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Hybrid EstatesDirect exceeds £1.25m investment target  02 Apr 15

EstatesDirect.com, a hybrid agency that operates online but has regional staff who work in the style of a traditional agent, has beaten its crowdfunding investment target of £1.25m. As of this morning it has £1.263m from 249 individual investors using the Crowdcube crowdfunding platform. The single largest investment is £75,000 from an unidentified investor. The EstatesDirect team is headed by Steve Smith, the founder of Poundland and Darren Richards, who came up with the idea for Datingdirect.com which has now become Match.com. 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 - hence it claiming to be a hybrid between the online and traditional estate agency business models. Smith says the firm has spent over £1m on future-proofing the firm's technical capabilities; it currently operates chiefly in Wales, the Midlands and some parts of London but the crowdfunding investment will be used to start a three-year expansion programme to take the service across most of England and Wales. Cardiff estate agent Terrence Barrett is the latest to become one of EstatesDirect’s regional experts, and Smith claims there are around 130 others waiting to operate the brand in different parts of the UK.   Estates DirectCrowdcubeCrowdfundingSteve Smith]]>

Agency says building drought will push up prices further  02 Apr 15

London is seeing planning consents for at most two-thirds of the numbers required to meet the capital's housing crisis according to estate agency Stirling Ackroyd. The agency claims an annualised rate of just 27,470 homes are being approved as of the final quarter of 2014 – that's around 69 per cent of the 40,000 finished new homes demanded by George Osborne and Boris Johnson in February and underlined in last month’s Budget.  Analysis of planning applications across all of the capital’s 32 boroughs plus the City of London shows just 6,780 homes were given planning permission last quarter, spread across 826 different sites.  The number of homes reaching completion stage is even worse, the agency claims. It stands at an annualised rate of just 18,440 after the fourth quarter of the year saw just 4,610 properties finished. “Our capital must not become a victim of its own success – which means homes for everyone who can contribute to this city’s vibrant future. Homes have proved an excellent investment over previous decades, and today’s new Londoners demand the same opportunity. Planning must keep up” says Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd.   stirling ackroydHousing Shortagenew homeslondon]]>

Another agent notes mansion tax depressing high-end demand  02 Apr 15

JLL, the agency formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle, says prime London's market for homes valued at £1.5m and above has quietened thanks to stamp duty changes and the possibility of a mansion tax following the general election in May.  The slowdown comes despite continuing strength in the market for homes below £1m according to the agency.  "Labour's Mansion Tax proposal is affecting the market above £1.5m as people adopt a wait and see attitude" says Neil Chegwidden, director in the residential research team at JLL.  The agency says output by developers have not been deterred by the prospect of an election - contrary to a report today by London agency Stirling Ackroyd -  with a 23 per cent increase in the number of homes under construction in the second half of last year. Chegwidden says the biggest increases are in what JLL refers to as the 'outer core' - effectively London Zone 2 - while prime central London has shown far smaller increases in new homes being built.  JLLstamp dutyPrime Central LondonMansion Taxstirling ackroyd]]>

Mortgage experts say self-build key to securing more homes  02 Apr 15

A report from Mortgage Advice Bureau says self-build homes - also known as custom build homes - could be the key to boosting housing supply in the UK.  The report concludes that custom build homes are cheaper to construct, allow for greater consumer involvement, present less risk to mortgage lenders and could introduce a large number of new plots into the new homes market very quickly. However, for custom build to fulfil its potential MAB says local authorities must make better use of Section 106 planning agreements to ensure custom and self build is given favourable planning permission.   MAB says custom build properties are 15 per cent cheaper to construct on average as builders do not have the additional marketing costs – used by speculative builders to shift stock – and their overheads are greatly reduced. Builders also need far less working capital as they no longer hold a land bank and are paid in staged payments as they build the property. Reducing builder costs and margins provides instant equity to the homeowner. This in turn substantially reduces risks for lenders, which should increase their willingness to lend. The MAB report claims to show that the current planning system is geared towards speculative new builds: larger builders have the resources to spend heavily on land and can battle the planning system to secure planning permissions. MAB says to level the playing field, government and industry must educate local authorities to make better use of Section 106 planning agreements and compel them to provide favourable planning consent for custom build to boost new housing stock.  For example, overall planning for large schemes could depend on elements of custom build being present throughout the site. In some cases, whole sites could be given permission exclusively for custom/self build.  Mortgage Advice BureauNew Build HomesHousing ShortageMAB]]>

OTM struggles as Rightmove prospers - City analyst  01 Apr 15

Rightmove has received a series of positive assessments from City analysts following its well-publicised success at resisting any significant threat from the challenger portal OnTheMarket. Estate Agent Today on Monday reported that OTM itself was surprised that 90 per cent of its 5,000 member branches had decided to stay loyal to Rightmove under the 'only one other portal' rule, with only 10 per cent staying with Zoopla.  Now this sentiment has been backed by financial analysts. Firstly BNP Paribas has given Rightmove an 'outperform' rating on Rightmove; BNP says Rightmove “remains a key pick” because of its “must-have status for estate agents.”  This follows an announcement last week by Liberum Capital that Rightmove had won a 'buy' rating, and comments from analysts at Morgan Stanley who have raised their price target on Rightmove shares - a positive gesture to investors. Rightmove, which last month marked its 15th anniversary as a property portal, has a market capitalisation valued at around £2.8 billion. Earlier this year it claimed its highest-ever number of page views while site visits so far in 2015 are reported to be about 10 per cent up on the same period of last year. Meanwhile BNP Paribas says OnTheMarket, which launched some nine weeks ago, is "struggling to build meaningful engagement" amongst agents.  rightmovezooplaOnTheMarketBNP Paribas]]>

