Suttons City Living Blog

Number of first-time buyers ‘at seven-year high’

August 26, 2014

| August 26, 2014 The number of first-time buyers has hit a seven-year high, LSL has reported. The parent company of Your Move and Reeds Rains says that in July there were 30,000 first-time buyer sales, a quarter more than the 24,100 of July last year and the highest number since August 2007. David Brown, […]

Foxtons not wanted here, says angry independent

| August 26, 2014 Foxtons has run into local opposition, including from an independent estate agent, after applying for planning permission to turn a former post office into a new branch. The move has infuriated residents in West Hampstead, London, because they say it would give the area its 30th property firm. Foxtons wants to […]

What is your take on accompanied viewings?

| August 26, 2014 Do you always do accompanied viewings? Sometimes? Almost never? The link below is to the best blog on the subject we have seen, by Stephen Brown. As he so rightly (well, in Eye’s view) says – vendors are not part of your sales team. They know their home but they almost […]

500,000 people are now property millionaires

| August 26, 2014 Almost half a million people in Britain now own properties worth over £1m, it is being claimed this morning. The figure of 484,081 is up 49% on last year, according to Zoopla. The portal also says that there are 10,613 streets with an average property value of £1m or over. The […]

Estate agent who glassed a stranger no longer at Palmer Snell

| August 26, 2014 The estate agent who escaped jail after smashing a glass into a stranger’s face no longer works for Palmer Snell. A spokesperson for Palmer Snell, part of Countrywide, said: “Yasmin Thomas is no longer employed by Palmer Snell.” Yasmin Thomas, 21, was a negotiator in Bournemouth. She appeared in court earlier […]

OFFICIAL: there is no national house price boom

August 22, 2014

| August 22, 2014 Numbers have been put on the huge north-south chasm in the housing market, with the figures confirming there is no national boom. The so-called national recovery is being entirely masked by increases in the south – which are disguising drops in Wales and virtually every single county north of the midlands. […]

Home sales go up, says taxman

| August 22, 2014 There were 110,730 residential property sales in July, HMRC has reported. This was up on June’s figure of 109,980 and ahead of last July’s figure of 98,680. However, for baffling reasons that only economists understand, HMRC prefers to headline its “seasonally adjusted” statistics rather than its “actuals”. It says there were […]

Estate agency recruitment firm adds to WW1 tribute

| August 22, 2014 Lloyd May, a specialist residential property recruitment company, is supporting the Tower of London poppy appeal by purchasing ceramic poppies every time it places a candidate. Each poppy bought will join the others on display at the Tower, commemorating each person who died in action in the First World War. In […]

Belvoir helps franchisee to expand business

| August 22, 2014 Belvoir has announced the acquisition of Key Estate Agents in Attleborough, Warwickshire. The purchase is by the local Belvoir franchisee, supported by Belvoir itself. Clayton Foston, of Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley, said: “There are 14 letting agents on my street alone and, as my business is only two years old, I […]

Zoopla boosts Agents Giving ‘evening of celebration’

| August 22, 2014 Zoopla is the headline sponsor of the inaugural Agents Giving ball on October 2 at London’s Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square. Zoopla’s support has enabled the ball to be ‘in profit’ from the start, meaning more money for charity. Billed as ‘an evening of celebration’ to recognise the great fundraising achievements […]

Romans on the expansion trail as it eyes up more acquisitions

August 21, 2014

| August 21, 2014 Almost a year after its £50m management buyout, backed by private equity firm Bowmark Capital, ambitious Romans has expanded again. The Berkshire-based firm – thought by many to have its sights on an eventual stock market flotation which would hand the equity firm back all or part of its investment with […]

Mortgage lending for house purchase at highest since 2008

| August 21, 2014 There were £19.1bn worth of home purchase mortgages in July – the highest monthly figure since the property market collapsed in August 2008. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, lending to home buyers was 7% higher in July than in June, and up 15% on July last year. In August […]

