Category Archives: sell my home

Christmas can be a GREAT time to sell, however humble your home may be.

a-slow-zoom-towards-a-depiction-of-the-nativity-scene-of-christs-birth-in-bethlehem-with-the-isolated-run-down-stable-being-lit-by-a-bright-star_e1xj_3mg-e__F0004

Many people delay putting their home on the market prior to Christmas in the mistaken belief that they are:

a) unlikely to find a buyer “it’s the wrong time of year”  or,

b) going to be snowed under with viewers over the festive period (excuse the pun)

In fact, the run up to Christmas can be one of the best times to have your home up for sale. 

“It’s the wrong time of year” – Certainly, there are less buyers looking for and viewing homes in the run-up to Christmas BUT, those who are, are deadly serious. If someone calls our office in November December and says they want to find a home, we know they are very likely to actually buy.

The surge of buyers looking on our website year after year from December the 26th is profound. If you wait until the New Year to put your home up for sale, it will miss that surge of motivated buyers and will just become one of the many homes coming onto the market in the New Year. Smart sellers know this and put their home up for sale before Christmas; avoiding the competition and adding rarity value to their property.

As for being bothered over the festive period? Less but higher quality viewings that have been vetted by a good agent will mean you are very unlikely to be bothered by hordes of viewers (and, if you are, the resulting likely higher sale price will help cover those Christmas extras on your credit card!). Additionally, a 3D tour, such as the ones we use at PDQ, by Ocean3D is perfect to allow potential buyers to see if your home is going to match their requirements before physically viewing; meaning that those who DO view are far more likely to buy and, be far less likely to be wasting your time.

Do I need listed building consent to erect a timber garden shed/ studio?

An interesting discussion/ training session in the office today.

 
A potential buyer wants to erect a wooden studio (large shed) on a property we are selling.
10049121189918
 
The property itself is Grade 2 listed which would normally mean planning permission would be required* however, the land the shed would sit on is not attached to the property or its immediate surroundings but, is accessed via a shared path and a 30 yard/ meter or so walk.
The legal definition of curtilage** suggests to us that the land does not form part of the curtilage of the main property. Accordingly, it does not form part of the listing in our opinion and, so, the shed/ studio will not need planning permission as long as it complies with the other permitted developments. Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
Please note: PDQ are not lawyers and we have advised the buyer to consult with their legal advisors to verify this opinion and would advise readers in a similar situation to take independent legal advice before proceeding with any actions that may incur cost or time.
If you need advice on a property you are thinking of selling or developing property in Mid or West Cornwall, give us a call or drop us a line below. Before employing any agent, always ask to see their CV. Here’s mine
Director
PDQ Estates Ltd

*References:

Planning Portal

Local Government Lawyer

Call-centre estate agents national market share falls by 24% in the month*

Simon Pegg tele sales call centre.gif

In May, Mike DelPrete caused eyebrows to be raised in estate agency when he claimed that call-centre agents (incorrectly labelled online agents by some**), as a sector, had increased their market share of new listing to 7.1% from a previous (relatively) steady 5% or so for the past year or two. However, in his latest release, covered in Estate Agent Today, his research shows a 24% reversal in fortunes in the call-centre sectors share as a whole.

28/06/2018 EAT Today: “He (Mike DelPrete) also says that the total market share of the top five online agencies, based on new listings, is down to 5.4 per cent for May.”

08/05/2017 EAT Today: “Specifically, he (Mike DelPrete) says new listings market share for the online agents in the UK is up from 5.7 per cent in January to 7.1 per cent last month.”

At a glance, DelPretes’ data does not appear to take into account properties that have been multi-listed by some agents (portal juggled) but, nonetheless, demonstrates that the call-centre agency model is struggling to gain the massive, sustained growth in market share it has long promised as a sector.

