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Online or High Street? Agent becomes first to offer vendors a choice  02 Sep 14

Franchise agency Martin & Co has set up an online property sales service and becomes what is thought to be the first traditional agency to offer vendors a virtual alternative.  For an up-front fixed fee of £499, vendors will be able to advertise on Rightmove, Zoopla and other major portals, and get the benefit of traditional shop window advertising in local branches and advertising to a database of registered buyers.   As part of its online service, Martin & Co will handle the initial stages of the sales process, including advising vendors on valuation and how to achieve the best price for their property, completing photography and particulars for the customer and relaying enquiries from potential buyers.    Martin & Co will not charge commission on sales through its online service. If customers decide to switch within the first two weeks to Martin & Co’s traditional services their up-front fee will be deducted from the commission payable on sale completion.   “While we believe the traditional service will continue to be the norm, a growing number of people are choosing to personally manage the sale of their property through online platforms. Our new online offering will provide vendors with the highest quality service to market their property effectively and help them to achieve their desired valuation” says the firm’s chief executive Ian Wilson.    Last December the shares of MartinCo Plc, the holding company of Martin & Co, began trading on AIM, the small company market of the London Stock Exchange.  Martin & CoOnline AgentsTraditional Estate Agency]]>

No mortgage, no deposit, no estate agent - is this the future of house buying?  02 Sep 14

A developer-cum-finance house is marketing a deal which allows people to buy a home without a mortgage and without a deposit - and, so far at least, no estate agents. This so-called home payment plan has in fact existed in the north east of England for three years already and has several dozens of owners who have used it. But the firm behind it, the Gentoo Group - which describes itself as a ‘profits for purpose’ company - now wants to extend its reach across the country.    It works like this: Gentoo buys, builds or redevelops properties which it then sells at open market value. But instead of selling it via an agent in the conventional way, it sells via an in-house financial product called the ‘Genie home purchase plan’ which operates along similar lines to sharia mortgages.   Instead of putting down a deposit and instead of securing a mortgage involving interest payments, the purchaser pays monthly instalments on a 30-year plan. At the end of the 30 years, the home is fully-owned by the purchaser; along the way, the owner’s monthly payments gives him or her part-ownership, depending on the number of payments made.   Gentoo says over the course of 30 years the total paid by the purchaser would be the equivalent of a mortgage with a 6.8 per cent APR.   The product is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, customers are credit checked in the usual way, and the purchaser has the typical financial responsibilities associated with a mortgage - that is, to pay monthly and to be obliged to pay the full amount of the value of the property if it is sold prior to the end of the 30 year term, even if at the time of sale its value is lower than its original purchase price.   Gentoo has first refusal to buy should a client sell before the end of 30 years, but if the firm declines the owner can instruct an estate agent to sell on the open market.    The firm wants to spread beyond the relatively low-cost housing market of the north east of England, where it has won considerable praise from housing market analysts and politicians for offering at least an alternative for people to get on the housing ladder.   Would this work elsewhere? If so, is there a role for agents or is this best kept purely as a financial product? We would welcome your views.  GentooMortgagesGenie Home Payment Plan]]>

Portal woos agents with perks for staff  02 Sep 14

The latest move by one of the big two portals to retain loyalty in the face of the new Agents’ Mutual site takes an unlikely form - cut-price coffees, laptops and groceries. Zoopla is launching a members’ reward scheme giving perks to staff of its so-called ‘member’ agents and house builders. The scheme offers discounts and savings on brands including Morrisons, Asda, Dell, HP, Starbucks, Halfords, Sainsburys, Costa, CineWorld, Alton Towers and Fitness First.   The scheme is available as a free benefit to all employees of all Zoopla Property Group agent and developer members and is the equivalent of at least £99 per person per year, the portal claims.    “Typically these schemes are offered by large employers but our sector is made up of a large number of small businesses who often aren’t able to offer these types of benefits to staff” says Alex Chesterman, ZPG chief executive.    He claims the scheme has 2,000 members already.   zooplaAlex ChestermanAgents' Mutual]]>

