Category Archives: Rent

Purplebricks – What is really going on?

Laurel and hardy sad gifPurplebricks is one of a raft of new-breed estate agency companies making some bold and questionable claims in the property market at present but how many of these claims stand close scrutiny and are they even trading within the law?

(This post has been updated on a number of occasions and these are all located at the bottom of the page – Last updated – major update 25/08/2017). Given the amount and length of some updates, this post may be split at some point to make for easier reading. CW

25/08/2017 – See latest related post – “Attempted intimidation by a PLC or fair comment?

03.08.17 BREAKING Purplebricks has now been subject to an in-depth investigation by BBC Radio4s’ ‘You and Yours‘ consumer program, as well as BBC Watchdog, forcing Michael Bruce, the CEO of Purplebricks, onto the defensive. Further complaints have been aired by consumers on Social Media and more is likely to break on this story over the coming weeks.

Over the years there have been many businesses who have seen what they believed to be an opportunity to change the property market in the UK (more specifically England and Wales) but, despite making bold claims to the press and investors, have failed spectacularly. Remember The Prudential?

In the late eighties it was the insurance companies wanting to sell endowment policies on the back of mortgages with cross selling opportunities (remember endowment policies?).

More latterly, a new raft of entrants have leapt onto the scene throwing the current corporate buzzwords of ‘disruption’ and ‘proptech’. These companies are the online* agents, promising allegedly huge savings for consumers with the same or even better service than the traditional full-service estate agents and big profits for investors.

In this post, I focus mainly on Purplebricks as the largest of these firms however, I also refer to other firms and the model in general too. In 2014, Purplebricks promised investors it would have made £25 Million profit by the end of 2016 (though these figures were subsequently challenged by PB . However, Hardman & Co predicted more modest profits of £8 Million EBITDA by this financial year-end).

Fast forward to December 2016 and PB issued a statement claiming that they had made just £300,000 profit using the EBIDTA method of calculation for the half-year results, some way short of the previous figure. Their full year-end figures are due out on the 29th of June for their financial year-end April the 30th but many industry experts believe PB will have to work hard to have grown their income in a property market where instruction volumes have fallen so significantly and the market share of the online sector as a whole has shrunk from a claimed (but unverified) 6% in mid 2016 to a verified 4% in March 2017. Readers may also wish to see the sector claims in light of other predictions from EasyProperty and eMoov of market dominance by 2017-18 with 20% or higher market share by sector.

Are Purplebricks and the call-centre agents heading for a tougher time in the press and with the authorities?

Those who have read my blog or Twitter feed will know I have called out a number of call-centre agents over their claims on many occasions resulting in a number of rulings made against them by the ASA. Whilst it is bad enough that this sector appears to have more than its fair share of complaints upheld about misleading the public and, by extension, investors, there are other, potentially more serious issues that may yet play out.

In the case of Purplebricks, there is an ongoing issue of whether their self-described LPEs (Local Property Experts) are classed in law as local or, indeed, as ‘experts’. Purplebricks have since removed this claim but were only recently advertising for new LPEs’ to join the firm with an immediate start but with “no experience required”

Certainly, pre-IPO, PB had publicly claimed that all of their LPEs’ were “qualified estate agents”. It would be reasonable that the public or investors may make a transactional decision on the assumption that such a statement would mean that the LPEs’ all held formal industry specific qualifications such as these NVQs‘.  However CEO Mr Bruce, himself a qualified solicitor, knew full well that this was not the case at all (extracts of the correspondence between the author and Mr Bruce at the time have been lodged with Purplebricks solicitors, Schillings).

Then there is the matter of whether Purplebricks and their LPEs’ have been trading legally. Purplebricks maintains that all of their LPEs’ are self-employed franchisees (PBs’ service agreement refers to utilising the British Franchise associations code of conduct in the determination of any disputes. See also HMRC update below) .

However prior to June 2016, none of these LPEs’ were individually registered with a property redress scheme, the Information Commissioner’s Office or HMRC for money laundering; all of which are legal requirements under the 1979 Estate agents Act. The author is currently awaiting a formal response on the LPEs’ legal employment status but believes that whether they are classed as formally employed or self-employed, it will leave Purplebricks looking at a possible investigation into their legal status surrounding trading, redress, money laundering, the sale of loans, VAT and associated employment and tax issues.