There could be a number of factors at play in this dramatic drop much of which could be further bad publicity over the model and its chief players facing negative press from ASA rulings and consumer programs but predominantly on social media with Purplebricks, in particular, facing a daily barrage of complaints and abuse from unhappy customers which may be affecting other players in the sector by association.


*7.1% in May to 5.4% in June = 1.7 percentage point, a drop of 23.94% Source EAT as referenced in the article.
**It is incorrect to state that call-centre agents (those without high  street offices) are online, as almost all estate agents are online’ with high street agents having been so in the main since the early 1990s’. A more accurate and less confusing description of the YOPAs’ eMoovs’ and Purplebricks brands then, is “call-centre”.

Does your agent knows the AIDA principle?

better at attracting views rightmove

From 10% – 1,173% more interest with PDQ than other similar listings

If you are selling a property, it’s key that you present your home in a way that will help it sell and, that your agent then knows how to present it to potential buyers that will find a buyer at a great price in the shortest possible time (before it goes stale on the market). This is where the AIDA principle comes in.
 
ATTENTION – The property must be advertised and presented in a way that catches a potential buyers attention
INTEREST – Having caught the attention of a potential buyer, their interest must be piqued as to potential buyer benefits and how the property and its features might fit with their needs, desires and aspirational lifestyle.
DESIRE – The potential buyer develops a positive emotional interest in the property.
ACTION – The potential buyers forms a purchase intention, compares with other similar properties, potentially books a viewing and, ultimately, makes a purchase.
 
Every property will sell if it is presented well and priced commensurate with the market and any special buyers*
 
*A special buyer is one that might pay above what the market might be expected to stand due to a non-market-related need, often personal or, financial (such as a ransom strip etc.)
 
As can be seen from the attached graphic, taken today from Rightmove, all of our clients’ homes are achieving a minimum of 10% more interest on Rightmove than similar properties advertised with our competitors.
 
“Where your home is number one not one of a number”
01326 561561 | 01736 339143

3 Things your agent might not be telling you about your Rightmove(tm) report.

 

Rightmove admin report.png

If you are selling your home with an estate agent who advertises with Rightmove, the chances are, you may receive a report like the one to the left here. (If you haven’t, it may be time to change agents)

These reports can be a useful tool for good agents to advise clients on property interest, identify problems and develop new marketing strategies if required.

Many agents, however, just send them out to clients with no explanation or follow up call to explain what each of these lines and number actually means. At PDQ, these charts, along with other useful information, gets fed back to all of our clients once every week when we make our weekly progress and review calls.

  1. “Does a drop in interest mean I’m less likely to sell?” – Not necessarily. The golden fortnight is the first two weeks of marketing will give a good indication of whether a home is likely to sell with your current marketing plan. However, as long as the ‘property views’ line is at or above the line for the ‘similar properties’ (homes like yours on with other agents on Rightmove) it suggests that your home has a certain something that makes it special. This may be price, good photographs, a good description or a combination of factors.
  2. “My home is below the line for branch average, does this mean the agent is doing a better job for other home-owners on their books?” If your home is below the branch average, it may just mean that the other properties are of a more popular/ sought after type than yours (e.g. there may be nothing wrong with your home but the agents other properties may have a real ‘wow’ factor that means more people click on them). However, it may also mean that a review of your properties photographs and description might be in order (e.g. did your home receive a Friday afternoon write-up, with the photos taken by the board man?).
  3. “My home is receiving incredible interest, way above average, but no one is viewing? I don’t understand!” A nice problem to have but it spells trouble. If a home is receiving lots of views but no one is booking viewings it almost always means one of two problems – The property is overpriced – the agent isn’t converting enquiries into viewings (possibly a combination of both of these issues). People usually have a written or mental ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ pile when house hunting. If a property looks gorgeous but people aren’t booking viewings or asking for more information, it suggests that they are clicking through to look at the property (triggering the data spike on Rightmove) but then discarding the property into the no or maybe pile. Why? It looks great but, when they look at the property in more detail, there is a mismatch between how the property is described, its size, location and/ or its price. In blunt terms, it doesn’t represent value for money. However the problem may be that your agent is receiving email and phone enquiries but is failing to convert these to viewings, either because they are failing to contact the interested buyer back or, are somehow managing to put them off when they do call. If you suspect that your agent isn’t converting leads, you may wish to ask a good friend to secret shop the agent posing as a potential buyer using the Rightmove link and, also, a phone call to the office.

