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NAEA insists first time buyer shortages go on  28 Aug 14

The National Association of Estate Agents still insists only 20 per cent of sales are being done to first time buyers - repeating a controversial claim it made a month ago.   Its figures for July, just released, repeat the June claim and say that for the second month running just one deal in five involves a first timer. Back in June, the NAEA claim won it a front page mention on the Daily Mail as well as valuable column inches elsewhere.    However, the association’s reiteration of the 20 per cent figures, this time for July, appears once again to contrast sharply with recent data from other industry players.    LSL, for example, says the number of first-time buyers hit a seven-year high in July with 30,000 first time buyer sales, about a quarter above those seen in the same month a year earlier, and the largest number since August 2007.    The Halifax and the Council of Mortgage Lenders, too, have produced data showing significant surges in the numbers of first time buyers.   The NAEA has been sharply criticised for the earlier data, notably with a Savills researcher taking to Twitter to describe some of it as “bonkers.”   Association president Simon Gerrard told Estate Agent Today that the June figures, compiled from reports from around 500 agencies across the country, were accurate.    But he also suggested that in his own 11-office agency the number of first time buyers in July appeared to rise, which if true appears to be an experience at odds with the NAEA’s assessment.   This month, the claim about the 20 per cent first time buyer share was carried in the final paragraph of the NAEA press release announcing its view of the market.  NAEAFirst Time Buyershousing market]]>

Firms pile into property crowd-funding market  28 Aug 14

PropertyMoose - a crowdfunding website that allows individuals to pool investment in property allowing individuals to spend smaller sums than usual - is to relaunch in the middle of next month.    Set up by James Cadbury, part of the chocolate-empire family, it has so far reportedly attracted a modest 70 investors allowing them to buy a share in a house or apartment for as little as £500.    New investment opportunities are temporarily unavailable prior to the site relaunch.   Investors enjoy income from rent: PropertyMoose promises a potential six per cent return. Investors could also ultimately receive capital appreciation earned prior to sale - the site promises 70 per cent of appreciation will go to crowdfunders.   When it relaunches the website will include a link with a not-for-profit property renovation service which will operate as a charity, assisting young women who have been the subject of domestic abuse or people trafficking.   Meanwhile CrowdProperty has been launched as a new peer-to-peer lending platform designed to facilitate loans between private individuals and property professionals.    CrowdProperty says it is aimed at two different groups of people. Firstly the ‘lender’; private individuals with £500 or more seeking to achieve returns of five to 11 per cent gross. Secondly ‘borrowers’ or property professionals, that wish to borrow money from the crowd of lenders to finance a new property project or re-finance an existing one. This includes development projects, project refinancing and buy-to-let investment refinancing.   CrowdProperty takes a one-off three to five per cent arrangement fee from property professionals and passes the full amount of the gross interest payable on the loan to the crowd of private individuals. Borrowers can apply for up to 100 per cent finance on new developments at between nine and 11 per cent per year, or up to 80 per cent loan to value for refinancing at five to six per cent per year.   CrowdfundingPropertyMooseCrowdProperty]]>

Auctioneer seeking agency partner  28 Aug 14

An auctioneer which claims to have enjoyed property sales of £35m within just 9 months says it is now looking to identify “a strong agency partner”.   Swindells Auctioneers, which specialises in the Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire areas, says it has already enjoyed growth of 200 per cent over the last 12 months. It wants to build on its reputation and client base of buyers and investors in the UK and Ireland.    “We recently made an important strategic decision to divide our business from our previous partner as we are hoping to move forward by collaborating with a new or existing auction house focussed primarily on appealing to buyers and property investors” says owner Edward Swindells.    “We also plan to identify a partner who is able to support us in our aim to significantly expand our reach within central London and the M25 corridor over the next two to three years, as this is where we have identified the best possibilities for growth” he suggests.   The move follows Edward Swindells recent departure as auction director of MS Auctions.  AuctioneerSwindellsAuction Market]]>