The claimed savings the public can make are also worthy of closer scrutiny, with PB seemingly very clear to muddy the waters and avoid using their own conveyancing partners firms data in its comparisons whose published estate agency commission figures** are considerably lower than the figures used by PB to estimate the alleged savings made by consumers.

Not only is the savings comparison flawed in its methodology (it is not a like for like comparison) PB claims savings on sold properties but steadfastly refuses to make figures available for how many consumers pay to sell but fail to do so – estimated to be circa £24 Million PA. Consumer and property journalists are now taking this seriously with many asking PB to shed light on their figures.

#PortalJuggling In a recent report on this activity, a number of well-known high street names including Purplebricks were mentioned as having very large numbers of property listings that were apparently anomalous. The author wishes to make it clear that he is not claiming or implying that any of those firms mentioned were deliberately undertaking such an activity merely that there were a large number of anomalous properties highlighted which bear closer inspection.

More disturbing is the use of heavyweight lawyers to silence critics or negative reviews. Purplebricks claims over 5,000 positive reviews yet a very high number of these are from unverified customers. Negative reports from un-verified customers however, are often removed within the hour.  Purplebricks recently removed their entire Facebook review page which certainly did NOT reflect five-star rating on Trustpilot and other review sites posters are not so complimentary about the PLC.

The author has been contacted by a number of customers who allege they were threatened with legal action for making negative posts on Social Media and on review sites and has screenshot evidence of these claims. There are also screenshots of reviews (since removed) by un-verified customers that allege they were not informed that by deferring payment of the Purplebricks fee, they would be signed up to a loan agreement with Close Brothers.

Furthermore, the author himself received a strongly worded email from heavyweight law firm Schillings threatening legal action for raising inconvenient facts and asking reasonable questions. All of the points raised by Schillings were rebutted with no further correspondence being received.

LPE numbers. LPEs’ were and continued to be recruited in large numbers however, what is not clear is how many of these are replacements for other LPEs’ who haven’t made the cut. Whilst the author does not have empirical evidence, there is strong circumstantial evidence echoed by other analysts that the turnover of LPEs’ is very high, suggesting that the promised rewards have not been forthcoming. Certainly, a cursory look at companies house suggests that there are not many who could be regarded as ‘long-term’ franchisees.

With Purplebricks year-end due within the next couple of weeks, there are many more questions unanswered than settled. Why, having made a categorical statement on BBCs’ money box that Purplebricks completes on 88% of all instructions, has Mr Bruce failed to provide any evidence for these figures?

A simple question Purplebricks. For every 100 customers who listed with you in the last financial year (your fee earning event) how many went on to sell (legally complete, not just sold stc) having had the buyer found via Purplebricks?  (There are a great many properties listed as under offer and sold by Purplebricks which are also listed as sold by other agents with a later listing date, suggesting that a significant number of sellers pay up front for Purplebricks, who fail to sell and then switch to high street agents who go on to successfully sell the property (legally complete).

This means 68 customers paid at least £57,732 at a minimum of £849 per listing (excluding  any additional services such as viewings/ deferred payment charges etc.) but did not sell. What was their average ‘saving’? Purplebricks do not seem to factor these customers losses into their heavily advertised ‘savings’.

With Purplebricks aiming for 3,000 property listings per month nationally, this means (if these figures were repeated across the UK evenly) that 75% of these customers would pay in the hope of selling but fail to actually sell within a 12 month period. That equates to those customers paying a whopping £24,165,000 without selling.

The difference in price between the original quoted average asking price on listing (£295,514) and the average final price quoted when the property was marked as exchanged (£228,145) is a whopping £ 67,368* – 23% below the listing figure.

And the news doesn’t appear to be much better for those that did go on to exchange. Of the 25% who did exchange contracts, the difference between the average prices from all of the original listings and of all of the exchanged properties is £67,368* per property. A total difference in price of £1,549,464. Repeated nationally (using the same average figures as in West Cornwall) this could equate to a £606,312,000 difference between asking and selling figures for the 25% of customers who were successful in selling.
*A misnomer as all agents are online. A more accurate description of these firms is ‘call-centre’ estate agents as they work from a centralised or regionalised office with no public access.

Update 17.4.17

Not the only example I’ve recently been sent/ seen but, this persons linkedin profile also suggests they went from zero estate agency experience to being a “local property expert” within a few hours.

UPDATE 21.4.17

Using publicly available data from Zoopla and Rightmove for the period Apr 21, 2016 – Apr 20, 2017 inclusive (the last 12 months) in the following postcode areas*** there were a total of 3,947 new instructions, of which, Purplebricks listed 91 (a 2.3% market share).

