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Video round up 21.11.14 - Watch the weekly news from Estate Agent Today  21 Nov 14

Watch the latest weekly video roundup of news from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on easyProperty's marketing budget, Section 21 evictions and the controversy surrounding tenants on Zero Hour Contracts.Weekly Round UpVideoEstate Agent Today]]>

Agents do charity… the latest updates  21 Nov 14

Agents have ramped up the charitable activities in the run-up to the festive season. We’re always very happy to publicise every agent’s efforts and pay tribute to your fine work, especially in the build-up to Christmas. If you want to be mentioned, please let us know. Email press@estateagenttoday.co.uk. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In the meantime, here are this week’s updates ESPC smash fundraising target in 20-hour hop-a-thon challenge A team of volunteers from ESPC have smashed their fundraising target after taking part in a gruelling 20-hour space hopper challenge to raise money for the charity CCLASP (Children with Cancer and Leukaemia Advice and Support for Parents). Initially the team hoped to raise £1,000 but collected a total of £2,200 in donations from members of the public who passed by and even joined in the hop-a-thon on Edinburgh’s George Street this weekend. A further £810 has been generated through online sponsorship bringing the total raised by the hop-a-thon to over £3,000. Valerie Simpson founded the organisation with her husband Bill. She said: “I am so proud of all the volunteers who managed to keep hopping all the way to the end. “We are extremely grateful to those who took part and we’re just humbled by the generosity of the members of the public who kindly stopped and donated over the two days. “We’ve been able to help hundreds of families across during our first 20 years and all the money raised will go towards making sure we can take things forward and achieve even more in the years ahead.” Romans hold bake-off Berkshire property services company, Romans, held a group cake sale in its head office in Crowthorne last week, raising £295.62 for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service. Amongst all of the sugary treats, the day also featured a very special Board Bake Off, with guest judge Samantha Collier, a corporate fundraiser at Alexander Devine. All of the directors on the board at Romans were invited to roll up their sleeves and get baking in a bid to be crowned the Bake Off winner. “I have never judged a cake competition previously so it was a real honour to judge the cakes” said Samantha. “A great deal of effort was made on the presentation for all of the cakes, including a delightful strawberry and chocolate finger cake which looked too beautiful to eat and even one bearing Romans’ company logo.”  Big Bird lands at Townends Townends Estate Agents, part of the Badger Holdings Group, has been raising money for the company’s chosen charity, Shooting Star Chase. On Wednesday 12 November, staff sponsored lettings managing director Caroline Kavanagh to dress up in a very large, and very yellow, big bird costume for her entire working day at the group’s head office.  Caroline’s efforts alone raised £453.89 for Shooting Star Chase, a local leading children’s hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. Caroline said: “We are always thinking of new and fun ways of fundraising for Shooting Star Chase, our designated charity, and this is just one example of our recent activities. My big bird outfit proved to be a great idea, one that was very well received by staff, although it was slightly uncomfortable and roasting hot in there! I did also have to attend the head office monthly update meeting in character which was great fun.”    CharityESPCRomansTownends]]>

ASA rules against We Buy Any House  21 Nov 14

The Advertising Standards Authority has declared claims on the website of a ‘fast home buying’ company as misleading. We Buy Any House claimed it wasn’t an estate agent. Claims on its website included: "Economic or time constraints can often lead homeowners to seek out companies that buy houses for cash. We Buy Any House should not be compared with an estate agent because we buy properties direct from the seller, so avoiding expensive estate agency fees. We offer a free service and legal representation. The offer we present is the amount you will receive on completion without deductions. We will typically pay up to 90% of the market value for a house, depending on the property type, its condition and location.” We Buy Any House was ruled to having misled the public because it suggested it bought properties itself directly from sellers – when it actually lined up investor buyers. Eclectic Financial Solutions Ltd, which trades as We Buy Any House, said its service differed from a traditional estate agency because of the value of the offer made to the vendor, the speed at which a transaction took place and there were fewer costs involved. It said it would usually expect to complete a sale within six to eight weeks and that speed attracted vendors to services such as theirs. Their properties appealed to investors who were interested in purchasing houses at a discount and were able to 'complete' within their desired timeframe. We Buy Any House claimed it was clear in its advertising material that investors might wish to view a house before purchasing it and consumers were also made aware of that when signing up. If potential investors were unable to view a property, it was possible they would move onto another in their desire to complete a transaction quickly. They said the vast majority of their customers were able to sell their property within the relevant timeframe and therefore save on the costs associated with selling through a traditional estate agency. The ASA found the claims on We Buy Any House’s website breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising). The ASA noted the website included various claims such as "we guarantee to help find the right solution and if the right solution is a quick house sale, we will make the sale as easy and stress free as it can be", "we buy any house in any condition throughout the UK.” The regulator said: “We considered the overall impression of the ad, in conjunction with the company name, We Buy Any House, suggested elements of the traditional estate agency process, such as the property being advertised or viewings from potential buyers, would not be necessary before the purchase was complete, because the advertiser would purchase property directly from consumers who desired a fast and convenient sale. We understood that We Buy Any House did not generally purchase properties directly from consumers and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”  ASAWe buy any housemisleading claimsEstate Agent]]>