Century 21 chalks up another office opening

| August 21, 2014 A new Century 21 office has opened, after an existing letting agent expanded into sales and rebranded. Roy and Sue Cook, of Pelham Property Services in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, are now trading as Century 21 Pelham Property Services. The couple have run their business for 15 years alongside a property management company […]

It’s the space age – cupboards go on sale at £7,500 apiece

| August 21, 2014 An estate agent is selling two cupboards for £7,500 each. The walk-in spaces, one of which measures 5ft by 12ft, are listed on Rightmove. They can only be bought by a resident already living on the Brentford Dock Estate in west London. According to the Rightmove listing for one of the […]

Six directors banned after £13m land banking scandal

| August 21, 2014 Six directors have been banned after a £13m land banking scam. Three were directors of firms acting as sales agents, and three were directors of the land-sourcing firms. Altogether 300 investors were fleeced after being sold plots for up to £20,000 apiece in the belief that the land would get planning […]

Agents should use Under Offer and not SSTC, says ombudsman

August 20, 2014

| August 20, 2014 The Property Ombudsman has said that estate agents should use the term Under Offer, rather than Sold Subject to Contract. Christopher Hamer said that, for consumer purposes, Under Offer is a more accurate description. Hamer said: “My own opinion is that the term Under Offer is a fair and informative description […]

Agents ‘still marketing properties as available after offers accepted’

| August 20, 2014 The Property Ombudsman has rejected claims that the new Code is unclear as to whether properties that are SSTC or Under Offer should be labelled as such when marketing continues. Eye asked for clarification following suggestions that some agents are either finding the Code ambiguous or deliberately misinterpreting it, and are […]

At last, size of industry revealed at 20,000 offices

| August 20, 2014 The most definitive research to date has been done for the first time on the overall size of the agency market. A joint exercise by Rightmove and The Property Ombudsman indicates that there are 20,000 individual sales and lettings offices in the UK. The figure is at the top end of […]

House prices shoot up 10.2% in a year, claims ONS

| August 20, 2014 House prices in the UK went up 10.2% in the year to June, the Office for National Statistics has said. Excluding London and the south-east, UK house prices rose by 6.3%. It says house price annual inflation was 10.7% in England – driven by a 19.3% rise in London – 3.5% […]

Another council poised to introduce major licensing scheme

| August 20, 2014 The London borough of Brent is the latest local authority on the brink of introducing a major licensing scheme. Under proposals, to be discussed next week by Brent Council’s cabinet, the selective licensing scheme will apply across Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central. The cost would be £350 for a five-year […]

Online letting agent does deal with media giant

August 19, 2014

| August 19, 2014 An online letting agent, OpenRent, has done a deal said to be worth millions of pounds with media giant Northern & Shell. The deal could significantly up the ante between online and traditional letting agents. OpenRent is being given advertising, including TV ads on Channel 5 and marketing campaigns in the […]

Letting agents DO have duty to disclose commissions paid to them

| August 19, 2014 Does a letting agent have a duty of disclosure when accepting commissions – for instance, from tradespeople or firms which pay when agents sign tenants up to utilities? Duty of disclosure is much clearer for sales agents, but of course letting agents are not, legally, estate agents. Furthermore, the recent Competition […]

Rents shoot up in Scotland ‘but not because of fees ban’

| August 19, 2014 Rents on new rental agreements have gone up far more sharply in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK. According to referencing firm HomeLet, average rents in Scotland rose 10% last month compared with June. The sharp rise contrasts with a 4.4% increase across the UK as a whole. However, the […]

Agents’ Mutual says sorry after meeting was called off

| August 19, 2014 Agents turned up to an Agents’ Mutual meeting last week – only to find it had been called off. The meeting, in north Devon, had been agreed by the area rep Donna Beaufoy before she went on holiday, leaving agent members in the area to invite other agents along from guest […]

Times and Sunday Times Estate Agency of the Year opens

| August 19, 2014 Entries are now being invited for the 2014 Estate Agency of the Year Awards in association with The Sunday Times and The Times. Once again a panel of judges, overseen by The Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer, will be looking to shine a light on those agencies that represent the best of […]