The average price quoted on listing by Purplebricks was £295,514

Purplebricks exchanged on just 23 properties during this time (giving a sale success rating of 25% or, a 75% failure rate. Take your pick)

UPDATE 24.4.17 For transparency and fairness, I have been asked to include the figures for all other agents success/ failure ratio during the same period. Between the same dates and exactly the same criteria, the complete dataset (including Purplebricks) exchanged on a total of 2,441 properties, a 62% instruction to sales ratio. Please note, the 38% of those customers who did not sell would, in the vast majority of cases, have not paid a penny to an estate agent.

So, using this data set, paying to list your home with Purplebricks suggests you have a 25% chance of selling. Whereas if you opt for the no-sale,no-fee model you have an average 62% chance of selling.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, when those who fail to sells’ costs are factored in to the lucky 25% who do, the cost to the average consumer who lists their home is almost identical between full-service agents and Purplebricks.

UPDATE: 28/04/2017 – I have now received a response from HMRC Money Laundering Team. At present, I can say no more until I have received further responses from other organisations.

In the meantime, if you wish to personally check whether an agent needs to be registered individually for money laundering as a franchisee (and by extension, individual redress scheme membership) HMRC Money Laundering Team can be contacted on 03000591009 mlrcit@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

UPDATE 15/05/2017 – HMRC have now confirmed that all agents operating as a franchise who are sole traders or limited companies in their own rights ARE classed as separate businesses under HMRC classification and, as such, must be registered for Money Laundering with HMRC. I believe that this classification confirms previous assertions that such firms/ sole traders (‘LPEs”) who were not registered were doing so in contravention of a legal requirement.

I also believe that this clarification strongly suggests that all of these businesses were required to have had individual membership of an approved redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPOS). I have been informed by TPOS that many of these firms are now registered however, that they were not until recently. Again, this adds weight to the argument that these firms and their parent firm had been trading in contravention of the law.

At the recent #PROPTECH conference in London, property data company GetAgent.co.uk claimed that it had researched Purplebricks figures and found  that over 40% of all Purplebricks customers failed to sell with that company despite having paid over £1,000 up-front, on average, in that expectation (Source: estateagenttoday.co.uk – https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/5/purplebricks-blasted-by-rivals-at-industry-technology-conference ) The author estimates that this figures represents over £12 Million is lost by consumers who paid in the expectation selling their homes but did not.

Data protection – Purplebricks franchisees (LPEs’) are predominantly individual companies registered at Companies House or sole traders. It follows (but I have no evidence to substantiate this assertion) that they take, hold, process and share information with sub-franchisees, other companies, the franchisor (Purplebricks PLC) and, separately, Close Brothers PLC and, MyHomeMoveConveyancing/ Premier Property Lawyers etc.

Of the fifteen LPEs’ and head territory owners (has sub-franchisees under them) I checked today (and have done so previously), not one is registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

The ICO process to see if you need to register is quite clear and simple https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/register/ as is their warning: “Failure to register is a criminal offence”. Below are two screenshots of the process I followed prior to posting this update.

ICO ‘do you need to register’ process


ICO register of data controllers

 


*The difference in asking prices and selling prices may not be a true reflection of the price difference between asking and selling prices of the few properties that sold and could be explained by more highly priced homes simply not selling.

 

**Purplebricks conveyancing partner is the largest property conveyancer by volume in the UK. Accordingly, it has arguably the most accurate database of fees paid by agents in the UK. In 2015 Stephen Hayter Sales Director of My Home Move, published two articles which appear at odds with Purplebricks recently claimed average agents rates. The average percentage rates in 2015 were reported to be under downward pressure at that point and there is every reason to suppose that the average fee charged for a successful sale by a full-service agent in the England and Wales is now closer to 1% than the 1.8% or more claimed in many adverts.
***TR12 TR12 6 TR12 7 TR13 TR13 0 TR13 3 TR13 8 TR13 9 TR14 TR14 0 TR14 7 TR14 8 TR14 9 TR17 TR17 0 TR18 TR18 2 TR18 3 TR18 4 TR18 5 TR18 9 TR19 TR19 6 TR19 7 TR20 TR20 8 TR20 9 TR26 TR26 1 TR26 2 TR26 3 TR26 9 TR27 TR27 4 TR27 5 TR27 6 TR27 9

IMG_0071


About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall and was included in the Daily Telegraphs’ list of the UK’s top 20 best small estate agents “who go above and beyond to help their customers” in 2013. He is currently championing the fight against #PortalJuggling in the media along with a number of other agents, journalists and agency suppliers.