House prices up 5% or more in top 20 UK cities  21 Nov 14

All the UK’s top 20 cities are registering annual house price growth of more than 5% for the first time since November 2004, according to Hometrack. Hometrack’s UK Cities House Price Index says the house price growth is more than three-times the current growth in average UK earnings (1.3%), as pent up demand has fed back into the market supported by low mortgage rates and a pick-up in the economy. However, there is clear evidence that the upward pressure on house price is starting to slow on weaker demand for housing. In the past three months, average UK house prices have grown by 0.6% per month compared to 1.1% in the three months to May 2014.  The majority of cities are now starting to show signs of a deceleration in the underlying rate of growth but cities with the lowest growth in Spring 2014 –Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle – have recorded an acceleration as house prices rise off a low base. This latest analysis shows that 11 cities have an average house price below that of the UK with Liverpool and Glasgow house prices 41% lower than the UK average. London bucks the trend with an average house price of more than double that of the UK at 117%, illustrating how the capital dominates the rest of the country and is distorting the national picture. Oxford and Cambridge have seen average prices come off the boil quite sharply in the last three months (-1.2% and -2.3% respectively) with house prices starting to fall back after very strong gains of 42% and 52% in the past four years – these smaller cities are seeing pricing levels respond more quickly to weaker demand. Richard Donnell, research director at Hometrack, said: “The pick-up in house prices that started two years ago has spread across all UK cities with growth ranging from 5.5% in Liverpool and Glasgow to 18% in London. This latest analysis shows that momentum in house price increases is starting to slow with less pent-up demand for housing than two years ago. “Whilst mortgage rates remain low, new mortgage affordability tests and loan to income caps are impacting on the ability of marginal buyers to access the market, especially in the higher value markets such as London. On top of this, concerns over the impact of the global economy on the UK’s economic outlook are likely to come more to the fore. “Despite the economic uncertainty, the slowdown in the UK housing market will be welcome news for policy makers who want to avoid a debt fuelled acceleration in house prices supported by record low mortgage rates. We expect the rate of house price growth to slow further in the run up to the year end.”  House PricesHometrackUK CitiesRichard DonnelllondonOxfordcambridge]]>

City analysts advise against switch to Agents' Mutual  20 Nov 14

A City consultancy's assessment of the new Agents' Mutual portal OnTheMarket claims that "perhaps, like Google, Agents' Mutual is finding that trying to compete with Rightmove and Zoopla is harder than expected." Jefferies says there are several indicators which it has interpreted as showing "momentum is waning" for the new portal which launches on January 26. One is that the time frame for agents to sign up for Gold membership has been extended to January 2015, whereas the old deadline was October this year. Another is that whereas Gold members previously had to provide a £2,000 loan note (or £1,000 for a lettings-only branch) this has been reduced across the board to £1,000 per branch (and £500 for lettings-only). A third indicator is that previous claims of £10m "contracted revenue" have neither been repeated nor updated in recent marketing by Agents' Mutual "which suggests to us that it is not quite as high as they would like." A fourth indicator is that there is an alleged lack of transparency over how many 'letters of intent' by agents have been converted into contracts. "We suspect if there was good news on this front, Agents' Mutual would be shouting about it by now" says the Jefferies analysts. In the light of a slowing housing market, the four analysts who compiled Jefferies' latest assessment conclude that "now is not the time, in our view, for agents to sever ties with the most powerful tried and tested routes to market, for an untried and untested alternative."  Agents' MutualOnTheMarketrightmovezooplaJefferies]]>

Surge in high-value London homes pulled from market  20 Nov 14

Lonres, the data consultancy monitoring all central London sales, says the number of vendors withdrawing their £2m-plus homes from the market has soared, possibly connected with uncertainty created by the threat of a mansion tax. In the July-to-September third quarter of 2011 for example, when the mansion tax had never even been mentioned and the seven per cent stamp duty for homes valued at £2m or above had yet to be introduced, there were 188 £2m-plus homes in prime central London withdrawn from sale.  In the same period this year, however, there were 367 withdrawals.  Lonres says some were pulled directly because of the mansion tax while others were withdrawn because their sellers are wealthy enough to wait to see if values eventually bounce back to their earlier highs. In Lonres’ autumn survey of agents, 37 per cent reported that the number of London properties withdrawn from sale has increased over the third quarter with just 11 per cent of agents seeing a decrease.  LonresPCLstamp dutyMansion Tax]]>

