The opening session of this event was given by Richard Donnell, Research and Insight Director at Hometrack, who discussed the potential moods and movements within the property market in 2018. One surprising statistic, said Richard, is that “half of all investors are buying with cash, not mortgage borrowing”.
Moving onto the sales market, he said that Stamp Duty is having a real effect on people’s ability to move home when they want/need to, debating whether we could expect reform in the forthcoming Autumn Budget, which, indeed did come along, with changes to SDLT for first time buyers announced by The Chancellor two weeks later.
The Rt Hon. Iain Duncan Smith gave a keynote speech, amazing delegates with his unexpectedly hilarious presentation, telling stories of international political events and life in the House.
RT HON. IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
There was standing room only as The Rt Hon. Iain Duncan Smith gave a keynote speech, amazing the delegates with his unexpectedly hilarious presentation, telling stories of international political events and life in the Houses of Parliament. Moving on to serious matters, he discussed Brexit, business and the property market.
While being very supportive of the property agency sector, he didn’t have a great deal of optimism for the coming year, or about the lack of support for landlords, of whom he said, “The group most affected by the Government’s changes are the smaller landlords… the squeeze is on.”
The first topic in the first debate, Challenges in the UK Property Market, was the Lettings Fee ban and whether it would force agents to drive competition, not necessarily in a bad way, said John Hards, “It would consolidate the market.”
Also discussed was the concept of Universal Credit and whether direct payments to landlords might help the system work.
David Cox, CEO arla | propertymark also thought that while regulation is needed for the lettings sector, saying, “To better regulate the lettings market, we need an overarching framework.”
One panellist, Adam Day, is Operations Director at E-prop Services, which owns the online agency Easy Property, so his input to the debate was interesting when online-only agencies were discussed, with some heat and panellist Perry Power, Managing Director at Power Bespoke, said, “Online agents could take 20-25% of the market.”
The second debate, again hosted by Justin Webb, was with Iain McKenzie, CEO The Guild of Property Professionals; Paul Staley, Director of PRS at SDL Group, Adam Walker of Adam J Walker Associates and Kevin Ellis, Founder, Land and New Homes Network.
Kevin encouraged agents to get involved in this sector, to bring great new relations with developers and smaller builders and that all important element, fee income! Kevin said, “You have to buy into the whole aspect of new homes, that’s what a developer is looking for.”
The final panel debate brought Caroline Coskry, Chief Executive, Oracle Group; Paula Higgins, CEO, The Homeowners Alliance; Jeremy Tapp, Director, Homeflow and Paul Spencer, Group Head of Property at Trinity Mirror.
They discussed property PR, cross platform marketing, bring their different skills and knowledge of advertising in the printed press – local newspapers and specialist local property magazines; online options such as remarketing through social media, that are now truly taking off and through your own website. All of these activities are there to build your local profile, making you the go-to agent in your area. One topic was around demonstrating your credentials through telling potential clients about industry awards, the temperature in the room rose with comment from Paula Higgins who stated that the public had no interest in awards, they don’t recognise them or believe in them.
Note: There was a fourth debate, on PropTech, on which we reported in the December issue of The Negotiator.
SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY, MP for Worthing West
Back into the political arena, Keynote speaker Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, discussed the ground rent scandal that is currently being battled out in the Houses of Parliament. There are changes under discussion to stop the sometimes outrageous liabilities put upon owners of leasehold properties, but there is no immediate solution. He urged agents to understand how they can help buyers avoid ground rent shocks by understanding the way the system currently works and how broad their responsibilities are.
Kate Faulkner, Director, Designs on Property
Kate also spoke about the difficulties in the market as, “Government blames the builders, the builders blame the Government, the public blames the estate agents. Meanwhile, homes are, for many, unaffordable – “There hasn’t been a quarter when house prices have decreased since 2012. It’s no wonder FTBs are struggling.”
Adam is a regular columnist in The Negotiator magazine, discussed the top three threats to the sales and lettings market: Brexit, the tenant fee ban and online agents. As ever, Adam pulled no punches, pointing out that there are many very successful estate agencies which, rather than blaming the economy and online agencies, understand the need to adapt to market changes and simply get on with the job.
KATRINE SPORLE, The Property Ombudsman
Katrine addressed the concerns that agents have around managing and resolving complaints regarding the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, (CPRs) and These, says Katrine, can be extremely challenging but Agents can make their business life work within the regulations by managing issues and avoiding conflict.
JEREMY TAPP, Joint Managing Director, Homeflow
Jeremy always gives a fascinating and inspiring presentation and this one was no different. Leaping from advice on how to face the online competition by embracing the opportunities of digital marketing, Jeremy discussed how traditional agencies can beat the new online operators in the race for instructions.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Alison Platt, CEO Countrywide
Alison took delegates through the current journey being undertaken by Countrywide, discussing the company’s ethos, its systems and its scale, “ Our scale is very important, it’s one of our greatest advantages.”
Alison spoke with obvious passion about the need for agents to appreciate the enormity of the home moving experience, “This is a massive life changing event, happening in what we class simply as a transaction – I’m always struck by the impact we can have on our customers’ lives.” Comments from delegates after Alison’s presentation were interesting too, with many saying that they were surprised at her “down to earth” views on the business, her “warmth and positivity” and that she had ‘come across as a very professional but thoughtful CEO” and one that “had the right attitude and understood the market far more than I had expected her to!”
The Negotiator Expo 2018
Agency’s greatest networking event, meeting speakers, suppliers, friends, colleagues, competitors, at the superb 5-star London Hilton on Park Lane.
See you in 2018!
The Negotiator Conference & Expo takes place on the day of The Negotiator Awards at the same venue. It is the best-attended estate and letting agency event on the calendar, the most expertly curated and stylishly presented. It is the red letter day of the year for forward-thinking agents, looking to take their business to the next level. 2018 date –to be announced soon!