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Video round up 27.03.15 - Watch the weekly news from Estate Agent Today  27 Mar 15

Watch the latest weekly video roundup of news from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on the latest developments on the government's proposals to allow tenants to sublet rental properties, online agency Purplebricks' intention to float on the stock market and some things you may not know about Rightmove to celebrate the portal's 15th birthday.Weekly Round UpVideoEstate Agent Today]]>

Agent today staging 'virtual open house' via Facebook  27 Mar 15

Online agency sellmyhome.co.uk is claiming to be holding the first-ever ‘virtual open house’ on its Facebook page at noon today.  The event will showcase a two bed flat in Hackney owned by a young family and being sold through the agency.    Sellmyhome claims this kind of facility will chime with “the demographic of first time buyers in Hackney and wider London, who struggle to take the time out of hectic schedules to visit numerous properties.”   The property will be seen through HDR 4k resolution cameras which will systematically film the flat, creating a high definition virtual tour that can be used by sellers on all devices, and - in the agent’s words - “ensuring the most transparent and fair representation of the property’s quality and size.” “Customers have been crying out for a way to cut down the hours spent on the business of property viewings” says Will Clark, the agency’s director.   SellMyHomeFacebookOnline Estate Agents]]>

James Caan follows Countrywide into 'futures' investment  27 Mar 15

Entrepreneur, eMoov investor and former Dragon’s Den star James Caan has followed in the footsteps of Countrywide by investing in Pi Labs. Pi Labs was launched in 2014 Faisal Butt’s venture capitalist firm Spire Ventures and commercial property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield with the objective of disrupting old-school business models within the property sector by funding ‘proptech’ start-ups.   Caan’s investment is believed to have been made via the equity crowdfunding site Seedrs, as part of Pi Labs’ bid to secure £500,000 to invest in new start-ups.    Earlier this month Countrywide, Britain’s largest sales and lettings agency, invested £250,000 in Pi Labs.   Now Faisal Butt says he is “honoured to have this investment from James, whom I have seen first hand support British small businesses over many years. He also has a great deal of knowledge about the property industry and so his backing means a lot.”   Faisal Butt previously founded Hamilton Bradshaw Real Estate in partnership with James Caan. In December 2013 Caan invested in eMoov saying: “I believe that the company has the ability to change how the consumer perceives this sector. The business model works.”   Pi Labs has funded five property-related start-up so far.     They are AirSorted, an Airbnb management company offers owners assistance in organising cleanings, key exchanges, laundry, guest bookings, complaints, reviews and pricing; Officernd, which looks at office space usage; Rialto, an online platform that connects commercial landlords and estate agents; Wilde Rooms, a retail interior design and fittings company: and Land Technologies, which uses new technology to identify development land.    James CaanPi LabsSeedrs]]>

Transaction surge suggests price rises - Hometrack  27 Mar 15

There has been a boost in transactions of between 15 and 35 per cent in cities outside the south east of England, suggesting “the most significant recovery in house market activity since 2007” according to Hometrack. The property consultancy says Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff all registered a 20 per cent to 39 per cent growth in sales volumes in 2014 compared to the average for the previous five years. Rising demand and increased market activity have resulted in increased house price inflation, which is running at between 5.0 per cent and 8.0 per cent in those cities, says Hometrack.   In contrast, the growth in housing transactions in 2014 in ‘high value cities’ in the south east of England was well below average.    Sales volumes fell in all the high growth cities over 2014 compared to 2013, specifically down 13 per cent in Cambridge,  down seven per cent in Aberdeen, down two per cent in Oxford and down one per cent in London.    Lower sales volumes are feeding into a slower rate of house price growth in these cities, claims the consultancy.   “Transactions are a lead indicator for house prices” explains Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack.    “The acceleration in house price growth in London in the last two years was preceded by three years of rising transactions. A similar pattern is being registered in the cities outside the south of England, as pent-up demand returns to the market supported by low mortgage rates and an improving economic outlook” he says.   But he warns that while the pick-up in activity is welcome news, housing sales in 2014 are still 38 per cent lower than the level seen in 2007 and 10 per cent below the average for the last decade.    “The ongoing housing recovery is far from broad based and remains focused on higher value areas within cities where households have equity and find it easier to access mortgage finance” he suggests.    TransactionsHometrackRichard Donnellhousing market]]>