A good agent will always talk through issues or perceived problems with you honestly and should be like your best friend who tells you what you need to hear and not necessarily what you want to hear.

If the agent is at fault, a good one will own up, apologise and work to find a solution. If the problem is with the property or its pricing, they will work with you to find a solution that will help your home sell at the best price it is likely to in the current property market. Most homes that sell, find their buyer within the first couple of weeks. That is not to say that they all sell within that fortnight but that is when the peak activity is likely to be.

See also:

Are Purplebricks set to repay millions?

Laurel and hardy sad gif

Related posts Purplebricks – and the case of the regulators who won’t. Is my agent, local, an expert or even legal?! How do I check? Attempted intimidation by a PLC or fair comment? Purplebricks – What is really going on? Portal juggling – What is it, and why you should care

17/08/2018 – UPDATE: A well-placed Purplebricks*  insider has claimed that after a year of announcing to the stock market that they were partnering with respected review site Feefo the company has received less than 500 verified reviews from customers who have sold (completed). It is also claimed that the average customer rating is lower than the average Purplebricks Trustpilot claimed score.

Given the thousands of listings and the 88%** listing to sold (completion) ratio that Purplebricks CEO claimed, this very low number of completed Feefo reviews and at a lower rating begs a number of rather obvious questions and conclusions.

Purplebricks ratings have been the focus of a number of consumer protection investigations by the BBC and others amid many claims that Trustpilot reviews can be manipulated, falsified and, that Purplebricks staff are heavily incentivised and pressured to ask customers for ratings at the begining of the whole process, rather than at the end when scores might be lower. Claims that Trustpilot and Purplebricks deny.

Purplebricks publicly maintains that all of its Trustpilot reviews are verified but that is clearly not the case as a simple check on the TP website shows (only one review out of twenty was verified on the page we checked today 13.09 17/08/2018)

*stock market ticker symbol # PURP – Purplebricks PLC

**in comparison to the 51% or so of all listing claimed by Jefferies

If you have paid hundreds or thousands of pounds up front to an agent (or been signed up to a loan agreement to defer payment – especially without your knowledge) and have little or nothing to show for it, this article is for you.

If you are an investor in Purplebricks (stock market ticker #PURP ) You may also be a regular visitor to my blog and may also wish to take a close look at the arguments I advance below.

Consumers in the UK are protected by a multitude of laws both civil and criminal. Various bodies are charged to police these and do so with varying degrees of success and ability. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, policing and enforcement often doesn’t happen until a consumer affairs programme, writer, show or journalist picks up the story and brings it to light, in doing, shaming the appropriate authority to act.

Since launching, thousands of home-owners and landlords have signed up and paid out many millions of pounds to Purplebricks PLC (PB) having made a “transactional decision*” to use their services. I.e. having considered the advertising, press statements, news statements and marketing information provided in the press, online by the company, Directors and CEOs’, as well as hundreds of ‘LPEs’ (allegedly ‘local property experts’).

However, a quick glance at PBs’ Twitter feed or Mumsnet on any given day, will show that the hype and claims often don’t match the advertised service.

There are any number of potential points where thousands of members of the public could reasonably make a case to have their upfront fees returned having been potentially misled, however, space and time don’t permit so, I will list what is, p[robably, one of the most contentious.

  • PB repeatedly claim that they sell more, more quickly and at better prices than other agents; most notably by their own Directors, CEO and lawyers

As an investor or a consumer, it is reasonable to believe that if the CEO or Director of a company makes a clear statement that they sell (complete on, not just sold subject to contract) 88% of all they list, then that is what they achieve.

