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Updated: 13 hours 53 min ago

TPO wants updated version of HIP

18 April 2014 - 1:00am

The Property Ombudsman is calling for the introduction of a new version of the much-derided Home Information Pack, abandoned by the coalition government four years ago.

Christopher Hamer says “consumers would be better protected by a specific requirement that relevant information about all aspects relating to a property was disclosed in a formal document prepared by the seller.”

He says that unlike the HIP, such a document should include a home condition report with information such as when the heating was installed, if the property has been subject of a flood and how often, to what depth, proximity of flood plains, subsistence issues, proximity to schools, prisons or graveyards and so on.

“In my view it is right that the seller provides that and it is right that the buyer has everything that they need to know readily presented to them. For agents, it would not relieve them of their responsibilities under CPRs but such a document would certainly assist in them being aware of whether they need to draw any extra information to the buyer’s attention,” says Hamer. 

Despite housing having become a significantly higher profile subject than in recent years, and with a general election only a year away, so far no political party has suggested a return of the Home Information Pack or any version of it.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • TPO
  • HIP
Categories: News feeds

EstatesDirect gets £600k crowd-funding cash

18 April 2014 - 1:00am

The organisation that calls itself the UK’s first ‘hybrid’ agency, chaired by Poundland founder Steve Smith, has received £660,000 of crowdfunding investment.

EstatesDirect.com listed on CrowdCube in March with an initial target of £250,000. Within 10 days of the pitch going live the company hit the target and extended its pitch. 

The firm, which currently has 14 franchises across the UK, has also received more than 125 requests to become a franchisee or licensee since listing on CrowdCube.

EstatesDirect was founded by online dating entrepreneur Darren Richards along with businessman Ben Grove. It describes itself as combining an online estate agency model with regional property experts who meet customers face-to-face. 

The business launched in 2012 as a regional pilot and now says it wants to become “the UK’s largest, single branded, personal estate agency network.”

“The reason so many people have invested is because EstatesDirect is not just another online agency. We have franchised businesses, licensees and local agents, who provide the expertise and personalised service of a high-street estate agent,” says Smith. 

EstatesDirect uses the traditional portals to market properties for sale from £195 and to advertise homes to let from £45. The firm says it has marketed, sold and let more than 450 properties in the Midlands during the past two years.

 

 

  • Estate Agent
  • EstatesDirect
  • Crowdfunding
  • Online Agents
Categories: News feeds

North-south repo divide alive and well

18 April 2014 - 1:00am

The north-south divide is alive and well with the rate of home repossessions in 2013 being 44 per cent higher in northern England than in the south.

Research from e.surv chartered surveyors - analysing court-ordered repossessions in England and Wales in 2013 broken down by post code - shows that there were 5.6 repossessions per 1,000 households in the north. 

This is 44 per cent higher than the 3.9 repossessions per 1,000 households in the south.

However, both figures show a significant improvement on 2012 levels which were 6.3 repossessions per 1,000 households in the north and 4.4 in the south.

The south west of England historically has the lowest number of court-ordered repossessions, accounted for by its generally older and more affluent population. 

 

The worst five repossession postcodes in 2013 were:

Oldham 8.6 per 1,000 households (747 in total)

Romford 7.8 (754)

Bradford 7.4 (835)

Wigan 7.4 (460)

Blackpool 7.0 (477)

 

The most ‘improved’ postcodes in 2013 - not necessarily the absolute lowest but those showing the biggest improvements on 2012 - were:

EC London 1.0 per 1,000 households

Carlisle 3.0

Harrogate 2.3

Telford 5.2

Hull 4.9

“At some point soon the Bank of England may choose to raise the base rate. A higher base rate will translate into higher repayments for many, which could tip a whole host of borrowers into the red. The base rate rise may cause repossessions to temporarily bounce back,” warns e.surv director Richard Sexton.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • repossessions
  • esurv
Categories: News feeds

Agents told: Stand by for MMR delays

18 April 2014 - 1:00am

A specialist property law firm is warning agents that they should expect delays to be caused by the Mortgage Market Review, which comes into effect in 10 days time. 

