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Housing crisis, yes – but is there really a housing shortage?

March 5, 2015

| March 5, 2015 So, is there a housing crisis in the UK? Probably. But is there a housing shortage? Well, the highly profitable house building industry says so. And there is no doubt that its lobby has an unusually strong voice into governments, political parties and, indeed, anyone that will listen and whose cause […]

All-Stars does deal with Property Software Group

| March 5, 2015 The Property Software Group, whose products include Vebra, Encore and Jupix, has joined forces with Joshua Rayner’s training company, Estate Agency All-Stars. As part of the deal, PSG will become the exclusive software partner for All-Stars, which trains novices to the sector so that they can hit the ground running when […]

Rent rises subdued in Scotland after market ‘settles’ in wake of fees ban

| March 5, 2015 Since the last Scottish elections four years ago, rents have risen at only half the pace of growth seen across England and Wales, according to Your Move, one of Scotland’s largest lettings agent networks. The average monthly rent in Scotland is now 5.3% higher than at the time of the previous […]

Picture of the week: How do you make vendors tidy up?

| March 5, 2015 Here’s rather a strange contender for photo of the week. It’s a perfectly okay-looking property – well mostly. And, strangely, some of the rooms have been tidied up and look shipshape. But the kitchen and utility rooms tell their own story. Just how do you make someone who would like to […]

Role of estate agents highlighted in international terrorism alert

March 4, 2015

| March 4, 2015 A report due out this month will look at the role of estate agents in the fight against international terrorism. The Government is planning to publish its first national risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing. The report will specifically look at estate agents. Its publication will come after a […]

Poundland’s EstatesDirect back for second dip into crowdfunding

| March 4, 2015 Online estate agent EstatesDirect has gone back for a second round of crowdfunding, aiming to raise £1.25m. Last year it raised £660,000 in just ten days using the same platform, Crowdcube, smashing through its initial target of £250,000. With 41 days to go in its current fund-raising campaign, the business – […]

Offending landlords should be deemed criminals not rogues, says government adviser

| March 4, 2015 The first National Approved Letting Scheme conference in the north of England took place yesterday in York. Some 70 delegates attended the day-long event and heard presentations on a wide range of letting industry topics. Sheila Drew Smith, chair of NALS, welcomed attendees and introduced Kate Faulkner who gave a talk […]

Landlord will commit criminal offence if he lets again, court decides

| March 4, 2015 A landlord has been banned in Scotland, where there is a mandatory register of all private landlords. It is the first time that the authority in question, South Ayrshire Council, has taken such action. Leonardo Ippolito is not considered a fit and proper person for the register. It will be a […]

Too easy for ‘rogues’ to set up as letting agents and fleece people, says lender

| March 4, 2015 The ease with which anyone can set up a letting agency has come under renewed fire. John Heron, of specialist lender Paragon, sharply criticised lax controls which mean that a letting agent does not even have to separate client money from business cashflow. At yesterday’s Buy to Let Debate organised by […]

Portal that bans agents steps up cash raising and marketing

March 3, 2015

| March 3, 2015 The iProperty Company – the portal which allows new homes developers and private sellers but bans estate agents – is to start an aggressive marketing campaign this spring. It has also raised a question mark as to whether Rightmove and Zoopla will continue to accept listings from online agents. By yesterday […]

Vendor hands over photos to rival agent: How would you react?

| March 3, 2015 Here is today’s ethical question for Eye readers. Yesterday, an agent told us that he went to value a house. The seller mentioned that they would be taking an early decision to market, so the agent took all the internal and external photographs to save time later. “We suggested that it […]

Countrywide firm Hamptons hits acquisition trail

| March 3, 2015 Countrywide firm Hamptons International has bought John Curtis, a sales and lettings agency which has been in business in Hertfordshire for over 40 years. The firm has offices located in Harpenden and Wheathampstead and is led by directors Ric Merlo and Ken Whittaker. Whittaker said: “Ric and I will continue to […]

Former TV star Dani Behr goes with her genes to become an estate agent

| March 3, 2015 Former wildchild Dani Behr has become an estate agent in Los Angeles. Dani, an early WAG who dated Ryan Giggs and Les Ferdinand, also presented hit TV shows The Word and Big Breakfast and was a regular on lads’ mags front covers. She also appeared in a football chant which rhymed […]

