an average of £671 per month – a rise of 13% on the £593 per month they were paying last year. With the number of advertisers up 3%, there are now […]

Hunters goes hunter-gathering in merger deal

| July 30, 2014 Hunters Property Group, the 105-branch national estate and lettings agents, has united with a smaller estate agency business with an almost identical name. Hunters Group, based in the west midlands, has eight offices and the deal has been done on undisclosed terms. It is, however, being described as a merger and […]

Lenders raise forecast for number of home sales this year

| July 30, 2014 Lenders have lifted their forecasts for housing transactions this year. At the start of 2014, the Council of Mortgage Lenders was predicting 1.14m house sales. It is now forecasting 1.23m. It thinks transactions will dip slightly next year to 1.15m. Both sets of figures are well ahead of the market lows […]

More tenants happy to be evicted as they want a council house

| July 30, 2014 Evictions specialist Paul Shamplina says that most landlords are not serving Section 21 notices as “retaliatory evictions” but simply because of changes in the market. He said that some landlords want to cash in on a stronger sales market. In other cases, he says the tenants themselves want to be evicted […]

House prices fall across most of England and Wales

July 29, 2014

| July 29, 2014 The average house price across England and Wales stood at £172,011 in June, the Land Registry has reported. The figure means that house prices rose just 0.1% from May, but were up 6.4% from June 2013. The average house price is still below the peak of November 2007 when the Land […]

America’s largest property portal buys its nearest rival for £2bn

| July 29, 2014 In a move for which the UK equivalent would be Rightmove acquiring Zoopla, giant American property portal Zillow has announced its purchase of heavyweight rival Trulia. It is paying $3.5bn (approx £2bn). The transaction will be all in stocks, and is expected to complete next year. The combined company will operate […]

Young agent’s death shocks colleagues and football world

| July 29, 2014 A young agent has died suddenly while on holiday in Turkey. Jordan Tabor, 23, worked for Taylor’s Estate Agents in Oxford. The firm said he was a funny and kind person who had brought a smile to everyone’s faces. Jordan, who is believed to have fallen from his hotel room, spent […]

American hired to head up new agents’ London operation

| July 29, 2014 Keller Williams, the American franchise brand planning to launch in the UK, has appointed a chief executive to develop the London operation. She is Pam O’Bryant, who was previously chief executive for Keller Williams in Arlington, Virginia, in the States. She has spent over 30 years in the property industry although […]

Quarter of young working adults can’t afford housing

| July 29, 2014 One quarter of all under-35s who have jobs are still living at home, according to Shelter. The charity said that 48% of 20 to 34-year-olds are doing so because they cannot afford to move out. Data from the last Census, released to Shelter, showed 1.97m working young adults living with their […]

Landlord says legal challenge to licensing scheme was ‘last resort’

July 28, 2014

| July 28, 2014 The landlord who is mounting a legal challenge to his local authority’s plans to introduce a selective licensing scheme, has said he is taking the action as a last resort. Constantinos Regas, who has applied for a judicial review of Enfield Council’s scheme, said that his concerns had so far been […]

Rents creep up by just 1% in a year across Britain, says ONS

| July 28, 2014 Private rents rose across Britain by 1% in the 12 months to June this year, the Office for National Statistics has reported. However, agreed rents for new tenancies have shot up by 6.3% in the last year, according to another new report, published this morning. The ONS report – which rather […]

Nearly £3bn protected by deposit schemes

| July 28, 2014 The three tenancy deposit protection schemes between them are protecting 2.85m deposits worth nearly £3bn. The figures, accurate as of March 31 this year, are released in a new briefing paper by Steve Harriott, chief executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The paper says the average tenancy deposit is £1,006 and […]

This is more than seasonal, says Hometrack, as housing market growth slows

July 25, 2014

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | July 25, 2014 The pace of house price growth has slowed to the weakest in 18 months – and the London market is cooling “rapidly” and “dramatically”. Reporting this morning, Hometrack said that weakening demand and a slowing in property price inflation are “more than just a seasonal slowdown”. It […]

Clash after NAEA’s claims on first-time buyers make national headlines

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | July 25, 2014 First-time buyer numbers have increased, property chain LSL reported this morning. It said that numbers of first-time buyers rose by over 30,000 in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year. The report chimes with what Halifax has also said, but it […]

Agent wins landmark ruling in licensing case

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | July 25, 2014 An agent has won a significant victory which has major implications for all local authority licensing schemes. Paul Brown, of Eafield & Maple estate and letting agents, challenged his local authority, Hyndburn Borough Council in Lancashire. The challenge, heard by a residential property tribunal, was to conditions […]

‘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

Property Industry Eye (

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 […]