Solid market encourages agency expansions  02 Sep 14

London agent Marsh & Parsons is opening two new offices this month and another in October as the buoyant market in the capital bolsters agency activity.  This month’s pair will be in Richmond and East Sheen. Both office sites have undergone a state-of-the-art refurbishment at a combined cost of £400,000, including the installation of a media wall at the Richmond branch.    To mark the occasion, Marsh & Parsons will be offering to sell homes in these areas for a special 0 per cent sales fee for the first three months following the launch - a discount from the firm’s standard 2 per cent commission. Both offices will handle sales and lettings.   Meanwhile Fox & Sons estate agency, part of Sequence UK’s national network, has set up its own apprenticeship programme for 16-22 year olds.   The programme involves 11 apprentices working as full time trainee negotiators; they will work in branches in south west England and will leave the programme after 12 months with NVQ qualifications.    Fox & Sons south west director Jason Bull says: “It’s extremely important the apprentices complete the educational side. The discipline and self motivation they will need to complete the qualification will set them up perfectly when working as negotiators in the branch, so we have highlighted this as a key area we hope for them all to learn from.”  Marsh & ParsonsFox & Sonshousing market]]>

Connells explains why house was a pig-sty  02 Sep 14

Connells has put its snout in the trough and explained why a picture of a house it has for sale in Suffolk has a large pig lying in a blanket in the living room. On sale for £120,000, the detached one-bedroom property sits on a private road in Ipswich. The particulars featured a picture of the living room of the house - which included a pig with its head resting on a settee.   A spokeswoman for Connells says the pig in the photo is the home owner's pet. "The photo was put up in error and has since been removed" she says.    In the property details Connells describes the former meeting house as a "unique one bedroom detached house". Although the agency has removed the image from its website, it still appears on hard copy material.   Unsurprisingly, Twitter became alive with speculation about the pig when it was spotted by a national paper. Some tweets suggested it would be an incentive to include the animal with the sale.  ConnellsPig In A PictureIpswich]]>

Agents' Mutual "will struggle to be noticed" - claim  01 Sep 14

The head of Property Portal Watch, which analyses portals around the world, is warning that Agents’ Mutual’s new On The Market website will struggle to be noticed when it launches early next year.  Simon Baker, the former head of leading Australian portal www.realestate.com.au and now the operator of Property Portal Watch, has told international real estate website opp-connect.com that OnTheMarket faces an uphill task.   “Why would I as a consumer look at an Agents’ Mutual site instead of Rightmove after, incidentally, I have had millions and millions of pounds of marketing thrown at me over the years? They need something in Agents’ Mutual that they don’t have in Rightmove, but what is that?” Baker asks.   He says it is “pointless” for individual agents to complain about portal fees generally.    “They put money on Rightmove because they get leads, but what’s the price per lead? How do those leads convert into sales? Perhaps they could just advertise on another site for a quarter of the price and get the same outcome. They need to systematically experiment” he says.   Baker claims the next big thing in the world of property portals will be international sales. “There is a lot of cross-border purchasing and as that becomes more and more obvious, there will be more access to listings in different languages and with more information around it that allows you to make a better decision” he says.    PPW is holding an international conference in Barcelona next month, buoyed by many of the world’s largest portals - notably the REA Group in Australia, Rightmove and Zoopla in the UK, the merging Trulia and Zillow in the US and Soufun in China - now being measured in billions of dollars.   Agents' MutualOnTheMarketProperty Portal Watch]]>

