Property for Sale

First time buyers take four in 10 mortgages since market resumes

First time buyers take four in 10 mortgages since market resumes

Today is one month since the government lifted restrictions on agents and the housing market – and since that time the largest increase in business has been for mortgages.

In the past month the total mortgage search volumes using FinTech service Twenty7Tec has doubled from 479,000 searches to 955,000.

“We’ve also seen the volumes of first time buyers’ searches quadruple since that announcement. First Time Buyers accounted for 39.4 per cent of all purchase searches in the past month – up from a lockdown low of 31.82 per cent just days before the [market opening] announcement” explains James Tucker, Twenty7Tec’s chief executive.

He adds: “There are still some major challenges ahead. Payment holidays are now in place for one in seven UK mortgages and we need to see how those are going to transition back to normal payments in challenging employment conditions.

“We hope that there’s a new price point that emerges quickly between first time buyers and lenders that will continue to reinvigorate the market. Currently, demand well outstrips supply with only 50 per cent of the volumes of mortgage products available pre-Covid now available.”

Rightmove to enhance online viewing features in roll-out to agents

 Rightmove to enhance online viewing features in roll-out to agents

Rightmove has contacted all member agents saying it has enhanced its automated online viewing feature first introduced in April.

As part of the government recommendations when re-opening the housing market, it urged the industry to maximise the use of virtual viewings.

Rightmove is now telling agents they can give vendors the opportunity to request an online viewing when they send a lead.

This option can in turn be used by the agent to send a link to a video hosted on their own website, or to have a video walkthrough using a video calling app.

A message to agents from Dave Anderson, agency and new homes director at the portal, says:

“We’ll be releasing this new feature over the next week. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready to use and we’ll give you a step by step guide on how to do it.

“We’re telling you in advance that this improved feature, included as part of your Rightmove membership, is coming soon so you can arrange to get new video content in whatever way you think will work best for you, your customers and the current government coronavirus guidance in your area.”

He says the initiative is part of Rightmove’s 10 point plan, released a fortnight ago.

Anderson adds in his note to agents: “We know that you have a lot on your plate at the moment – we hope that you’re able to make use of the improved Online Viewing features to cut down on the number of physical viewings you need to carry out and better prioritise your hottest leads.”

There was no reference to the long-term fees issue which has been a focus of agency anger in recent months, prompting the creating of the Say No To Rightmove campaign.

Downsizers should get stamp duty cuts just like first timers – call

Downsizers should get stamp duty cuts just like first timers - call

Family houses are under-occupied and only incentives to downsize can help improve the housing market – with a stamp duty cut being one of the most obvious.

That’s the thrust of a new report from the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, which says that if nothing is done there will be some 20m ‘surplus’ bedrooms by 2040, in homes occupied by the over-65s.

The growth in older households – over half of them one-person – is set to account for 36 per cent of the projected 3.7m increase in the number of UK households by 2040, it says.

The report says the current stamp duty regime “tends to jam up the housing market and can add significant costs to downsizing.”

It therefore calls on the government to ensure that so-called ‘last-time’ buyers are put on an equal footing with first time buyers with property purchases of up to £300,000 nil-banded for stamp duty.

The report also blames the housebuilding industry in part, saying there is a shortage of appropriate housing at affordable prices for downsizers; out also wants more independent financial guidance for older owners wishing to downsize.

Unsafe to return to work: Most agents are worried, polls show

Unsafe to return to work: Most agents are worried, polls show

A series of polls taken by Estate Agent Today suggest substantial numbers of agents remain uncomfortable about returning to trading even with safety measures in place.

A poll earlier this week – just before lockdown was lifted on the house sales and lettings sector – asked: Is it right to re-open a High Street branch now?

The response, on over 800 individual votes, was a clear 66 per cent against opening now and only 34 per cent in favour.

EAT also undertook a poll yesterday (24 hours after the industry lockdown was lifted, but effectively the first day of trading for most agents that chose to open).

This poll related to Dexters estate agency chain in London, which had its branches open but felt obliged to let people know that local managers were taking the temperatures of staff in a bid to ensure the workforce and customers alike felt safe.

The poll asked: “If an agency has to check staff temperatures, is it right it should be open at all?”

Some 57 per cent voted for the option: “No, it’s too early to open”.

Once lockdown was lifted, many agents took to EAT to comment that they were concerned at the move.

Gavin Scott-Brooker of Cheshire surveyors’ firm Brooker and Co wrote: “We are surveyors…. we are deeply concerned about the release of the market…. it’s just too soon, and there is insufficient data to prove it is safe to operate. A number of our colleagues share the same view. We have elected to stay closed until June at the very earliest.”

Removals operator Matthew Lock commented: “Removals companies and estate agent share the feeling if not safe to see own family, then it’s not safe to go and see someone else’s. Councils still not open. So why should removals firms and estate agents be the guinea pigs?”