Agent bucks trend with '32% price rise by 2018'  27 Aug 14

Slowdown? What slowdown? Against the trend of most recent market forecasts, one high-end agent has significantly increased its forecast for growth in the mainstream UK market claiming some areas will see up to 32 per cent price surges by the end of 2018.    Savills says average UK house price growth has exceeded all expectations over the past year. The firm now expects average annual UK house price growth to settle at 9.5 per cent this year, well ahead of the 6.5 per cent which it originally forecast.    This will be followed by 4.0 per cent growth in 2015 and 25.7 per cent overall in the five years to the end of 2018, fractionally higher than 25.2 per cent originally forecast.   Savills - which concentrates its house sales in the southern half of England and in Scotland - says house price growth in London, the south and east of England has significantly exceeded its original forecasts, with all expected to end the year well into double digits.    In the case of London this appears to go against the grain of what other agents are saying.    For example, south west London agency Douglas & Gordon has just claimed that price rises are “grinding to a halt” and “flat-lining” in its area. Sequence has also been significantly more downbeat; it says property registrations in the capital rose by 25 per cent year-on-year, while new buyer registrations increased by only seven per cent.   Savills, however, is in bullish mood. “House price growth in the mainstream market has been underpinned by record low interest rates, rising loan-to-income lending and pent up demand from buyers re-entering the market as the economy and consumer sentiment have improved,” says Lucian Cook, who heads Savills’ UK residential research.   “But these extraordinary rates of house price growth cannot continue in the current, more regulated mortgage environment, particularly in the face of likely interest rate rises” he concedes.  Savillshousing marketForecasts]]>

Boom means Foxtons will pay special dividend  27 Aug 14

Foxtons is paying another special dividend of £12.8m after revenues jumped up by £29m to £72.8m in the first half of this year.   The group will pay out £12.8m in interim and special dividends, more than half of the £23.1m pre-tax profits it generated in the six months to 30 June, a rise of 57 per cent on the same period last year.    It is its second special dividend payment since it went public last autumn.   Nic Budden, Foxtons’ new chief executive, describes the firm as “highly cash generative” with “no debt to service”.   Revenues rose 16.2 per cent to £72.8m, driven primarily by larger volumes of homes being sold, which grew by 20 per cent to 2,919.   The average price of homes sold by Foxtons rose from £475,000 to £545,000, reflecting its focus on what Budden calls “higher volume, higher value mid-market sector”.   But Foxtons is warning that MMR is cooling this sector of the London sales market.   However, the firm’s lettings revenue remained roughly static at £31.8m, and the number of homes let saw a marginal decline to dip below 10,000.          Foxtonshousing marketlondon]]>

40% of Home Counties deals fall through - claim  27 Aug 14

Four out of 10 property sales now fail to reach exchange thanks to problems in the “antiquated” conveyancing process, says a London and Home Counties buying agency.  Property search firm The Buying Agents - which has seven offices handling high-end purchasers, investors and corporate clients across London and The Home Counties - says the industry norm in recent years has been 30 per cent but this has now risen markedly in recent months.    In some cases the firm agent has found that sales have fallen through as a result of vital information being withheld by the selling agent or vendor.    “In certain areas we’ve seen an increase of around 10 per cent in the number of properties returning to market which indicates there are still problems with this antiquated process. Now is the time to get industry leaders together to find the best possible solution for all parties” says Henry Sherwood, TBA’s managing director.    He says the much-hated Home Information Packs were, in theory, a solution to this problem.    “Buyers should always have access to detailed information about the property before they consider making an offer. Some of the things to be aware of include details of the lease and any relevant restrictions, physical issues such as damp and subsidence as well as whether or not the property has been on the market before and if so why it returned to market” he insists.  Fall Throughshousing marketThe Buying Agents]]>

Another agent joins Ice Bucket Challenge  27 Aug 14

The head of online agency Turtlehomes.co.uk has become the latest industry figure to join the ice-bucket challenge.   Richard Tuck - dressed appropriately enough in goggles and scuba diving gear, and using a head-cam to film proceedings - was doused enthusiastically by his children in a video later posted on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGOtbZjnk4M   His nominations announced before the soaking did not include rival agents.   There is still no news on whether Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett - nominated by a Scottish agent over the weekend - will accept the challenge, nor whether the controversial founder of online agency Hatched, Adam Day, will accept the multiple nomination requests for him to get icy in aid of charity.    If you or anyone in your agency is undertaking an ice-bucket soaking in aid of good causes, please let us know for our Agents Do Charity feature, every Friday here on Estate Agent Today.  Ice Bucket ChallengeTurtlehomesAgents' Mutual]]>

