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Video round up 28.11.14 - Watch the weekly news from Estate Agent Today  28 Nov 14

Watch the latest weekly video roundup of news from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on Stella Creasy's commons defeat, stock market jitters for ZPG and allAgents' six figure investment.Weekly Round UpVideoEstate Agent Today]]>

Estate agents "will survive if they use more technology"  28 Nov 14

The Economist says estate agents will survive in an increasingly-digital landscape because of “local knowledge, their help in arranging everything from viewings to finance, and their ability to drive a hard bargain” - but they must use more technology. An article in today’s edition says in some parts of the United States agents are so afraid of technology “it’s as if the internet had never been invented”. The piece then explains how prospective buyers pop by branch offices in person to pore over printed floor-plans, while fax machines cough up contracts and viewings are set up by telephone.   The thrust of the article is that the internet has, in most other businesses, succeeded in cutting out middlemen. “And of all the middlemen it should have wiped out by now, estate agents are among the least popular.”    It says that this is especially so in America, where realtors charge sellers around six per cent commission - but it notes that even with these relatively high costs, only nine per cent of home sales in America are conducted without an agent.    The piece makes a reluctant nod of respect at British estate agents for holding their ground, and for aggregating property portals faster than in the US and other countries.    “As in America, there have also been various attempts by online businesses to cut out the agents and link sellers directly to buyers. But, again, the [British] agents - who typically charge less than 2% commission - have held their ground” it notes.   However, The Economist says “estate agents’ chances of fending off competition will be stronger if they use the internet and information technology to become more responsive, efficient and cheap”.   It then goes on to say how new US services being launched arrange buyers’ viewings instantly and without having to speak with an agent, while online agencies are making inroads in international lettings markets.    “The chances are that estate agents will still be around a generation from now” it concludes. “But the agents most likely to survive the threat from cheaper alternatives will be those that make the leap into the internet age.”        Online AgentsTraditional Estate AgencyThe Economist]]>

Market woe as first time buyer numbers stall  28 Nov 14

The number of first-time buyer house completions stalled in October according to Your Move and Reeds Rains. The agencies’ new first time buyer ‘barometer’ measure shows there were 26,500 first-time buyer completions in October, 0.8 per cent more than a year ago but 1.1 per cent fewer compared to 26,800 in September.    First-time buyer transactions have now fallen back 12.3 per cent over the last three months, although the rate of slowdown is beginning to ease.    A monthly slowdown of 1.1 per cent between September and October compares to falls of 7.3 per cent between August and September and 4.3 per cent between July and August.   The average purchase price for a first-time buyer property rose 4.1 per cent year-on-year to reach £152,684 in October. Over the same period, the average first-time buyer deposit has fallen 6.0 per cent - boosted by a greater variety of options for higher LTV borrowers – and now sits at £26,046, compared to £27,719 a year ago.    Meanwhile the latest e.surv mortgage market survey shows a drop off in higher LTV lending in October.    Lending to borrowers with a deposit of 15 per cent or less of the total value of their property constituted just 14.9 per cent of all house purchase borrowers in October, the lowest percentage in six months. Their share of the market had been stable from June to September, fluctuating very slightly between 17.4 and 17.8 per cent.  Your MoveReeds RainFirst Time Buyers]]>

NAEA reports 'balanced market' but FTBs declining  28 Nov 14

A better balance between the number of homes for sale and the number of registered home buyers is emerging, according to the latest NAEA market report.    Its October survey found that member agents reported an average of 53 properties for sale per branch – 15 per cent higher than the monthly average for the rest of 2014 and the highest number recorded on books since October 2013.    An average of 51 properties was recorded per branch in September.   While supply showed signs of an increase, the number of house hunters registered per NAEA member branch fell, from 406 in September to 380 in October, easing the balance between the number of available homes and demand.     The average number of homes sold during the month remained static on September figures, at average of nine sales per NAEA member branch.   The number of FTBs recorded fell, decreasing six percentage points in October compared to the previous month’s figures, to 24 per cent of total sales from 30 per cent of total sales in September.    When asked if the MMR had led to a direct decrease in the overall number of home buyers since it was introduced six months ago, 79 per cent of branches agreed it had affected the current number of buyers.    With the exception of September 2014, in which 406 home buyers were recorded on average per branch, the number of house hunters registered per member branch had shown a decrease on figures recorded in April 2014 (392 home buyers) - the month MMR was introduced.   NAEA member branches also said they believed the MMR had particularly affected demand among FTBs, with 70 per cent of member branches reporting the implementation of MMR had led to a decrease in the number of FTBs since it came into force.  NAEAFirst Time Buyershousing market]]>

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome! (says estate agent)  28 Nov 14

