Estate Agent Today
Once again Foxtons has become the subject of a campaign by those against it opening a new branch - and this time one of the chief opponents is another estate agent.
Some local residents and small businesses complain that the West Hampstead area already has 29 property-related offices including one - Dutch & Dutch - owned by the same family since the 1940s.
However Dutch & Dutch’s David Matthews, who is on the committee of the West Hampstead Business Association, says there are now too many agents in the locality.
He says the plethora of property firms leads to “decreasing local footfall and artificially inflating prices” and that Foxtons is “the wrong company for the area.”
A local clergyman and an online community forum have also come out against the application, with the latter - westhampsteadlife.com - saying that objectors have to hope that planners at Camden Council dismiss Foxtons’ application justifications as “nonsense” and instead realise that “another estate agent on a street that already has about a dozen instead contributes to the creeping homogenisation of the town centre and adds very little to what is already a crowded market.”
The planning documentation submitted on behalf of Foxtons by central London chartered surveyors Montago Evans, and seen by Estate Agent Today, includes the statement: “the occupation of the unit by Foxtons would contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre as it would generate activity within the unit. Indeed, as opposed to some A2 uses (such as betting shops), Foxtons’ branch concept is to have a modern, café-style, open environment where people can see activity within the branch from outside.”
The statement is followed by a CGI of how the now-familiar Foxtons brightly-lit green and yellow office format would look on the site.
Consultation on the application, which would see Foxtons occupy the basement and ground floor of the site, runs until September 9.
- Dutch & Dutch
easyProperty has launched a second funding round targeting Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and key figures in the City of London, to augment £5m raised earlier this year.
The website - which as revealed exclusively on Estate Agent Today earlier this month will launch on September 15 - will open with a lettings service only, before starting a sales service from next spring.
A marketing campaign will be launched for the easyProperty rentals proposition within the next few days. Chief executive Robert Ellice says easyProperty already has 10,000 rental properties pre-registered and aims to let between 4,000 and 5,000 homes a month.
In true easyGroup fashion, its ambition knows no national boundaries - it plans to expand across Europe within three years.
The announcement about the second funding round was made by Ellice in a Financial Times article sub-titled ‘Death of the real estate agent’. In addition, the piece looked at the contrast between costs to customers of traditional estate agents and online agents.
The cast-list of interviewees will be familiar to readers of Estate Agent Today - in the ‘new school’ corner, Sarah Beeny, Adam Day of Hatched and Aidan Rushby and Logan Hall of Movebubble, while in the ‘old school’ corner was Ed Mead of Douglas & Gordon.
The article, by FT property correspondent Kate Allen, likened the economically-disruptive
model of online estate agency to disruptive forces in other business sectors - for example, app- and web-based taxi hire services such as Uber which have recently been criticised by London black cab drivers, and the Airbnb accommodation site which has recently become a popular alternative to traditional hotel-booking services.
The article says Rightmove and Zoopla have been the chief enablers allowing vendors an alternative - the online agent - to the traditional high street agent.
- Online Agents
- Robert Ellice
An online estate agent has taken the war of words with Agents’ Mutual to a new level by challenging AM chief executive Ian Springett to take the ice bucket challenge.
The challenge has become a global sensation over recent days as mere mortals, celebrities, UK politicians, Formula 1 drivers and even ex-US presidents have had buckets of iced water poured over their heads to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
It’s the tradition to post a short video of the soaking on social media, and then extend the challenge by nominating others to do the same - and thus raise more money.
Now Colin Bain, who runs Glasgow-based online agency ScotHouseMove.com, has taken the challenge, and is graciously extending the fund-raising by saying that he will offer £10 to the charity for any of his customers who do the same.
He has also nominated Ian Springett to do the challenge - “If you’re man enough, Ian” he says. This follows Agents’ Mutual’s decision not to allow any online agents to advertise on its portal, which is scheduled to launch in January.
If it’s any consolation to the AM boss, another online agent has himself been nominated three times to be soaked.
Adam Day, who runs hatched.co.uk, says on Twitter that he’s still considering whether to do the challenge or instead give money to the charity directly.
If he does, however, the challenge may run and run because he has tweeted the ominous warning: “Watch out all you agents who've given me grief recently...I might be nominating you!”
- Agents' Mutual
- Ice Bucket Challenge
The number of homeowners in Britain who can claim to be ‘property millionaires’ now stands at 484,081, almost 50 per cent higher than a year ago.