DC Law says that while lenders update their systems and train their staff to reflect the new MMR requirements, estate agents and would-be buyers will suffer slower processes. 

“Solicitors are already experiencing high volumes of transactions caused by the steep upturn of demand. The implementation of MMR is adding to this workload. Where mortgage offers have already been issued, any change in circumstances could create further delays while the borrower goes through the new processes,” says Beth Rudolf, DC Law’s managing director. 

“There is also the added risk that the longer the home purchase takes, the more likely the chances of the seller or the buyer pulling out,” she warns.

It’s hard to under-estimate the change that lenders will undergo thanks to MMR. 

For the first time they will be regarded as fully responsible for assessing whether the customer can afford the loan, and they will have to verify the customer's income. They can still choose to use intermediaries in this process, but lenders will remain responsible.

Lenders will still be allowed to grant interest-only loans, but only where there is a credible strategy for repaying the capital.

There are transitional provisions in the MMR that allow lenders to provide a new mortgage or deal to customers with existing loans who may not meet the new MMR requirements. In these cases the borrowing will not be able to exceed the amount of their current loan, unless funding is required for essential repairs.  

The decision on whether or not to lend in these cases will remain with the lender.

On the basis of trials undertaken so far, this may mean two interviews for some borrowers - who of course may then be turned down anyway - so agents are gearing themselves up for slower completions from next month onwards.

Whether these more complicated processes will speed up over time remains to be seen.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • MMR
  • DC Law
Categories: News feeds

Is this the end of the property ladder?

18 April 2014 - 1:00am

Agents may want to emphasise the merits of home ownership to young people this Easter, as a fifth of those aged 23 to 27 have no desire to own a property, according to an attitudes survey by the Halifax.

The first Halifax Generation Report back in 2011 described young people who wanted to buy but couldn’t afford to; three years on the latest survey, out today, shows that the love affair with ownership appears to be on the wane.

The 2014 report, produced for Halifax by the National Centre for Social Research and involving responses from 32,000 people, reveals that:

  • 20 per cent of 23-27 year olds have no desire to own a home;
  • 48 per cent believe Britain will become a nation of renters within the next generation;
  • 46 per cent agree Britain is becoming more like Europe, where renting is more common;
  • 86 per cent of renters refuse to sacrifice the quality of accommodation they currently live in to reduce the rent they pay in order to save for a deposit
  • 57 per cent of would-be first time buyers would like to save but claim to not have any spare cash that they could save.

“We may be heading towards the point where the aspiration to own a nice home will be replaced by the aspiration simply to live in one. People are now beginning to accept a lifetime of renting and this would not only change the way the property ladder looks in the future, it could even bring into question whether or not it will exist at all for some people,” says Halifax spokesman Craig McKinlay. 

 

  • Estate Agent
  • house price
  • Halifax
Categories: News feeds

The £500k London home is here soon

18 April 2014 - 1:00am

If agents in London have witnessed big price rises so far, they’ve seen nothing yet according to consultancy PwC - the £500,000 average home will be here by Christmas.

PwC has extrapolated data released earlier this week by the Office for National Statistics which shows that average house prices in the UK grew by 9.1 per cent between February 2013 and February 2014. 

In London the growth rates were almost double that level - growing by 17.7 per cent in the same period. 

Now the consultancy says by the end of 2014 the average property in the UK could be worth around £270,000 and in London it will be an eye-watering £510,000. 

The good news for prices outside of London is that PwC thinks such increases are sustainable. This is because the rises are in line with a normal cyclical recovery after a period of subdued housing markety activity. Other recent data such as increases in house building backs up the consultancy’s finding. 

But PwC senior economist William Zimmern warns that the London picture is more mixed. 

“Concerns of overheating in London may grow if house price to earnings ratios and mortgage repayments as a portion of income continue to rise rapidly and diverge from the rest of the UK."