He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco.

A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK.
No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter
Chris has previously competed in the National Laser sailing championships and, as a Sabreur with a top 300 UK ranking in fencing. A long-standing member of the Territorial Army; in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade but was medically evacuated back to the UK before deploying to his forward base with his unit and is now medically discharged from the army.

Portal juggling – What is it, and why you should care

3d people - men, person juggles with a balls

Portal juggling – What is it, and why you should care

What is portal juggling?

#PortalJuggling

Updated 01/11/2016

Portal juggling is a ‘cover-all’ term for a range of illegal practices whereby estate agents de-list and then re-list properties on property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla in order to:

  • to give consumers the false impression the amount of time a property has been up for sale or rent
  • to mislead home sellers and landlords looking to employ an agent that the agents concerned are more successful at selling or letting property more quickly or, at a better price than is the case
  • to falsify data on the percentage of final asking price achieved in order to obtain more business from false advertising, press-releases and during sales-appointments
  • to create the impression that the agents are listing or selling far more properties than they are
  • to mislead consumers that the agents have sold far more homes than they have
  • in the case of private and publicly quoted limited companies and businesses looking to raise investment funding; to use all of the above data to mislead investors and potential investors/ the stock market as to the current or future success or prospects of a business

How big is the problem?

In the past 12 months there were thousands of recorded instances of portal juggling events in the London property market alone, equating to an estimated 2.8 BILLION* Pounds worth of portal juggles or, £240 Million per month.

Why you should care

Anyone buying, selling or letting a property or land or, investors in stocks and share in property related companies, this practice affects you. It also affects all estate and letting agents too.

Buyers and tenants rightly make important decisions on which properties to view and how much to offer based on a range of factors, one of which, is how long a property appears to have been up for sale or rent. The Consumer Protection Regulations Act, make it an offence (amongst other offences) for agents to misdescribe the status or condition of a property to you and this includes the length of time a property has been for sale or, its status on the market. Portal juggling is such an activity. It is now a specified offence within The Property Ombudsman code of conduct

Property sellers and landlords make financially important decisions on which agent to use based on a range of factors, including marketing claims made by agents and news stories in the media. How much an agent might achieve, how quickly and how successful an agent appears to be will be major influencing factors in this decision-making process.

If you have chosen an agent who has misled you with claims of sales/ lettings successes, many other customers, higher achieved prices and seemingly quicker sales times/ shorter void periods, you have been the victim of a breach of portal juggling and as a result of this deception, it has been argued, you may be a victim of fraud.

Estate agents too, are victims of portal juggling and it is affecting their income, their job security and their local reputation. Competitors who are deliberately flouting the law and getting away with portal juggling are unfairly taking business from honest firms, wages from the pockets of its owners and staff and make their genuine, honest sales and lettings successes seem less so or, non-existent.

This is an illegal practice and one which the portals grudgingly acknowledge exists but, despite fine words, seem unable or unwilling to tackle.

Most agents each pay many thousands of pounds for the service of the portals and, whilst these practices are banned in the portals terms and conditions, agents do not seem to be receiving this part of the contract honoured. As the customers of the portals agents are not being treated equally, legally or fairly.

The portals, separately, have a duty as advertisers to ensure that all of their advertising is legal, decent, true and honest. The portals, despite having been regularly supplied with large volumes of evidence since last Summer, have yet to take any obvious action against persistent offenders.

Given that the portals own usage and visitor numbers are bolstered by the illegal activities of portal juggling agents, it has been suggested by some agents that the portals have an inherent interest in the status quo, though that is hotly denied by them.

For more information and further reading on this topic, there are a number of stories concerning portal juggling within the excellent trade publication, Property Industry Eye

Related stories:

Estate agents accused of ‘portal juggling’ on websites – FT.com 

Housing Market – Perception Is Everything

Rightmove confirms launch of inquiry into ‘portal juggling’ – Property Industry Eye

Agent set to withhold payments to Rightmove over ‘portal juggling’ – Property Industry Eye

Regulator asks to be handed list of ‘portal juggling’ allegations – Property Industry Eye

Industry regulator promises it WILL ‘fully’ investigate portal juggling – Property Industry Eye 

Agents are listing ghost properties on portals, says BBC – Property Industry Eye

Portal Juggling on Google

#PortalJuggling on Twitter

*I was provided this information in good faith but have not seen the data and am currently unable to reveal my data source for this information as they are under a press embargo regarding a related story and a specific well-known PLC. However the company has proved to be an excellent source of property market information in the past and I have no reason to doubt its authenticity.


