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How Smart Tech Is Set To Change Estate Agency

This article was sponsored by our partners at Zoopla and written by Carl Olivier, Zoopla's Head of Software, Product and Productivity. The property sector has undeniably woken up to the power of technology, with a plethora of new mobile apps and digital experiences launching in the last decade to empower buyers and sellers with vast amounts of information at just the tap of a screen. "We announced a multi-million pound software and productivity strategy which will benefit nearly 10,000 Zoopla agents across the

Terrible Times For Foxtons

Estate agency group Foxtons is ‘having a terrible time of it’ and ‘investors should steer clear’, a report says. Money Week’s Investment Editor Sarah Moore claims that Foxtons has a reputation for being ‘flashy and a bit brash’ and while this approach may have worked well in the property boom it is proving less effective now. The report also refers to Foxtons first ever losses last year, falling total revenue, its own gloomy forecasts for the future, and weak share price together with the substantial and controversial

Countrywide Looking To Sell Branches And Rent Back

Estate agency and property services group Countrywide Plc have put five branches up for sale by auction and are looking to rent them back from the purchaser, a report says. The affected branches, operated under various Countrywide brands, are at Airdrie, Bridge of Weir, Castle Bromwich, St Mawes and Whitby. Countrywide is hoping to achieve around £800,000 in total from the sales. Estate Agent Today reports that Countrywide says these branches are being sold since they are not a property investment company and that the

Foxtons Finance Officer Departs

Foxtons Group Plc  have announced that Mark Berry, an executive director and Chief Financial Officer of the Company, will be leaving the business by mutual agreement in July. The company have appointed Richard Harris as his replacement, to join the Board in late June. Harris was previously Group Financial Controller at Laird plc and prior to that spent over 11 years at Marks and Spencer plc. Alan Giles will also be appointed as a non-executive Director of the Company and member of the Remuneration, Audit and Nomination

Gaping Holes In Purplebricks’ Model, Expert Says

An estate agency expert says that Purplebricks’ business model has ‘gaping holes’ and its marketing budget is ‘way too flamboyant’. In an article in The Spectator James Max considers whether sellers should use an estate agent. He says he can understand the appeal of the fixed fee model for sellers. However, he proposes a number of reason why this model is flawed, chiefly that it does not incentivise agents who, in addition, don’t have the same understanding of the market, nor buyers and sellers, as traditional agents do.

Purplebricks Oz The ‘Aldi Of Real Estate’

Purplebricks’ Australian operation was to estate agency what Aldi is to the retail sector, so claims a report on an Australian news site. News.com.au made the analogy in its coverage of Purplebricks’ decision to run down and close its Australian operation, announced this Tuesday. The reports quotes economist Stephen Koukoulas of Market Economics, who said that the increase in low cost or flat fee agents was likely to have the same effect on the real estate agent industry as Aussie Home Loans (a low interest loans

Online Agents – Ahead Of Their Time Or Doomed ?

An article in The Telegraph, published yesterday, reviews whether the online estate agency model is ahead of its time and will eventually succeed …. or is so fundamentally flawed it will never actually work. Examining the case that online agents are doomed, The Telegraph refers to the collapse of Emoov and HouseNetwork, Connell’s closure of its Hatched operation and Purplebricks withdrawal from Australia. It also refers to problems with customer perceptions of the online model, and the levels of customer dissatisfaction

Purplebricks Exits Australia, Bruce Exits Purplebricks

In its latest Trading Update Purplebricks plc said that it would be exiting the Australian market and that Michael Bruce, the Group's Founder and CEO, is stepping down from the business with immediate effect. On the Australia operation the statement said: “During the two and a half years that Purplebricks has been operating in Australia, market conditions have become increasingly challenging. This, combined with some execution errors, has resulted in the business not delivering the progress the Board expected.” Paul

