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Simon shinerock
Simon shinerock
Owner of Choices Estate Agents
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About Company

I'm married with three grown up children, I live between London, Bexhill and Marbella. Despite my advancing years I am very active with a lot of sports hobbies ranging from my favourite kite surfing to my most recent, road bike riding and covering many others in between. I have always had a good imagination, some would say it's reflected in my industry views! I had a horror fantasy novel published in 1997 called 'The Dark Lagoon' that is still svailable on Amazon as a digital book, it's only £1.02 so I suggest you buy it right away. I write a blog which contains some of my views on the Industry, Society and many other things, I also like to write poetry which reflects the deeper side of our wants and aspirations. I have a master plan to put my mark on the industry by changing the business model we use in Lettings, Sales and investments. I have used Choices as a test bed for my ideas and I think our overall success endorses my concepts far more than words alone. Finally I decided to explore social media in 2014 and am now an avid user of Twitter, Instagram and Linkein which, when used in conjunction with my Blog have enabled me to create my own distinctive brand which, like Marmite, people seem to love or hate. I really appreciate my supporters and to them I say thank you. In my defence to the haters I would say if you get to know me you will change your mind:)

my expertise in the industry

I founded Choices in 1989 www.choices.co.uk, we are widely regarded as the most innovative estate agent in the industry with a unique Lettings model and a dedicated investments division that has been operating since the turn of the millennium. I am an investor in and contributor to Angels Media which I am happy to say gives me a platform for my views and ideas. I have also been an investor in a well know agency software business which was eventually sold to a bigger player. My background and expertise is in selling, management and finance. I try my best to keep up with all the important changes that are happening in the business at an ever faster pace and I am always on the lookout for my next interesting investment, especially if it's one that I think fits in with my grand plan or to which I can make a positive contribution. If you want any help or advice with your business please feel free to contact me, the first call is always free:)

Simon's Recent Activity

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From: Simon shinerock 12 April 2016 09:40 AM

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From: Simon shinerock 26 March 2016 12:58 PM

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Chris, if you have an axe and I have a chainsaw, it will take me less time to chop down more trees. Equally I will beat you from London to Brighton if you are on foot and I have a bike. Increased time spent is no measure of value or performance when it comes to selling anything. What clients want is an effective service and this can be down to an individual's skill and talent as much as slick marketing and presentation. The big problem with branch based businesses is where you get a big chain, the brand is uniform but the service is not. Most Vendors are not very discerning when it comes to choosing the best agent to sell their home, for now at least. Most initially go with the one with the most local boards, or the one they are buying from, or bought from. This means the majority of new instructions go to market leaders, it then falls to the competition to pick up what doesn't sell and the leftovers. Given the great variance in service on the high street many vendors may see selling as a lottery and could be seduced by a cut price do it yourself service, or even by the implied efficiency of a call centre and the Internet. For me, having been in the business 27 years, I can see the biggest driver of change is higher levels of customer expectation. People these days want and demand more for less, they are used to instant gratification and the efficiency of machines. The key to real success in the future will be to combine this ruthless efficiency and value with an effective service that also makes money. I think the tools are there to achieve this and high street agents should be rightly concerned

From: Simon shinerock 05 February 2016 06:14 AM

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From: Simon shinerock 14 January 2016 10:09 AM

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From: Simon shinerock 06 January 2016 08:10 AM