 

Chris Wood

Chris Wood

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall and was included in the Daily Telegraphs’ list of the UK’s top 20 best small estate agents “who go above and beyond to help their customers” in 2013.

He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco.

A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK.

No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter

Chris has previously competed in the National Laser sailing championships and, as a Sabreur with a top 300 UK ranking in fencing. A long-standing member of the Territorial Army; in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade but was medically evacuated back to the UK before deploying to his forward base with his unit and is now  medically discharged from the army.

Is now a good time to put my property up for sale or rent?

Don’t worry too much if interest levels are dropping in your home at the moment; it happens every Year. Here is a graphic illustration of when people search for ‘property’ and ‘estate agent’ on Google.

property Google CorrelateHowever, if you ARE thinking of selling, now can be a great time to put your home on the market.

  • Fewer people are looking but those who are looking are FAR more serious buyers
  • Many less serious sellers take their property OFF the market at this time of year, meaning yours has a better chance of being seen and SOLD
  • THE PEAK PROPERTY INTEREST SEARCH DAYS OF THE YEAR are the few days after Christmas day and the New Year. Make sure your home is already uploaded with a good agent in order to capitalise on that SURGE!

If you are serious about selling, there are some serious buyers out there. Switched on agents and sellers know that immediately after Christmas there is a surge in buying and renting activity

This is also true of rental properties. Ask any letting agent worth their salt and they will tell you that the post-Christmas holiday period always sees a MASSIVE surge in demand for property to rent! Make sure your portfolio is already and on with a good agent who is open to deal with demand

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President-Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter and lives in Penzance.

In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and was a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

Housing in West Cornwall – an opinion

Housing in West Cornwall – an opinion

Marazion

Marazion

Whenever I am asked to do a TV or radio interview about property, it often seems to be either: ‘developers are ruining our beautiful countryside by building all over it’ or; ‘we aren’t building enough properties to meet demand’; with the angle usually then being ‘first time buyers are being forced out of the market’ or the often well-intentioned but usually mis-informed views on second home owners. One thing is certain; property discussions always arouse strong opinions.

Do we need more housing? Yes. Easy one. Where should it be built? More contentious

Do we need more social housing (council owned housing)? In my view, yes. Should everyone have an automatic, guaranteed right to it no matter where they live now, their personal circumstances and treatment of past accommodation (bad tenants/ damage to property/ socially disruptive etc)? More contentious. In my view, tax payers should not guarantee everyone housing unconditionally.

What about ‘affordable housing’? I don’t believe such a thing really exists without discriminating against certain sections of society (I believe that there is no such thing as ‘positive discrimination’) and I am against it for other reasons too (link to my blog on the subject “Affordable housing doesn’t work” 
NIMBYISM. If we agree that we need more housing; social, private or, both, then we need to agree where we are going to build them. Cornwall doesn’t have good public transport and never will and, cars cost a lot to run so; we need to build the majority of our new homes near to centres of work, NOT in rural areas. That’s not to say we shouldn’t build in rural areas at all, but we need to focus our efforts on where the problem is greatest.

We need more two and three bedroom properties for sale and rent close to towns and large villages. This means we are going to have to accept either imaginative use of existing brownfield sites and change of use of buildings that some would like to see remain for heritage reasons. It also means we are going to have to lose some green space around the edge of towns.
Everyone wants to help first-time-buyers (FTB) and young families and pensioners who (desperately) need sheltered/ warden controlled accommodation in West Cornwall…Until they think it is going to be built next to their home.
House prices. If we build lots of FTB homes, the average price will fall but, it will never fall enough for everyone to be able to afford to buy. It’s a fact that cannot be escaped, no matter how much we might like it to be so. This means we have to provide enough suitable properties for people to be able to rent and expand their families whilst continuing to rent. This challenge must be taken up by either private or social builders or both and, local people must ensure that they try to think of the community as a whole when planning applications are submitted close to their homes.
Planning and design. We live in the 21st Century; let’s show future generations how creative and talented OUR generation of architects are, and allow more imaginative designs than the usual bland boxes that so many dull unimaginative builders want to build or, are required to build by dull unimaginative planners. I KNOW that there are builders and planners out there who want to build beautiful, imaginative, low-cost, low energy homes that have character but convention is holding them back.

