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OTM could be "noisy" - but needs more hits  29 Jan 15

A City analyst says OnTheMarket has potential to be “a noisy neighbour” in the market - but it appears to need far more visits to be effective and some member agents are being accused of ignoring the ‘one other portal only’ policy.   After spectacular share price rises for Zoopla and Rightmove as soon as OnTheMarket launched on Monday, the established Big Two took different directions yesterday. Zoopla ended narrowly up, Rightmove slightly down.   This was after City analyst Panmure Gordon slapped a ‘sell’ rating on both Rightmove and Zoopla, despite saying that OnTheMarket looked “flawed” as a challenger and despite Zoopla shares rising 20 per cent in value since the start of the week.    But the broker says OTM could become a “noisy neighbour” and disturb the market if it adapts its business model to become more successful.    Panmure is quoted as stating that press reports suggest OnTheMarket’s ‘only one other portal‘ policy is “largely being ignored” and that Rightmove’s share value has already been discounted to take account of OTM anyway, so is unlikely to see long term damage.   Zoopla, meanwhile, claims that some agents advertising on OTM are finding “creative” ways around its one other portal restriction.    A statement from Zoopla’s Lawrence Hall claims that: “Just in the past few days, certain OTM agents have chosen to either:   - ignore the rule and remain on Zoopla, Rightmove, PrimeLocation and OTM and in some cases have been open about it;   - list one branch with ZPG and another with Rightmove and share listings so they get the benefit of all listings being on all portals;   - create a new brand operating from the same office and use one brand to list on OTM and the other brand to list on the other portals, again getting all listings on all portals;   - share listings with competitors where one company chooses Rightmove and another chooses Zoopla and all listings are advertised across all portals.”   A critical issue for OTM appears to be a lack of hits so far. One industry source, quoting Hitwise the online industry monitoring service, suggests OTM had only about 22,000 visits on its first day and about 11,000 on the second day, against 1.5m for each of Rightmove and Zoopla each day.    However, OTM is starting its advertising campaign this weekend. Sunday TV spots are planned along with print ads in high-end outlets such as Country Life and the Daily Telegraph.   OnTheMarketPortalsPanmure Gordon]]>

Labour MPs get mansion tax letter today  29 Jan 15

Every Labour MP will today receive a letter from campaign group FairHome Tax urging the party to abandon its proposed mansion tax and instead add council tax bands to higher-valued properties as “a progressive alternative” to fund NHS initiatives.  The FairHome Tax campaign appears to be a small group led by Howard Cox, who in the past has argued for lower fuel taxation.    The letter says:   As you will know, numerous commentators, celebrities and experts have recently made emotive claims for or against Labour’s Mansion Tax proposal. We at FairHomeTax wanted to examine this laudably intent proposal objectively.   FairHomeTax is the first campaigning organisation to commission empirical and independent evidence that shows taxing family homes fairly and progressively will raise more revenue to benefit the NHS and local services. We commissioned a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) with two goals in mind:   1.        To ascertain if the proposed “Mansion Tax” would raise £1.2 billion 2.        To look at whether amending the Council Tax system, adding more bands to higher-valued properties, may be a more effective alternative   The compelling findings reveal that:   The Mansion Tax proposal is unlikely to raise £1.2 billion, would be difficult and costly to enforce and likely to create distortions in the housing market   The addition of three Council Tax bands however above H could contribute £4.7 billion additional revenue to tax receipts in 2015-16   This more than trebles the amount your Party claims Mansion Tax will raise for the NHS   A total income from this revised approach to the Treasury and local authorities would be £25.6 billion by 2019-20   It will also reduce the cost of living for those in the lowest priced houses   AND It will only cost £257 million to implement   The results show that those in lower band properties would pay considerably less with the lowest Band A being totally exempt. The CEBR’s findings also show there will be a disproportionate direct benefit to public sector workers such as nurses.   You will be pleased to see that, like the Mansion Tax, this reformed system would shift part of the tax burden to occupants of very high value properties and those who have benefited from above average house price growth. But, given that the average cost of moving up one band is £350 annually, the reform is unlikely to create substantial market distortions.   While we ALL support your aspiration to help the NHS, the Mansion Tax will unfortunately kill house sales and have these additional impactful outcomes:   - Stamp Duty will fall by £2bn - Elderly homeowners will be hardest hit - It won’t raise anywhere near the promised £1.2bn for NHS - Homeowners will move to avoid this tax or use other ways to legally not pay it   Therefore we believe that Mansion Tax is unworkable and unsustainable. The solution is clear!   Recent research shows that 70% of MPs support Council Tax Reform instead of Mansion Tax, with 40% in your Party. It’s been a quarter of a century since Council Tax has been reviewed. The current council tax system places properties into bands based on property values assessed in 1991 and is thus outdated. Our supporters would respect and welcome you debating a fairer way to tax the family home. As a consequence, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and see how we can help you get that debate into the House of Commons and so talk instead about taxing family homes more fairly and progressively.     Mansion TaxLabourFairHomeTax]]>

