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Speculation over ‘departure’ of Countrywide’s head of estate and lettings agency business

August 18, 2017

Countrywide yesterday did not respond to speculation as to whether its high-profile managing director of retail, Sam Tyrer, has left. If true, questions are bound to be asked about Countrywide’s retail strategy and whether this has failed. Inquiries from EYE yesterday went unanswered by the company’s press office, as did inquiries also made by us […]

Fees ban ‘will help online student lettings agent launch into mainstream market’

An online agency aimed at the student lettings market is to expand into the mainstream market. It says that with the impending fees ban, more landlords will look for cheaper alternatives to the high street. Student is set to launch within the next few weeks and says it already has both the technology […]

Line-up of speakers at EA Masters includes global names as well as home-grown heroes

Estate agent turned MP Kevin Hollinrake is among the exceptional speakers announced for next month’s EA Masters, which is set to be the biggest estate agency event ever held in the UK, and breaking completely new ground. The founder of Hunters is in the line-up of speakers, which includes international agents and professional presenters as […]

Property firms and people make it to finals of National Business Awards

A number of property firms and individuals have made the finals of this year’s Lloyds Bank National Business Awards. Among them are Property Partner, listed in the digital business of the year category, which sets out to be the ‘stock market’ for property, allowing investors’ stakes in homes to be bought and traded in the […]

Agent says almost 100 clients have used its Airbnb service so far

Almost 100 clients have used London estate agent Portico’s Airbnb service since launch in January, with just one case of damage. The agent launched an Airbnb management service in January, allowing landlords and home owners to exploit the short stay website for empty properties – including those where the owners are away for a time, […]

National newspaper says agents’ fees are biggest barrier to downsizing

August 17, 2017

Email to a friend Print Estate agents’ fees were named as the biggest financial barrier for downsizers to sell up and buy somewhere smaller. The Daily Mail yesterday said that estate agents’ fees average 1.8%. The paper said that downsizing costs vendors almost £29,000 in costs, adding that “Stamp Duty is only half of it”. […]

Hybrid agent turns to crowdfunding to raise up to £250,000

A hybrid agent is looking to raise money on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Its ‘front page’ pitch says Vesper Homes is looking for investment of £100,000 in exchange for 8% of equity in the company. However, in the longer pitch document it says it is seeking £250,000, with £100,000 being the minimum. The business is much […]

Home sold in £2 raffle had been on market with online agent

A home which has been sold by raffle was last on the market with an online agent. According to Rightmove, the property was listed last December at £650,000 by HouseSimple. Other agents had previously tried to market the home at higher prices. The owner of Melling Manor, in Lancashire, has now sold his home after […]

And here’s raffle number two – agent raffling his Porsche at £20 per ticket

A Chelsea estate agent is selling off his Porsche – hoping to sell 2,500 tickets for £20 each. It is not known whether the personalised number plate – E3 DYB – will be included. If Ed Bezzant succeeds in selling all 2,500 tickets, he will make £50,000, which is more than the recommended retail price […]

Second acquisition within four months for expanding regional agent

Yorkshire agent Manning Stainton has completed its second acquisition in four months. It has purchased – for an undisclosed sum – Clear Properties. The deal follows the acquisition of AR Estates. Clear Properties is an independent agent, established in 2004, providing residential sales and lettings services to sellers, buyers and landlords in Adel and the […]

Online agent HouseSimple told to withdraw its cost-saving claim in TV advert

August 16, 2017

Claims about how much an online agent could save sellers have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. HouseSimple – backed to the tune of £13m by Carphone Warehouse funder Sir Charles Dunstone and his business partner Roger Taylor – claimed in TV advertising that it saved customers an average of £5,000 in fees. The […]

Housing market ‘speeding towards crisis point’ as average prices up £10,000 on a year ago

House prices continued to climb in June, although the pace of annual house price inflation slowed. Today’s Telegraph said the housing market was speeding towards a crisis, with average prices across England and Wales up almost £10,000 on June a year ago. Spicerhaart chief Paul Smith told the paper: “Along with consumer price hikes and […]

On your bike! Agent agrees to remove ‘Norton motorcycles’ claim after complaint to watchdog

A complaint about an estate agent’s claim on its website has been resolved informally by the Advertising Standards Authority. Featherstone Leigh, which has branches in London, claimed that the Featherbed Villas property development was “formerly the residence of the Norton family (of motorcycle fame)”. However, a complainant said the founder of the Norton Motorcycle company […]