Chris Wood 07.06.13

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, his two dogs and his elderly Uncle. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

 

LANDLORDS – IS YOUR PROPERTY PORTFOLIO ABOUT TO CATCH A COLD?

IS YOUR PROPERTY PORTFOLIO ABOUT TO CATCH A COLD?

Will your properties catch a cold

Will your properties catch a cold

Did you know that from 2018, all rental properties must have an energy performance rating of ‘E’ or above before it can be let out?

Furthermore, according to this article in ‘The Telegraph’ “Tenants will also be able to demand improvements to insulation from 2016, when landlords will not be able to refuse tenants’ “reasonable” requests for energy efficiency measures.” Link to story: http://bit.ly/XIQPjM

What this means for you. Whilst, landlords whose property portfolio’s already comply with these energy ratings need not worry, owners of properties (particularly older properties) which have a rating of ‘F’ or below should consider taking action sooner, rather than later.

The simplest, most cost-effective option may be to follow the guidelines and suggestions in the EPC report. Most often this will simply be a case of adding extra loft insulation and upgrading the central heating/ double glazing. However, where this is likely to impact significantly on your investment yield, you may wish to consider selling your existing portfolio and replacing it with housing that holds a better energy rating.

If you are a landlord with property in the West Cornwall area, PDQ, will be happy to help and advise on this or any other property sales or rental matter. If you have any queries, you can call us on 01326 561561 / 01736 339143

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

Chris Wood of PDQ Estates Ltd

PDQ Estates LtdAbout Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, they live in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, along with their three spaniels. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

When you should (and shouldn’t) move home

When you should (and shouldn’t) move home

After over twenty years helping people to buy and sell property at various points in their lives, you tend to pick up the odd nugget of information about why and when people move home. You get to know when problems are going to arise and when opportunities for your customers may just present themselves. As an agent, you also try to pass that advice and experience on whenever possible. It’s not always right (no matter how well intentioned) and, more frequently, its not always acted upon but, you try to do your best.

The reason our advice is not acted on as often as perhaps I, rather pompously perhaps, believe it should be, is that our advice is usually only sought when there is an already emotionally charged set of circumstances in the customers life. And this often leads to understandably irrational or, short sighted decisions. In short, we usually get called in once a life changing event is already well advanced.

So what are these trigger points? What makes people move home at short notice and are there alternatives that readers can take away and ponder at leisure without the pressures of current events fogging their judgement? Below, I’ve tried to list the most common trigger points that I’ve come across in my career that cause people to buy or sell property and, to offer a brief opinion and some advice on each event. When you’re a first time buyer – In very simplistic terms, the sooner you can safely afford to buy a property… buy! Historically, house prices in the UK have more or less doubled every ten years and whilst there are a few nasty short term losses over each 10 year cycle, it has historically always been a very good medium to long term bet.

When you lose your job – Bad stuff happens from time to time but, that doesn’t always mean you have to lose your home or that you should rush into selling it. What are the real prospects of re-employment within a year? Can you negotiate terms with your mortgage lender to make reduced payments or defer interest (you may be very surprised at how helpful they will be) and, a chat with an independent, whole of market, financial adviser (IFA) may help put your finances in better order too! IF the financial advice is to sell, then take good advice from an experienced agent and explain your circumstances to them. Set a realistic asking price and make sure your property looks at its best to help you achieve the best price.

When you get our first promotion/ job move – Congratulations! Again, take a breath and look at your options. You may well want to splurge on a larger property with bigger garden out in the country but, will it suit your lifestyle and, are you likely to need, want or, have to move again within the next few years? Extending your existing home may make more sense. As might renting it out and using the rent to pay towards renting/ buying in the new area if you are moving away (the job might not work out after all). You may also find that you can even make more money for yourself in the long run by taking this option. If you have to sell, and sell fast; again, a good agent will be able to advise on the best price and course of action to help you get to your new area quickly and with as little stress as possible.