Countrywide Income Falls, Improvement Not Expected Just Yet

In its latest Trading Update, issued just ahead of its AGM, Countrywide plc said that total Group income had fallen to £140.3m in 1Q 2019 compared to £144.6m for the same period in 2018. The Group said it had previously forecast H1 adjusted EBITDA would be down by some £3-5m, and now anticipates it will be around £5m lower year on year. Countrywide’s statement said: “The series of self help measures that we have put in place to re-align the cost base to the lower level of market activity continue to be

Purplebricks US: Massive Marketing Spend But Not Enough Customers

Purplebricks is struggling in the US because its massive marketing spend is not generating enough customers – so says global real estate tech strategist and thought leader Mike Deprete. Delprete calculates that Purplebricks US spent over $20m on marketing in the six months to December 2018 to generate around 1,200-1,400 new listings. This meant an acquisition cost of a substantial $15,000 per customer. However, despite this Deprete is not dismissing the impact Purplebricks could have on the US real estate market. He

Humberts Launch Living Concierge Service

Estate agency Humberts have augmented their service by launching what they call a lifestyle concierge service – Humberts Living. Humberts say that the service is designed to cater to the needs of clients beyond just the sale of a property, by providing an integrated range of transactional and management services including removals, cleaning, decoration, maintenance or even co-ordinating building work. Humberts comment: “Humberts Living makes even the most challenging of sales, purchases or lets possible. Viewed a

The 5 Companies Most Likely To Buy Countrywide

“It’s not for sale. No part is for sale. It’s being turned around. Of course it’s not for sale.”Paul Creffield, Group Managing Director - Countrywide Those are the words of Paul Creffield, group managing director at Countrywide, and now one of the triumvirate of executives leading the embattled agency group which has seen its share price plummet from 694.0p in spring 2014 to an ignominious 7.5p today. Not that the decline has been Creffield’s responsibility: the blame for Countrywide’s fall in value and reputation has

Where Property’s Heavyweights Go After They Quit The Boardroom

Not every boardroom or senior property industry executive wants to or can stay at the top for good. The pressures of internal politics, ambitious targets and a volatile housing market persuade many to look for job satisfaction away from the hurly burly of corporate life. But where to? The most recent example is Graham Lock, the former managing director of estate agency giant The Property Franchise Group (TPFG), who revealed last week that he was establishing a trade body. Called the Federation of Independent Agents

Dexters Buys Jackson-Stops Branches, Plans Expansion

London estate agency Dexters has confirmed it has purchased the London and Surrey branches of competitor agency Jackson-Stops. Dexters already has 70 branches across London and 35 in central London. The new acquisition involves 11 Jackson-Stops branches including those operating in Chelsea, Holland Park, Mayfair, Marylebone, St. James’s, Pimlico, Westminster and Victoria. Jeff Doble, Chairman and Founder of Dexters, told Dealmakerz: “We are excited to be working closely with Jackson-Stops in London and Surrey. We now

Agency Franchise Fails To Sell, Closes Down

Estate and lettings agency franchise opportunity HomeExperts has ceased trading, it is reported by an industry website. HomeXperts, which has up to 40 franchised branch operations, has apparently been up for sale itself for some time. The report also claims it has been in dispute with some of its own franchisees. Founder Sussanne Chambers told Property Industry Eye: “We recently tried to sell the HomeXperts franchise and despite initial interest from market leading property franchise brands, due to difficult market

Property Franchise Group Revenue Up, Even EweMove In Profit

In its final results for the year ended 31 December 2018 The Property Franchise Group PLC said that group revenue increased 11% over the year to reach £11.2m while profit before tax held steady at £4.3m. It added that online brand EweMove grew market share and delivered a pre-tax profit of £0.4m. The Property Franchise Group PLC is the holding company of six estate and letting agency brands – Martin & Co, EweMove, Whitegates, Ellis & Co, CJ Hole and Parkers – with 375 branches nationally. Ian Wilson, CEO,

