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Updated: 6 hours 9 min ago

Agents' usefulness 'overstated' says Quirk

20 August 2014 - 1:00am

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.

 

  • eMoov
  • rightmove
  • zoopla
Categories: News feeds

London agent says Rightmove and Zoopla are 'musts'

20 August 2014 - 1:00am

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.”

 

  • rightmove
  • zoopla
  • OnTheMarket
Categories: News feeds

Don't over-react to price rises, agents warn

20 August 2014 - 1:00am

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
  • ONS
  • Marsh & Parsons
Categories: News feeds

Estate Agent Today goes five-days-a-week

20 August 2014 - 1:00am

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
Categories: News feeds

Online agent urges truce with High Street rivals

19 August 2014 - 1:00am

The founder of an online agency is calling for a truce in the war of words between online and traditional agents - and has even admitted that “High Street agents will inevitably beat online agents to local knowledge and hands on service.”

Tom Webster, founder of marketmyproperty.co.uk, says the sometimes-vicious rivalry risks missing the point that competition can be good for consumers and competitors alike. 

 

“Giving consumers choice is always a good thing, as it inevitably makes everyone step up their game to provide the best service possible or they will be left behind” he claims.

 

Webster - whose Sussex-based company is pitching to sell land as well as properties online and describes itself as demonstrating “an ethical approach” with no hidden VAT in its fees and no “estate agent-speak” - is candid in his assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of an online offer to clients.

 

While on the one hand an online agency can pass on its reduced overheads in the shape of lower fees, on the other hand “people still like the idea of having someone else showing people around their homes when they are not in, and that is where the traditional agent will win” he concedes in an emailed letter to Estate Agent Today.

 

Here is the full text of his letter:

 

One of the most commonly debated issues amongst property sellers of all kinds; “Are Online Estate Agency’s the end of traditional Estate Agents?” My personal opinion as a founding director of an online estate agency is surprisingly, no!..

 

I like to draw comparisons to the travel agent industry, 10 to 15 years ago if you would of told your next door neighbour you booked your holiday on the internet they would of thought you were crazy, “What you paid one of those computer things for your family holiday!?”, even though now it’s a more common practice to buy holidays online you do still see lots of agents selling holidays down your local high street. 

 

The two sell exactly the same product but offer a completely different service, and that’s the same as where we are now at with Traditional vs Online Estate Agents.

 

Online Estate Agents like Market My Property have lower business costs than a traditional estate agent, which we all know means those savings can be passed directly to consumers in the effect of low cost fixed fees. 

 

Even though Market My Property meet everyone face to face and are always available over the phone and via email some people still like to know they can pop into town to speak to someone. People still like the idea of having someone else showing people around their homes when they are not in, and that is where the traditional agent will win.

 

Since the recession people now watch the pennies a lot more and they ask themselves “before I spend thousands of £££s how much of this can I do myself?”… and it’s those people online agents are perfect for. Elder generations and people who are less confident to conduct their own viewings or need more face to face time will be more inclined to stick to what they know with the traditional agent.

 

It’s a shame that so many online agents and traditional agents are at each other’s throats trying to prove that they are the only way people of the future will buy and sell property. Variety is the spice of life and giving consumers choice is always a good thing, as it inevitably makes everyone step up their game to provide the best service possible or they will be left behind.

 

High street agents who are not willing to provide exceptional service will struggle just the same as online agents who don’t do everything they can to constantly improve. We all work in a service lead industry and as long as we can each justify our own prices with the service we offer there is space in the market for everyone to co-exist. 

 

The online agent sector will continue to grow as people begin to learn of the alternative options and online will continue to beat the high street to price and flexibility. In the other camp High Street agents will inevitably beat online agents to local knowledge and hands on service. At the end of the day it’s not down to us it’s down to consumers, and they can now ask themselves “what do I need to sell my home”.

 

  • Online Agents
  • Traditional Estate Agency
  • Marketmypropertycouk
Categories: News feeds

Purplebricks targets 10% of all property sales

19 August 2014 - 1:00am

Purplebricks’ target for its financial year ending July 31 2015 is 85,413 instructions and for the following year 100,849 - if met, that would represent 10 per cent of all sales.

The target, revealed by financial news service Citywire, is the second big coup for the site which is run by Michael and Kenny Bruce, the brothers formerly of Midlands agency Burchell Edwards. 

 

This ambitious target comes as ‘star’ fund manager Neil Woodford has been explaining what lay behind his heavily-publicised £7m investment in Purplebricks announced over last weekend - and it seems ‘disruption’ was the biggest attraction.