Don't cross your arms...or twitch...or wink  01 Sep 14

An estate agent has created a guide for sellers who have to conduct their own viewings on how to ‘read’ the body language of would-be buyers.  The guide is called The Art Of The Silent Sell and focuses on different types of non-verbal communication and body language including greetings, posture, body angles and touch.    House Network says it will equip sellers with a useful tool to help increase their chances of not only selling their home, but also to achieving the asking price.   The agency has commissioned a body language expert, Robert Phipps. Some of his (arguably less-than-amazing) tips include:   - "As you enter each room or point something out, keep an eye out for whether a small smile starts to appear on their face. Make a mental note of their reaction and try to point out similar features to continue their positive, happy smiles”;   - "Encourage them to touch things, sit down in the living room, feel the carpet (if you are leaving it), lay down on the bed etc. Touch is one of our basic five senses and how people feel about a particular area or space is important to them. The more they can try out things the more comfortable they feel, the easier it is for them to make up their mind”;   - "Make a list of your properties [sic] assets but only point out those that seem appropriate to each new viewing. Also notice how as you point out each of these things whether they are engaging with you by actually looking at them”.Online AgentsHouse NetworkBody Language]]>

NAEA TV ad campaign begins this evening  01 Sep 14

The National Association of Estate Agents’ latest TV campaign begins this evening with advertisement slots in the Midlands, north east and south west regions. There will be 48 spots planned in each area to run from today and for the next fortnight. The first will be a 30-second ad this evening at around 6.45pm in the middle of the ITV Early Evening News in the Central West, Tyne Tees and Westcountry ITV regions.   Others include prime-time slots during shows including Emmerdale, Coronation Street and through the keyhole, as well as daytime appearances during popular programmes such as Jeremy Kyle, This Morning and Loose Women.   Over the two week campaign NAEA forecasts that an average of 55 per cent of the population of each area will see at least three adverts - that’s equivalent of 4.1 million people.    The association is telling its members to make sure their branch window stickers are in place and to use the hashtag #LOOKFORTHELOGO on social media campaigns - this hashtag will be a prominent part of the TV campaign, too.  NAEATV Advertisinghousing market]]>

29.08.2014 - Weekly News Round-up from Estate Agent Today & Letting Agent Today  29 Aug 14

Here is this week's roundup of stories from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on easyProperty, Lettings Redress and Ice Bucket Challenges.      ]]>

Stagnant or growing? House price figures clash  29 Aug 14

House prices are almost static as the slowdown gathers pace according to Hometrack - but this is hotly disputed by the Nationwide today. The Hometrack consultancy, which produces its monthly house price index based on data from 5,000 agents in 2,300 postcodes across England and Wales, says prices rose just 0.1 per cent for the second month.   A key characteristic of the past month is the rapid narrowing of the gap between supply and demand.   The market in London continues to under-perform the rest of England and Wales, it says.     Growth in the capital flat-lined once again in August and just 11 per cent of London postcodes registered month on month price increases. This compares to prices rising across 19 per cent of markets outside London.    Hometrack says the change of fortunes for the London market over the last six months has been stark.  In February this year 87 per cent of London postcodes witnessed a price increase over the month compared to just 11 per cent now. The proportion of the asking price achieved has fallen from 98.8 to 96.4 per cent.   Meanwhile across all of England and Wales, key indicators show a stagnating market.    The average time a home is on the market is now 6.3 weeks - just three months ago it was 5.9 per cent. Even in August - a time that is traditionally quiet for new instructions - there was a 0.1 per cent increase in the volume of property listings. More than one in 25 postcodes are now showing average price falls whereas three months ago it was one in 60.    “The signs of a slowdown were starting to emerge back. Talk of a housing bubble and warning from the Bank of England have impacted sentiment while tougher affordability checks for mortgages and rumblings around interest rate rises is starting to make buyers think twice” says Hometrack research director Richard Donnell.    “Important lead indicators are pointing to a loss of momentum, in particular a widening gap between asking and achieved prices in the face of weaker demand and an increase in the time on the market. We expect a continued shift towards a seller’s market in the face of weaker, more price sensitive demand” he says.   But rival figures from Nationwide show that house prices moved up by an average of 0.8 per cent in August - the 16th successive monthly rise.   As a result, house price growth annually is still rising substantially - it's not 11 per cent a year, up from 10.6 per cent a month ago.   Nationwide's figures come from mortgage data, and while these rises are large, Nationwide insists they are not unsustainable.   "National housing affordability does not appear stretched by historic standards, in part due to the low level of mortgage rates" claims Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner.    housing marketHometrackRichard Donnell]]>

 
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