Zoopla’s Property Rich List 2014 shows that the 10 most expensive streets in Britain have seen property values grow 12.9 per cent over the last year, compared to the rest of the country where average values have risen by 6.6 per cent over the same period.
The growth in property values at the top end of the market has also helped increase the number of streets with an average property value of over one million pounds by almost a third over the last twelve months to 10,613.
Just under a third of the streets with average property values over £1m are located in London (3,744) and there are now 12 streets with average house prices over £10 million, - all of which, unsurprisingly, are in London.
The average property on Kensington Palace Gardens, the most expensive street, is now worth £42,730,706 – that’s a remarkable 162 times the value of the average British home currently valued at £263,705 according to Zoopla.
The Boltons in SW10 takes second place on this year’s property rich list with average house prices standing at £26,570,341 and Grosvenor Crescent in SW1 rounds out the top three with average property prices of £22,293,470.
Outside of the capital, the most expensive street in Britain is Sunninghill Road in Surrey, where the average home is currently worth £5,605,067. The two most expensive towns outside London are both in Surrey, with average house prices in Virginia Water at £1,186,262 and Cobham at £1,003,400.
W8 (Kensington) remains London’s most prestigious postcode, with average property prices in the area of £2.78m. Neighbouring SW7 (Knightsbridge), the next most expensive area in the capital, has average values of £2.48m, while property values in third-placed SW3 (Chelsea) stand at £2.37m.
- Property Millionaires
- housing market
Here is this week's roundup of stories from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on Purplebricks, Openrent and House Prices.
Rightmove claims its asking prices show a North-South divide in the housing market that is even starker than many anticipated - and has even produced yet another index to show it.
New figures released this morning on a county-by-county basis show that while average national asking prices, buoyed by London and the south of England, are now 8.2 per cent higher than the May 2008 peak, many other areas are still struggling badly.
On average, counties in the north of England have reported a decline of six per cent or more on 2008 levels - a sharp contrast to central London and the City, for example, where the average price of a property has increased by almost £500,000 in that time, up 41.9 per cent to £1,512,555.
The figures come to mark the release of a new Rightmove index - yes, yet another house price index - called the House Price Trendometer. It allows people to see how asking prices in their county have fared since Rightmove’s house price index began in 2001.
North of the Midlands all counties except Cheshire and north Yorkshire have reported a decline, with the biggest decrease occurring in County Durham, down 13.4 per cent from May 2008 to £114,554.
The data shows that nearly all of the national house price growth has come from London and the south of England, with all areas of the capital up at least 30 per cent in the past six years. Outside London the highest riser is Cambridgeshire, up 21.9 per cent to £311,933.
Other areas of strong growth outside of the capital include Surrey (up 16.1 per cent) and Berkshire (up 16.4 per cent).
If you think this brings to an end the flurry of new price indices which we have to choose from, think again - Estate Agent Today has heard that Hometrack is shortly bringing out an index of city prices.
- housing market
The latest franchise holder for Estates Direct, set up by Poundland founder Steve Smith, has set up business in Cardiff.
Smith - one of five key figures behind the Estates Direct business - says he has 130 people ready to take local franchises of his largely-online agency.
Terrence Barrett, Cardiff representative for Estates Direct says: "We are the first hybrid estate agent to open in the area and we are proud to be able to help property sellers and landlords bridge the gap between online and high street estate agents, at a low fixed fee.”
He claims the service “gives homeowners the chance to benefit from access to websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla, whilst receiving support from our team of local experts."
Smith earlier this year raised some £494,000 via crowdfunding to finance the expansion programme for the agency, which was launched in 2012.
EstatesDirect operates with a website as its shop window but then has what it describes as “qualified regional agents” to value property, prepare details, and handle appointments, valuations and viewings.
Smith says his service will be the UK’s largest single-branded estate agency network within five years.
- Steve Smith
The mystery of what the new Chestertons logo means has been solved - apparently it symbolishes an open door on London.
Leahy Brand Design, the creative consultancy which came up with the logo, has taken to the pages of Design Week to explain what the new look symbolises. Agents in rival firms have been speculating on the meaning of the relatively simply logo, which has an extended thin line from the ‘N’ towards the end of the name.
“Our original motivation for the brandmark was to build on the idea of ‘opening’ London.
Inspired by the trusty door and door handle, we created a brandmark that references this through playing with the relationship between the O and N” explains LBD managing director Tim Leahy.
LBD apparently conducted “in-depth partner interviews and audit workshops” which came up with the concept.
The new identity has been rolling out across Chestertons’ London branches and its international offices over the past three months, since the de-merger with sister company Humberts.