Zoopla data shows buying pays off after five years  20 Nov 14

Buyers with mortgages pay £316 more on average per month compared to those renting comparable properties - but within five years owners recoup their initial buying costs and become better off, according to research by Zoopla. The average monthly rent across the UK is now £865 claims the portal, whereas a mortgage is £1,181. But within five years the equity of a purchased property outstrips the savings; and after seven years, the average owner is £13,850 better off compared to an equivalent tenant. There are, of course, significant regional variations to this, although not quite the clear-cut north-south divide that one might expect.  Bournemouth, London, Huddersfield, Colchester and Reading are the most cost-effective place for renters due to their higher property sale prices relative to rents. London owners, for example, pay £1,790 more a month than the average renter in the capital. Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Hull and Birmingham are currently the most cost-effective towns for buying versus renting, as the average monthly mortgage payment is less than the average rent.   buyersRenterszoopla]]>

MPs urge stamp duty exemption and Help To Buy for downsizers  20 Nov 14

A group of politicians has urged the government to offer a package of financial support and advice to make it easier for older people to move home if they wish to downsize - and thus free the housing market for younger purchasers. The ‘Help to Move’ scheme would include a stamp duty exemption for older people buying lower value homes, an equity loan offer - similar to the ‘Help to Buy’ approach already aimed at first time buyers - and comprehensive advice linked to new pensions freedoms. The recommendations are the result of an inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, chaired by cross-bench peer Lord Best and including former local government minister, Nick Raynsford MP. The cross-party think-tank Demos acted as secretariat to the inquiry. The report goes on to argue that exempting older people purchasing homes worth up to £250,000 from stamp duty would reduce their transaction costs, while leading to a net gain for the Treasury because of the consequent moves in the property market. It also points out that the ‘guidance guarantee’, to be brought in with new pensions freedoms next year, as well as a new duty on local authorities to provide care advice, should be wrapped into a comprehensive package together with housing advice – helping older people make decisions about where and how they live after retirement. The report cites analysis by Demos revealing over that 58 per cent of over-60s – equal to around eight million people currently living in seven million homes – are interested in moving. A third of over-60s specifically wanted to downsize, while a quarter said they were interested in buying a retirement property. If ‘Help to Move’ encouraged all those wanting to downsize to move home researchers calculate that 4.3 million family homes would be freed up, easing the pressure on the housing market.  mpsDownsizershelp to buyFirst Time Buyers]]>

Agent's blues after council sees red over colour job  20 Nov 14

Estate agency CB Slade is appealling a decision by Cotswolds district council's planning committee ordering the firm to repaint its new premises because the turquoise colour scheme was too loud. One councillor called it "appalling" and others suggested it should be repainted white or softer, pastel colours to fit in with the street at the village of Fairford. However, Christian Slade, managing director of the firm, says he is disappointed and going to appeal, pointing out that the colour is used on two other branches elsewhere, without problem, and the Fairford property had been empty and unsightly for some time before his firm moved in. “It goes against all of the feedback we have received from local residents who seem happy that we have transformed an empty building into a smart, well presented and thriving local business" he says. Then he adds: “We feel frustrated that we could be stopped from doing this. Our branding is an important part of our business which has enabled us to successfully open, maintain employment of local people and, most importantly, support local causes and events. It would be a real shame if we were unable to continue with this based on a decision by the council."  CB SladeCotswolds District CouncilColour Scheme]]>

easyProperty begins £4.5m-plus marketing campaign  19 Nov 14

easyProperty says its current brand awareness campaign, promoting its livery and website in regional and national newspapers, online outlets and social media, will continue through to next year.  The firm, which currently operates an online lettings agency but will start sales in the spring, has revealed that marketing is to take up around 50 per cent of the £9.75m it has raised through crowd funding and private investment.    “It’s largely an education task, as we need to let people know we exist. We then need to let them know the difference between traditional and digital [estate] agencies,” easyProperty chief marketing officer Chris Welsh has told Marketing Week.   Welch says of the 180 online letting and estate agencies that exist only 10 are national and none is connected to a national brand, which he believes is key to breaking into the market.   Welch says the agency hopes to bring people into the market who do not usually use estate agents, such as the ‘Generation Rent’ sector, which he describes as “younger consumers that can’t afford to buy their own home, or, unlike their parents before them, are choosing not to buy at all as a lifestyle choice.”   The Marketing Week piece says easyProperty has signed over 3,500 landlords so far.  easyPropertymarketingChris Welch]]>

 
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