eMoov robots spell end to traditional estate agency  01 Apr 15

Online estate agency eMoov has come up with its latest bid to take the human element out of selling and letting homes - by creating a prototype robot to handle vendors and landlords.  Determined to further reduce the cost of property selling and letting, eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk plans to introduce a fleet of robots to visit homes to take photographs, undertake measurements and create floor plans.  Although the programme is in its infancy at present, the firm has released footage to highlight its intention to phase out what it calls "unreliable high street agents" and replace them with high spec, artificially intelligent beings.  “The internet has revolutionised how people buy and sell a property and, latterly, has allowed internet based estate agents like eMoov.co.uk, to deliver even greater reliability and value for money. Our robot work force will soon be deployed to tackle the important job of media gathering" says Quirk. However, Quirk has denied claims made by some anti-online agent property portals and high-end estate agencies who have accused robot agents of going rogue, barging into random houses and forcing their owners to sell at below-market value.  "I can tell you now this is entirely without substance. It’s just scaremongering. Probably the work of the same individuals that tried fighting change when we first launched, rather than embracing it.” he says.  eMoovRussell QuirkRobotsSelling]]>

NAEA says 45% of agents back the Tories on housing  01 Apr 15

The National Association of Estate Agents says 45 per cent of its member agents believe the Conservatives' flagship housing policy of building 200,000 more homes will have the most favourable impact on the housing market.  Some 57 per cent of agents believe Labour's proposed mansion tax will have a negative effect on the market.   The managing director of the association, Mark Hayward, says: “Demand is still vastly outweighing supply in this country, so it is clear something needs to be done to aid this growing problem. Whoever wins it is vital that building more affordable homes is top of their agenda.” Forty six per cent of NAEA members believe the lead up to the election, on May 7, will produce a significant slowdown in the market.   NAEAGeneral Election 2015Mansion TaxConservativesLabour]]>

High-end agent predicts proliferation of £1m homes  01 Apr 15

High-end estate agency Savills is set to redraw its map of 'prime' UK as a result of the growth of £1m-plus homes in areas where they were previously scarce or absent. Its analysis of Land Registry data shows that there were some 18,000 £1m--plus sales in 2014 with, predictably, the vast majority in London and the south east of England.  But the agency says many areas outside of historically-high value house price locations will see many more seven figure price tags in the future.  Within five years £1m-plus sales will triple in the likes of Surrey Heath and Aylesbury Vale, and almost as large an increase in Epsom, Ewell and even Croydon. There are clusters in Gerrard's Cross, Harpenden, Romford, Tunbridge Wells, Reigate and Henley on Thames.  However, outside of the south east £1m-plus homes will proliferate as soon as 2020 in the likes of the New Forest, Bristol, Cheltenham, Harrogate and Edinburgh - and even places like Chelmsford in Essex. "Some of this is down to rising prices" says Savills' research associate director Sophie Chick, "but a lot of it is because there are new prime areas of the UK."  Savillsland registrySophie ChickResearch]]>

Council consulting over potential ban on agents' boards  31 Mar 15

A council is consulting over a potential ban or restrictions on estate agents' and letting agents' boards. Leicester council is responding to complaints from people in two particular parts of the city, near the University of Leicester and De Montfort University. The complaints are mainly, but not wholly, about To Let boards, but the arguments echo those which have happened in many locations over the past two years, particularly Reading and Southampton.  The council says if there is public support for restrictions, it would apply to the government for legal powers banning the display of the boards under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. The council says agents in Leicester appear not to be following guidelines in a voluntary code of practice introduced by the authority in November 2013. “We know from our previous consultations that residents were very concerned about boards being left up for long periods – often almost permanently – in their streets. People were in favour of the introduction of a code of practice but unfortunately only a few agents have complied with this" says a council spokeswoman. “We are now considering applying for powers which would remove the right of estate agents to display these boards in those areas of the city that are most affected” she says. The consultation runs until Friday April 24.   Leicester CouncilAgents' BoardsBoards Banestate agents]]>

Home portal gives OTM member agents a boost  31 Mar 15

OnTheMarket agents have recorded significant reductions in the time their clients' properties are advertised for sale according to rival portal Home.co.uk. Home claims that since February 1, OTM member agents "have consistently recorded average marketing times lower than those not using the property portal."  Home's latest reading - on March 19 - shows that the average time a property remains on the market by OTM members is six days less than the average time for non-member agents. The Home portal figures have been based on all properties found advertised for sale on January 1, February 1, March 1 and March 19, across all agent offices with properties for sale on all four dates, and across Zoopla, Rightmove and OTM.  Home's 'Time on Market' figures are the average number of days since first listed of all properties found advertised for sale by the relevant agent offices on the date of the sample. The figures are accurate within a period of plus or minus two days.  “Our data analysis indicates that OTM agents made the right choice for their respective businesses. In terms of marketing times, vendors should not be concerned about using an agent that has switched to OTM. In fact, they are now slightly better than the rest on this basis” says Home.co.uk director Doug Shepherd. When Home last commented about OnTheMarket, OTM chief executive Ian Springett told Estate Agent Today that Home's figures on OTM's traffic were "inaccurate and misleading."  Now he appears to be supportive of Home's analysis, saying: that critics of the new portal had previously bombarded the industry with claims that the new portal would be damaging to member agents. "This report would seem to suggest that, on the contrary, it has positively boosted business for agents."OnTheMarketrightmovezooplaHomecoukTime on Market]]>

 
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