More landlords go down the ‘no fault’ route to get possession

| March 3, 2015 Section 21 possession cases were at a 15-year high in 2014, the Ministry of Justice has reported – despite an overall 5% fall in possession claims. Social landlord possession claims fell by 10,500 in the last year, whilst private landlords seeking hearings before judges fell by 629. However, accelerated cases rose […]

Buyer claims he was ‘legally mugged’ by estate agent after being gazumped

March 2, 2015

| March 2, 2015 A buyer who was gazumped last year, told yesterday’s Sunday Times readers that he was “legally mugged for £25,000 – by an estate agent”. He is also highly critical of the Property Ombudsman, suggesting that his £200 award was paltry. However, painting a very different picture of what went wrong, ombudsman […]

Watchdog calls for information about online review sites

| March 2, 2015 The Competition & Markets Authority has launched a call for information into online review sites – an area of potentially great interest to agents. It says that such sites are playing a growing role in helping consumers make decision, but that reviews and endorsements are also important to businesses. The CMA […]

House prices inch back, says Nationwide

| March 2, 2015 House prices inched back in February by just 0.1%, Nationwide reported this morning, to stand at £187,964.It takes annual house price inflation down to 5.7%. The lender’s chief economist Robert Gardner said it was the sixth consecutive month in which annual house price inflation has moderated. He said housing market activity […]

Online agent eMoov undergoing ‘game changing’ transformation

| March 2, 2015 Russell Quirk has said that his site, eMoov, is undergoing a “game changing” transformation. Quirk was responding to Eye after a number of agents claimed they had spotted anomalies on his site, with some taking to Twitter. One agent sent Eye a screenshot from eMoov of a property displayed as being […]

Rightmove shares rocket to an all-time high

| March 2, 2015 Rightmove share prices rocketed to an all-time high on Friday. They went up by 13.36%, making them top of the day’s risers, after the portal announced results far stronger than analysts had been forecasting. Anyone who has had shares in Rightmove since it became a plc nine years ago will have […]

First-time buyer scheme offering 20% discounts goes live

| March 2, 2015 A scheme for first-time buyers under the age of 40 in England to buy a new home at a 20% discount went live at the weekend. FTBs can now apply through an online register for the Starter Homes scheme. Under the initiative, announced in December, 100,000 new houses will be built […]

Rightmove announces booming profits as agents spend more

February 27, 2015

| February 27, 2015 Rightmove’s profits and revenue soared last year, the portal announced this morning. Rightmove also revealed that it is unscathed by the launch of OnTheMarket. Just 260 branches have quit Rightmove, which this morning said it counted nearly every single agent in the UK as a customer. Chief executive Nick McKittrick said: […]

Rightmove to launch new online valuation tool – with a 15% margin

| February 27, 2015 Rightmove is to trial a new valuation tool for consumers, with a cautious attitude suggesting that it is aware that it could be stepping into dangerous waters. The launch, announced by email to agents yesterday, has already drawn some worried responses from agents who contacted Eye. Another agent posted on Eye […]

Nearly three-quarters of homes selling for under asking price

| February 27, 2015 Nearly three-quarters of houses sold in January were sold for less than what may have been over-optimistic asking prices in the wake of Stamp Duty reforms, the NAEA has reported. It said that buyers are starting to negotiate again and that the housing market is cooling in the lead-up to the […]

Agent to start accepting Bitcoin as BoE confirms money revolution

| February 27, 2015 An agent has announced it is to be the first in the UK to accept the virtual currency Bitcoin. Other agents are known to be looking at it. RE/MAX plans to launch a trial in London towards the end of March which will allow tenants the option of paying in digital […]

First-time buyers having to find bigger deposits after Stamp Duty reforms

| February 27, 2015 First-time buyers are having to find £29,127 for a cash deposit, it has been claimed. Estate agency chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, both part of LSL, also said that first-time buyer sales fell away sharply in January, down from 26,100 in December to 21,200, while the average FTB price climbed […]