 

  • Estate Agent
  • london
  • PwC
  • House Prices
Categories: News feeds

Agent defends Open House system against critics

16 April 2014 - 1:00am

The Townends agency, which says there are 12 buyers registering for every one new property that comes to the market, has defended the controversial Open House system. 

“Open houses are a reaction to the sheer volume of people trying to view a particular property. Organisationally, they are the best way of trying to control and condense a significant amount of viewers, offering an equal chance to everyone” says Douglas Sleaper, Townends’ managing director.

At a recent Open House held by the agency, over 70 applicants viewed a home in Streatham, south London, in just one day. It sold for £75,000 over the asking price.

“As an agent, we understand buyers’ frustration at this catalyst for competing offers, particularly if they have been unsuccessful at securing several properties previously. From a vendor’s point of view, particularly those with young families, having a two hour window that will enable a high number of applicants to view the property at once, can be much more appealing than preparing for constant viewings over a number of weeks” he says. 

Not every agent is as keen.

“It looks good for the client but buyers dislike it. Buying is an emotional process and there’s little positive emotion in being herded and pressured” says Ed Mead of Douglas & Gordon, another London agent.

Some commentators have suggested that the Open House technique, which is now used increasingly often in London where the excess of demand over supply is at its greatest, is contributing to an increase in sale prices as would-be purchasers panic when seeing rival bidders viewing at the same time.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Townends
  • Open House
  • Douglas & Gordon
Categories: News feeds

Government announces three redress schemes

16 April 2014 - 1:00am

Three compulsory redress schemes have been approved by the government to offer independent investigation of complaints in the lettings sector, bringing it into line with the world of residential sales.

The schemes – The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Redress Scheme – will consider issues of hidden fees and poor service, and as with the sales system now where a complaint is upheld, tenants and leaseholders could receive compensation.

The majority of letting agents are already signed up with one of the three organisations but the remaining 3,000 agents - 40 per cent of the entire industry - will now be encouraged to join ahead of membership becoming mandatory later this year.

Two of the schemes have commented on the formal approval.

“The Property Ombudsman experienced a 34.2 per cent increase in consumer enquiries relating to letting agents not registered with TPO during 2013, which really underlines the importance of mandatory redress” says TPO Ombudsman Christopher Hamer.

“Whilst my role as Ombudsman means that I am not a regulator and I can only review complaints after a dispute has occurred, making redress a legal requirement for lettings is a positive move. Clearly it would be better if complaints did not arise in the first place and robust legislation to enforce controls was in place” says Hamer.

Ombudsman Services Property is perhaps less well known. Like TPO it operates on a not-for-profit basis; it already provides dispute resolution services for the energy, communications and copyright licensing sectors. It claims that it resolved 19,639 complaints across all of these sectors in 2012-13, with 90 per cent of them being settled within six weeks.

The government says the lettings redress schemes must follow the current sales model - it must be free for complainants to use, should be easy to access, and provide full data about complaints in their annual reports.  

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Letting Agent
  • Ombudsman
  • regulation
  • Redress
Categories: News feeds

Interest rate rise speculation mounts

16 April 2014 - 1:00am

Economists say that interest rate rises and other tools to deter house price rises are increasingly likely to be used in the short term, possibly as soon as next month.

Some 68 percent of respondents to monthly survey of economists by financial wire service Bloomberg have suggested that new so-called ‘macro-prudential tools’ could be used by the Bank of England to stop what it sees as excessive house price rises.

This is finance-world jargon for the ability of the BoE to allow its officials to stipulate higher interest rates for lenders to apply in the new Mortgage Market Review affordability tests. 

The tests come into effect at the end of April and the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee, which meets in June, could in theory trigger the higher rates specifically for some borrowers.

Concern has been fuelled by the latest house price figures from the Office for National Statistics which shows the average cost of a home increased by 9.1 per cent during the year to the end of February.