OTM could lose agents 15% of clients - claim  29 Jan 15

A survey of 600 vendors by a consumer group says agents signing up to OntheMarket risk losing around 15 per cent of potential vendors - however, the biggest number of respondents are happy to let agents make their own decision on which portals to use. The survey, by SellingUp.com, asks the question:   A major new property website called OnTheMarket.com is being launched this week as a rival to the two big established websites, Rightmove and Zoopla.   If the estate agent you had in mind to sell your home told you they planned to advertise your property on OnTheMarket plus either Rightmove or Zoopla (listing on all three is not an option) which combination would you prefer?   The answers from the 600 respondents were:   Rightmove and OTM: 32.78 per cent;   Zoopla and OTM: 13.14 per cent;   Neither - I would find a different agent that would list me on both Rightmove and Zoopla: 15.81 per cent;   Don’t Mind - I would trust the agent to decide where to advertise: 38.27 per cent.   SellingUp’s conclusion from the poll is that the 15 per cent potential client loss may not be a killer problem in a strong market but “in a quiet period it could prove a serious blow to an agent’s margins.”   However, it says “maybe they will be prepared to offset any lost business in the short term to make cost savings in the long term, while waiting for OTM’s brand to build and for those vendors to no longer feel they have to be on both of the current big two portals.”  OnTheMarketPortalsSellingUpcom]]>

Stamp duty reform boosts middle-market says NAEA  29 Jan 15

There has been a significant boost in the sale of homes in price ranges which were previously ‘stamp duty sensitive’ according to the National Association of Estate Agents. It claims in its latest market report that member agents recorded their highest level of registered home buyers per branch in December for 10 years, with a fifth of agents seeing more sales in properties in the £251,000 to £925,000 band, and 10 per cent of agents reporting more sales of properties up to £250,000.   NAEA members reported the number of house buyers registered in December was on average 360 per branch, the highest level for this time of the year recorded in the last 10 years. The seasonally high figures suggest the changes made to stamp duty announced in December helped to encourage prospective buyers in a typically quieter month for the housing market.    Another promising sign was the slight increase in percentage of sales made by first time buyers in December.    NAEA member agents reported the percentage of sales made by FTBs increased by two percentage points, from 24 per cent of total sales in November 2014 to 26 per cent in December.    Out of those sales made by FTBs in the month, almost half were aged 18 to 30, suggesting a higher proportion of younger FTBs had been encouraged onto the market than the previous month, when just 38 per cent of sales were made by first time buyers aged 18 to 30.   However, while there was uplift in the percentage of sales made to FTBs and a seasonally high number of eager house hunters on books, the number of houses available for sale on NAEA member agents’ books in December did not follow suit.    The number of houses available per NAEA branch was seasonally low at just 45 properties per branch, compared to 50 in November 2014 and 47 the year before in December 2013. The lack of supply, and ultimately lack of choice for prospective buyers, saw NAEA members’ record on average just five sales per branch in December compared to eight the previous month.  housing marketstamp dutyNAEA]]>