Advertising watchdog raps Sequence firm over touting letter

February 26, 2015

| February 26, 2015 A complaint about a touting letter sent by William H Brown has been upheld by the advertising watchdog. The firm, part of Sequence which is owned by Connells, sent two letters to landlords in Northampton. Both drew complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority from Northamptonshire County Council trading standards, which acted […]

Winkworth acts after office breaks ‘one other portal’ rule

| February 26, 2015 Winkworth has acted after one of its businesses advertised a property on Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. By mid morning yesterday, the listing had been removed from OnTheMarket, the business having pulled off OTM to return to Zoopla. Winkworth head office said that about a fifth of its franchised businesses have chosen […]

Countrywide announces results to City

| February 26, 2015 The UK’s largest chain, Countrywide, is due to announce its results today. We will bring them to you as soon as we can, aiming to get them on the site by 7.30am. Source:: Countrywide announces results to City

Conveyancing firms closed down by regulator

| February 26, 2015 The Solicitors Regulation Authority has closed down two law firms whose services included conveyancing. The SRA said that intervention in the firm, Robin F Clark, in Gravesend, Kent, was necessary because Mr Clark, its sole principal, had failed to comply with SRA Principles 2011 and the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011. Interventions […]

Survey reveals rise and rise of private renting

| February 26, 2015 The continued rise of private renting has been revealed in the latest English Housing Survey. It shows that the private rented sector remains the second largest tenure in England, responsible for 19% of all tenures – or 4.4m households. This is up from 18% in the last survey. In 2003, private […]

Zoopla says OnTheMarket agents could be hit by huge fines and damages

February 25, 2015

| February 25, 2015 Agents who belong to OnTheMarket could face huge fines and litigation against them, Zoopla has warned. But OnTheMarket – launched a month ago – dismissed the suggestion as “desperate”. Zoopla yesterday made it clear that a litigant against individual agents could be Zoopla itself. Zoopla says that if the Competition and […]

Housing minister Brandon Lewis rules out regulation of agents

| February 25, 2015 Some 200 delegates packed yesterday’s NAEA London Forum at the Lancaster Hotel, just over the road from Hyde Park. The day’s programme of speakers began with a welcome from NAEA president Simon Gerrard. Warming up for the introduction of the keynote speaker, housing minister Brandon Lewis, Gerrard made a plea for […]

Connells unveils 26% increase in profits – helped by sale of Zoopla shares

| February 25, 2015 In a set of strong results announced this morning, the Connells Group announced pre-tax profits of £63.2m compared to £50.2m last year. The result represents a 26% increase in pre-tax profits for the year and a combined 77% increase over the last three years. The pre-tax profit includes the partial sale […]

Residential property sales tumble in January, says HMRC

| February 25, 2015 Residential property sales fell in January, HMRC has reported. There was a fall in both its “seasonally adjusted” figures and its “actuals”. “Seasonally adjusted” sales fell by 1.4% compared with December, and by 6% compared with January last year. There were 97,320 residential sales on a “seasonally adjusted” basis. However, when […]

Foxtons to open five more branches in next two months

| February 25, 2015 Foxtons is adding five new offices to its current network of 51 branches. The new Barnes, Walthamstow, West Hampstead, Ruislip and Bromley offices will open in March and April. All will launch with Foxtons’ customary 0% commission. Nic Budden, chief executive officer, said: “We are very excited to take the next […]

OnTheMarket agents warned by Zoopla they could be fined huge amounts

February 24, 2015

| February 24, 2015 Eye received the following press release from Zoopla today. It is printed below, exactly as sent to us. More on this story tomorrow. ONTHEMARKET MEMBER FIRMS COULD FACE SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL PENALTIES, ACCORDING TO LEADING UK LAW FIRM According to advice from top UK law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, if the […]

Hunters announces plans to float on stock market

| February 24, 2015 Hunters, currently the sixth largest UK’s estate agency group, yesterday announced it is looking to float on the Alternative Investment Market this year – with the aim of expanding the network to over 500 offices in five years’ time. It also announced the appointment of industry legend Harry Hill as its […]