Agent tells Foxtons: "You're not wanted"  26 Aug 14

Once again Foxtons has become the subject of a campaign by those against it opening a new branch - and this time one of the chief opponents is another estate agent. Some local residents and small businesses complain that the West Hampstead area already has 29 property-related offices including one - Dutch & Dutch - owned by the same family since the 1940s.    However Dutch & Dutch’s David Matthews, who is on the committee of the West Hampstead Business Association, says there are now too many agents in the locality.   He says the plethora of property firms leads to “decreasing local footfall and artificially inflating prices” and that Foxtons is “the wrong company for the area.”   A local clergyman and an online community forum have also come out against the application, with the latter - westhampsteadlife.com - saying that objectors have to hope that planners at Camden Council dismiss Foxtons’ application justifications as “nonsense” and instead realise that “another estate agent on a street that already has about a dozen instead contributes to the creeping homogenisation of the town centre and adds very little to what is already a crowded market.”   The planning documentation submitted on behalf of Foxtons by central London chartered surveyors Montago Evans, and seen by Estate Agent Today, includes the statement: “the occupation of the unit by Foxtons would contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre as it would generate activity within the unit. Indeed, as opposed to some A2 uses (such as betting shops), Foxtons’ branch concept is to have a modern, café-style, open environment where people can see activity within the branch from outside.”   The statement is followed by a CGI of how the now-familiar Foxtons brightly-lit green and yellow office format would look on the site.    Consultation on the application, which would see Foxtons occupy the basement and ground floor of the site, runs until September 9.  FoxtonsDutch & Dutchlondon]]>

New funding drive launched by easyProperty  26 Aug 14

easyProperty has launched a second funding round targeting Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and key figures in the City of London, to augment £5m raised earlier this year.  The website - which as revealed exclusively on Estate Agent Today earlier this month will launch on September 15 - will open with a lettings service only, before starting a sales service from next spring.   A marketing campaign will be launched for the easyProperty rentals proposition within the next few days. Chief executive Robert Ellice says easyProperty already has 10,000 rental properties pre-registered and aims to let between 4,000 and 5,000 homes a month.   In true easyGroup fashion, its ambition knows no national boundaries - it plans to expand across Europe within three years.   The announcement about the second funding round was made by Ellice in a Financial Times article sub-titled ‘Death of the real estate agent’. In addition, the piece looked at the contrast between costs to customers of traditional estate agents and online agents.   The cast-list of interviewees will be familiar to readers of Estate Agent Today - in the ‘new school’ corner, Sarah Beeny, Adam Day of Hatched and Aidan Rushby and Logan Hall of Movebubble, while in the ‘old school’ corner was Ed Mead of Douglas & Gordon.   The article, by FT property correspondent  Kate Allen, likened the economically-disruptive model of online estate agency to disruptive forces in other business sectors - for example, app- and web-based taxi hire services such as Uber which have recently been criticised by London black cab drivers, and the Airbnb accommodation site which has recently become a popular alternative to traditional hotel-booking services.   The article says Rightmove and Zoopla have been the chief enablers allowing vendors an alternative - the online agent - to the traditional high street agent.   easyPropertyOnline AgentsRobert Ellice]]>

Agent pours cold water on Agents' Mutual  26 Aug 14

An online estate agent has taken the war of words with Agents’ Mutual to a new level by challenging AM chief executive Ian Springett to take the ice bucket challenge. The challenge has become a global sensation over recent days as mere mortals, celebrities, UK politicians, Formula 1 drivers and even ex-US presidents have had buckets of iced water poured over their heads to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.   It’s the tradition to post a short video of the soaking on social media, and then extend the challenge by nominating others to do the same - and thus raise more money.   Now Colin Bain, who runs Glasgow-based online agency ScotHouseMove.com, has taken the challenge, and is graciously extending the fund-raising by saying that he will offer £10 to the charity for any of his customers who do the same.    He has also nominated Ian Springett to do the challenge - “If you’re man enough, Ian” he says. This follows Agents’ Mutual’s decision not to allow any online agents to advertise on its portal, which is scheduled to launch in January.   If it’s any consolation to the AM boss, another online agent has himself been nominated three times to be soaked.   Adam Day, who runs hatched.co.uk, says on Twitter that he’s still considering whether to do the challenge or instead give money to the charity directly.    If he does, however, the challenge may run and run because he has tweeted the ominous warning: “Watch out all you agents who've given me grief recently...I might be nominating you!”  Agents' MutualScotHouseMovecomIce Bucket Challenge]]>

 
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