Newsletter 1: Purplebricks, eMoov, HouseSimple, Settled, easyProperty – August 2016

Purplebricks ramps up recruitment drive for Local Property Experts

pb-logo2The popular online/traditional hybrid agency has apparently placed an advert with a recruitment agency to attract local property experts – claiming that ‘right now we have many property professionals earning in excess of £95,000 pa’. No qualifications are required, though applicants will need at least one year’s experience of property valuation. Purplebricks is not mentioned by name in the advert but clear evidence points in their direction. Currently the third largest estate agency in the UK, Purplebricks is spending £1.3 million a year on advertising and has stated its ambition to become the largest in the next few years.

eMoov releases annual Schools Performance and Property Price Index

emoov_newlogoThe online estate agency eMoov has recently published an index that measures the best 50 state schools across the country, as indicated by both academic results and affordable property prices. eMoov’s initiative is based on the understanding that choosing a new school often goes hand-in-hand with moving house. The scale is measured in property prices per GCSE point – with the winner this year being Heckmondwike Grammar School in Kirklees, West Yorkshire. Pupils scored an average of 616.1 GCSE points, with the average house price being £113,507 – making the lowest national total of £184 per GCSE point. Only two other schools in the country score below £200.

HouseSimple warns against letting insects bug your buyers

housesimple_sidebarOnline agent HouseSimple warns that insects – whether occasional visitors or a surprise swarm – can deter potential buyers. HouseSimple recommends a series of measures to keep off-putting bugs out of your home at viewing time. Screens and meshes allow you to ventilate a property safely, and the agency advises on the type of lighting that won’t attract so many insects – if you can’t switch lights off altogether. You’ll need to pay particular attention to the kitchen and food storage/disposal, and use attractive and natural insect-repellants that do the job without causing buyers to turn up their noses. Another neat tip is using vinegar to disrupt scent trails left by ants.

Settled founder comes out fighting on The One Show

settled_logoGemma Young, founder of online estate agent Settled, has thrown her hat into the ring to battle against traditional estate agents in a TV debate on The One Show. Young argued that online agencies can charge less without compromising on service, thanks to their ability to strip away extraneous expenses. But it’s not just about the bottom line; Settled’s customers, she says, value the transparency and control a web-based service gives them, as opposed to the high street model that an increasing number of customers regard with scepticism. ‘The idea therefore, that we’ll continue to pay thousands of pounds for a service that has been characterised over the years by mistrust, malpractice and gazumping is simply unfathomable.’

easyProperty issues guide to documents that can ‘save landlords thousands’

EasyProperty_logo1Forgetting essential documentation can prove to be a headache most landlords never expected, according to easyProperty. Whilst many are content to let certificates slide because they think a modest fine is the only penalty they’ll face – and even that seems unlikely – the consequences can be far more serious, says the online agent. easyProperty have listed six different vital documents landlords need to ensure remain up-to-date. Should it ever become necessary to evict a tenant, landlords could find themselves unable to serve the required paperwork without them – and find themselves liable for fines of thousands of pounds, the report states.

Property surveyors say housing market paused after Brexit vote

The UK housing market is ‘pausing for breath’ after the shock Brexit vote, a poll of surveyors concludes. RICS’ results suggested that buyer inquiries, home sales and new instructions all fell in the three months to the end of July, as confidence faltered with the wider economic uncertainty that arose from the UK’s decision to leave the EU. However, this is likely to be temporary, the poll reveals, with most of those surveyed expecting rising house prices within a year. Separately, commercial property appears to remain strong, especially the London office space market – a situation that is partly credited to foreign investors taking advantage of the weaker pound.

Some high street estate agents may close post EU referendum, says analyst

Whilst an outright ‘housing recession’ is unlikely, the slowdown in property prices may force some high street estate agencies to close branches, analysts say. Shares in estate agents have fallen markedly since the referendum; although the number of properties on the market has risen, the prices at which they are being listed are dropping below the long-term trendline. The concern is that if sellers do not adjust their price expectations, they may simply withdraw their properties from the market altogether. The upside is that estate agencies may now be undervalued, offering ‘attractive entry points’ for contrarian investors.

Green tax threat ‘could cost landlords up to £5,000’

Buy-to-let homeowners will have to fork out thousands of pounds to ensure their properties are energy efficient, a report warns. From 2018, landlords will need to pay for measures like insulation and new boilers up-front, rather than applying for loans under the Green Deal scheme, as they can at present, paying them back slowly with money saved from their energy bills. It is estimated that the new laws could affect 330,000 buy-to-let landlords, who in many cases will be forced to pass costs on to tenants. The government estimates that most landlords will have to pay no more than £1,800, though efficiency measures for homes in bands F and G – the least energy efficient – will cost far more.

House builder calls on new ministers to reverse George Osborne’s policies

The Belvoir chain of property agencies has called on the new government to reverse the tax policies that it considers are damaging the private rental sector – instead calling for incentives that will make renting more affordable and increase supply. Managing Director Dorian Gonsalves has argued that decreased investment by landlords in the rental market has led to a shortage of available properties, driving up prices. Inevitably, he claims, the tax rises on landlords have been passed on to tenants. Belvoir expects the situation to grow worse in the coming months if new ministers do nothing to act.

Mortgage lenders ‘punishing first time buyers’ despite rate cut

Interest rates are at their lowest ever, but banks are still finding ways to penalise first-time buyers by making some tracker mortgages more expensive, it is claimed. The move by several major mortgage lenders happens at the same time that banks are slashing their savings rates – and despite Bank of England Governor Mark Carney insisting that lower rates should be passed on immediately to help stimulate the economy. The biggest culprit so far is said to have been Halifax. Although the base rate has dropped from 0.5% to 0.25%, Halifax raised the interest rate for first time buyers on a 2-year fixed mortgage and with a 15-20% deposit by 0.45%, to 2.04%.