A quarter down and some things never change…

The end of the first quarter of 2017 has dragged itself heroically to the finish line and the end of term report would read somewhere along the lines of ‘room for improvement/could do better if working harder and adopting the correct attitude’. On Friday 31 March we received a phone call in the office at 5.15 from a tearful vendor who had been told by the agent from whom she was purchasing a house that if she did not exchange the following Monday then the seller would be pulling out and she would lose her dream home. Really my friend? First up, playing that card at 5.15 on Friday; by lunchtime on any Friday most solicitors are echoing Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet; “it’s five o’clock somewhere” and are ensconced in The Priory (the hostelry version). Secondly, 31 March; thus the end of a financial quarter. Hmm, it couldn’t possibly be that certain corporate boyos are having to submit their figures to the top table and every sale counts? The voice of experience will tell you that they kept their books open until close of business because they have yet to hit their bonus, or they are even money to be looking for a new job ob Monday if this sale doesn’t go through. Whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with my vendor because the file clearly shows that all parties have agreed on a completion on 20 April. No solicitor-however much under the influence of substances narcotic or alcoholic-is going to get the clients to exchange some three weeks before completion (new builds excepted for the spotters among you). Where does, “treating the customer fairly” feature here, when it is clearly the agent trying to influence the matter in his favour.

The onliners are also back in the news with Purplebricks (PB) having to withdraw an advert where it stated that it takes them 14 days to find a buyer. And? The right person for the right property can be found in 14 minutes if all necessary boxes are ticked. What intrigued me was whether any vendor would have had the sense to ask PB whether if they did not find a buyer within 14 days whether they-the vendor-would have returned to them their non-refundable upfront fee?

easyproperty-not dissimilar in ethos to that other company with ‘easy’ in their name-have also hit the news. Why? In short, because they need more money. In revealing their need it offered a fascinating insight into the funding required to set up an online operation. A strategic report attached to the firm’s figures, written by their chief executive, Rob Ellice stated that during the year up to September 30, 2016, the group raised £16m through the issue of shares. Hold that thought whilst I offer some background detail. In the year in question, easyProperty had a turnover of just under £875,000 and a gross profit of just over £492,200; but the pre-tax operating loss was over £11.3m. That is alot of costs. The figures show its total comprehensive  loss for the year was £10.94m. A year earlier, its total comprehensive loss was £6.7m. In his report Ellice says that the business had experienced, “a lower rate of growth than anticipated”. You bet it had, Rob. A genuine question. Who was head of the sales team? Because after the figures for 2014/2015 were released, who on earth bought £16m worth of shares and more pertinently, who was it that did the convincing for them to be bought? Give that person a medal. Roberto goes on to say that it is expected that the group, “will require additional funding in the foreseeable future”. Maybe he should ask Sir Stelios. Interestingly, when easyPropety was launched  in September 2015, Ellice went on the record to say that he aimed to “wipe out” traditional high street estate agents Daily Mirror 25 September , 2015 Live and let live Roberto.