Independent snaps up six-branch business to create one of largest agents in region

Northern agent Ryder & Dutton has acquired the business of Mortimers Estate Agents, a long established brand with offices in Blackburn, Great Harwood, Accrington, Clitheroe and Whalley plus a Fine and Country office covering the Ribble and Hodder Valleys. The sum has not been disclosed Two years ago, Ryder & Dutton bought Eley Long and […]

Rents ‘not spiralling out of control’ – Belvoir boss condemns ‘sensationalist’ press stories

Rental price inflation was flat across Great Britain for the fourth consecutive month in July, figures from the ONS show. Separately, Belvoir has said that “sensationalist” rent rises portrayed by the media are untrue. The firm says average rents rose 2.75% annually during the second quarter of 2017 to £751. Its data shows rents range […]

Estate agency chief attacks ‘army of providers’ feeding off backs of independents

August 15, 2017

A leading industry figure has made a blistering attack on the “army of providers swooping down on agents and eating away at their bottom lines”. Robert Sargent, CEO of the Acorn Group, said that it is hard to see what value some of these providers – which mostly go under the ‘proptech’ title – could […]

Agent who told buyer about pub but not longer opening hours application rapped over insufficient disclosure

A buyer purchasing a property next door to a pub withdrew after discovering that it had applied for an extension to its licensing hours. The agent had made the buyer aware of the pub, and the pub’s application to extend its opening hours to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights was unsuccessful. The buyer withdrew […]

New boss taking over helm at EweMove is recruited from the franchisees

EweMove’s new managing director – or ‘head shepherd’ – is a franchisee. Nick Neill launched the York franchise in 2014, coming from a non-estate agency background. In three years, he drove revenue up by 1,900%. Neill said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have taken the helm at EweMove and am hugely excited about the opportunity […]

Why the big money is following deposit replacement products – they could be so much more

There seems no end to the articles with data and opinions that younger generations will increasingly be resigned to renting. Low interest rates have created a situation with no let-up for the younger generation: property prices keeping marching up and away from people’s ability to earn and save. Without ‘the Bank of Mum and Dad’ […]

Social media platforms eye up agents’ listing market

Social media platforms are swooping in to challenge the property portals market, attempting to woo agents to switch their spend. So far, it has not happened in the UK, but in the States three possible models emerged in a matter of days as social media wakes up to what has been called a $27bn sleeping […]

Purplebricks in share sale puzzle, says Sunday Times headline

August 14, 2017

Email to a friend Print The Sunday Times yesterday drew attention to what it called a ‘share sale puzzle’ at Purplebricks. On the front page of its Business & Money supplement, its story cited the sale of 60,000 shares by lettings director Richard Jacques. He sold the shares in two tranches on July 27 and […]

Humberts launches into lettings – with choice of online or traditional service

Humberts today launches a new lettings department which will be made up of an online-only service, Humberts Lettings Direct, and a traditional offering, Humberts Lettings. It has bought into technology company Propoly, a Pilabs portfolio company launched to create a ‘new lettings eco system’ where landlords and tenants communicate directly. Countrywide is among Propoly’s backers, […]

Spicerhaart boss calls for return of 100% mortgages and no Stamp Duty for first-time buyers

Paul Smith, chief executive of Spicerhaart, has called for the return of 100% mortgages and sweeping cuts in Stamp Duty Land Tax including an exemption for first-time buyers – warning that there will be a brain drain from London if there is not drastic action. In a full page interview yesterday with the Mail on […]

Online agent withdraws claims including that it can complete in just 25 days

An online agent has withdrawn claims from a promotional email it sent out only last Thursday. HouseSimple said in the marketing email that it saved vendors £5,594, and that it took only 25 days to get a property to completion. It used the same figure, 25 days, to say that is how long it took […]

Nationwide building society hit by collapse in buy-to-let lending

Nationwide’s mortgage lending plunged in the April to June quarter as buy-to-let borrowers stayed away from the market after the phasing out of tax relief on mortgage interest was introduced at the start of April. Last year, landlords were hit by a 3% hike in Stamp Duty if they purchased more properties. The building society […]

OnTheMarket boss Ian Springett to ‘pick up shares worth £20m’ if float goes ahead