Agent angered by touting letter with wrong OnTheMarket claim

| February 24, 2015 Connells has apologised after one of its Sequence firms sent a touting letter to a landlord, wrongly suggesting that their agent was on OnTheMarket. The letter was sent by a lettings manager at William H Brown to a landlord client of Carnegie & Associates in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. The firm […]

Online agency pioneer Hatched drops its ‘cheap’ image

| February 24, 2015 Online agency pioneer Hatched has rebranded itself away from being cheap to emphasise instead its service. The old logo said Hatched was a “low cost estate agent”. Its new slogan is: “The smart way to sell your home.” The company, which operates online but also has five offices, says it has […]

Record number of complaints to TPO after law change

| February 24, 2015 The Property Ombudsman scheme received a record number of complaints in the three months after all letting agents were forced by law to join a redress scheme. Between October 1 and the end of the year, TPO was contacted by 2,246 tenants and landlords unhappy with agents. The number of lettings […]

Agents’ phone service Moneypenny launches in America

| February 24, 2015 Moneypenny, the telephone answering service used by many agents, has launched in the US. The company, which in 15 years has gone from a £10,000 start-up to the biggest business of its kind in the world, handles more than 9m calls a year for over 7,000 businesses in the UK. The […]

New crowdfunding campaign launches to back ‘next big thing’ in property

February 23, 2015

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 A new crowdfunding campaign opens today, enabling the public to invest in the “next big thing” in the property sector. Entrepreneur Faisal Butt said: “We are trying to invest in companies that are changing the property sector. “People working in the industry know property is changing. “More […]

Men jailed after hoodwinking ‘many’ letting agents in £35m drugs case

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 Letting agents were repeatedly conned by crooks looking for premises which could be used to grow cannabis. The sting was masterminded by Nirmal and Darryl Saund, who posed as respectable businessmen supposedly operating out of a company called The Cayman Group. Police said the pair acted “with […]

Agents facing competition from their own portal (apparently)

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 It’s a bit worrying when a national newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, explains to its readers: “Britain’s high street estate agents, already competing against low-cost online rivals and a new listings website, OnTheMarket, are now facing a threat from across the Atlantic.” But this was spotted in yesterday’s […]

ARLA launches monthly reports into PRS

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 ARLA has launched new monthly reports into the private rented sector, aimed at tracking key trends. Similar to the NAEA monthly surveys, the ARLA reports will be conducted among members. The first ARLA report, covering January, found that 27% of ARLA ‘licensed’ branches saw rents increase last […]

Housing costs for home owners drop but rise for tenants

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | February 23, 2015 Home owners are much better off than tenants in terms of the proportion of their income spent on housing costs. A “dramatic fall in interest rates” meant that housing costs for owner occupiers with a mortgage fell 38% between 2007 and 2013, taking the proportion of their […]

Fighting talk! Big T is still spitting about Spitting Image

February 21, 2015

This, That, and very little of the Other. Trevor Kent Written by: Trevor Kent | February 21, 2015 There’s estate agent bashing and there’s hammering a stake – with the For Sale board still attached – through our hearts. It must have been about late ’89 or maybe ’90 when the usually fantastic satirical show […]

Hostilities continue between Zoopla and OnTheMarket

February 20, 2015

| February 20, 2015 Hostilities show no sign of a ceasefire between Zoopla and OnTheMarket. Zoopla has hit out angrily at OTM boss Ian Springett’s latest update to members in which he announced the site’s millionth unique visitor and queried Zoopla’s own inventory. Springett said he stands by what he has said. Lawrence Hall, head […]

‘Proptech’ start-up says it will shake up status quo in lettings market

| February 20, 2015 Rental platform Movebubble says that in less than six months it has become a serious player in the lettings market. The business, which describes itself as “the LinkedIn of the private rental sector”, says that since launch there have been 1m-plus property searches on its platform, with over 30,000 tenants, private […]

House price growth shifts to lower-value cities, says Hometrack

| February 20, 2015 The impetus behind continuing UK house price growth is shifting towards cities like Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow, which bottomed out only two years ago, away from the cities that started to recover in 2009 but have since slowed. Hometrack said this morning that over the last six years, London and Oxford […]