Savills opens office in Caribbean tax haven  29 Jan 15

The Cayman Islands - described by the Financial Times as having “a reputation for clandestine financial activity” - is the latest location for a Savills branch. The office is located in the Caribbean Plaza on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach and is the first fully branded Savills office in the region. The firm says it will complement its existing network of associates and affiliated partners in Barbados, Grenada, British Virgin Islands, St Kitts, Bahamas, St Lucia and Antigua.   The office will be headed by Canadian Paul Young - “a seasoned residential and commercial real estate professional and long-term resident of the Cayman Islands” according to the Savills press release.   This high profile tax haven is well known for having more registered businesses than it has people. The BBC says the Caymans are home to over 9,000 mutual funds, some 260 banks and 80,000 companies; during the international downturn the islands signed  agreements on sharing tax information with Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain as part of an apparent drive against tax evasion.  SavillsCayman IslandsTax Haven]]>

Tepilo predicts strong growth for online estate agents in 2015  28 Jan 15

Online agents are fighting back despite being excluded from new portal On The Market. Tepilo, founded by TV property expert Sarah Beeny, forecasts a strong growth for the online estate agent industry in 2015. Beeny says is great news for UK home-sellers looking to benefit from this “convenient and low-cost option”. Tepilo’s valuations over the two-week Christmas period increased by 1,100% from the previous year and registrations increased by 1,750%. The site claims that the cost savings, simplicity and convenience of browsing and selling your property online means many homeowners are converting from high street agents to selling their own. Beeny says: “The amount of online estate agents is growing and it is predicted that by 2020 70% of homeowners will be selling online. This is partly because a high street agent selling a £500,000 home generally costs the homeowner around £8,406. With online estate agents like Tepilo.com it costs £594 (including VAT) and it’s hard to see what you get for the extra £7,812. “This represents the shifts in society and need to move with the times. We are now much more likely to property surf online on Christmas Day than watch the Queen’s Speech (in 2013 Rightmove had 14million page views when the Queen’s Speech had 7.8million). We also spend an average of 17 hours a month on property sites and in 2013 Rightmove was the 6th most visited site in the UK, above the BBC.”TepiloOnline estate agencySarah Beeny]]>

Marsh & Parsons opens Shoreditch branch  28 Jan 15

Marsh & Parsons is opening a new branch in Shoreditch next month, adding to its existing network of 22 offices across London. This will be the first of four new offices Marsh & Parsons plans to unveil in 2015, and marks its continued expansion across the capital. The new branch will cover an extensive area including Shoreditch, Victoria Park, Whitechapel, Stepney, Aldgate, Bethnal Green, Hoxton and Haggerston.  Located on the prominent central thoroughfare of Bethnal Green Road, the site has undergone a cutting edge refurbishment to the tune of £350,000, including the installation of an “ultramodern media wall”.  To celebrate the opening on 16 February, Marsh & Parsons will be offering homeowners in the area a special 0% sales fee for the first three months. This represents a considerable discount from the typical 2% commission and the estate agent claims it will save customers an average of around £18,000 per sales. Peter Rollings, chief executive at Marsh & Parsons, said: “Marsh & Parsons has been a respected property market heavyweight across South West and Prime Central areas of London since 1856, and we’re excited to extend this reputation and presence eastwards. This is just the first step in the new phase of ambitious growth of the company. Our 0% commission campaign is just a taster of the high calibre customer service and results we deliver to our clients, and is a fitting way to introduce ourselves to the new neighbourhood.”  The sales office will be headed up by Mark Kempson, a local resident who has worked in the property industry for more than 10 years; most recently in neighbouring Islington, which also encompassed the Shoreditch and Hackney areas.  Kempson said: “Marsh & Parsons is an exceptional brand, with a long and impressive heritage, and Shoreditch is the perfect fit for its latest expansion plans. I’m excited to come on board and put my local knowledge and expertise to good use.” Will Copeland will take up the role of lettings manager. Armed with a background in sales, he first joined Marsh & Parsons’ Clapham office in 2011, and assisted in the successful launch of their nearby Camden branch last year.   Marsh & ParsonsPeter Rollingsshoreditcheast london]]>