This is the highest year-on-year growth since June 2010, pushing the UK-wide average up to £253,000 – a £20,000 increase compared with the same month of 2013. London hogged the limelight again with prices 17.7 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Not every economist is pessimistic, however. 

Ernst & Young’s Item Club says it is “sceptical about the likelihood of an unsustainable house-price boom” despite the fact that “market indicators point to further acceleration in activity and prices this year.”

Its latest report, out this week, says that caution on the part of lenders, the new MMR rules  and the BoE’s macro-prudential tool “should deter rapid credit growth, the precursor to past episodes of excessive rises in property values.” 

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Interest Rates
  • Bank of England
Categories: News feeds

FSBO group boss says business is booming

16 April 2014 - 1:00am

The head of a new organisation called the National Private House Sales Association - also the owner of a For Sale By Owner website - claims business is booming for home owners trying to sell their properties themselves.

“Buyers are experiencing a lack of choice between the major portals. Buyers are increasingly aware that to see the whole market they need to see homes listed directly for sale by owner. This is helping the entire FSBO sector in the UK grow” claims Nick Marr, founder of the NPHSA.

In a press release that is conspicuously short on data, Marr says that his own FSBO firm - The Little House Company - has seen a 34 per cent increase in buyer enquiries compared to March 2013. However, it does not give any idea what the base or increased figures were, nor does the release state any figures about the size of the FSBO sector overall. 

“Owners that are considering the sale of a home need to try a private sale. The risk is low and the likelihood of a private sale by owner is increasing as demand from property buyers goes up” Marr claims. 

It has proven difficult to contact the group for further information as the press release concludes: “For more information, please contact Nick Marr on [insert number] or at [insert email].”

 

Categories: News feeds

Magic £1,000 figure moves out of London

16 April 2014 - 1:00am

For the first time since the downturn began seven years ago some new homes outside of London are selling for £1,000 per square foot according to estate agent Savills.

So far only a handful of schemes have breached the magic barrier but more are likely to do so as the surge in prices, and higher demand for new-build homes via the Help To Buy scheme, continue apace.

In Devon the Estura scheme of 14 villas and apartments at Salcombe, marketed by Marchand Petit and Savills, has achieved the £1,000 psf level. This is mainly because it is the first waterfront new-build scheme there for 25 years. Individual homes have been marketed at up to £1.9m and several sold so far have exceeded £1,000 psf. 

The same applies to Eton Riverside, marketed by Savills, where the scheme has averaged £1,000 a foot but some units have sold at up to £1,300. And at Somerset Place in Bath ‘shell-and-core’ new builds within a restored grade II listed Georgian crescent have been selling at almost exactly £1,000 psf. 

The price benchmark is familiar within London where agents have routinely been selling new-build homes for that price and above for several years. Research by CBRE show that in the early 200s the £1,000 psf mark was breached at Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Belgravia. Nowadays new homes in much humbler parts of the capital - Wandsworth, Battersea, Shepherd’s Bush, Shoreditch and Camden Town - go for that price.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Savills
  • NewBuild
Categories: News feeds

Scottish market boom heralds agency expansion

16 April 2014 - 1:00am

The boom in transactions as well as prices north of the border may be one of the hidden stories of the housing market recovery with the latest evidence being the expansion of one of the country’s leading property consultancies.

GKD Galbraith is opening a new office in Aberdeen to “focus on high-quality residential sales and well as farm and estate management and valuation” and is expanding its presence in Argyll and Isles, with a revamped resi sales team. 

There have also been a range of promotions and team enlargements according to Simon Brown, a partner and head of CKD Galbraith’s residential division. 

“We witnessed a growth in business across all our offices in Scotland in 2013 and experienced an increase in property sales, up 34 per cent on previous year’s figures” he says. The company now employs more than 225 people in 14 offices across Scotland, making it one of the largest residential players. 

Meanwhile new figures confirm the Scottish market’s rude health.