One agent said: “I’ve been emailing and calling clients and asking if they are OK to take viewings and the overwhelming majority are saying no. We’ve been working from home mostly and will continue to do so with only opening a couple of hours a day and then only because we are responding to what others in the town are doing.”

Notwithstanding the reservations of some agents, there appears a strong appetite amongst the public for a resumption of business.

Dominic Agace, chief executive of Winkworth estate agents – which has 60 offices in London as part of a 100-branch nationwide network – reported a significant uplift in interest on Wednesday, when the industry was allowed to return to trading.

Compared to the same day the previous week sales instructions were up 255 per cent, sales applicants up by 73 per cent, lettings applications were 61 per cent up, and valuations were 244 per cent up.

“Offices had lawyers getting in touch to pick up on frozen transactions to move them forward again. It was our second highest day for valuations so far this year.  We also had a 35 per cent increase in traffic to the Winkworth website on the previous day” says Agace.

On Wednesday OnTheMarket saw traffic and leads up as much as 30 per cent against the previous day; these reached levels not seen since before the COVID-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile Carter Jonas says it saw email enquiries surge 116 per cent, telephone enquiries rise 72 per cent and viewing requests increase 40 per cent.

Volume of portal listings carrying virtual viewings surges during pandemic

Volume of portal listings carrying virtual viewings surges during pandemic

There’s been a very significant increase in the number of listings carrying virtual viewings, accelerating during the period of the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown.

An analysis of Rightmove listings conducted by virtual tour provider Made Snappy shows that the pandemic has expedited agents’ uptake of visual aids in portal listings.

Between mid-November 2019 and mid-May 2020 the number of lettings adverts on Rightmove with virtual tours increased by 179 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of lettings listings with videos increased by 280 per cent during the same period.

Between mid-April (when lockdown measures were at their most severe) and mid-May (when market activity started to resume) the number of lettings listings with virtual tours increased by 44 per cent, rising by 63 per cent when it comes to listings with videos.

On the sales side, the number of property listings on Rightmove with virtual tours increased by 77 per cent between mid-November and mid-May, while the number of adverts with videos increased by 50 per cent over this six-month period.

Over the past four weeks the number of sales adverts with virtual tours has increased by 19 per cent alongside those with videos increasing by 26 per cent.

“The lockdown has understandably forced more agents to embrace virtual tours, particularly on the lettings side. Our analysis also reflects the quicker restart of the lettings market compared to sales, which will be much slower to get started” says Mark McCorrie, software director at Made Snappy.

“With the market now up and running, we expect the number of portal listings with virtual tours to increase even further as more agents will be operating at full capacity over the coming weeks.”

The government, in its official guidance on the resumption of the housing market, says: “We encourage people to do the majority of their property searching online … To support this agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings.”

And in relation to new-build property sales it advises: “Where possible, developers should promote virtual viewings.”

Made Snappy says it anticipates a 75 per cent reduction in physical lettings viewings while social distance measures remain in place.

“We know of letting agents who have used virtual tours to filter down applicants, subsequently achieving a 100 per cent success rate on the physical viewings – we expect this trend to become the norm” says McCorrie.

PPE for estate agents being marketed by food packaging firm

PPE for estate agents being marketed by food packaging firm

A food packaging manufacturer is re-shaping its production line to make PPE equipment which it is selling to estate and letting agents, amongst others.

Rapid Action Packaging says it can produce a total of seven to 10 million face shields a week.

The visor is laminated to a carton board frame which, the company claims, provides “a rigid head frame with adjustable strap.”

“In a world after lockdown, the shield will help people adjust confidently to a gradual return to normality” according to the company’s chief executive, Graham Williams.

He says his product – which is manufactured in the Republic of Ireland – conforms to the EU Regulation 2016:425 Category 1 technical PPE specifications.

The company normally provides packaging for sandwiches, hot products, chilled meats and ready meals at retailers including Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Morrisons, ASDA, M&S, Pret A Manger and LEON.

Propety Q&A 15th May 2020

Propety Q&A 15th May 202

 

In this episode, I respond to the following questions:

Elena Haniotis
Hi, do you know if there are any 85% LTV mortgages available? The mortgage I had a decision in principle on before the lockdown was withdrawn, but the house I'm after is still available, but I only have 15% deposit.

Colin Chapman
Hi Antony, my wife and I had an offer accepted just before the lockdown, if the property market is volatile at the moment, do you think we should withdraw our offer?

Mark Jeffries
Wonderful topic Antony Antoniou. I'm trying to work out the best way to hand over my home to my children, to avoid any complications in the future, but my wife is concerned that she could be bullied out of her home if anything happens to me, as she is their step-mother. I've enquired about trusts, but they seem expensive and I'm not completely convinced that she will be safe. Have you had any similar cases? Any suggestions?