August 11, 2017

Ian Springett, chief executive of OnTheMarket, is to pick up 3.9m shares in the event of a successful float. In round figures, should shares trade at between the projected £4 and £5, they could be worth almost £20m in total to Springett. A trio of documents which EYE has seen and which have been sent […]

Non-executive directors speak out in favour of stock exchange float of OnTheMarket

Non-executive directors of Agents’ Mutual have voiced their support of the proposed flotation of OnTheMarket. The four have been at pains to say that the float will still ensure that agent members remain firmly in charge, in line with the original principles. Paul Smith, CEO of Spicerhaart and a non-executive director of Agents’ Mutual, said: […]

Spotlight falls on quick-sale industry as police launch investigation into stings

Police are investigating allegations that people who used a quick-sale firm to sell their homes lost thousands of pounds and were only given a fraction of the money they were due. There are at least four alleged victims, but police believe there could be more in what they believe has been a large-scale operation. The […]

Savills announces strong results despite dip in UK estate agency business

Savills has announced strong results, with group revenue up 15% and pre-tax profits up 27% in the first half of this year. Revenues were £714.4m and profit £32.4m in the six months to the end of June. However, the international group said that performances in Asia, Europe and the UK commercial market offset a 4% […]

Crimestoppers campaign launches to warn home buyers of property frauds

A new consumer awareness campaign has been launched, aimed at educating the public about property fraud. The Home Buyers Safety Campaign is a joint venture between Crimestoppers and the Safe Buyer Scheme, a register of conveyancing organisations using fraud prevention tools. The most common property con is when a buyer is fooled into thinking they […]

Sales activity continues to slip – and it’s not looking good, say gloomy surveyors

August 10, 2017

Surveyors have reported a decline in new inquiries and instructions, citing continuing lack of supply as major issue. The July RICS UK Residential Market Survey, published today and based on sentiment rather than facts, paints a gloomy picture. But it is based on a small response – just 301. It shows 7% more surveyors reporting […]

Truth at last: What really happened in Scotland after letting agent fees were banned

What follow is an opinion piece but I believe it to be the factual truth. It was a Sunday evening – August 26, 2012 – when the Scottish Government confirmed that all charges (called premiums in the legislation) levied on tenants are illegal and must cease immediately. Up to that point there had been ongoing […]

Looks familiar? New ‘online agent’ Hausmart bears similarities to American site

Mystery continues to surround the online agent Hausmart and who is behind it. Its timing and motivation has also been called into question. Yesterday EYE – still unable to contact the site, which appeared to make a number of frantic-looking changes yesterday including trying to remove a property EYE had drawn attention to – tweeted […]

Cyber crime a big threat, say conveyancers (but they haven’t done much about it)

Almost six in ten property law firms say that cyber crime poses a big threat when handling property transactions – but only a minority have done much about it. A total of 58% ‘strongly agree’ that cyber security is a concern at their own organisation, but just 13% have spent much time and money making […]

Going, going, great – agent earns £18,000 from Guild’s first auction sale

The Guild of Property Professionals has announced the sale of its first property through Guild Auctions, a new white-labelled offering powered by IAM Sold. The Guild of Property Professionals announced the partnership in June. The property, in the north-east, sold for £875,000 through Guild Member Dobsons. As a result of this sale alone, Dobsons will […]

Mystery as to identity of online agency which claims ‘world class customer service’

August 9, 2017

Email to a friend Print Mystery surrounds an online agency, Hausmart, which has proved uncontactable despite claiming “world class customer service”. It also appears to have lifted agents’ properties wholesale and yesterday was appearing to step up action. It claims: “Hausmart connects people to unique property experiences, at any price point, with more than 34,000 […]

Tenancy deposit replacement products will be ‘as popular as Christmas trees in January’

The boss of the Property Franchise Group – whose brands include Martin & Co and EweMove – says he does not think there will be a market for tenancy deposit replacement products once the tenancy fees ban comes in. The replacement products typically give tenants the option of paying the equivalent of one week’s rent, […]

Zoopla announces record number of vendor appraisal leads for agents

Zoopla and PrimeLocation have delivered a record number of vendor appraisal leads to agents. The portals’ owner, ZPG, says that the number stands at almost 300,000 so far this year, up 31% on the same period last year. It said the total value of these vendor leads introduced over the past seven months is worth […]

