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Property Natter: A to Z of the property industry for 2017

As we hurtle towards the end of 2017, it’s time to reflect on the year that’s just been.  

Even better, this property-based summary is in the form of an easy to digest A to Z list. Let it never be said that I don’t treat you!

While there’s been no Brexit, Trump or shock sporting results so far this year, there’s been plenty going on in the world of property…

A is for Artificial Intelligence - playing a small, but increasingly prominent, role in the property market. As revealed in this week’s Budget, big money is being pumped into this industry. Expect it to thrive; Awards – the chance for the great and good of the property world to be rewarded for their hard work and endeavours. The ESTAS still leads the way on this front; AllAgents – the review website’s public spat with Purplebricks has made for some interesting reading of late.

B is for Build to Rent – the industry’s fastest-growing marketplace, set to be worth £70bn by 2021. Developments springing up left, right and centre, all over the UK; Brexit – can’t escape it, can we? We won’t know for sure what bearing it has on the property market until withdrawal is complete (set to be March 2019, but could be later!)    

C is for Consultations – consultations, consultations, consultations. It’s become the government’s favourite activity, on everything from fees bans to the home buying and selling process.

D is for Demutualisation – Back in August, Agents' Mutual, the parent company of the OnTheMarket portal, surprised the industry by announcing it was planning to demutualise and float on the stock market. A further surprise to most was that in September members voted in favour of the float with a whopping 89% majority. The planned flotation, for which there is currently no date set, will see OnTheMarket drop its controversial ‘one other portal only’ rule and accept listings from online agents for the first time.

E is for Election – Theresa May called a shock snap general election in April 2017 to give herself a bigger mandate going into Brexit negotiations. She was expected to walk it, but a late surge by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour (helped by a bigger turnout from the youth vote) caused one of the biggest political upsets since, er, Trump and Brexit; easyProperty merger – in a move that few saw coming, GPEA Ltd – the parent company of the Guild and Fine & Country – announced a shock merger with easyProperty; EweMove – acquired by the Property Franchise Group last year, the online/hybrid brand has grown its number of franchisees and made a number of key appointments in 2017. 

F is for Foxtons – the estate agent everyone loves to hate has been keeping a rather low profile in recent times, but 2017 did see its sales profits dive and its lettings thrive as stamp duty changes, Brexit and a slowdown in London all took their toll. 

G is for GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation) - it doesn’t come into being until May 2018, but organisations are being urged to get their house in order pronto. Inaction could prove highly costly. If you're confused about GDPR, get in contact with us and we can help. Our in-house expert – GDPR Holly as we’re now calling her – is on hand. 

H is for Housing Minister – Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, became the 13th Housing Minister since 1997 when he took on the role after the election. Gavin Barwell, the previous incumbent, lost his Croydon Central seat but still got a promotion to become May’s Chief of Staff. Only in politics – and football – do you get rewarded so handsomely for failure!

I is for Innovation - whether it's PropTech products being launched or small little regulatory changes that improve the industry, the property world is always looking to innovate, adapt, grow and evolve; Independent Agents – the rise-ish and fall of CIELA, led by Charlie Wright, was one of the big stories of the year.  

J is for Jon Cooke – the frontman for the merger between GPEA and easyProperty, he described the deal as a game-changer for the industry and believes, going forward, there’ll be two main players in the online agency space. When it relaunched in early September, easyProperty claimed to be the second biggest hybrid agency in the UK behind Purplebricks. 

K is for Knight Frank – the kings, along with Savills, of property research, Knight Frank has made a number of predictions about the property market of the future and how much more dominant the rental sector (and Build to Rent) will be. 

L is for Lettings Fees Ban – We still don’t know when it will actually be introduced, but it’s continued to be one of the most emotive and controversial topics in the world of lettings. 

M is for MEES - or Minimum Efficient Energy Standards, which come into play in April 2018 and have been receiving plenty of news coverage ahead of their implementation. Landlords and letting agents have been warned they need to be up to speed with the new rules or face letting out homes that are technically illegal; Mortgage interest tax relief – the phasing out began in April 2017, much to the chagrin of buy-to-let investors and landlords. 

N is for Natter - I'm allowed a little self-congratulatory pat on the back, right?; NTSEAT – waded into the selling fees debate in July by warning online agencies to not make unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims about how much they charge compared to high street agents. 

O is for Online – GPEA merging with easyProperty, Savills and LSL investing in YOPA, Countrywide expanding their online operations; definitely feels like something is-a-changing.  

P is for Purplebricks - the ultimate Marmite agency (or hybrid, as it labels itself), PB gets under a lot of people’s skin for its bright purple branding, questionable TV adverts and rising influence; Propertymark - in a move that rather came out of the blue, Propertymark was launched in Feb 2017, combining five different associations (ARLA, NAEA, NAVA, ICBA and APIP) into a single brand. 

Q is for Quirk - Russell Quirk, of course - the irrepressible founder of online agency eMoov. He’s not been so prominent of late, but is usually the man for an opinion on, well, anything. Are we slacking, Mr Quirk? 

R is for Rightmove – the country’s biggest portal continues to thrive, with new nationwide ads and record levels of traffic helping it to keep its giant status intact.

S is for Stamp Duty – the tax everyone loves to hate, there are regularly calls to abolish it completely or at least implement a ‘stamp duty holiday’. On Wednesday, Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000 – although this is only expected to help 3,500 people. 

T is for Tenants - a rapidly growing PRS means a rapidly growing army of renters. With home ownership levels falling, people are choosing (or being forced) to rent for the long-term, and tenants are becoming increasingly important targets for political parties of all stripes; The Property Franchise Group - the franchise giant has been involved in controversial merger talks with Belvoir, but after a series of rebuffs Belvoir recently withdrew its offer – which many saw as an attempted takeover.  

U is for Upbeat – while it’s easy to get bogged down in the doom and gloom of political and economic uncertainty and a rapidly changing world, there are also things to be optimistic about. I see it all the time on my travels, meeting interesting, entrepreneurial people seeking to change the property industry for the better. 

V is for ValPal – 2017 has been another great year for ValPal. We've had a rebrand - to The ValPal Network - to reflect the multi-pronged approach we now offer, from Live Chat and webinars to help with marketing, advertising, content and social media.; Virtual Reality - a small, but growing, part of the property industry that is still yet to be fully embraced.

W is for White Paper – yes, the government’s long-awaited Housing Paper finally arrived in February, but progress on implementing any of the measures outlined has been slow. 

X is for Xcellent customer service - finding something for X wasn’t a struggle at all!

Y is for YOPA - the online agency with The Village People-inspired ads has grown in prominence this year, thanks in large parts to further investment from Savills, LSL Property Services and the Daily Mail. Expect to hear much more from them in 2018. 

Z is for Zoopla - the other purple-based property giant has continued to be very acquisitive in 2017, including purchases of Ravensworth, Expert Agent, HomeTrack and comparison site Money.

Until next time…

*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.

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