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Dear Mr Cameron It is my contention that the decision to tax private individuals on turnover rather than profit and to charge them an extra 3% stamp duty while leaving institutions alone is unfair, politically motivated, misguided and fundamentally flawed. I believe these changes attack the values of our society and undermines personal ambition and aspiration, an obvious irony coming from a Conservative Government committed to upholding these same values. The real problem this country faces is an acute property shortage which has come about over many years and has many causes outside the scope of this submission. However, it seems to me that the real purpose of the proposed removal of these changes is not to encourage first time buyers, or, as has been suggested to remove a fictional advantage from landlords. I suspect the real purpose is to reduce private competition from the market in order to encourage mass build to let by profit motivated institutions in a misguided attempt to solve the housing crisis. If this policy is allowed to play out our society will be changed forever and will become a society most people don't want and not the kind of society that they voted for. Institutional Build to let properties will be aimed purely at maximum returns, they will be small, expensive and unsuitable for owner occupation, thus removing from, not adding to the percentage of homes in owner occupation. Private landlords have in the main chosen to invest in property as the only viable way of securing their future financial security. I understand this as much as anyone partly because of my current business and partly because I used to sell pensions and recruit and train financial advisors. Most private Landlords have individual pride in their properties, they consider the potential for improvement and therefore capital growth. Their properties are often sold to owner occupiers and therefore remain as part of the potential home ownership stock. If this change goes through and many private landlords exit the sector rents will go up as institutions have less competition. There is an assumption that everyone wants to buy to live, this is untrue. Many now separate there living arrangements from their investments, choosing to rent for flexibility and mobility and invest for Income and capital growth. This approach has been good for the economy and the country making our workforce more agile than our competitors, this edge will be blunted by these changes. Those private landlords that hang on will be forced to put up their rents to cover their costs and when interest rates rise to exit the sector, probably at a very bad time to sell, because the effect of removing higher rate tax relief is insidious in that it will become exponentially more expensive as interest rates rise. If implemented these changes will not only distort the market harming our economy, they will undoubtedly cause great harm to the sector and cause a gigantic anti conservative backlash, with the Conservatives once again being portrayed as the party of the elite, selling out to institutions in favour of their core middle class supporters. As I have already said and I'm sure you realise, the real problem the housing sector faces is an acute shortage, the solution is clearly to build more properties. However your current policy of penalising private landlords and favouring institutions is not only wrong, it will not work. It will alienate a large sector of society, possibly lose the Conservatives the next election and if pursued ruin a perfectly good Lettings and estate agency industry. Worse still, it will specifically harm the interests of the doers of our society, the key supporters of this government. I therefore entreat you to go back to the drawing board and shelve these changes. Instead, solve the housing crisis properly and start with a process of open honest dialogue around the problem. This will give those who support the preferential treatment of institutions in the buy to let sector the chance to have their say without hiding behind an obvious campaign of disinformation. The government should not make it seem as if the private landlords are the problem when they are not. It would also like to enable other more creative and more fair solutions to be discussed. I personally believe that private individuals and institutions can work with government to solve this crisis, it does not have to be them or us, it can be us and us and if it is a better, longer lasting and more effective solution will be found. Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to ask, in the meantime I am available at your convenience Regards Simon Shinerock

From: Simon shinerock 05 January 2016 08:22 AM

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Here is my response Dear Sirs I generally disagree with this measure which I do not believe will meet the government's objectives of encouraging home ownership. This is because by penalising private landlords supply is likely to be limited and build to let through institutions encouraged, leading to a higher proportion of households going into the PRS on a long term basis. I further believe that penalising private landlords is a direct attack on aspiration and a betrayal of Conservative party values and its supporters. I feel this measure can only be seen in conjunction with other measures such as the restriction on higher rate tax relief for mortgage interest, another unfair, misguided and possibly illegal measure which taxes turnover rather than profit. However, in terms of this consultation, I will confine my comments to the following questions on the basis these measures are going ahead regardless Question 13: Do you agree that an exemption should be available to individual investors as well as all non-natural persons? Alternatively, is there evidence to suggest any exemption should be limited to only certain types of purchaser? If so, which types of purchaser? Yes I believe there should be an exemption for individual investors on the basis that it is irrelevant whether a corporate body, individual or institution is making the investment. Question 14: Do you think that either the bulk purchase of at least 15 residential properties or a portfolio test where a purchaser must own at least 15 residential properties are appropriate criteria for the exemption? Which would be better targeted? A Portfolio test of at least 15 properties would be more appropriate than a bulk purchase test of at least 15 properties. Question 15: Are there better alternative or additional tests that could be used to better target an exemption and fulfil the government’s wider housing objectives? Any Landlord who sells a property to a first time buyer should be exempt from paying the charge on their next purchase on the basis that there activities are adding to, not taking from the owner occupied sector Question 16: Are there any other issues or factors the government should take into account in designing an exemption from the higher rates? A simple test based in unit numbers ignores value, so 15 units in the north of England will be far less valuable than in the south. There should be simple mechanisms in place to allow individual investors to band together in order to make larger investments without being classified as collective investments and the consequent red tape of FCA regulations. There are already solutions being proposed for this approach but what is needed is clarity so people know where they stand. Finally, however well intentioned, the Government is blundering around in an area vital to our way of life without taking the time to properly understand the consequences of their actions. This consultation is too rushed and if there is not a rethink the outcome will be a Germanic market dominated by institutional build to let, something totally in conflict with most people's aspirations and way of life. There are other ways to solve the housing shortage without throwing the baby out with the bath water. I am available to help and advised if asked Regards Simon Shinerock