Miliband 'only leader with mansion tax bill'  27 Mar 15

Zoopla claims that, according to the Labour Party’s own definition of its proposed mansion tax, the only political party leader who will have to pay is....Ed Miliband.  According to the portal, Miliband’s north London home is now worth £2.73m, more than three times the average in the area.    Both Prime Minister David Cameron’s west London home and Nick Clegg’s south London property fall just short of the threshold applicable to the controversial new proposed tax, valued at £1.97m and £1.89m respectively. The Kent home of UKIP leader Nigel Farage is currently valued at a more modest £550,000.   Each leader has seen the value of their home grow substantially since the last election - Miliband‘s home has increased by £1m since 2010 while Cameron’s home has risen by £671,000 in value and Clegg’s by £573,000 during the same period.   As things currently stand, Miliband would be the only current party leader required to pay the annual Mansion Tax mooted by the Labour party on properties worth in excess of £2m, although house price rises could also soon nudge Cameron and Clegg into this territory.    “Soulless second kitchen or not, Ed Miliband’s home is in a desirable part of London and is now worth a lot more than he paid for it before the last election. He may, however, have to put any plans for upgrading his kitchens on hold if Labour comes to power as his tax bill is likely to rise by at least £3,000 per year” says Zoopla communications chief Lawrence Hall.   ed milibandMansion TaxlondonDavid CameronNick Clegg]]>

Agents Do Charity…as the clocks go forward  27 Mar 15

We’re always delighted to cover your agency’s efforts to help those who cannot help themselves - and to correct the image that some have of our industry not being kind-hearted.  Send us information on your charity work at press@estateagenttoday.co.uk and we will run it on one of our regular Friday updates.     Here we go with this week’s update...   Niamh’s Next Step/Cynthis Spencer Hospice: Northamptonshire estate and letting agent Jackson Grundy has raised a terrific £24,000 for two charities in the county. It raised £12,201 for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice during 2014, and the same amount for Wellingborough charity Niamh's Next Step. After choosing Cynthia Spencer Hospice as one of two charities of the year in 2014 to celebrate 20 years in business, the agency staff took part in a skydive, car boot sales, wolf run, tough mudder, and an abseil. They also ran an Easter raffle, a World Cup sweepstake and fantasy football league and organised events, including an Eighties night and coffee morning, all to raise funds. -   Autistic Service Dog: The kind hearted folk at Brighton agency Mishon Mackay raised £2,000 to complete fund-raising done by local woman Catherine Simmonds for ‘Hetty Harvey Helper’ to complete eight weeks of training in Ireland to be an Autistic Service Dog. Catherine’s son Harvey, and all her children have Austism and ADHD, and Mishon Mackay held a charity quiz to help Catherine raise the final funds.  -   The Good Shepherd School and Hollygirt schools, Nottingham: Agency Walton and Allen has been the good samaritan to The Good Shepherd school in Arnold and Hollygirt School in Nottingham, supplying pupils with hi-viz vests. The firm sponsored the schools in conjunction with the company's new Safe as Houses campaign. Phil Williams, head of residential sales, says: "We were shocked to hear that the school didn't have any hi-viz vests to wear on school trips or on the walk to and from school, and so wanted to help out. We put our logo on the back of the vests along with a pair of hands making a roof shape of a house and a slogan saying 'Walton & Allen Safe As Houses'."  Charityjackson grundyMishon MackayWalton & Allen]]>