Meanwhile, the design firm behind Humberts’ more floral Laura Ashley-style logo has not broken cover to explain its thinking...
A Bank Holiday beckons, autumn is about to begin, yet agents still show an undiminished appetite for charity work.
We at EAT and LAT hugely admire the often-unsung work by agents who donate energy, time and money to charity. We want to shine a spotlight on this side of agency.
If you want to be mentioned, please let us know. Email email@example.com.
In the meantime, here are this week’s updates.
Agents Giving Ball: This is being sponsored by Zoopla Property Group and will be held on October 2 at London’s prestigious Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square. ZPG’s support (the portal recently raised £4,000 for AG through a separate event) has enabled the ball to be ‘in profit’ from the start, meaning more money for charity, according to organisation chairman Peter Knight. Billed as ‘an evening of celebration’ to recognise the great fundraising achievements for the Agents Giving charity over the past year, this event will provide another opportunity for the industry and suppliers to raise money for good causes.
If you are interested in securing a place for your company at the Agents Giving Ball, just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research: The good people Rannoch estate agents in Glasgow’s West End have partnered with this charity, donating £30 from each sale and are planning to participate in the cause’s many organised walks and charity fund raisers. “As a start-up company we hope that in time to come as we turn more deals we can increase this donation per sale and at the same time help to raise awareness of all blood cancers” says the firm.
Great Ormond Street Hospital: Hatched, the online agency, is continuing a month of fund-raising in memory of three month old Beatrice Smith. The nomination came from a friend of Leigh Smith from Norwich, whose daughter, Beatrice, lost her battle with a heart condition at just three months old. She had been diagnosed with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, a rare disease of the cardiac muscle and was treated at GOSH by specialist cardiac teams with world-class facilities and knowledge, something much appreciated by Leigh and her family.
Cancer Research: A ConveyLaw conveyancer, Geraint Aubrey, will be undertaking a herculean challenge this weekend when he will be climbing three massive mountains in the Bernese Alps, including the infamous Mount Eiger. The firm’s very own Eiger Tiger will be climbing over 13,000 feet each day and will be camping on the mountains overnight. The firm has prepared a video (on www.conveylaw.com) and there is a target of £10,000 to be raised for the charity.
Cancer Vaccine Institute: Over the last six months VTUK has almost raised £20,000 for this charity by cycling from London to Paris, undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge and Running the Color Run. This is in aid of Claire Grant - wife of VTUK chief executive Peter Grant - who has been diagnosed with Triple Negative Cancer. Claire has chosen the Cancer Vaccine Institute as it works solely on developing a cure. Claire has also dedicated a huge sector of her life to making others aware of Triple Negative Cancer, as it is the most aggressive and active cancer around - see her blog www.triplenegative.co.uk.
Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution: Staff from leading CKD Galbraith will be going the extra mile next Friday by taking on The Great Glen Challenge to raise funds for RSABI, a charity dedicated to the relief of hardship and poverty amongst people who have depended for their livelihoods on the land. The RSABI Great Glen Challenge is returning for a third year to the Highland trail where teams of rural organisations and businesses will compete in this exciting one day team challenge. Staff from CKD Galbraith’s offices across Scotland have volunteered to take part in this gruelling team challenge and have split themselves into two teams of four participants (plus one supporting member); the all-male ‘Strictly Naked Acres’ and all-female ‘CKD Galbraith Ladies’ . The event will see both teams divide themselves into four tough disciplines, a 34Km cycle, 7km kayak, 10km walk and a 21K run.
Cancer Research UK: Hamptons International has raised over £3,300 for the charity by taking part in the Prudential RideLondon Surrey 100 event, which saw the agency’s team of cyclists from the Sevenoaks, Knightsbridge, Kingston, Godalming and Farnham branches participate in this, the biggest closed-road bike ride in the UK. The team, made up of five individuals from across the business, joined over 24,000 other cyclists as they took to the roads of London and Surrey. They mastered a challenging route from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, out to the Surrey Hills and finally finishing on The Mall.
- Agents Giving
Statistics collated by the government show that independent international economists predict stronger-than-expected UK house price rises over the next five years.
Each month the Treasury pulls together what it calls City and Non-City forecasts across a range of economic indicators. This month it has looked at forecasts for house price rises between now and the end of 2018.
While short-term analysts suggest a recent slowdown in price growth - and in some cases outright price falls - may herald a slump, economists appear far more optimistic.