Asking prices tumble in new August record

August 18, 2014

| August 18, 2014 Asking prices for properties new to the market have tumbled 2.9% over the last month – equivalent to £7,758 and the biggest monthly fall Rightmove has ever recorded in August. The drop was exacerbated by a 5.9% fall in London asking prices – the third consecutive monthly fall there. The average […]

Customers of seven agents got false touting letters – admission

| August 18, 2014 Your Move has once again apologised for sending out canvassing letters suggesting that other agents had closed down. The firm is adamant that the letters were sent out as the result of an honest mistake. It has now emerged that the letters were sent to 35 customers of seven agents in […]

Star fund manager Neil Woodford investment values Purplebricks at £21m plus

| August 18, 2014 Neil Woodford, the hugely successful fund manager, has bought a 30% stake in online estate agency Purplebricks for £7m. It means that the five-month old firm, so far not launched out nationally, is valued at over £21m. The firm launched only in April. The company is already backed by former Capita […]

Rents rise marginally ahead of inflation for first time in 14 months

| August 18, 2014 Rents have risen in real terms for the first time in 14 months, according to LSL. However, the rise is barely measurable. The average rent across England and Wales is now £753 per month, 2% higher than in July 2013, and identical to the average rent last November. It means that […]

Estate agent loses court case over fee

| August 18, 2014 An estate agent has lost its legal battle to be paid by one of its former clients. North-east agents Keith Pattinson took Sharon Parker to court after she refused to pay the firm’s £1,500 fee. Ms Parker had instructed another agent in 2008. The home had not sold, and in 2010 […]

Your Move says sorry after touting letters suggest rival had closed

August 15, 2014

| August 15, 2014 Touting letters sent by a national chain to vendors with properties on sale at an independent rival implied that the branch had closed. Richard Powell, of Ryder & Dutton, said he was deeply angered by the canvassing letters sent by Your Move. He said that they implied Ryder & Dutton’s branch […]

Surprise as Countrywide sells Sotheby’s franchise after just four years

| August 15, 2014 In a surprise move, Countrywide has disposed of its licence to operate the UK franchise of Sotheby’s International Realty – just four years into the 25-year deal. The franchise, together with two offices, has been taken on by a former regional managing director of Your Move. Countrywide announced the acquisition, for […]

‘Hybrid agent’ calls for new ‘stamp’ of good practice for whole industry

| August 15, 2014 The managing director of EstatesDirect.com, one of the newer ‘hybrid’ agents, has hit back at Eric Walker’s comments on Eye this week about online agents. Walker said that online agents failed to dominate their own market place – traditional agents did. But Ben Grove, who heads up EstatesDirect.com whose chairman is […]

Benefits fraudster jailed after netting £150,000 a year in rent

| August 15, 2014 A property businesswoman who was also a buy-to-let landlord with a £2.6m property empire that netted her £150,000 rent in year, has been jailed for 12 months for benefits fraud. Seema Bassi, 49, of Ilford, Essex, last year became director of Overcliffe Residents Company, set up to manage properties on a […]

Going down: repossessions at lowest since 2006

| August 15, 2014 A total of 5,400 homes were repossessed in the second quarter of this year. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the figure represents 0.05% of all loans. The figure is down from 6,400 repossessions in the first quarter of this year, and compares with 7,600 in the second quarter of […]

Brakes go on the housing market as demand stalls

August 14, 2014

| August 14, 2014 Rising supply and stabilising demand are applying the brakes to the housing market. The RICS this morning said that new instructions have increased “very modestly” for two months across the country, which it described as “broadly resilient”. However, the London market is going into reverse, with inquiries and sales falling and […]

Agent who handed himself in to police spared jail after fraud

| August 14, 2014 An estate agent who handed himself over to police admitting to a £180,000 fraud during the housing market crash, has been spared jail. Paul Stephen Onslow, 45, traded as Stephen Paul Estate Agents in Harlow, Essex. He has been given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years, a six-month electronically […]

Agent to be sentenced after admitting tenancy deposit frauds

| August 14, 2014 An agent who failed to protect tenants’ deposits has pleaded guilty in a long-running saga. Helen Gregory, of Chesterfield, was charged on three counts of fraud in July last year and appeared before magistrates in August. She has now admitted three charges, relating to each of three companies, of engaging in […]