 

“Purplebricks represents a highly disruptive business model in the world of estate agency. The business has the vision, the technology and an experienced management team ­– and now with the funding at its disposal, I see a significant opportunity for the business to lead the market in changing the way we buy and sell houses” explains Woodford.

 

He has also revealed the specific purpose of the spend, which is the largest investment from his £2.4bn Woodford Equity Income Fund to date. It will specifically support the site’s launch across central England following its roll-out in London and southern England.

 

Woodford’s stake is reported to represent 30 per cent of the equity in the agency.

 

  • Purplebricks
  • Neil Woodford
  • Online Agents
Categories: News feeds

Drink-drive agent loses job and is jailed

19 August 2014 - 1:00am

An estate agent has lost his job and been jailed for driving at 110 mph in heavy rain while over the alcohol limit.

Rhys Fisher, 26, from Ashford, overtook a police car on the London-bound side of the M20 motorway late one evening in January. 

 

Canterbury Crown Court has heard that Fisher overtook the police vehicle at high speed and then pulled into the left hand lane before attempting to accelerate away. The police pursued Fisher in a chase which reached 125 mph.

 

When the police caught and stopped Fisher, he gave a positive breath test and was arrested. His reading was 56 millilitres of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The limit is 35.

 

Fisher has admitted driving dangerously and driving with excess alcohol, has been jailed for five months, banned from driving for three years, fined £500 and ordered to take an extended test before he can drive again. He has lost his agency job because he has now lost his driving licence. 

 

Fisher had been for dinner with three colleagues and had beer and a cocktail before driving home. 

 

He is now working as a labourer for his father.

 

  • Estate Agent
  • kent
  • Crime
Categories: News feeds

Agent loses private sale fee court battle

18 August 2014 - 1:00am

An agent has lost a court battle against a vendor who sold her property to a buyer who viewed it through a rival agent.

 

Tyneside agency Keith Pattinson took Sharon Parker to court after she refused to pay a reported fee of £1,500 plus VAT which she says she already paid to the other agent.

 

“I had my house for sale with a different estate agent in 2008 and added Keith Pattinson in 2010 because I was desperate. The other agent conducted a lot of viewings with potential buyers and Keith Pattinson arranged three but cancelled them all on the day they were due to take place” Parker has told ChronicleLive, the online version of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

 

“I finally had an offer from one of the buyers sent by the first estate agent but I was shocked when Keith Pattinson claimed they wanted a cut because of one telephone call” she says.

 

The call in question was when the potential purchaser could not contact the originally-instructed agent because it was a Bank Holiday, but instead contacted Keith Pattinson. 

 

“After some negotiation over the price I accepted the offer but stressed to Keith Pattinson that the buyer had viewed through the first agent. I was very confused as both [agents] were asking for payment and I told them to sort it out among themselves” she says.

 

The sale went ahead back in 2011 and Parker eventually paid the first agent, only to receive a bill some six months later from Keith Pattinson seeking £1,500 plus VAT. An accompanying letter claimed Parker had sold the property privately.  

 

Keith Pattinson sent further letters demanding payment, including one which said that if she paid by a specified time the firm would remove the VAT “as a gesture of goodwill.”

 

The agency then took Sharon Parker to court, almost three years after the sale, but a judge has dismissed the company’s claim and has refused it the right to appeal.

 

A spokesman for the agency has declined to comment on the case.

 

  • Keith Pattinson
  • Private Sale
  • Estate Agency Fees
Categories: News feeds

Agents’ Mutual “must match Zoopla technology”

18 August 2014 - 1:00am

A respected business journalist says Agents’ Mutual must launch with the same technical infrastructure that makes Rightmove and Zoopla “so convenient and useful to millions.”

Julian Harris, news editor of the business daily City AM, says the existing major portals have sophisticated technology but Zoopla has, in this regard, moved ahead of Rightmove.

 

Harris also says that Zoopla is relatively well protected from the potential impact of Agents’ Mutual’s OnTheMarket portal, launching in the New Year, and from any dip in the UK housing market. 

 

“Over 3,000 of its members are housing developers or foreign agents, for a start. Its revenue stream of subscription payments from members is not directly impacted by prices, and is being bolstered with premium listings, appraisal boosters, and area sponsorships” he says. 

 

He also believes that the threat of the new rival portal has already been factored into Zoopla’s share price.

 

Harris adds that he himself recently dealt with High Street estate agents when he was considering buying an investment property in London. 