The City commentators are Barclays Capital, Capital Economics, Citigroup, Commerzbank, Goldman Sachs, ING, Nomura and RBS Global.
They forecast rises in 2014 of between 5.8 per cent and 12 per cent. In 2015 the predicted increase will be 6.0 to 16.5 per cent. In 2016 the increase will be 4.6 to 10.1 per cent.
In 2017 they anticipate 0.5 to 5.6 per cent, and in 2018 the prediction is 1.7 to 5.0 per cent.
The group of so-called Non-City commentators include many household names in terms of management and economic consultancies. They are Beacon Economic Forecasting, Cambridge Econometrics, CEBR, EIU, Experian, IHS Global Insight, the IMF, Liverpool Macro Research, the NIESR, Oxford Economics and PwC.
Their forecasts broadly mirror those of the City commentators.
As always with house price forecasts, there must be numerous health warnings.
Firstly these are purely forecasts, and have less reliability the further they look into the future, due to unforeseen events. Secondly they are averages and so exclude, obviously, regional variations. Thirdly they do not take into account general inflation and how that may erode the apparent house price growth.
Nonetheless, this data is part of the information assessed each month by members of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee when they decide whether to change base rate.
- housing market
- House Prices
A new website for owners and landlords to advertise their properties for sale or let has opened - but so far has a meagre five properties on its books.
Against the trend of recent web offerings, which have prided themselves as being estate agents operating online, MoveGroove appears particularly pleased that neither its service nor the individuals behind it have any experience at all in the sale of property.
“For anyone familiar with uploading a listing to eBay, MoveGroove is not much different. Simply classify your property type, select the number of bedrooms, add a few more details and you are ready to post your own description of the house along with some eye catching images” says company founder James Moore.
The site makes reference, in its terms and conditions section, to the need for properties being marketed to have a valid EPC but it does not make reference to specific consumer legislation surrounding the marketing of properties.
The site suggests that a first step for a would-be advertiser is to prepare a description of the property, a selling or rental price, and “a bit of information” on the property specifics and number of bedrooms.
The press release announcing the launch of the service places much emphasis on owners and landlords being able to use it free of charge, and the release and the site dedicate much space to comparing a free sale with hypothetical agency fees.
But towards the bottom of one screen on the site there is the reference: “At the moment MoveGroove is totally free to use...”
James Moore has told Estate Agent Today that he is “a home owner who thought there should be an easy way of selling without an agent”. He says once the site develops further there will be new features offered to users, starting with a For Sale sign which will be available for an unspecified fee.
The site has only just launched so is clearly in its earliest stages but when Estate Agent Today reviewed it overnight, it had only four properties to sell (three in Yorkshire and one in Lanarkshire) and just one Yorkshire property to let.
- estate agents
Agents and vendors beware - an interest rate rise may be coming this year.
This follows the revelation that two members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to raise interest rates earlier this month - the first time in three years that policymakers have done so.
Ian McCafferty and Martin Weale, the two MPC members in question, did not succeed in securing a majority when the vote took place on August 7 but this was the first time that the committee was split since July 2011.
Interest rates have been unchanged since March 2009 but minutes of this month’s MPC meeting suggest that both Weale and McCafferty felt rapidly falling unemployment made it more likely that salaries would pick up in the coming months - and a rate rise could stem inflationary pressure as a result.
The pair claimed that strong economic growth figures had been underpinned by what they called "stimulatory monetary policy" and that a rise of 0.25 per cent in the base rate would be helpful in curbing inflation.
Earlier this week - in response to unexpectedly strong figures on house price growth from the ONS, reflecting the transactions picture in June - some agents have urged the government and the Bank of England not to over-react and risk killing housing recovery.
David Newnes of LSL Property Services says “further interventions or borrowing caps could pull the rug out from under the market” and points out that the latest Office for National Statistics data actually shows seven regions in England and Wales with falling house prices in June.
Peter Williams, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, says the split vote means “a rate rise is firmly on the cards.” He says that even before the minutes were released, one in three brokers expected a rate rise this year - higher than at any other time in 2014.
- Interest Rates
- housing market
Scottish property expert Matthew Gray is joining the board of the National Association of Estate Agents.
Gray is managing director of property services for Gilson Gray Property LLP, a legal firm offering estate agency services in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
He has over 20 years of experience in the Scottish residential property market, he has previously worked as an advisor for Strathclyde University helping to develop a national diploma in estate agency.
He has also won Best Medium Estate Agency of the Year at the National Estate Agency of the Year Awards in 2008 and the Residential and Letting Property Team of the Year at the Scottish Legal Awards in 2009.