Foxtons shares fall  28 Jan 15

Foxtons’ shares took a tumble yesterday after the estate agent posted its fourth quarter results and revealed that the property market remained "subdued". The results showed that revenues fell 12% in the three months to the end of December as "the residential property sales market continues to be subdued in central London, with volumes consistent with those seen in late 2012 and early 2013". Sales commission fell by 25.7% during the quarter although full-year sales commission rose 3.6% to £70m. Foxtons’ lettings business fared better, rising 7.7% year-on-year, compared to a long-term growth trend of 6%. The lettings business now makes up half of group revenue. In a statement Foxtons said: “The long term fundamentals of the London market remain sound. We are firmly committed to our organic growth strategy which will see between five and 10 new branches each year. All our new branches are performing as we expected, with many of those branches located in areas outside the centre of London showing growth and having average selling prices that benefit from the recent stamp duty changes. "As indicated in our October 2014 interim management statement, we do not anticipate a recovery in sales volumes until after the General Election in May." Foxtons shares fell yesterday in response to the figures, opening 3.7% lower than Monday, although slightly recovering later.  Foxtonsshare pricelondon]]>

One in 10 homeowners regrets buying their home  27 Jan 15

Ten per cent of UK home owners regret buying their home, according to a survey carried out for mortgage and loans provider Ocean Finance. The main reason for regret was that they rushed into it, cited by 28% of remorseful homeowners. 20% don’t like their neighbours and 16% don’t think their home is big enough. Other reasons include the property needing more work than the buyer realised, unaffordable mortgage costs and the responsibility of home ownership. The older you are, the more likely you are to make a considered buying decision it seems. Just 5% of people over 55 regret purchasing their home, compared with 23% of people aged between 25 and 34. Even people who don’t regret buying their home may not actually like it. 43% of homeowners questioned for Ocean Finance said that they liked everything about their houses. However over half (57%) disliked one or more aspect of where they live. Of those who dislike their houses the main gripes were it being too small, too much work needing doing and not liking the area. Commenting on the results, Ocean’s Ian Williams, said: “The key lesson from our survey is to spend more time choosing a house before you buy. Getting to know the area and the neighbours before committing is really important, as is making an honest assessment about the amount of work that the property needs, how big it is and whether it will suit you not just now, but as your family grows.”  Ocean Financehome buyinghomeowners]]>

OnTheMarket “not lived up to hype”, says analyst  27 Jan 15

As OnTheMarket finally goes live, investment analyst Jeffries International has said that, so far, Zoopla and Rightmove don’t have much to fear from the new portal. Jeffries studied the London listings statistics of all three portals, and the outlook for Zoopla. Analysts searched for properties for sale and rent with two or more bedrooms across the 32 London boroughs. On The Market lists 5,397 properties for sale and 3,846 for rent; Zoopla 37,604 for sale and 39,134 for rent; and Rightmove 29,347 for sale and 22,513 for rent. Rightmove limits search results to 1,000, so may have more properties that meet the search criteria, but chooses not to list them. “In our mind the much awaited launch of Agents' Mutual's OnTheMarket (OTM) has not lived up to the hype. We appreciate that more listings may follow in the days to come because despite having more than one year to prepare, some of OTM's customers were not ready for the big launch,” said a research document from Jeffries. The research found that OTM appears to have reasonable coverage in Camden with 1,663 properties (Zoopla has 4,190 and Rightmove more than 2000); Kensington and Chelsea with 1,892 properties (Zoopla has 7,108 and Rightmove more than 2,000); and Barnet with 1,303 properties (Zoopla has 4,390 and Rightmove more than 2,000). 53% of OTM's London listings are in these three boroughs compared to 20% of Zoopla's and 11% of Rightmove. “If London is the main battle ground, OTM is so far losing the war and has yet to win any battles,” said Jeffries, “We perceived London to be the main battle ground for Zoopla; ahead of the launch the writing on the wall was rather bleak with most of the OTM London-based founders dropping Zoopla rather than Rightmove. However so far Zoopla has only seen a loss of 5.5% of properties for sale in London and around 2.6% across the UK. It is early days but today is turning out much better than we had anticipated for Zoopla.” Jeffries concluded that it’s too early to fully assess the likely impact of OTM but said “so far OTM's bark appears to be worse than its bite”.    On The MarketjeffrieszooplaZoopla Property Groupagents mutual]]>

 
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