Michael Bateman
Hi Antony, we had our eye on a beautiful home, but our sale stalled due to the lockdown. I'm now concerned that we won't sell in time to buy this house, do you have any suggestions please?

If you have any questions about property, please feel free to comment or contact me directly.

Any suggestions I make are purely suggestions, you should always seek professional advice on any financial matter

Volume of portal listings carrying virtual viewings surges during pandemic

Volume of portal listings carrying virtual viewings surges during pandemic

There’s been a very significant increase in the number of listings carrying virtual viewings, accelerating during the period of the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown.

An analysis of Rightmove listings conducted by virtual tour provider Made Snappy shows that the pandemic has expedited agents’ uptake of visual aids in portal listings.

Between mid-November 2019 and mid-May 2020 the number of lettings adverts on Rightmove with virtual tours increased by 179 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of lettings listings with videos increased by 280 per cent during the same period.

Between mid-April (when lockdown measures were at their most severe) and mid-May (when market activity started to resume) the number of lettings listings with virtual tours increased by 44 per cent, rising by 63 per cent when it comes to listings with videos.

On the sales side, the number of property listings on Rightmove with virtual tours increased by 77 per cent between mid-November and mid-May, while the number of adverts with videos increased by 50 per cent over this six-month period.

Over the past four weeks the number of sales adverts with virtual tours has increased by 19 per cent alongside those with videos increasing by 26 per cent.

“The lockdown has understandably forced more agents to embrace virtual tours, particularly on the lettings side. Our analysis also reflects the quicker restart of the lettings market compared to sales, which will be much slower to get started” says Mark McCorrie, software director at Made Snappy.

“With the market now up and running, we expect the number of portal listings with virtual tours to increase even further as more agents will be operating at full capacity over the coming weeks.”

The government, in its official guidance on the resumption of the housing market, says: “We encourage people to do the majority of their property searching online … To support this agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings.”

And in relation to new-build property sales it advises: “Where possible, developers should promote virtual viewings.”

Made Snappy says it anticipates a 75 per cent reduction in physical lettings viewings while social distance measures remain in place.

“We know of letting agents who have used virtual tours to filter down applicants, subsequently achieving a 100 per cent success rate on the physical viewings – we expect this trend to become the norm” says McCorrie.

OpenBrix The property portal for the new generation

Following an online meeting with Adam Pigott, who is the Chief Executive Officer of OpenBrix, I wanted to express my thoughts on this new, innovative portal.

What makes OpenBrix any different?  Here are a few key points:

OpenBrix has set out to be sustainable and easily affordable for Estate Agents, where the client are the decision makers  controlling the price: data and transactions. Everything is community run and done for the benefit of everyone.

Through the OpenBrix platform, you’ll have the tools needed to retain all your applicants, meaning that you will never have to buy these needs again.

Following an online meeting with Adam Pigott, who is the Chief Executive Officer of OpenBrix, I wanted to express my thoughts on this new, innovative portal.

What makes OpenBrix any different?  Here are a few key points:

OpenBrix has set out to be sustainable and easily affordable for Estate Agents, where the client are the decision makers  controlling the price: data and transactions. Everything is community run and done for the benefit of everyone.

Through the OpenBrix platform, you’ll have the tools needed to retain all your applicants, meaning that you will never have to buy these needs again.

You can even add your current managed tenants to the OpenBrix platform so that they can take advantage of its benefits straight away, as well, users have full transparency and access to their account and property transaction history.

Tenants can increase their credit score through rent payments: they can also gain loyalty points with their favourite Brands

All other portals offer the same centralised service of listing your property, but can they be trusted not to raise the price?

Can you trust them not to sell your data to the highest bidder?

This is the problem with centralised portals they can start off with low fees but they can change their policy is terms and conditions at any time

 

  • OpenBrix is going to be completely different
  • It is a decentralised portal
  • Completely run by its members

 

OpenBrix is using block chain technology because it makes it impossible to raise prices or sell your data.

 

  • These decisions are made by the community which is you
  • This means that there is no need to worry about OpenBrix suddenly raising prices or selling your data
  • They will attract millennials and generation Z with rewards from Major Brands
  • It’s very simple you simply sign up auto upload your properties and begin selling

 

The property portal for the new generation

 

The OpenBrix Press Release

 

There is light at the end of the tunnel for UK estate agents in the form of new  challenger portal OpenBrix!

 

Spring and summer are often cited as the best time to buy a property, with the warmer weather        encouraging more people to put their homes up for sale, but with the Government having all but shut down the UK’s housing market, buying, selling and even renting has been incredibly challenging during the lockdown – the situation not made any easier by the giants in the property portal industry and their lack of support to those on the ground who are struggling the most!