NAEA president Simon Gerrard says Gray “has demonstrated his expertise of the market and his passion to contribute to the future of the NAEA.”
Meanwhile next month sees the launch of another round of NAEA TV adverts with a new consumer campaign.The association will be targeting areas across the UK, starting with the Midlands, north east and south west England.
There will be 48 spots planned in each area to run from September 1 over a two-week period.
- Matthew Gray
eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk says the role of traditional estate agents has been overstated and that their principal purpose in many transactions is to act as “a conduit to get properties on to the portals.”
Quirk, who has been speaking about estate agency on the US business news TV channel CNBC, says the industry is going through a digital revolution akin to that which has already transformed the recruitment, insurance and travel sectors.
“We’ve got 50 online agency competitors now in 2014. When we started in 2010 there were only four or five” he says.
Quirk reiterates his heavily-contested claims that his style of online agency achieves higher sale prices and speedier sales than traditional agents, and in London costs vendors only one twentieth of the fees of high street agents.
CNBC cited unattributed statistics predicting that while 86 per cent of UK residential transactions are now handled by traditional agents, this is likely to drop to 67 per cent within four years.
A business analyst on the channel described the advent of low cost online agents as being potentially beneficial to the wider economy. He was claiming that one of the reasons why the US recession of recent years was so deep and so long was the inability of people to afford the price of moving house to areas of greater employment - something which he believed may be helped by lower cost online marketing of homes.
A London estate agent has taken the unusual step of explaining to clients why his firm would be “selling them short” if he did not continue to advertise properties on Zoopla and Rightmove, despite what he calls their horrifying fees.
The Clapham-based Xander Matthew agency - which handles sales and lettings in south west London - has explained on its website that using both of the existing major portals “is essential, especially in London, to ensure that your property, be it selling or letting, gets the massive coverage it needs to maximise the chance of finding a buyer/tenant.”
Kevin Oakes, who set up the agency three and a half years ago and is an active user of social media to promote his firm, writes on his site: “We source applicants from dozens of places but Rightmove and Zoopla, especially on sales, have a duopoly. Without your property being on those two websites you are almost certainly selling yourself short, and run the real risk of losing money.”
He says he applauds the attempt of OnTheMarket to try to save money for agents by forcing participants to drop one or the other of the existing high-priced portals. But he warns his clients that savings would be outweighed by the sharply reduced exposure.
“How is Mr Smith selling 123, High Street, London going to feel when you tell him his property isn’t going to be on Rightmove because you wanted to save a few quid? Bye bye customer I expect” writes Oakes.
He describes OnTheMarket as an idea created by “big agents in London” aiming to save themselves “tens of thousands of pounds annually, if not more.”
He concludes by asking vendors and landlords: “Is your agent using the big two portals? If not then maybe you need to call us. Look for your property online. Can’t find it? Neither can your buyer.”
Agents are urging the government not to over-react to continuing double-digit house price rises after the latest ONS figures show a 10.2 per cent annual hike.
David Newnes of LSL Property Services says “further interventions or borrowing caps could pull the rug out from under the market” and points out that the latest Office for National Statistics data actually shows seven regions in England and Wales with falling house prices in June - the latest data released.
The 10.2 per cent average - slightly down on the 10.4 per cent a month earlier - was driven extensively by higher-still increases in London and the south east of England.
Broken down into the national regions, house price annual inflation was 10.7 per cent in England, 3.5 per cent in Wales, 6.0 per cent in Scotland and 4.9 per cent in Northern Ireland.
London rose by 19.3 per cent and the south east by 9.7 per cent. Excluding these two regions, UK house prices increased by a more modest 6.3 per cent in the 12 months to June.
Peter Rollings, chief executive of London’s Marsh & Parsons chain, says the slight moderation in growth indicates “a steady, healthy direction” and that the capital is seeing “strong, sustainable recovery” despite the spectacular price increases.
- LSL Property Services
- Marsh & Parsons
Estate Agent Today has gone to a five-days-a-week update, bringing you the industry’s most important stories every weekday.
Until now we have published only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while on Tuesday and Thursday our sister online publication Letting Agent Today was updated.
But from now, every weekday will see fresh news stories available from early morning. Occasionally we will make through-the-day updates, too, when urgent newsflash stories demand immediate publication.
The stories will be written, as now, by respected property journalist Graham Norwood, who also contributes fortnightly to the Industry Views section of Estate Agent Today.
- Estate Agent Today
- Letting Agent Today
- Graham Norwood