From: Simon shinerock 04 January 2016 09:30 AM

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My MP supports the Government on its policy towards private landlords because he believes passionately (a lot of MP's believe 'passionately' in stuff you may have noticed) in home ownership and wants to encourage first time buyers. However, as he fundamentally misunderstands, well just about everything, in terms of the Governments policy and the effects it will have, I'm afraid all that passion will go to waste. I asked him how solving the housing crisis with a massive institutional build to let program will encourage home ownership? He didn't know the answer to that one. I pointed out that Germany has the kind of market we are likely to create and home ownership in Germany is very low, he wasn't aware of that either. The truth is that George Osbourne's policy, popular as it may be with tenants and those who aren't not, nor expect to be Landlords, is unfair and a betrayal of what the Conservatives are supposed to stand for. Owning property and renting it out is about the only thing most aspiring people can realistically look to to give them any chance of escaping long term drudgery, Conservatives are supposed to support the free market and those with the initiative and entrepreneurship to better themselves, not quash it. The reality is that many tenants chose to rent for flexibility and mobility and buy for investment. Better to live in a rented flat near where you work and rent out a flat somewhere you have chosen for its rental return. Penalising private landlords while encouraging build to let and extending incentives to institutions is pure hypocrisy and it won't end well for the government or the country if they get their way. Let's all hope the legal challenge being mounted to defend the principle of being taxed on profit not income will be successful. Finally, comparing mortgage interest on a property you live in to the interest paid by a landlord is disingenuous and like comparing apples and pears just because it suits you.

From: Simon shinerock 28 December 2015 10:30 AM

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From: Simon shinerock 29 September 2015 20:01 PM

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Graham, I don't understand why you haven't referred to the deliberately disabling effect the removal of higher rate tax relief will have on private landlords, or the threat of further restrictions that George Osbourne has said he will announce by the end of the year. These may come in the form of a limit placed on the number of properties an individual may own, or the number if mortgages they may take out. Of course these measures won't affect the elite because the elite anywhere near as much because they don't have mortgages, what they will do and have already to some extent done is to hobble and discourage ordinary individual investors. Just today I spoke to a Landlord with multiple properties who has decided to sell up and there are many more who see this policy stance as the writing on the wall for the sector. Certainly there is nothing wrong with healthy competition on a level playing field from build to let institutions but it can't be right to penalise the individual in order to encourage institutions to invest. I think you have underestimated the extent of the exodus of private landlords that will occur if these unfair measures go ahead and as you rightly say, it will take a long time for build to let to take up the slack. This is in my view an ill considered policy which will backfire badly on everyone currently in the sector as well as undermine the hopes and plans of millions of landlords who have seen buy to let as the only way to achieve a measure of financial freedom and independence As to your comments regarding agents, there are tiny numbers of big agents who may benefit from managing build to let developments, however the vast vast majority of agents won't get a look in and if their individual landlords start selling in significant numbers and are not replaced by new landlords then their businesses will be decimated.

From: Simon shinerock 18 September 2015 23:11 PM

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From: Simon shinerock 07 September 2015 08:37 AM

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I fully support this campaign, it has been clear for a while that the PRS is now a Government target and would have been in an even worse mess if Labour had won the election. On first sight it's ironic that a Tory Governement should mount an attack like this, after all landlords are their core voters and there are a lot of them, so what is really going on? Well if you look deeper what you see is a massive housing crisis caused by an exploding population and an inadequate building program. Although David Cameron talks about encouraging the aspiration to home ownership, in reality that ship sailed years ago. No, the current dilemma facing Governement is how to quickly build enough homes full stop and just as in the past, short cuts and compromises will be made. In this case, institutional build to let is the prize and because of the relatively low returns in the sector, the strategy is to create a unequal playing field that kills off the competition from private landlords while encouraging institutions. Cheap money, subsidies, favourable tax treatment will all be on the table for the funds who build in volume and the private Landlord is seen as a necessary casualty. So the most effective way to fight back will be to suggest ways private Landlords can be part of the solution and use some of their resources to fund the building of new homes, for a decent return of course. It's going to be a tough battle to win, negotiating a fair deal for private landlords will need a lot of support and a persuasive argument but first we need to expose the situation for what it is

From: Simon shinerock 22 August 2015 11:15 AM

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From: Simon shinerock 09 August 2015 00:44 AM

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Yes Paul, whereas you don't know if you are being overcharged by Zoopla and Rightmove you are certain you are with OTM. Equally, assuming you signed up with OTM for five years, you no longer have any choice about who you deal with, that has been determined for you by an unproven business you see as your champion. However, when you speak of fairness you clearly are not talking about fairness to online agents, or fairness to new entrants to the portal market, or fairness to your clients. Actually your version if fairness seems more to do with favouritism. What you are really saying is that you want to be the one getting the sweet heart deal, no one else, he does that make you better than them? What is the name for a group of businesses that get together to try to control a market for their own benefit? Oh yes, it's a cartel isn't it and there are good reasons that we as a society frown in cartels and cartel like behaviour. The way I see it OTM is as Bart Simpson said when asked to give an example of a paradox, 'dammed if they do and damned if they don't'. I think you need to consider if your perception of the power of collective bargaining is actually something that can be morally justified. I don't think it can be, any more than you can morally justify the continued sake of cigarettes. Some things are wrong and legal, others are wrong and legal but they are still wrong That said Paul, I appreciate your contribution and the fact that you are prepared to stand up for your decision is to be respected

