Category Archives: property market opinion

Purplebricks and its finance company have liabilities in perpetuity – Emoov collapse should sound alarm-bells for investors and business partners

“Consumer watchdog Which says 5000 sellers could be affected by the collapse of Emoov” https://www.propertyindustryeye.com/consumer-watchdog-which-says-5000-sellers-could-be-affected-by-collapse-of-emoov/ Source Property Industry Eye (PIE)

Purplebricks share price continues to nose dive
Purplebricks share price continues to nose dive

The collapse of eMoov into administration again demonstrates the fundamental flaw in the call-centre estate agency business model but, it also highlights a severe problem for Purplebricks and the few other remaining call-centre agents that has been alluded to before but, in a different context. Their contract binds the companies to deliver the contracted service in perpetuity.

As the PIE story demonstrates, Purplebricks* consumers who have paid for a service upfront or, deferred payment, are now entitled to that cost being refunded or, tfor the customers to enforce the contract for eternity. 

Given the consistent and dramatic share price fall over the past year, its continued ‘shyness’ in substantiating many of its bold claims (88% listing to sold by Michael Bruce CEO on Radio 4 MoneyBox) and, its inability to provide a shred of evidence to repudiate Anthony Codlings damning Jefferies report which stated that Purplebricks sells (completes on) at most 51%** of all of its clients that it takes circa £1,300 from on average.

This means that Purplebricks has an exponentially increasing exposure to clients who can contractually demand their money back/ enforce the marketing and support package in perpetuity (allowing for ever increasing Rightmove charges and LPE retainers etc. Either Purplebricks and its finance company must hold sufficient and ever increasing cash reserves to be able to meet this contingency or, they face a potential charge of selling services they do not have the ability to provide as contracted.

See also

https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2018/05/08/are-purplebricks-set-to-repay-millions/

https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2017/12/12/purplebricks-and-the-case-of-the-regulators-who-wont/

https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2017/08/24/attempted-intimidation-by-a-plc-or-fair-comment/

*Stock market ticker PURP #PURP Social media @PurplebricksUK @purplebricksAUS @PurplebricksUSA

**believed to be a ‘safe’ conservative figure to keep Jefferies lawyers happy

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.

“Really?!…. I don’t need planning permission to put a stunning, modern mobile home in my garden?!”

HabitatDesignCollection-MackintoshPavilion-1.jpg

Picture credit – Habitat Mobile Homes Ltd 

Use of a mobile home in the garden of a residential house.

If you want to site a mobile home in a field or an area outside of a garden you will need to apply for planning permission.

Siting a mobile home in a garden does not directly require planning but we advise applying for a ‘Certificate of Lawfulness’ from the Planning Authorities. It’s surprisingly true that laws relating to touring caravans, the type you tow behind a car, also apply to mobile home and static caravans: a type that can be significantly larger and suitable for year-round residential accommodation.

A caravan, be it a touring or static caravan or a large twin-size mobile home, is regarded as an article of movable personal property known as a ‘chattel’ and there is no public law preventing one being kept in someone’s garden, but there are Laws that regulate the ‘Use’ of land. It is NOT a Permitted Development Right. Siting a Caravan is NOT ‘Development’ whether permitted or otherwise. If the proposed mobile home falls within the criteria of use, conformity and location, then the situation is outside of planning control and approval from the Authorities is not needed.

We do, however, advise that in all cases a Lawful development Certificate is obtained for peace of mind. A lawful development certificate (LDC) is a statutory document confirming that the use, operation or activity named in it is lawful for planning control purposes. A mobile home will not require planning permission based on the follow criteria:

Location 

The caravan must be in the ‘curtilage’ of a dwelling house. This is the drive or garden, not adjoining paddock land, for example.

In James v Secretary of State for the Environment 1990 it was held that there are three criteria for determining whether land is within the curtilage of a building, namely:

  1. physical layout
  2. ownership, past and present
  3. use or function, past and present

 Definition of a ‘Caravan’

The actual structure must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’ described in the Caravans Sites and Control of Development Acts 1960 and Associated Articles.