When your first child comes along – Once again, congratulations! If you need another bedroom, you need another bedroom. An enclosed garden is always nice too but, until the little one is a couple of years old, it really wont matter to them whether it is ‘their’ garden or the local park. In short, don’t stretch yourself financially; you’ll have enough pull on your finances in other ways! As far as selling is concerned, call us nice and early. Even in a boom market, property takes time to go through and unforseen problems can add weeks and months to a transaction. Trust me, you really DON’T want to be moving home in the last few weeks before your due date! It’s also a great time to talk to an IFA about planning for your new families future and, ensuring that your affairs are all sorted… because you never know when that idiot you see every morning on the way to work driving the Corsa will misjudge THAT bend….

When you separate from a partner – Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the scars to prove it. This one usually comes out of the blue, is almost always very emotionally charged and selling a home at the same time can easily make bad matters worse. A quick sale is usually called for. TRY to be civil to each other (and us as agents please!). One side usually wants to buy out the other and so will ask the agents for a low valuation “Of course you know; the property IS haunted, has old mine workings in the kitchen and suffers from Mundic plumbing etc etc”. Whilst; you’ve guessed it, the other side puts an immense amount of pressure on the agents to value high “best house in the street etc etc etc” If the partnership is over, don’t prolong it. That’s all I’m going to say on this matter.

When your children start leaving home – Where the hell did the time go?! Blink and they’ve gone from vomiting down your back as you burp them, to vomiting down your hall as they come in late from the club. Nonetheless, by this point, refer them to my first point above and then take a deep breath… You are probably middle aged. Sorry but, it had to be said. Now is not the time for rushing to put your home on the market. Now is the time to take a few weeks or months to work out what the hell you want to do with the next thirty to forty years before you make your next move. Chances are, by now, you will be living in a property that you are rattling around in and is costing a fortune to run. Yes, it would be lovely to bring any grandchildren here but, well… it’s your money and you’ve got a long time left on this earth to provide for (unless the offspring of Corsa driver gets you on the level crossing on the way back from the restaurant one night!). My advice? Decide what lifestyle you want, how you’re going to fund it (yes, IFA time again!) and downsize!

When the gardening/ housework starts to win and you, perhaps, need regular, easy access to medical facilities/ shops – If you haven’t already downsized, now really is the time to do it. While you can, rather when mother nature steps in with a medical complaint and tells you that you have to. Earlier is definitely better!

When your family start telling you they are worried about you – Too often I see elderly people move up to be closer to family and away from friends and familiar places only to be very upset when it hasn’t worked out. Families naturally want Mum & Dad close by but, having an elderly, possibly dependent, relative suddenly arriving into their cosy lifestyle can cause friction and doesn’t always work, no matter how well intentioned. My advice if Mum and Dad are moving away from the area they know to be nearer offspring? Rent! Just initially, but take a years tenancy and have a trial run.

Don’t sell up immediately unless you have to. Yes, it means potentially two moves but, it also allows both generations to get used to the idea and work out the problems that will occur, without the added pressure of there being ‘no-going-back!’ Once again, an IFA and a good agent, will be able to work with you to offer a range of solutions for you. Once you are settled, then give your agent a call and they’ll take care of getting the best price for your old home (perhaps leaving a tidy sum to ensure a comfortable old age as well as the odd treat for any grandchildren? or a generous thank-you present for that oh-so-helpful estate agent whose helped you over the years. No? Oh well, I can but try.)

Immediately after your relative has passed away – A very difficult and painful time and one which most good agents will know how to handle sensitively. Probate must be sought and the genuine worry of having an empty home (not to mention the emotional upset) often causes major concerns for the bereaved offspring. Often deceased estates are large and, may have the potential of development. Listen to your agent, as the executor, you have a duty to the estate and it may well be worth while looking at seeking planning consents, considering alternative methods of sale (such as auction) and, putting clauses into the sale to ensure any potential profit is realised for the benefit of the estate.

You should also bear in mind that where there’s a will, there’s often an argument. You may think I’m a little cynical but will’s have a nasty habit of tearing apart formerly loving siblings and extended families. Remember, different people will react different ways to a death in the family. Some will be very emotionally attached to a property and want to see it stay in the family whilst others will see it as a painful reminder of the death and want it sold quickly. Others, may simply have an eye on getting the latest sports car; after all, their favorite old Corsa has finally packed in…. Good luck!

Chris

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

Chris Wood of PDQ Estates Ltd PDQ Estate Agents website About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Living in Penzance with his two spaniels and Oscar, an elderly cat, Chris is a keen sailor and likes to keep fit. A former long-standing member of the Territorial Army, in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.