Average prices there climbed £5,584 in last 12 months with Aberdeen shooting ahead by 13 per cent in a year according to a survey by LSL Property Services.

Total house sales in Scotland rose by 12 per cent between January and February this year alone;  Inverclyde topped the sales table, with transactions in the three months to February climbing by 56 per cent compared to a year ago. 

“Help to Buy has been the spark driving recovery for the Scottish housing market. Since launching, the scheme has helped thousands get a foot on the ladder. With sustained growth taking hold, there are now signs that the independence debate is less likely to rock the housing recovery boat” says LSL spokesman Gordon Fowlis.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • GKD Galbraith
  • scotland
  • LSL
Categories: News feeds

Buy To Let guru guilty of hitting estate agent

14 April 2014 - 1:00am

One of Britain’s best known landlords with millions of pounds worth of properties has been found guilty of hitting an estate agent.

Fergus Wilson, 65 - who earlier this year allegedly suggested he was going to get rid of 200 families on benefits from his properties to replace them with east European migrants - has been ordered to pay £1,650 including £150 compensation to Daniel Wells, 31, an agent in the Folkestone office of PLS (Property Lettings and Sales).

Former school teacher and boxer Wilson, of Boughton Monchelsea near Maidstone, admitted calling Mr Wells “a little shit” but denied hitting him, and says the agent accidentally fell off his swivel chair.

"I didn't bundle him out of his chair at all. I went round, probably quite quickly, and he fell out of his chair. He grabbed at my arm. I didn't object because I went forward so he could grab it. I then helped him up. I've fallen out of swivel chairs in that office twice” Wilson told Folkestone Magistrates Court at the end of last week.

"If I had intended doing him an injury I probably would have kicked him a few times while he was on the floor and I don't think he's suggesting I did” said Wilson, who represented himself in court.

Fergus Wilson and his wife Judith are reported to have a property portfolio worth up to £200m, mostly achieved through shrewd buy-to-let investments. Some 280 of those properties were managed by PLS until late in 2012 and during 2013, when the professional relationship ended. 

Mr Wilson told the court the story of the attack had been concocted as revenge for moving business from the firm.

This is not the Wilson family’s first brush with the law.

In 2008 Fergus was found guilty of using a mobile phone while driving; he had pleaded not guilty, claiming he had been singing into a drinks carton. The following year, Judith had a court case thrown out after demanding £3,000 from a tenant to replace a damaged cistern lid.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Fergus Wilson
  • Crime
  • Property Lettings and Sales
Categories: News feeds

Agent hits out at online 'call centre culture'

14 April 2014 - 1:00am

A prominent estate agent has hit back at online rivals who claim that they will handle as much as 70 per cent of house sales in future, by warning them of the fate of others who have tried and failed to dislodge the traditional agency model.

Cheshire agent Maurice Kilbride told EAT: “Over the last 20 years I’ve seen any number of entrepreneurs claiming to revolutionise the industry come and go, ranging from petrol stations offering do it yourself packs to Asda, Tesco and even solicitors. So this is nothing new.”

He says the statistics show at least 93 per cent of sellers choose a high street agent despite a wide array on internet low-cost or no-cost websites being available even before new entrants move in, proving “people are not impressed with faceless online agents”.

Kilbride takes up the theme in his latest blog where he writes that while good estate agents will embrace technology and change - “my own business is constantly evolving to embrace the very latest online marketing including the use of social media” - there may be a backlash from the public about the so-called call centre mentality.

“People want to feel valued and important, not just be a number holding at ‘queue position seven’ waiting to speak with someone who doesn’t know or has never met them or have any real interest in them, but merely read out scripted replies in a monotone manner” writes Kilbride.

He concludes by saying: “High street agents, fear not. As long as you embrace change and competition, there is actually enough business for both to thrive side by side without the need for ridiculous claims on either side.  Let the consumer choose. They are actually intelligent enough to make up their own minds.”