Appeal Decision by the Secretary of State (Erewash Borough Council 2002) determined that there are 3 tests to be applied to the park home:

  1. construction test
  2. mobility test
  3. size test

Use

The use must be incidental to the use of the house, meaning used in conjunction with. There are 4 accepted ‘incidental’ tests, reported to the House of Commons (Hansard, for 22 November 2005) as arising from relevant case-law. These are:

  1. the relationship between the respective occupants
  2. the relative size of the house, its garden and the caravan
  3. the relative scale of accommodation in the caravan and the house
  4. the degree to which the caravan is functionally connected to and subordinate to the use of the dwelling house

    Mobiles Homes in Gardens

    Planning Permission for Mobile Homes in Gardens

    OVERVIEW

    A caravan, be it a touring or static caravan or a large twin-size mobile home, is regarded as an article of movable personal property known as a ‘chattel’ and there is no public law preventing one being kept in someone’s garden, but there are Laws that regulate the ‘Use’ of land and ‘Development’.

    The siting of a caravan within the garden of a property does not require express consent provided a ‘material change of use’ or ‘Development’ has not occurred. If a caravan is parked in a drive or sited in a garden and used by members of the household in connection to the enjoyment of the house or as extra accommodation for visiting guests, provided the occupants continue to use the facilities of the house, then the siting of the caravan has not changed the ‘use’ of the land. However, if for example a caravan is sited in a garden and used as business premises, separately rented or used as a primary independent dwelling, with no relation to the main house, the local planning Authority could decide that an unauthorized ‘material change of use’ has occurred, for which planning permission will be required.

    The most important element is location. The location has to be in the direct garden, it can’t be on paddock land, or scrubland that is some distance from the house, even if the location is within the property boundary it really needs to be in the direct garden.

    A mobile home can be used in a garden without planning but you will need to justify how the use of the caravan supports the use of the house and how it will not become a separate or independent dwelling. For example the people who sleep and wash in the mobile home will use the cooking facilities of the main house. The structure must also be located in the actual garden, not surrounding land. Caravans, including mobile homes up to 65x22ft, can be sited in the direct garden of a house without planning permission if they are used by members of the household as additional living space not as independent accommodation.

    Key Factors

    There are three key factors to determine whether siting a caravan in a garden will not require planning permission. They are; the location of the caravan is garden, the caravan itself conforms to the legal definition, the use of the caravan is functionally link to the house.

    Location

    The caravan must be in the ‘curtilage’ of a dwelling house. This is the drive or garden, not adjoining paddock land, for example.

    In James v Secretary of State for the Environment 1990 it was held that there are three criteria for determining whether land is within the curtilage of a building, namely:

    1. physical layout
    2. ownership, past and present
    3. use or function, past and present

    Definition of a ‘Caravan’

    The actual structure must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’ described in the Caravans Sites and Control of Development Acts 1960 and Associated Articles.

    Appeal Decision by the Secretary of State (Erewash Borough Council 2002) determined that there are 3 tests to be applied to the park home:

    1. construction test
    2. mobility test
    3. size test

    Use

    The use must be incidental to the use of the house, meaning used in conjunction with. There are 4 accepted ‘incidental’ tests, reported to the House of Commons (Hansard, for 22 November 2005) as arising from relevant case law. These are:

    1. the relationship between the respective occupants
    2. the relative size of the house, its garden and the caravan
    3. the relative scale of accommodation in the caravan and the house
    4. the degree to which the caravan is functionally connected to and subordinate to the use of the dwelling house

     

    Different Types of Caravan

    The legal definition of a caravan covers a wider range of structures than conventional touring caravans. A ‘caravan’ is any structure designed for human habitation that is capable of being transported. The term ‘caravan’ applies to touring caravans, motorhomes, static caravans and twin-unit mobile homes and park homes.