I.e. consumers paying £1,100 on average, up front, can expect to complete on the sale of their home by a buyer introduced by Purplebricks in 88% of cases. Except that, with PB, this claim, seems, at best, rather ‘fluid’.

Michael Bruce, CEO stated it was 88%. Their solicitors stated it was in excess of 90% and Kenneth Bruce, Director said it was in excess of 80%. The current CEO stated to the BBC that they only sold 78% (and even that was subject to contract, not completed sales). Furthermore, independent analysts keep awkwardly placing the listing to sold figure well below that level too. Jefferies, for example, famously describing parting with £1,100 upfront to Purplebricks as “a coin toss”  My own data from 2014 – date just the West Cornwall area date also gives the lie to this figure** by a considerable margin.

Adapted from the Citizens Advice letter “Letter to claim damages for misrepresented goods or services” here


Roy Wilkinson and Sandy James
29 Lode Way
Manchester
MC1 2MA
Karl Keanes
1 Lode Way
Manchester
MC2 3MA

8 May 2018
Dear Purplebricks

Consumer Protection Act

I entered into an agreement with your company on INSERT DATE at a cost of £1,100 plus a further £300 for accompanied viewings which we were told we could defer at no additional cost or penalty.

At the time of purchase, it was indicated by a representative of your company, Michael Bruce, that the service/goods would include:

  1. An 88% chance of selling our home.
  2. That all Purplebricks reviews on Trustpilot were and are verified
  3. I was not signing up to a loan agreement.
  4. All I would normally expect from an estate agent which, I reasonably believed to mean you had high street offices.
  5. My ‘local property expert’ would accompany all viewings and not just a paid helper.
  6. I would save money compared to a high street estate agent
  7. I could use my own solicitors without additional cost
  8. That my LPEs held a nationally recognised RICS or NAEA NVQ level 3 or higher qualification in estate agency with many years of experience and thus reasonably qualified to be classed as a property expert

I have since discovered that none of the above is correct, I therefore feel that the advertising of your service and the contract itself was misrepresented to me. As such, I have no option but to cancel the contract without penalty in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act and request a refund in full by return.

I look forward to your response within 14 days so we can resolve this matter amicably. I also require being advised of my LPEs’ office address (as registered with TPO, HMRC/ FCA etc for redress and money laundering etc.) as I may also wish to take this matter up with The Property Ombudsman Scheme, The Competition and Markets Authority and The Financial Conduct Authority. Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Roy Wilkinson and Sandy James


List to sold 01.01.14 to 04.05.18

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*2.5 Apart from the banned practices (which are banned outright), these breaches have a threshold: the commercial practice will be unfair if it affects or is likely to affect the transactional decision making of the average consumer.7
 ‘Transactional decision’ is defined widely and is not simply a consumer’s decision to use your services or not, or to buy a property or not. It could, for example, be a client’s decision to accept an offer, or a buyer’s decision to enquire about a property, commission a survey or instruct a conveyancer. [para 3.4]
 The ‘average consumer’ is someone who is reasonably well-informed, and reasonably observant and circumspect. For example, an average consumer would pay some attention to documentation given to them, but not necessarily to the small print unless key points in it are brought to their attention. An average consumer would check out publicly available facts for themselves where this is straightforward to do, although what checks they actually make will be influenced by the information that you have given them. [para 3.4]
 The important question is whether your act or omission is likely to have an impact on the average consumer, not an actual consumer (who may be more or less well-informed, observant or circumspect than the average one).
Source: National Trading Standards guidance notes

**Copy of List to sold 01.01.14 to 04.05.18List to sold ratio of 33.3%. Listings to withdrawn for the same period 55%

Purplebricks – and the case of the regulators who won’t.

