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Rob  Davies
Rob Davies
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my expertise in the industry

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Rob  Davies
I think the fear of Purplebricks - and what they represent - is very real, otherwise traditional agents wouldn't get so defensive about them. Clearly, they do not herald the end of the high-street agent, but I think they will be the ones to force through a step change in the industry - a move towards a hybrid model, a move towards traditional agents offering online services to ward off the threat of the likes of PB. We've seen it already in recent months, with certain Countrywide brands offering an online service and Savills continuing to invest heavily in YOPA. Not to mention the controversial move to merge the Guild and Fine & Country with easyProperty. I was always sceptical about the influence of online/hybrid agents and their impact on the estate agency market, but PB - with their significant backing, significant investment in PR and excellent brand awareness - look set to change that. They have seeped into the national consciousness - thanks to the distinctive brand colour, the boards, the TV adverts, the hefty marketing drive - in a way that other online offerings haven't managed. They might have only turned a small profit, but they now have a presence - and the investment to push forward again - to really cause an earthquake. They already have a sizeable share of the online market, I expect that to grow even further. If the online market gets bigger, reaching, say, 10% or 15%, trad agents will have to sit up and take notice. We can all criticise PB till the cows come home for their business model, their approach and their refusal to disclose how many sales they have actually made, but that doesn't matter to the public at large, to buyers and sellers who see the boards and the adverts and believe they are getting a great deal. It's this that needs to be challenged. I have issues with PB, but they're not going away. Far from it. And they need to be taken seriously. It was easy to ignore and dismiss the likes of eMoov, Housesimple and even Tepilo, because they didn't have national brand awareness or instant recognition. PB has that. It was always going to happen at some point, an online brand filtering through. If traditional agents try to go on the defensive, and continually attack, demean and dismiss PB, they'll just get stronger and stronger. An awareness of changing consumer habits, the power of the internet and the power of branding will all be needed to face the challenge head on. By all means criticise PB for what they do (or more to the point don't do), but don't underestimate them. They're in this for the long-haul. People wrote off RM and Zoopla - how did that work out?

From: Rob Davies 30 June 2017 10:06 AM

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From: Rob Davies 27 September 2016 09:32 AM

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I agree with this. There are plenty of brownfield sites that could be built on, abandoned or derelict homes brought back into use and disused office space that could be repurposed. Near where I live there are a number of empty or boarded up shops that have been that way for years. Whole parades of shops in some cases, just sitting there, wasting away. What is the point of that? Either they can be converted back to past glories - when they were cafes, shops and offices - or they could be re-used for housing. The idea that there aren't already existing buildings ripe for refurbishment and conversion is nonsense - there's plenty! We need to speed up the planning process to make this possible. I can't understand why many of these old shops are left to rot away, entirely redundant. What's more, clamping down on Buy to Leave and empty homes would also have a major impact. There are homes that are either out of use - or being used very, very sparingly (or not at all) by overseas buyers who are only interested in seeing its value rise - that could be used for new housing. Let's have a look at second home ownership, too - people who own a holiday home in Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District or the Cotswolds and use it for a couple of months of the year; could this be used for rental purposes at other points? Despite this, however, I don't entirely disagree with the point made in the article. As far as I understand it, there are parts of the green belt that can be barely considered green belt at all. In some cases, they aren't even green. If this is the case, then it makes sense to look at ways of utilising these spaces - alongside brownfield sites, bringing empty homes back into use and clamping down on Buy to Leave - to help improve the housing crisis. For environmental and social reasons, the green belt should be protected at all costs, but with some innovation, clever planning and a more flexible system in place, other alternatives can be sourced. It doesn't feel as if all avenues have been exhausted as of yet. I also think developers and house-builders are guilty of sitting on land to ensure its value goes up. It's in their interests to slow the whole house-building process, no matter how much they say otherwise.

From: Rob Davies 27 September 2016 09:26 AM

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From: Rob Davies 10 May 2016 16:48 PM

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From: Rob Davies 10 May 2016 16:47 PM

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Nothing like stereotyping the young there, eh Richard? Where are all these young people going on 2 holidays a year? I have one a year, if I'm lucky, and I'm sure many other people of my generation (I'm a 90s baby) would be the same. You also seem to be painting all young people as gadget obsessed and materialistic, when that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm sure some people are keen to have a new iPhone and a new car and the biggest telly, but far from all. And are young people not allowed to have a car and an iPhone and not also expect house prices and rents to be reasonable. You say that interest rates are almost zero and it's never been cheaper to borrow money, but it's not that simple, is it? It really isn't. I work in the industry, I know how bloomin difficult it is for young people to get on the property ladder. Deposits of £20,000+. £80,000+ in London. Despite what you might think, very few people are on salaries of £50k plus and can afford to save for such ludicrously high deposits. Plus, of course, rents are so expensive that it's almost impossible to rent and save at the same time. And it just ain't that easy to get mortgage lenders to lend to you, even if you can cobble the deposit together by living off cereal for three years. Because the competition is so intense, and sellers want to get as much as possible for their home, and because the BTL and Buy to Leave Brigade come sweeping in to hoover up all the stock. It's easy for you to sit there and sneer at young people and say they should live like paupers in order to save for their own home. Truth is, it really ain't that easy. Young people are being screwed over by this government with house prices and rents. The fact you can't see that says it all. It's not about champagne lifestyles. Most young people just want to know that they might one day own their own home even if there wages are nothing to write home about. Your stereotyping does you no favours, Richard. It's like me saying all baby boomers are greedy, in it for themselves money hoarders. It just doesn't ring true.