 

“The first agent was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The second was mildly better, perhaps like a balsa-wood teapot. I should instead have been walking about with a Zoopla app that would’ve provided far more facts about the local market” he says.

 

Meanwhile at the new online agency Purplebricks, controversial fund manager Neil Woodford has purchased a 30 per cent stake for £7m. 

 

Launched in April by Michael and Kenny Bruce, the company is charging a fixed sales fee of £599 instead of the high street agents' average of around £5,600.

 

Woodford, previously a high-performing fund manager at Invesco Perpetual, recently set up his own company, Woodford Investment Management.

  • Agents' Mutual
  • zoopla
  • City AM
Categories: News feeds

Bigger than normal summer price falls - Rightmove

18 August 2014 - 1:00am

The average asking price of homes coming on the market across England and Wales is this month down by 2.9 per cent - or roughly £7,750 - compared to July, according to the latest Rightmove index. 

 

Although August is of course a quieter time of year producing an average monthly price fall of 1.6 per cent each summer over the last 10 years, this month’s rather more dramatic fall is the largest decrease ever recorded by Rightmove in a summer period.

 

The fall has been exacerbated by London recording a 5.9 per cent drop, which is the largest of three consecutive monthly falls for the capital’s homes on sale.

 

Notwithstanding the falls, new seller asking prices across England and Wales are still 5.3 per cent or £13,202 higher than they were a year ago. But just three months ago, asking prices were 8.9 per cent more than a year earlier, so this demonstrates just how sharp the most recent drops have been.

 

Sales activity is traditionally strongest in the first half of the year, and this year seems to be following that pattern according to Rightmove. A drop in buyer demand and an eight per cent increase in the volume of property coming to market compared to 12 months ago means more competition to sell, hence asking prices declining it says.

 

Over the past 12 months, detached homes are up 4.9 per cent, semis up 7.9 per cent, terraced homes increased by 9.6 per cent and apartments are up 9.9 per cent.

 

  • rightmove
  • housing market
  • Summer
Categories: News feeds

Estate Agent Today goes five-days-a-week

18 August 2014 - 1:00am

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
Categories: News feeds

15.08.2014 - Weekly News Round-up from Estate Agent Today & Letting Agent Today

15 August 2014 - 1:00am

This week’s video roundup features all the top stories from EAT and LAT over the past five days featuring drones, portals and immigration checks.

 

Categories: News feeds

Media group insists local press produces leads

15 August 2014 - 1:00am

A leading local media group has revealed the results of property advertising research trying to convince agents to continue advertising in local newspapers, despite an uncertain future for print and local media. 

Johnston Press, best known for its flagship titles The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, owns 13 local dailies and 235 weeklies.  It has shared its research findings with Estate Agent Today.

 

Johnston commissioned independent researchers to speak with three groups - active vendors, active buyers and home owners not currently in the market. The research was conducted in Sheffield, Milton Keynes and the Surrey town of Horsham; most interviews were conducted in person but some were handled over the telephone.

 

“The research showed that the decision on which agents to approach is usually informed by the vendor's perceptions of agents and that these perceptions are shaped over a long period of time before the vendor makes the decision to sell” explains Johnston Press spokeswoman Jane Muirhead.  

 

“One of the major influences on the perceptions homeowners have of different estate agents is their presence in local newspaper property sections, so too the design and content of their ads. The research also illustrated the extent to which people seek out local newspapers when they get into the property market” she has told Estate Agent Today.

 

Headlines from the results include:

 

- 51 per cent of buyers regularly read or looked at local newspapers before entering the market;

 

- 56 per cent of vendors regularly read or looked at local newspapers before entering the market;

 

- 84 per cent of homeowners not in the market regularly read or looked at local newspapers;

 

- some 30 per cent of vendors had seen three agents before instructing one - 11 per cent saw four to seven agents;

 

- 35 per cent of vendors only invited one to give a valuation (32 per cent invited two, 27 per cent invited three);

 

- 56 per cent of vendors who read a property section each week already had a view on which agent they would use, while only 35 per cent of those who did not read a property section already had a view.

 

 

So, should estate agents stop advertising in local newspapers, as recently advocated on the Industry Views section of Estate Agent Today?  

 

“The research would suggest that would be a mistake, especially at a time when most agents are eager to boost stocklists. Withdrawal from local newspapers will impact the ability of agents to attract market valuation invitations from potential vendors” claims Muirhead.