From: Simon shinerock 09 August 2015 00:42 AM

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From: Simon shinerock 03 August 2015 10:07 AM

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I think I'm guilty of being a little unclear. When I referred to 'online only agents' I was really talking about the sites who pretend to offer agent services to get onto Righmove and Zoopla but actually aren't really agents. Of course it's possible to offer a free agency service if you want to, equally there will always be cheap incompetent agents as well as expensive incompetent ones as well. However, the fact remains that any property seller who thinks they can save their agency fee by doing it themselves is mistaken, at least on average and this is of course about playing a numbers game. Sure you will get examples where a private seller may win but take a fair sample of cases and the pattern will be clear, on average you get more money when you use an agent and on average the more you pay them the more money you get. It has little to do with price data either, it has everything to do with dealing with the interest in a property in a dispassionate unemotional way because as an agent that's your job. Believe me, as bad as you think some agents are and some agents are bad, they are nothing compared to some vendors who, left to their own devices will literally send themselves and their buyers mad. Having said all this where we agree is that online and private will grow, probably considerably over the next few years and some will make the business model work. As with all business models, only the cleverest or the best funded, or both will survive and they will lose money on the way, then as always happens, the loss leading will stop and the prices will rise. To restate, we have the cheapest agency rates already, under a third of what they are in America, we all love a bargain but remember this, 'there is always someone somewhere who will sell something cheaper than everyone else and he who buys on price alone is that mans lawful prey'.

From: Simon shinerock 31 July 2015 18:14 PM

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From: Simon shinerock 20 July 2015 08:40 AM

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Paul, I agree regulation is an issue in and of itself, however that doesn't stop me challenging Mr Smith's motives, which I do. In terms of regulation as an issue Per Se, of course it isn't bound up with OTM but it was brought up in Mr Smiths article so I addressed it. In terms of whether it's a good thing or not that very much depends but the track record for comparison is not good. I was in the financial services industry in the 80ies and I entered estate agency partly because I needed a life boat to escape the FS ship which was terminally damaged by regulation, I say terminal because it has never recovered. The FS regulation is so flawed that collective investment is trying to reinvent itself in the form of crowd funding, just as the new name for banking is peer to peer lending. So Robert it's not true that regulations are always surmountable, another example is sale and rent back, an industry ended by regulation just as Wonga Et Al got what was coming to them. The trouble with the FS regulations is they only really look at the salesmen, not the products, it's like regulating car salespeople and allowing car manufacturers to build death traps. Anyway, to add balance it is true that regulation has helped the American realtor go up in the estimation of the public but this is partly because it's light touch and most average people can meet the requirements. I myself do not believe we need regulation, what we need is strong enforcement of the rules which some agents knowingly flout, this needs resources, not exams. I don't trust the motivation of either the NAEA or ARLA, I have had unpleasant experience of both and I dont think an industry body can be trusted to set fair standards for an open competitive market, in this respect there are clear parallels with OTM. Finally Robert I really don't know what you are going on about, I have never trashed your ideas and I have no clue what you mean by your last mystifying paragraph, please explain!!

From: Simon shinerock 19 July 2015 17:04 PM

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From: Simon shinerock 18 July 2015 13:08 PM

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From: Simon shinerock 18 July 2015 08:01 AM

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I have already written on this subject and flagged up this among other threats to the PRS. Of all the changes he could have made, for example changing the way buy to let mortgages are granted and adopting the restrictive European mode, this is the least destructive and most egalitarian, on the surface at least. That doesn't mean I agree with it, I don't, I also suspect it may be the thin end of the wedge. My theory is the real agenda is to encourage institutional build to let as a way of conquering the housing shortage. I think a big reason institutions have held back is competition from private landlords. By restricting tax relief to the basic rate for individuals but leaving companies free to borrow without restrictions Osbourne has given companies and institutions a big advantage in the market. My concern is that if not enough landlords bail out the institutions will use their influence to hobble private landlords even further. It's a great shame that what has clearly been a godsend to landlords, tenants and the market is now facing ruin for the sake of dubious political objectives, or worse, maybe as a result of insider cronyism. Time will tell if this change blunts people's appetite to buy to let, the question however remains, what other way do they have to achieve financial security and freedom? In reality it is the low interest rates more than anything that underpins the market, today's rates have fallen to the lowest ever, take those away and then there will be a rout.

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