Market is ‘awash with first-time buyers’

| August 14, 2014 Last month was the strongest July for house purchase lending for seven years – since the start of the financial crisis – with the market “awash” with first-time buyers. E.surv, part of LSL, is forecasting that there were 66,279 house purchase approvals in July, up from 61,651 in the same month […]

Zoopla spells out how it is doing after launch as plc

| August 14, 2014 Zoopla this morning released its first interim management statement since its launch on to the stock market in June. Reporting on the period April 1 to July 31, it said it had continued to experience “strong growth”, with record levels of traffic. It is having an average of 45.5m monthly visits, […]

Letting agent could face jail if he breaks court enforcement order

August 12, 2014

| August 12, 2014 An agent alleged to have hung on to deposits and rents could face jail for contempt of court if he fails to obey an enforcement order made under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). The order will apply to any future businesses he sets up. The order, successfully […]

New warnings issued about fake conveyancing firms

| August 12, 2014 New warnings have been issued about fraudster conveyancing firms and the dangers posed to buyers sending off their purchase funds. It is believed there are at least 1,400 criminal gangs trying to steal mortgage advances. Last night, the programme Fake Britain highlighted the bogus legal firm Acorn Solicitors which robbed buyers […]

Concerns grow as Government cuts it fine on immigration checks

| August 12, 2014 Concern has been voiced that Home Office guidance on immigration checks that was issued, withdrawn and reissued without change in the space of 24 hours, will lead to confusion. Lisa Simon, pictured below, head of lettings at Carter Jonas, said: “Not for the first time, landlords and lettings agents have been […]

Zoopla back on TV with new ad campaign

| August 12, 2014 Zoopla is advertising on television again from this week, with an updated version of its ‘Smarter’ campaign. The campaign aims to capitalise on and maintain Zoopla’s brand awareness – although we think it will also appeal to dog lovers. The TV campaign will run alongside the ongoing national outdoor poster advertising […]

Quarter of tenants admit to paying rent late

| August 12, 2014 Tenants are routinely misbehaving, with over a quarter admitting to paying their rent late. Research among 2,000 adults by insurance company AXA found that almost 60% of tenants admit to breaking the terms of their rental agreement. 26% of tenants pay their rent late One in ten admit to having done […]

Eight in ten sellers ‘would list directly on Rightmove and Zoopla’

August 11, 2014

| August 11, 2014 A City analyst has said that the power of both Rightmove and Zoopla is increasing, with 70% of consumers wanting their properties on both sites. An even higher percentage would list their homes privately on both sites if they could. Jefferies says consumers have a similar awareness of both sites, and […]

The Times accuses high street agents of charging ‘hugely inflated’ fees

| August 11, 2014 The Times has said that agents’ commissions are “hugely inflated”. Property writer Jessie Hewitson’s article may well fan the flames of debate between traditional and online – and seems to come down firmly on the side of the latter. Her piece is on how owners of expensive properties, are – apparently […]

Letting agent paedophile in new courtroom battle

| August 11, 2014 A paedophile who ran a letting agency and preyed on vulnerable young tenants has pleaded not guilty to breaking the Bail Act and absconding. Alfred Palmer, who was also a landlord, is currently in prison for sexually abusing vulnerable boys. He had used his position to bully two teenagers who had […]

Landlords must pay £65,970 after Proceeds of Crime case or go to jail

| August 11, 2014 Husband and wife landlords have been ordered to pay £65,970 under the Proceeds of Crime Act after renting out an unsafe House in Multiple Occupation. If the pair fail to pay up by the end of this year, they will go to jail. It is one of the highest fines ever […]

Hamptons ups its forecast for house price inflation

| August 11, 2014 Hamptons International – part of Countrywide – this morning significantly hiked its forecast for house price inflation this year, but at the same time warned that the pace of growth is softening. Last autumn, Hamptons forecast 6% house price inflation for this year. This morning, that figure was upped to 8.5%. […]