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Maurice Kilbride
  • Online Agents
  • Traditional Estate Agency
Categories: News feeds

Price surge now moving out to the regions

14 April 2014 - 1:00am

The latest Rightmove price index confirms the trend that London’s buoyant market is now rippling out to the regions.

The data, based on asking prices by agents and vendors for homes advertised on the portal, shows a 7.3 per cent annual rate of increase. This is the highest since October 2007 and takes the market back to pre-credit-crunch levels.

New ‘record’ asking prices across southern England as a whole have taken the average in that half of the country to £262,594 – that’s up 2.6 per cent in just one month. By contrast, northern regions are still an average of six per cent behind October 2007 levels. 

Meanwhile the number of properties coming to market so far in 2014 is up 13 per cent on last year but supply shortages are still fuelling price rises in many areas in the south. 

Rightmove housing market analyst Miles Shipside says: “The ripple effect from the capital means other southern regions are starting to play catch-up. While London’s new sellers are asking an eye-watering £168,711 more than six and a half years ago, the northern regions are actually down by an average of £10,653, with the north west specifically still £16,049 adrift.”

But like many analysts he is wary of how the mortgage market review, which will create tougher lending conditions imposed on borrowers from the end of this month, may knock back the market as spring continues.

“If this hits a substantial number of potential purchasers then it could drive buyers out and force sellers to moderate prices. While some prospective buyers will fail the more stringent checks, we suspect the drop off in approvals is more to do with slower processing by lenders as new systems are introduced to comply with the MMR requirements, and volumes will recover” he says.

 

  • rightmove
  • House Prices
  • Estate Agent
Categories: News feeds

Windfarm reports blow hot and cold on prices

14 April 2014 - 1:00am

Where there’s a research document saying one thing, there’s usually another saying the opposite - and so it is now over the alleged effect of windfarms on house prices.

A report by the London School of Economics last week suggested that large windfarms can lead to a fall in prices of up to 12 per cent for properties within a two kilometre radius. Smaller effects on prices could be felt even up to as much as 14 kilometres away from a windfarm, the report alleged.

However, a separate report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggests something rather different - that there was no negative impact on house prices even within a five kilometre radius of a windfarm or an individual wind turbine.

The LSE survey, called ‘Gone with the wind: valuing the visual impacts of wind turbines through house prices’, concluded that "windfarm developments reduce prices in locations where the turbines are visible, relative to where they are not visible, and that the effects are causal".

The CEBR report - which perhaps reached an inevitable conclusion given that it was conducted on behalf of the windfarm trade association RenewableUK - looked at seven sites across England and Wales. It said that many turbines were concealed by nearby buildings, trees and the natural landscape so had no or little effect on house values. 

So now we know - or don’t.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Windfarms
  • House Prices
  • LSE
  • CEBR
Categories: News feeds

Storms caused sales to stall, company admits

14 April 2014 - 1:00am

Sales fell five per cent in March compared with February in some parts of the country as a direct result of the poor weather, admits LSL Property Services.

 Transport delays, viewing cancellations and a general hesitation from buyers resulted in fewer completions in March than usual for the time of year, with the south west particularly badly hit, says the firm. 

However, it says nationwide sales volumes are still 22 per cent ahead of March 2013 despite the month-long weather hiatus. 

“A rejuvenated economy, more accessible mortgage market and better employment prospects are underpinning greater confidence among aspiring buyers. For the ninth month in a row average prices have set a new record, a clear sign of the sustained growth that has galvanised a ‘feel-good factor’” says LSL director David Brown.

But Brown warns that without more homes coming on the market, or more new homes being available off-plan or nearing completion, the housing recovery could yet stall. 

“The bottom line is we simply need more homes, not just to satisfy the growing demand but also to curb prices from rising beyond reach - particularly in London, where those at the lower end are already facing an uphill struggle” he warns. 