From: Rob Davies 18 April 2016 11:37 AM

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From: Rob Davies 07 April 2016 09:58 AM

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From: Rob Davies 01 March 2016 18:16 PM

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As for the property market, most key industry figures are coming out saying that Brexit would be a disaster. We already saw what happened to the pound last week. It'll be like the lead-up to a general election, for two whole years (or however long it takes us to strike a deal to leave the EU). Obviously that's not reason enough to stay, but there are plenty of compelling reasons to stay put and lots of reasons why an Out vote would cause an extended period of uncertainty, volatility and turmoil. The Out side are calling it project fear - well, that's just a lazy retort. Rather than just shouting "fear" and sticking their fingers in their ears, why don't the Out side put forward some positive steps as to how we'll trade with our European partners when we leave, how the economy will look, how the housing market will look. At the moment, they're just saying we need to leave to take back control, to take back our sovereignty, to stop us being ruled by a bloated, corporate elite (as if Westminster is any different). They're not giving any actual answers or solutions. They're not setting out their vision for a Britain outside the EU. Unfortunately, both sides are guilty of scaremongering and half-truths. Rather than any reasoned debate about the pros and cons of the EU - and there are many pros - we're just going to get MPs sniping at each other, the Tories tearing themselves apart, and meaningless phrases like "Project Fear", "Leap into the dark" and "Taking back control". Soundbites, sensationalism and emotional blackmail - modern politics in a nutshell!

From: Rob Davies 01 March 2016 14:35 PM

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From: Rob Davies 03 August 2015 09:27 AM

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Haha! Very good, Kelly. In London they want to blight the landscape by allowing more extensions to go upwards rather than outwards, as if this will somehow solve overcrowding. No, what it will do is allow rogue landlords to find more space in which to extract more money from poor, vulnerable tenants with nowhere else to go. You talk about brownfield sites as if they're the miracle cure for all this country's housing ills. It's a step in the right direction, yes, but there are nowhere near enough brownfield sites to satisfy demand. Bringing all the derelict buildings in the country back into use still wouldn't help. Besides, there is every chance these could be turned into residential/entertainment units rather than housing, or remain out of reach of ordinary buyers (see what's happening at Battersea Power Station). More worrying than all this, though, is your misguided faith in this government's ability to take housing in any way seriously. Does Brandon Lewis have a cabinet position? Have we heard a peep from this since May? Have the Tories focused more on their ludicrous RTB scheme than the actual issues that need addressing? No, no, and a big fat yes. The Coalition government presided over the lowest level of house-building since the 1920s, what makes you think the Tories on their own will change that? Were the Lib Dems holding back their housing policy that much? They can make all the wild promises they like - fast-tracking regeneration of brownfield sites, building 140,000 new starter homes, giving housing association tenants the RTB, putting loads of cash into Build to Rent. But we won't see any actual action on it, because housing is clearly seen as too unimportant despite being one of the most important issues the UK faces.

From: Rob Davies 22 July 2015 15:17 PM

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From: Rob Davies 19 May 2015 17:13 PM

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Is that you, Gordon? Still bitter at losing the last election and being blamed for the financial crisis? No need to take it out on the party you used to represent. Either way, your point is ridiculous and indicative of the hyperbolic world we live in where fear and scaremongering wins out over rationality and sense. Not saying Labour would have been perfect for the industry, not by any stretch, but the Tories record on housing has been absolutely woeful. How many houses have they built over the last five years? How's their flagship Help to Buy scheme getting on? (From those who have used it, not very well at all). How are they getting on with helping first-time buyers onto the market? How are they getting on with dealing with the issues of Generation Rent? How are they getting on with bringing empty homes back into use? The housing minister doesn't even have a position in Cabinet, that's how much it matters to the government. And you kind of are condoning vandalism, aren't you? On the basis of your dislike of Labour, mansion tax, rent controls and bans on letting agent fees. Labour were certainly going to do no more damage to the industry than the Tories will. The longer the government continues to ignore the housing shortage, the longer we all bob merrily along in this little housing bubble that is about to go pop. I didn't get into estate agency to watch prices go up and up, out of the reach of most ordinary buyers. That's not a good long-term policy. Our whole economy seems based on high property prices - if it suddenly crashes, what's Plan B? I think too many of us in the industry are blind to that eventuality, brushing it off as extremely unlikely. I wouldn't be so sure.

From: Rob Davies 19 May 2015 10:04 AM

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From: Rob Davies 14 May 2015 10:18 AM

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From: Rob Davies 13 May 2015 13:25 PM

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If more and more people are going to be forced into the PRS over the next few years - which they almost certainly are, thanks to sky-high house prices and a lack of social/housing association property being made available to those who need it - then the PRS will need to be better regulated, to reduce the risk of rogue landlords exploiting vulnerable landlords. Of course, Shelter's findings were exaggerated and over-the-top. Such hyperbole doesn't help. But to completely dismiss the concerns of Generation Rent is absurd. You talk about a free market - a free market shouldn't mean a free-for-all where those at the top screw over those at the bottom. That takes us back to Victorian times. You're not advocating that, Simon, are you? You also talk about Labour proposing these changes as a cynical vote-winner. Well, what do you think the Tories have been doing with their Right to Buy nonsense? Shameless electioneering that will only benefit a small minority. That's what happens during an election campaign - both sides make lots of promises, a lot of the time they don't keep to them. You clearly don't like the proposals - I have reservations about aspects of them too - but to say that if Labour get in untold damage will be done to the PRS is nonsense. And you have to bear in mind that some people wouldn't see that as such a bad thing. The boom in buy-to-let, the decline in homeownership, the lack of affordable housing - all these will be sticks to bash landlords and the PRS with. Not fair, no, but these concerns have to be taken seriously.

From: Rob Davies 05 May 2015 11:01 AM

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