We’ve all seen and heard the revolt against Rightmove and Zoopla who have collectively managed to alienate the majority of agents across the UK at a time when they are already on their knees. Thankfully help has arrived!

 

After over two years of development the challenger property portal, OpenBrix has finally landed!

 

Unlike its competition OpenBrix is set to completely modernize and progress the experience of buying, selling and renting real estate by cultivating a community led platform wrapped with a spirit of       transparency, collaboration, innovation and integrity.

It is fair to say that agents are looking for an alternative that has their best interests at heart, an alternative that is ‘agent focused’ rather than concerned about stock market prices and shareholder wallets!

OpenBrix is currently in the process of onboarding agents across the UK and is offering all agents 100% free listings until Covid-19 has passed, beyond this their monthly fee of only £100 per agent, regardless of the amount of properties, is a much more manageable cost and easier to swallow in what are difficult times for all.

As a business OpenBrix is geared up to support agents with a decentralized community-based approach, giving power to those that are using the platform, not shareholders and those so far removed from the daily struggles at the coal face.

In addition to this OpenBrix has a whole host of functionality for consumers and agents alike that is not available on any other platform, this includes the ability for consumers to manager their rent payments, maintenance tickets and even credit profile online. For agents, they have an opportunity to manage their entire portfolio in one simple and easy to use dashboard and with additional functionality on the way could even make money from their tenants when they sign up to other home related services!

‘we are incredibly excited to finally be in a position to launch, ‘comments Adam Pigott, Chief Executive of OpenBrix.

The OpenBrix Press Release

‘It’s early days but initial feedback from agents that we have spoken to has been very positive. We are currently registering over 50 new agents per day at the moment, many of whom are in a rush to upload their property for when the lockdown ends and the market begins to pick up’

‘We have a fantastic roadmap of feature releases and updates in the pipeline and to be quite frank it’s about time a platform existed that was actually on the side of the agents and the industry as a whole’

‘It is fair to say we are going to ruffle some feathers over the course of the next few weeks and months but that is exactly what the sector needs, in our opinion it’s about time!’

For further information, to register and to start uploading your property portfolio please visit. www.openbrix.co.uk and/or follow on all social platforms for daily updates!

 

The OpenBrix Platform

CONCLUSION:

We are in the midst of a national crisis, one that threatens to palce the most robust of businesses on their knees. I have joined in many conversations about the existing big three portals over the last few weeks and it has been an education.

During this period I had the pleasure of a long video call with Adam Pigott, who is the Chief Executive Officer of OpenBrix and it was actually a learning experience. I am so pleased to be able convey a brief summary of what this company is about, although Adam had told me a lot more, but I was too busy  listening intensely to take notes!

The greatest common issue with the existing portals is that they were made by the agents, after all, a portal without properties is little more than a few pages of php code, yet how were the very people who provided the content for these portals repaid? They found that their monthly fee has increased exponentially over the last few years, with an almost arrogant response to anyone who has dared to question it.

It is for this reason that the emergence of new portals, with a new ethos, a new strategy and an inherent respect for those who are contributing the very content that will make or break it, is refreshing and one that I strongly support.

The model for OpenBrix will make the members the partners, the decisionmakers and the moderators, which will invariably offer some peace of mind to those who are feeling hard-done-by, after their experience with the big three existing portals.

I hope to speak to Adam again in the future and then I will be able to provide you with greater insight in to this new partner operated portal.

However, in the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Adam directly:

Adam J Pigott

Chief Executive Officer OpenBrix

 

+44 7770223816

adam@OpenBrix.co.uk

www.openbrix.co.uk

 

OpenBrix Ltd, 5th Floor,

2 More London,

Riverside, London, SE1 2AP

 

Download the full PDF HERE

 

 

Online estate agency ceases trading and customers refunded

Online estate agency ceases trading and customers refunded

The online estate agency Settled appears to have ceased trading with its customers refunded.

It was launched in 2014 by former Google executive Gemma Young and her brother Richard.  In 2017 it secured £1.2m in funding in a new investment fund-raise.

But a statement on the website today says: “In light of Coronavirus, we’re rapidly living in a very different world. With that in mind, we’ve made the hard decision to hibernate Settled. We’ve refunded all of our customers who were yet to have an offer on their home and we’re helping those in the process of selling to get to completion.

“We’ve also reflected and decided, we don’t want to go back to the way things were.

“It’s time for us as a business to examine both the problems of these present times and to also look deeply at the issues that have impacted the property market (including Settled) for many years.

“It’s time we stopped to take a look at how we build our business for the future, so that, as the market begins to recover, we can launch a vastly improved way of buying and selling homes, which, in turn will help to stabilise the country’s economy.

“It’s time to connect with advancements in technology and the opportunities this offers for the property sector.”

The people behind the agency say they now want to establish a PropTech platform working with government, local authorities, banks, lawyers, estate agents, surveyors, insurers and consumers.