More than one in eight of the staff working for a major London agency is now fluent in a second language, as the company claims a quarter of its buyers are from outside the UK.  Greene & Co says this change in buyer profile has led to a rise in the need for agents to speak a host of different languages. Currently 13 per cent of its staff can speak a language other than English, and in its flagship West Hampstead branch, for example, employees speak Spanish, Polish, Afrikaans, French, Farsi, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic.   The demand for languages differs by area. Kentish Town, for example, has seen many French buyers and tenants clustering close to its two sought-after primary and secondary schools the College Francais Bilingue de Londres. The Kentish Town branch is able to respond to their needs as a number of the staff are able to speak fluent French.    French buyers and tenants are also increasingly searching for family homes between Wembley Park and Maida Vale along the Bakerloo Line to live within commuting distance of the new Lycee due to open in September 2015 in Wembley.    Maida Vale is also seeing an influx of Italian and Greek buyers who had previously chosen to rent in the capital.    Greene & Co. negotiator Franco Difato regularly translates for Italian buyers and tenants who need the UK process explained. “Language skills are a huge asset for an estate agent as it’s easier for international buyers to understand the intricacies of buying and renting in their own language and it puts them at ease immediately” he says.   David Pollock, MD of Greene & Co, says the firm is actively recruiting multi-lingual agents “and this is a trend I see growing.”  Greene & ColondonInternational Buyers]]>

Agents Do Charity - why not tell us in a video?  28 Nov 14

December around the corner, Christmas in a few months. This is the time of year when charitable activities take centre stage. But many agents do great charity work year-round and as you know, we like to champion those efforts, publicising the side of agency that gets little attention elsewhere.    We have had a tremendous response to Agents Do Charity over the past six months but now we’d like to extend the idea by asking you to submit emails outlining what your agency is doing, or by making your own video which we would run here on the Agents Do Charity section on Friday.   As ever, if you want to be mentioned, please let us know on press@estateagenttoday.co.uk.   In the meantime, here are this week’s updates.   Scope: Sandfords is this year supporting Marylebone Christmas Lights in aid of Scope, the disability charity. Earlier this month Marylebone Village hosted its annual festive Christmas Lights event to celebrate the switch on, and Sandfords was there to help with staff running the tombola stall outside their office on Paddington Street, which alone raised a fantastic £2,050.   Organised by Howard de Walden Estate, this year’s event welcomed thousands of guests who joined in with various activities, danced along to music performances, ate mince pies, drank mulled wine, and browsed the many stalls. The lights were switched on by Jessica Hynes, the actress best known for roles in Spaced, Twenty Twelve and Up the Women.   Julia Garber, Director at Sandfords in Marylebone, comments: “We were delighted to be asked again to run the tombola stall. It’s always so lovely to be involved in what is such a great community event. All staff members enjoyed the festive atmosphere and we definitely got into the spirit of things this year by dressing up as Christmas trees!”   ---   Your Own Place: We’ve received this message from Lucy Carne, MD of Reality Estate Agents in Norwich. “After reading your article in this mornings newsletter, as Director of Reality Estate Agents, I feel I have a social responsibility to support several of our local charities all year round and not just at Christmas.   “As home owners and Estate Agents we take for granted the roof over our heads and the bricks and mortar we are asked to sell. Sadly so many people don't have that luxury of having their own bed let alone a roof over their head to keep them safe and dry.   “That's why I have chosen to support Your Own Place - www.yourownplace.co.uk. They exist to support youth homelessness and help equip 16-25 year olds with the life skills we take for granted. Whilst I appreciate we are coming up to the time of year when our thoughts turn to those less fortunate than ourselves but here at Reality we are constantly campaigning throughout the year to help these young adults build a home of their own.   “Back in March, I took part in the YMCA Big Sleep Easy which meant sleeping out in the open with only a plastic sheet and cardboard box to protect me from the elements. With the help of my wonderful clients past and present we raised £1,500.   “We are currently campaigning for supermarket vouchers to help these young adults buy the very basis of items such as tea towels, kitchen utensils, bed linen etc. Our office is also a donation point for our local food bank here in our fine City!   “I am always overwhelmed at the public’s generosity and will continue to support both excellent causes in any way my business can.”      ---   The Great British Property Paddle: Agents Giving wants all agents to muster their paddle power for the charity’s wettest event to date – The Great British Property Paddle.   Andrew Trantum of Embrace Mortgage Services, part of the LSL group, is set to kayak and canoe his way along all the waterways of Britain – in excess of 300 miles – to raise money for Agents Giving.   He’s calling on agents, housebuilders and suppliers to the property industry across the UK to pick up a paddle and join him for a stretch of the route - he’ll make available equipment to anyone intrepid enough to get out on the water. No experience is necessary; all that is needed is the ability to swim. The idea is that everyone should aim to raise as much money in sponsorship as possible for good causes.   Companies across the UK can also sponsor one of nineteen ‘legs’ of the event or sponsor one of the three main kayaks. Rightmove is also supporting the event through the award of a significant grant to help cover set-up costs and has also branded one of the kayaks.     Peter Knight, Chairman at Agents Giving, says this is “exactly the sort of innovative fundraising we want to encourage. Andrew has thought of something a little bit different that others can also contribute to in a variety of ways and to varying degrees of intensity.”   The aim is to paddle around 20 miles every day along a route which covers as much of the UK’s navigable waterways as possible to allow as much agent involvement as possible.    You have plenty of time to prepare. Agents Giving is encouraging people to sign up now, with the event planned to take place in June 2015.   CharitySandfordsReality Estate Agents]]>