 

This article follows on from related articles
PURPLEBRICKS – WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON?
ATTEMPTED INTIMIDATION BY A PLC OR FAIR COMMENT?
IS MY AGENT, LOCAL, AN EXPERT OR EVEN LEGAL?! HOW DO I CHECK?

UPDATE 1608/2018 Purplebricks admits hundreds of breaches of Anti Money Laundering legislation “Altogether, the business itself agrees there are 450 properties listed in the last fortnight in July that were not compliant with the law…

In the last few weeks and almost immediately after their last trading statement, Purplebricks listing numbers showed an incredible number of listing anomalies, with thousands of properties suddenly disappearing from the website over the period of a few hours and days and, a significant number of duplicate and quadruplicate listings with differing unique identifier numbers being identified by individuals and public source data from Zoopla/ Rightmove etc.

It is impossible to say with certainty whether this anomalous activity is innocent or an attempt to manipulate figures although the company  have previously admitted to having to ‘audit’ their listings when questioned about re and multiple listings by The Times)

Since my last blog, I have been trying to ascertain why the regulators appear reluctant to do their job. There appears to be an embarrassing game of pass the legislative parcel and a wall of silence between The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPOS), The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT – who oversee the property redress schemes) and the National Association of Estate Agents/ Propertymark (NAEA) who are an estate agency membership organisation and one of the Nationally recognised awarding bodies for the NVQ qualifications in estate agency.

If you want to work as an estate agent in the UK running your own business, even as a franchisee, the law says you must (amongst other things):

  1. Belong to a recognised Government redress scheme as approved by NTSEAT
  2. Be registered for Anti Money Laundering with Her Majestys Revenue and Customs (HMRC – Section 1.9)
  3. Be registered as a Data Controller with The Information Commissioners Office (ICO)**

Failing to comply with numbers two and three are a criminal offence. Failing to be a member of a redress scheme is a civil offence under the 1979 Estate Agents Act.

As previously revealed, Purplebricks PLC failed to register any of their franchisees with an approved redress scheme until June 2016. The Law states that Agents must register with an approved redress scheme, not that consumers must have access to redress however, neither NTSEAT seem keen to take any action despite this apparently clear breach of the 1979 Estate Agents Act and, TPOS were more than happy to take a large number of lucrative registration fees (they are a commercial company, not a government organisation) despite knowing that none of these firms had previously been trading lawfully with no redress and no ICO or AML registration.

Now here’s the first very odd bit.

  • Purplebricks make it clear that all of their franchisees are self-employed.
  • The franchisees are all registered separately at Companies house as independent limited companies (Ltd.)
  • The NAEA compliance team (who take advice from Warwickshire Trading Standards as Primary Authority on such matters) regard all these franchisees as self-employed and, to have individual redress, AML and ICO registration
  • TPOS require all franchisees to register with them as independent companies (as many legitimate franchise firms do)
  • NTSEAT, however, take the formal view that the franchisees are ’employed’ and thus, do not require to be registered for ICO or AML.

NTSEAT, as part of Powys Council, who bid for the taxpayer funded role, initially appeared to be strongly in support of taking action against portal juggling, (rightly) invoking the Fraud Act, Consumer Protection Regulations and Businesss Protection Regulations Act in various press releases and at conferences.

However, after a year with an immense amount of independent data and yet without a single prosecutions and an apparently isolated and unique view on the status of Purplebricks Franchisees (all other franchise firms such as Northwood PLC etc. are all individually registered) it seems that NTSEAT, as part of Powys Coucil do not want to take action against a company that is well-known for flexing expensive litigious muscles.

The NAEA too, are acting rather oddly. Despite having clear rules on membership and transparency etc. they are refusing to answer some rather simple questions or make clear statements about trading legally. They are also very reticent about their relationship with Purplebricks who their MD, Mark Hayward recently publicly praised for their transparency, despite PB PLC being serial offenders on the ASA naughty step and appearing on BBC consumer programs Watchdog, Moneybox and You and Yours for all the wrong reasons. Read more

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