Proptech firm comes up with real-time facial recognition to help agents with Right to Rent

A new firm is using real-time facial recognition technology with the aim of helping letting agents meet their Right to Rent obligations. Start-up company Credas claims its facial recognition software can speed up ID verification and is the first of its kind in the UK. Agents can verify essential ID documents and match the photos […]

Landlords’ Barometer – #51: Hammered! Why landlords are feeling so negative

Welcome to another edition of the “Landlords Barometer” with all the trending topics that have been engaging landlords on the forum over the past few weeks. Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of negativity around that landlords want to vent about. 1. Rents rise as landlords exit the sector It would seems that tax […]

New Data Protection Bill ‘could be death knell for smaller businesses’, warning

August 8, 2017

Email to a friend Print A new Data Protection Bill will allow people to ask for personal data to be deleted and give them the ‘right to be forgotten’. The Bill will transfer the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation into UK law. Implementation is set to be next May. Firms that flout the new law […]

Portal wars resume as Zoopla tells agents that OTM’s original plans are ‘out of the window’

Email to a friend Print Zoopla has stepped up efforts to win back agents with an email yesterday afternoon headed “Have you heard the latest!” The text – complete with a link to EYE’s story last Friday morning – says: “Hope you’re keeping well & business is good? “As you will be aware, ZPG continues […]

OnTheMarket starts its roadshows today to tell member agents of its plans

Email to a friend Print The first OnTheMarket member meetings are to take place today, where agents will learn details of OTM’s plans to demutualise and float on the stock exchange. The first meeting is at noon in Stafford, and the second at 4pm in Warrington. Members are said to have received a three-page letter […]

Zoopla-backed Zero Deposit attracts new investors including ex-Countrywide boss Grenville Turner

Email to a friend Print Zero Deposit, the new deposit replacement product backed by ZPG and founded by Zoopla’s former chief commercial officer Jon Notley, has secured some significant new investors. They include former Countrywide CEO and chairman Grenville Turner. Others are JamJar Investments, the venture capital fund that backed Innocent drinks; and Vanneck and […]

HIPs lite: Countrywide well placed to introduce Scottish Home Reports south of the border

Email to a friend Print Countrywide would be well placed to trial English-style Home Reports, the managing director of one of the estate agency’s Scottish surveyor brands has claimed. Jim Gibson, managing director at chartered surveyors Harvey Donaldson & Gibson, revealed that he has suggested to both Countrywide and RICS that they follow the example […]

This is why we MUST back OnTheMarket as it gets close to stock market float

August 7, 2017

Email to a friend Print The planned flotation of OnTheMarket is to be welcomed and will give the portal a much-needed boost in investment to strengthen its position against the other main portals. Subject to member agencies voting in favour of the flotation, OnTheMarket will be able to use this cash injection to boost its […]

Purplebricks is NOT best reviewed agent in UK – we are, says EweMove boss

The boss of The Property Franchise Group – whose brands include Martin & Co and EweMove – says that the claim by Purplebricks to be the most positively reviewed estate agent is misleading. Ian Wilson told EYE: “EweMove has over 2,000 TrustPilot reviews and a score of 9.9 against Purplebricks’ 9.5. “We are the only […]

Was this the first time OnTheMarket considered demutualisation?

An initial public offering (IPO) may have been on the mind of Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett as early as January 2016, court documents show. The judgement transcript from the Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing between Agents’ Mutual and Gascoigne Halman makes interesting reading, given the demutualisation announcement on Friday. It shows an IPO was […]

Silence maintained on further litigation between OnTheMarket and Gascoigne Halman

Both Connells – owners of Gascoigne Halman – and Agents’ Mutual have stayed silent on possible ongoing litigation over the ‘one other portal’ rule. Meanwhile, significant question marks have been raised about leaks of Friday’s announcement that Agents’ Mutual would seek a stock market listing. The bitter ‘one other portal’ case was won by Agents’ […]

Purplebricks has ‘more significant growth’ to come, says biggest investor Woodford

Purplebricks helped contribute to fund supremo Neil Woodford’s “fortnight from hell,” it has been claimed, as several of the investing veteran’s top holdings declined in value. The online agent makes up 10.9% of Woodford’s Patient Capital investment trust but investigations into its transparency and the way it operates by Radio 4′s You and Yours and […]