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Weather
  • Falling Sales
  • LSL
Categories: News feeds

82,000 UK homes worth £2m+ says Zoopla

14 April 2014 - 1:00am

The Zoopla portal claims that over 82,000 homes across the UK are valued at £2m or more and unsurprisingly 95 per cent are in London and south east England.

The portal says that any annual levy on high value homes of this kind - as proposed at different times in the past year by the Liberal Democrats and Labour - would generate less than £1.2 billion in tax revenue per year. On average, each of the 82,000 property owners could be required to pay an extra £14,500 per year in tax.

Remarkably, more than one third of the properties are in a single London borough, Kensington & Chelsea, where £427m of the annual charge would fall on the 18,660 properties currently worth over £2m.

Zoopla claims the Liberal Democrats and Labour have overestimated the amount the proposed mansion tax would generate - the parties claim up to £2 billion annually, over a third more than the portal calculates. The portal also suggests the title ‘mansion tax’ is a misnomer as many of the properties hit by the measure would be relatively modest apartments and houses. 

  • Estate Agent
  • zoopla
  • Mansion Tax
  • House Prices
Categories: News feeds

New mortgage rules 'will slow transactions'

11 April 2014 - 1:00am

There were 65,498 house purchase approvals by lenders in March, showing the second successive monthly drop as mortgage firms test out stricter rules which will be implemented across the country at the end of this month.

The March figure was seven per cent lower than the 70,309 in February. The recent falls reverse 11 months of improvements which saw average monthly lending levels increase from 52,537 to 76,753 between February 2013 and January 2014.

The new Mortgage Market Review regulations, due to be introduced on April 26, will see increased affordability checks conducted by lenders, with the application process lengthening considerably. 

Lenders are already putting in place changes to fit the new regulation, to ensure a seamless transition to the new rules in April.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, which conducted the survey of purchase approvals, says this is a “period of transformation” for the industry. 

“New regulations have played a part in the slowdown. Lenders are trialling systems, tightening up affordability checks, training staff and putting in place lengthier advisory processes. House purchase lending has dipped as a result” he says.

Meanwhile the e.surv research has also shown that the number of high LTV borrowers has now risen to one-in-six of all successful applicants. There were 9,628 loans to borrowers with a deposit worth 15 per cent or less of the total value of their property in March - this is half as much again as the figure a year earlier. 

This confirms a recent Bank of England Credit Conditions Survey which showed that high LTV loans increased significantly in the first three months of this year, fuelling some observers’ concerns of a possible housing market bubble.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • mortgage market review
  • Transactions
Categories: News feeds

Rebrand uses personal touch to combat online agencies

11 April 2014 - 1:00am

An agency is rebranding after 25 years to emphasise how a personal touch and the look and feel of a branch office can be an advantage over new online agencies.

The Hexham-based agency formerly known as Northumbria and Cumbria estate agents is now being renamed Andrew Coulson, after the firm’s founder.  

Andrew Coulson says he has been spurred to undertake the rebrand to combat what he calls “the proliferation of online agencies”. 

“We’re based in a two-storey building in a primary pedestrian flow, so are clearly visible to passers-by. We wanted to opt for a new look and feel giving the impression of a living room so it felt warm and inviting. At the same time, we wanted to change the name to Andrew Coulson, to give it a more personal feel and reflect our bespoke service” he says.

 “Inside the office it’s really relaxed. Our comfy sofas and open fire means people come in and sit down and they seem to love it. The great thing is, we also have the upstairs office for those who would like to discuss their details in a more confidential setting” he explains.

 Suzie Pattison of Ravensworth, the design firm masterminding the rebrand, says some agents miss out on ways to improve the effectiveness of their displays - increasingly important when combatting online agencies.

“We knew [the office space] would benefit from backlit displays due to its prominent position on the street.  Many agents make the investment to install backlit displays then fail to maximise impact by printing window cards in-house which is a false economy. We print them on a transparent material made for backlit display systems” she says.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • Rebranding
  • Traditional Estate Agency
  • Online Agents
Categories: News feeds

 

 

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