Exclusive: allAgents secures six-figure investment, recruiting 40 staff  27 Nov 14

Estate Agent Today can exclusively reveal that allAgents has secured what is described as a “six figure sum” of new investment, which will involve an expansion of the site including the recruitment of 40 new staff. allAgents describes itself as “an independent directory and review site allowing consumers to search for and write reviews about estate and letting agents in the UK.” It carries reviews of agents, operates a performance league table based on those reviews, and gives agents the right of reply online in the event of complaints.    Now Vincent Friel, director of Glasgow and Edinburgh letting agency and property management firm 1-2-Let, says he is injecting a six figure sum into allAgents - which already operates from Friel’s business centre - and will become one of its directors.    “This is an excellent opportunity for me to play an active role in developing the business in order to achieve its objective of becoming the UK's number one provider of vendor & landlord leads” says Friel.   allAgents spokesman Martin McKenzie has told EAT that the site is now looking to recruit 40 new staff within the next six months and that it has “embarked initially on a recruitment drive for in-house web developers.”    allAgents also claims that it has been approached directly by both Rightmove and Zoopla - although it would not reveal what the approaches concerned.  allAgents12LetsVincent Friel]]>

High-end estate agency let off the hook by ASA  27 Nov 14

The Advertising Standards Authority has let high-end agency Chestertons off the hook after a complainant suggested an advertisement may have been misleading because it did not state the length of the property’s lease. When the ASA investigated, Chestertons’ parent company Chesterton Global Ltd claimed it was aware of its obligation to make marketing material “clear and unambiguous.”    The agency says the duration of the lease on the property concerned is 101 years and 11 months - a fact that would be communicated to any consumer who made contact with the firm. However, the ASA also says Chestertons claims “any member of the public reading their ad would generally know that all flats in England were leasehold rather than freehold, and would then have contacted their sales branch for more information.”   The ASA’s judgement, rejecting the complaint, says that it understands the importance of lease length being made public because of its relevance in securing a mortgage.    However the ASA says it “considered that omitting that information from the ad would only be misleading if it was likely to affect a buyer's decision to enquire further about the purchase of the property. We considered that the number of years remaining on the lease in this case was sufficient to ensure that it would not affect a buyer's ability to obtain a mortgage.”  ChestertonsASALeaseholdlondon]]>

Teenage mother "tried to defraud Winkworth"  27 Nov 14

A teenage mother who attempted to defraud Winkworth of £4,200 must undertake 200 hours of unpaid community work. Alleyah Cottle, 18, of Walthamstow, has pleaded guilty to fraud at Thames Magistrates Court, admitting that between March 12 and March 28 this year she paid company cheques into her personal bank account.   This Is Local London reports that Cottle, who was then an administrator for Winkworth’s Walthamstow branch, had also used the agency’s credit card to pay for McDonalds meals and shopping at Budgens supermarket.   There were five cheques which Cottle paid into her account, but only one, for £700, was cleared by the bank.   He defence told the court: “She is only 18-years-old and in a difficult position. She has a young child of  three months and lives with her mother. It was not a very sophisticated and well-planned offence. Alleyah admits she has done wrong and because of this she is going to struggle to find employment of any kind.”   Judge Jane McIvor ordered her to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work within 12 months and pay Winkworth £700.   WinkworthCrimelondon]]>

Property portal chiefs to meet … on January 26  27 Nov 14

The only international conference for major property portal owners and operators is meeting in New York on January 26 - the day that Agents’ Mutual’s OnTheMarket portal launches in the UK. The Property Portal Conference says it will meet on January 26 and 27 in the light of what it calls “a momentous 2014 for the property portal industry.”   It says the highlights were the merger in the US or Trulia and Zillow, the decision by News Corp to buy Move, and the valuations of portals “taking a breather and coming off by up to 40 per cent” as well as the arrival of first or new portals in emerging markets such as India, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.    “There is nothing to say that 2015 will not be even more momentous” says a spokesman for the conference.     “There will be more mergers, more capital raising, greater competition on all fronts, agent lead portals, some market leaders being attacked and losing their leadership, and much much more.”    Property PortalsProperty Portal Conference2015 Preview]]>

 
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