    Touring Caravans. These are the ones we see towed behind cars. Designed for occasional recreational use. They are built to BS EN 1645 and must meet the requirements for the construction and use of road vehicles.

    Motor-caravans incorporate the living accommodation similar to that of a touring caravan onto a motor base vehicle and are therefore designed specifically for touring. They are built to BS EN 1646 and must be road legal.

    Static caravans, also called holiday caravans and single units, are designed for recreational use not yearlong residential accommodation. They are not directly towed on roads but transported in one complete section on a HGV trailer. They are built to BS EN 1647.

    Park Homes refers to single and double unit caravans designed for residential use and built to BS 3632.

    Mobile homes refer to caravans that are designed for residential use and are not to be directly towed on roads by a vehicle. They do not have to meet any BS standards but they must meet the mobility and size test and additionally the construction test for twin units.

    Common Questions

    If I couldn’t drive a small car to my back garden, how would a massive 20 x 6 meter 5 bedroom mobile home be moved in and out?

    Mobiles Homes can be assembled onsite from prefabricated panels and the mobility off-site and down a non-specific road is hypothetical.

    This is best answered in ‘The Appeal Decision; Brightlingsea Haven Limited v. Morris 2008’ where it stated ‘It is the structure that must conform to the law not the means of access to where the structure actually is, and whether it may have difficulty in reaching a road.

    It is now common practice to build or assemble caravans in hard to access back gardens. The structure must remain movable and capable of transport down a hypothetical road, even if access to a road may require craning over buildings or complicated procedures. The structure need not have direct access to a road to be deemed a ‘caravan’. In terms of construction, Mobile Homes can be assembled onsite from many prefabricated pieces so long as they conform to the construction and mobility test. Other caravans like touring and static caravans need not meet the construction tests but must remain movable. For large mobile homes it is recommended a kit-form caravan is purchased from a specialist reputable manufacturer as opposed to building one independently.

    Why would I want to live in a Caravan? I’ve stayed in caravans at holiday parks; they look horrible and are freezing cold in the winter!

    Many people think of mobile homes and static caravans as having substandard comfort, dreary designs and paper-thin walls. However, they are not all like this. Modern mobile homes can offer all the luxury of conventional residential living. They can be built to the same insulation values as a normal house and come in a variety of designs and styles.

    How big can a ‘caravan’ be?

    Although the maximum size of a caravan is limited to 20 x 6.8m in the Caravan Sites Acts, it is still considerably large, with enough space for over five bedrooms, toilets, kitchen and living spaces. A caravan can be significantly larger than most buildings capable of obtaining planning approval as annexes.

     Why not just have outbuildings? Homeowners have rights to build outbuildings without planning permission. Why would I consider a Mobile Home?

    Many homeowners are familiar with the ‘Permitted Development Right’ to have sheds and other outbuildings in a garden without the need for planning approval (The Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order 2008)
. However, the development rights for outbuildings don’t allow living accommodation and a structure with a kitchen and bathroom is not allowed.

    What’s the most common problem?

    The main problem that occurs with the Local Authorities (if the boundary of the garden and compliance with the Caravans Sites Act is not in question) will be the argument that if the caravan has all the facilities for independent living it is therefor capable of being used as a separate dwelling and a separate planning unit will have been created. Consequently, the use of the land will have changed from a single dwelling or incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling. However, this argument is not supported by Case Law. All caravans have the facilities for independent living by their very definition. There is no law that states that a caravan with full living facilities constitutes development. This applies more to buildings than caravans. One possibility to overcome this argument is to independently sign an ‘affidavit/statutory declaration’ stating that the use of the caravan will be not be as a separate dwelling.

    What about farmland? Can I put a caravan in a field?

    The answer is yes, but you can’t use the caravan as accommodation. It must be used in association with the use of the land. On farm land the caravan must be used for farming activities, storage or a rest area required by health and safely for workers. It cannot be used residentially as living accommodation without approval because the ‘use’ of the land would have changed from agricultural to domestic and a ‘material change of use’ would have occurred. A mobile home can, however, be used as accommodation for a limited 28 days of the year. There is no clear wording within this law that states the caravan needs to be moved off-site when not inhabited.