Housing market optimism on the rise  26 Mar 15

Two new reports give a generally optimistic view of the housing market, despite what some observers say is a pre-election lull beginning to appear. Firstly the Halifax Housing Market Confidence Tracker, which surveys how people feel about the housing market, says optimism has rebounded amongst the public.   February saw a rallying of house price optimism among consumers, from an 18-month low of +52 at the start of the year to +60 - even though the figure is down from the lkevels reached late last year.    Halifax measures its house price optimism as the net balance of the percentage of respondents that expect the average UK house price to rise over the next 12 months less those that expect house prices to fall.   Low or no inflation, continued record low interest rates and the early signs of higher take-home earnings have contributed to the feel-good factor about house prices, the Halifax says.    Secondly the British Bankers’ Association says borrowers are becoming more confident.   Gross mortgage borrowing in February was £9.6 billion - that’s actually 17 per cent lower than a year earlier but the association says house purchase approvals are again “starting to trend upwards” because approvals generally were higher than in January.   Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says some of the increase is down to government schemes aimed at helping first-time buyers.   “While we don’t believe that the lack of inflation will result in a cut in base rate, what it does mean is that a rate rise this year is highly unlikely and could even have been pushed back for 18 months to two years. Crucially, when rates do edge up, the Bank of England has hinted that they will do so very slowly, eventually stabilising at around 1.5 to 2.0 per cent - much lower than we have been used to” he says.  housing marketHalifaxBritish Bankers Association]]>

Did you know Rightmove was nearly called Doorknob?  26 Mar 15

No, nor did we - but hats off to the Daily Telegraph for discovering that little known fact, plus several others, to mark this month’s 15th anniversary of the portal which (some) agents love to hate. Since the Millennium it has promoted around one million properties at an estimated value of £270 billion.   The Telegraph’s Anna White has unveiled the little-known facts in a light-hearted anniversary piece which is behind the paywall, but which we have revealed below.   Here they are:   - Rightmove is a more popular search term than the pop band, One Direction, according to Google Trends.    - Rightmove was meant to be called 'Doorknob.'   - The first ever Rightmove advert featured Arsenal legend, Ian Wright, in the bath with a shower cap and a loofer.   - The property that received the biggest number of hits so far was completely purple, and racked up over 3m in 2013.   - There have been eight weddings between Rightmove colleagues over the past 15 years.   - Since launch there have been 3,711 pubs for sale on Rightmove. If yout visited one pub per day it would turn into an epic, 10-year pub crawl.   - Monday and Tuesday nights are the busiest times of the week for househunters trawling Rightmove.    rightmoveDoorknobdaily telegraph]]>

47% of conveyancers in Veyo says Law Society  26 Mar 15

Conveyancing portal Veyo claims that just under a half of conveyancing firms in England and Wales have now registered on the system ahead of the launch next month. Some 47 per cent of conveyancing firms are on board, ranging from volume conveyancers to sole practitioners.    The joint venture between The Law Society and IT firm Mastek (UK) says it will charge registered users £20 per transaction plus an annual administration charge of £50.    Veyo’s promoters claim that the current average conveyancing time - 11.3 weeks - could be cut by up to two weeks if parties are ‘on’ the system and use it to its fullest degree.   Estate agents will be able to use the ‘chain view’ for each transaction which will show the exchange/completion status of each property in the chain online, and in detail, if firms on the other transactions have chosen to disclose them to the portal.   There is no firm launch date for the system although The Law Society says it will be in April.     VeyoConveyancing PortalLaw Society]]>

Hunters acquisition takes it into block management  26 Mar 15

Hunters has acquired Dickinson Harrison (RBM) to give it an instant residential management portfolio of 120 apartment blocks across the UK. RBM has become Hunters Residential Block Management and will provide full block management.    RBM has been managing apartment blocks ranging from four to 400 units for over 15 years and is one of largest residential block management agencies in England.    “Our business has rapidly expanded out of our heartland to areas as far reaching as Kent and Cornwall. Our decision to join forces with Hunters will help us to continue to grow effectively” says Tim Dickinson, director of Hunters Residential Block Management.  Hunters says it expects to have over 140 offices by the end of the year with a plan for further growth to around 500 offices in five years’ time.  HuntersBlock ManagementDickinson Harrison]]>

 
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