 

  • Advertisements
  • Johnston Press
  • Leads
Categories: News feeds

Agent blogger hits out at Agents' Mutual business plan

15 August 2014 - 1:00am

An influential estate agency blog which has come out strongly hoping that Agents’ Mutual succeeds has criticised its business plan and its decision to ban online agents.

The latest blog by Maurice Kilbride, whose firm Maurice Kilbride Estate Agents handles sales and lettings in Cheadle and South Manchester, makes it clear that he is no fan of the current Rightmove-Zoopla duopoly and his wish that Agents' Mutual succeeds in helping to reduce the power of existing portals and fees paid by agents to list. 

 

But he is scathing of the approach by Agents’ Mutual, describing the new portal’s name, OnTheMarket, as “I suppose easily remembered” but “not very original.” 

 

Of AM’s stipulation that those using it, advertise also on no more than one other portal, he says “perhaps its attempt to divide and conquer is a step to far for some” estate agents.

 

“I would also have not excluded online agents from advertising on the site. I would encourage everyone to list with Agents' Mutual. Once the site has total support, then is the time to come off the other portals en masse” he says. “As it is I can only see the current idea serving to strengthen Rightmove’s position as the leading property portal as more agents are likely to ditch Zoopla than Rightmove.”

 

Kilbride also questions whether AM’s budget - which he believes to be £6m at launch and with £7m annually in subscriptions - is enough. “This sum pales into insignificance by comparison with the multi millions available to both Rightmove and Zoopla for TV advertising, national press and whatever other marketing “ he says.

 

Reiterating his wish that OnTheMarket succeeds, Kilbride nevertheless says that “for Agents’ Mutual to have a realistic chance of establishing itself as a major player in the portal market, it needs the total support of all agents and I do not get the impression it has this.” 

 

  • Agents' Mutual
  • Maurice Kilbride
  • Portals
Categories: News feeds

Agents do charity - it keeps on coming

15 August 2014 - 1:00am

We’re into the second half of August and some agents are already preparing for autumn - but many are still on the charity fund-raising trail. 

 

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 press@estateagenttoday.co.uk.

 

In the meantime, here are this week’s heroic reports.

 

Magpas: ‘We did it!’ exclaimed a clearly delighted Simon Bradbury, a partner at Thomas Morris Sales & Lettings in Cambridgeshire, as he crossed the finishing line of the recent London Triathlon behind his TV presenter brother, Jason Bradbury. The brothers have completed an Olympic-distance triathlon in aid of local charity Magpas raising well over £3,500 in the process. They were also joined in their endeavours by ‘middle brother’ Richard who was doing the event to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Simon’s fund-raising is also being complemented with a 10 per cent top-up from the every-excellent Agents’ Giving. 

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Cancer Research Wales: Peter Alan estate agents has nominated Cancer Research Wales as its Charity of the Year. So far the firm - recently snapped up by Connells - has held an auction, a ‘Peter Alan’s Got Talent’ night, a bake off, raffles, and dress down days. There is also a ‘Phantom of the Night’ ball coming up in October. 

 

So far the firm has raised over £4,000 - this, and the other funds collected by the end of 2014, will be doubled at the end of the year by the company. So give now on  www.justgiving.com/teams/PA

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MacMillan Nurses: Peter Morgan Estate Agents in Llanelli has planned a networking event with a charity and cake-related twist. Jonathan Morgan says “My father, Peter, had come out of hospital before Christmas and the Macmillan nurses were so good. He is back to work and back to normal now, but they were lovely in there, so we thought we’d do something to really help.” The Cake Mixer event will be held this coming Monday from 10am - a chance to network, eat cake and sip champagne...in a good cause. 

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Action Medical Research: Sussex agency Cubitt & West sent manager Steven Pike and sales negotiator Jodie Armsby-Ward from the Kemp Town Brighton branch to Brighton’s Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital this week to help Paddington provide bears for the children.s It is a bid to raise awareness of the new ‘Bear Miles for Breakthroughs’ campaign, which is calling on the public to support Paddington on his travels by donating through the website www.action.org.uk/BearMiles.

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Agents’ Giving: The industry’s own charitable organisation has been appointed as the official charity for the Estate and Letting Agent Awards in 2015. “The ESTAS gets an incredible level of exposure throughout the agent community and, as Agents Giving is the charity for the whole of the industry, we are thrilled to have secured their support too” says 

Peter Knight, Agents’ Giving chariman. 

 

  • Charity
  • Agents Giving
  • Estate Agency
Categories: News feeds

 

 

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