    Should the Council be contacted?

    You don’t have to contact the Council but it is recommended, especially in cases of large mobile homes. If all the circumstances are satisfied and Lawful, then you can get a letter of confirmation from the Council, either an informal reply to a letter or via an official Lawful Development Certificate, which involves completing the application documents.

    Why not just apply for planning permission for an annexe?

    Statistically there will be a high chance of refusal. When residential annexes are granted planning permission they are frequently smaller 1-2 bedroom buildings. Mobile homes can be 20 x 6.7 metres and have over 5 bedrooms, significantly larger than a building likely to be granted conventional planning approval. Additionally there is no restriction on style. Planning permission will often require that the style and finish is ‘in keeping’ with the area. Whilst, a mobile home can be finished to your preferred taste.

    Noteworthy Citations

    1- Parliamentary Questions The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister  (Jim Fitzpatrick) 22 Nov 2005 Column 1491. Column 1491-1492  (Extracts)

    This reference is to Parliamentary Questions concerning the use of caravans in gardens by gypsy travellers. In addressing these concerns, the Secretary of State made the following conclusions about the general ‘use’ of caravans in gardens.

    “A caravan is not a building. Stationing one on land is not itself “operational development” that requires planning permission, although associated works such as the provision of infrastructure and hygiene facilities may well be. Under planning law, householders can park caravans in their gardens or driveways indefinitely, provided that no material change of use of land occurs. However, in certain circumstances, the placing of a caravan on land may change the principal use of that land, which would amount to development in the form of a material change of use of land. It is for that reason that the use of land for an occupied caravan generally requires planning permission. A householder is entitled to use caravans as extra accommodation without planning permission, provided that the occupants continue to use the house, for example, the kitchen or bathroom. If, on the other hand, a caravan is there for another purpose not incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwelling, known as the dwelling house—for example, it is inhabited quite separately from, and independently of, the dwelling house—planning permission for change of use of the land would, generally speaking, be required. As it would result in the creation of a new planning unit, such permission may well not be granted in a residential area.”

    “current law allows flexibility for local authorities to determine the merits of any case as to whether the stationing of a caravan or caravans constitutes development requiring planning permission. Examples that might be considered ancillary could include uses such as storage, home office, additional sleeping accommodation and garden shed. A separate residence is clearly not ancillary to the use of the main dwelling house.”

    2- Letter from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

    The following extract is taken directly from a letter to a resident’s action group (CW10) from a Planning Policy Adviser at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

    “Each local planning authority has to take a view on whether any particular activity amounts to ‘development’ within the meaning of section 55 of the main Act. There are two types of development—’operational’, such as building or engineering work, and ‘material change of use of land’. A boat or vehicle would be a chattel rather than a building or a structure, so could only be considered as development if it represented a material change of use of land (eg, if someone set up a commercial boat-repair business in what was supposed to be his back garden). Similarly, a caravan, as defined under section 29(1) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, as modified by section 13(1)(b) of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 is not a building. However, if someone started using one as a self-contained dwelling within the curtilage of a dwelling house the local planning authority would require a planning application for change of use of land. Putting one dwelling into the curtilage of another is always a material change of use.”

    3- Communities and Local Government Circular 01/94 Paragraph 29

    This is a 1994 Communities and Government Circular regarding the use of caravans by gypsies. Although a 2006 paper referring to traveller and gypsy sites has preceded this circular, its general comments on the use of caravans in gardens can still be cited as relevant.

    “A caravan within the curtilage of a dwelling house may have a number of ancillary uses for which planning permission would not be required. For example, it could be used for additional living accommodation, provided that it remained part of the same planning unit as the dwelling house and the unit remained in single family occupation.”

This article was written by and permission given for its’ reproduction by http://habitatmobilehomes.com to whom we are most grateful.

 

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:

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