Purplebricks US And Oz Future Questionable

Purplebricks may have to abandon its Australian and US arms and focus on its UK business, a report from Australia quoting an investment bank says. In substantially reducing its share price target for Purplebricks from 470p to 80p Berenberg said: “Having flown too close to the sun, with operations in five countries and cash burn of circa £7m ($12.9m) a month, we believe the group will be forced to seek additional equity at a significant discount or a doubtless expensive debt facility; or to abandon the Australian and US

Foxtons, Chancellors and Hamptons Are Serial Overvaluers, Claims

Some estate agency chains are overvaluing properties to mislead sellers into paying higher rates of commission, a report in The Times claims. The newspaper says that in an analysis of 200,000 Zoopla listings chains are overvaluing properties by up to a fifth. It said that the biggest agents and those with the highest commissions are overvaluing more, and referred to Foxtons, Chancellors and Hamptons International. The Times offers an example: ‘Nearly two thirds of homes listed by Foxtons, the biggest agent in

Keller Williams Appoints New Market Centre Director, Plans Expansion

Keller Williams, which claims to be the world’s largest estate agency, has appointed Nicky Stevenson as Market Centre Director at its Mayfair hub. Stevenson has extensive property industry experience, including hands-on at a number of lettings agents including Chesterton Humberts, a directorship at The Property Academy and business growth and coaching experience. The company has also said that it is planning to open four more of its estate agency ‘market centres’ across the UK this year. Keller Williams is a

Belvoir Records Record Results, Confident For Future

Belvoir Lettings PLC have grown both revenue and profits according to its preliminary results for the year ended 31 December 2018. The company reported a 21% increase in group revenue to £13.7m compared to the previous year, and a 40% increase in profit before tax to £5.5m. Gross profit ratio was 71% down to lettings, 18% down to sales and 11% down to financial services and the results represented the 22nd uninterrupted year of profit growth, the company said. Belvoir has also grown its office network from 300 to 365

Marsh and Parsons Continues Branch Expansion

London estate and letting agent Marsh & Parsons – part of LSL Property Services Plc – has opened another new branch, an industry website reports. The new branch at Streatham Hill comes hot on the heels of the launch of Marsh & Parsons new branch in Willesden Green just two weeks ago. The Willesden Green branch is aiming to make inroads into the local market by offering zero commission on sales and lettings until June and the Streatham branch offers a similar incentive. Patrick Littlemore, Chief Executive

Times Accuses Agents Of Rigging Reviews

A report in The Times has accused Purplebricks and Foxtons of ‘gaming’ the Trustpilot review system. The report names estate agents as well as banks in an investigation which examines the impartiality of Trustpilot reviews. It questions the way in which companies are able to solicit reviews from customers and select which reviews to display on their own websites and Facebook pages – and quickly move from having a number of negative reviews to many positive reviews in a short period of time. It points out that these

The Alan Partridge Of Agents: A Deep Dive Into The Future Of Foxtons

In a world where perception frequently trumps reality, Foxtons remains a potent symbol of aggressive and successful estate agency - even if its bottom line suggests otherwise. Only this month Alan Partridge, the parody TV character now exemplifying Brexit British bluster, demanded that his fictional show be beefed up to become “10% more Foxtons.” But the facts behind the bravado suggest Foxtons could be facing an existential crisis, irrespective of its bullish image. It suffered pre-tax losses of £17.2m in 2018 -

Savills Grows Revenue, Profits, But Future Uncertain

Savills plc said that both its group revenue and underlying profit were up in its preliminary results for the full year ended 31 December 2018. The company said that group revenue rose 10% to reach £1.76bn and underlying profit rose 2% to £143.7m. Mark Ridley, Group Chief Executive, said: "Savills delivered both revenue and underlying profit growth in 2018, driven by a robust second half of the year. In addition to maintaining or growing our share of transactional markets, the performance of our less