Another year is nearly done – and what an eventful year it’s been.
We’ve had more than our fair share of breaking news to come to terms with in the last 12 months, from Emoov’s collapse and GDPR, to the chaos surrounding Brexit and Housing Ministers coming and going quicker than Premier League football managers.
Now, before we all take a breather for the festivities and stuff ourselves with too much food and drink, it’s time to reflect on what 2018 meant for those of us of a property persuasion.
A is for Alex Chesterman – the founder and former chief executive of Zoopla stepped down from managing day to day operations in September, following the buyout of ZPG in July for £2.2 billion by US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.
Chesterman, who previously founded LoveFilm before launching Zoopla into the portal universe in 2007, is still on the board of ZPG focusing on product, strategy and mergers and acquisitions opportunities;
- Agents Do Charity – our weekly rundown of the excellent fundraising activities of agents across the country shines a positive light on an industry that is too often portrayed negatively.
B is for Brexit – yes, we still can’t avoid it! A date for the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been set for January 14 2019, after which we will know much more about where we stand. In 2018, it’s remained a constant backdrop for nearly all parts of life.
C is for Connells Group – and, more specifically, the closure of Hatched – the online agency it owned – back in September, the first major online closure to send shockwaves through the industry this year.
Interestingly, in a rather damning statement announcing the closure, CG said that the ‘online-only’/hybrid business model was fundamentally flawed and confirmed its ‘absolute commitment’ to high street estate agency;
- Countrywide – Another eventful year for Countrywide, which has attempted to reinvent itself after the unsuccessful reign of Alison Platt. It’s sought to get back to basics by scrapping its online services and getting a number of former employees to return to the fold. In October, it spoke exclusively to EAT to reveal the progress on its Back to Basics turnaround.
D is for Doorsteps.co.uk – the online agency run by young entrepreneur Akshay Ruparelia – who was only 18 when he founded the firm in late 2016 - was in the news this year when its founder appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List, said to be worth a cool £16 million.
The agency also raised more than £700,000 in crowdfunding and slashed its fees to just £1 with no commission charge for Black Friday.
E is for Emoov – what else could it be? What a strange old year it’s been for the hybrid agency, which was tipped to become the main challenger to Purplebricks’ dominance when the mega Emoov-Tepilo-Urban merger was announced in late May.
Less than six months later it was in severe financial bother and eventually had to call the administrators in. A remarkable fall from grace, and a sorry state of affairs for all involved;
- EAT – we celebrated our 10 year anniversary in June. Here’s to the next ten!
F is for Foxtons – a string of high-profile office closures, including its flagship Park Lane branch, has hit the famously Marmite agency this year.
G is for GDPR – the data legislation that changed our lives as we know it arrived in late May. Contrary to popular opinion, the first year has been purely advisory – but, once the first year deadline passes, that will all change.
H is for Hubs – Historic agency Humberts, purchased by US firm Natural Retreats in May, shortly afterwards announced a move to ‘Humberts Hubs’ rather than traditional branches. The hubs model is becoming increasingly popular, with other agencies shutting high street branches and opening centralised hubs instead.
I is for Insolvencies – unfortunately it’s a word we’ve seen used more regularly this year, with findings revealing that in the year to September 30 2018 some 163 agencies became insolvent, up from 157 the year before.
An insolvency firm also suggested a growing number of agencies and property firms are in ‘significant financial distress’, while Moore Stephens said earlier this year that 7,000 were at risk of going bust.
J is for James Brokenshire – the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup replaced Sajid Javid as the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in April 2018, after Javid was promoted to head up the Home Office.
K is for Kit Malthouse – the little known MP for North West Hampshire became the 16th Housing Minister in the last 17 years in July after high-profile Cabinet resignations led to Dominic Raab, the former Housing Minister, being promoted to Brexit Secretary;
- Keller Williams UK – the UK arm of the world’s biggest estate agency, which launched here in 2017, really started to make waves in 2018. It focuses on market centres, with ones on offer in London Bridge, Bromley, Prime Central London, Leeds and Glasgow, with more – we’re told – in the offing.
L is for Land Registry – the non-ministerial government department underwent something of a digital revolution this year in an attempt to improve the home-buying process, with its new digital Local Land Charges (LLC) Register launched in July and the first ever digital mortgage processed in April;
- Leaders Romans – the group has thrived this year with an impressive eight acquisitions of independent agencies to grow its offerings.
M is for MEES – new energy efficiency rules came into play from April 2018;
- Mortgage interest tax relief – the controversial phasing out continued, down to 50% from April 2018, with further reductions to 0% in the next two years;
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – the Department for Communities and Local Government had a name change to the not so snappy MHCLG.
N is for the North of England – where property markets really appear to be booming, if trends and data are anything to go by. We’ve been hearing lots of positive noises about Manchester in particular.
O is for Overseas Buyers – potentially facing a further tax hike next year if government proposals to introduce a 1% SDLT surcharge are passed;
- OTM – has still been in the headlines plenty, from court cases and growing listings to financial losses and fast-growing traffic.
P is for Purpblebricks – love it or loathe it, the purple agency is rarely out of the news;
- PropTech – a trend that gathers more momentum as each year passes. Check out our latest panel piece, which asks whether 2018 was peak PropTech or whether the best is yet to come.
Q is for Quirk – he’s been in the news quite a lot of late, as you would imagine.
R is for Raab – briefly Housing Minister, briefly Brexit Secretary, it’s been a tumultuous year for the MP for Esher and Walton since he replaced Alok Sharma at the beginning of 2018 as Theresa May’s third different Housing Minister in 18 months;
- Reapit – in the news this year for a string of acquisitions and the announcement that Simon Whale, its highly regarded head of sales and a key industry figure, was leaving the PropTech firm.
S is for Section 21 notices – the rules changed from October 1 2018, while there have been calls from Labour to scrap them completely.
T is for Tenant Fees Bill – we’re nearly but not quite there with this. The bill to introduce a ban on nearly all upfront fees and place a cap on deposits is now at the third reading stage in the House of Lords and could become law by April 2019;
- Tepilo – part of the merger and then collapse of Emoov, the Sarah Beeny-fronted agency is now no longer online.
U is for Urban.co.uk – caught up in the collapse of Emoov, it’s not clear what the long-term future is for the online lettings agency which was part of the three-way £100 million merger in May.
V is for The ValPal Network – TVPN has gone from strength to strength this year, now representing more than 800 agency brands with over 4,000 branches, generating over £350 million of potential commission for members through online valuation leads. Watch out for a range of new member products next year;
- Viewber – the Ed Mead-led outsourced viewing platform has enjoyed impressive growth this year.
W is for the World Cup – what a summer it was as temperatures soared and football fever swept the nation. Match reviews on Estate Agent Today – provided by well-known industry names – all added to the fun
X is for Xpert advice – like last year, X wasn’t a struggle!
Y is for YOPA – the hybrid agency, which claims it’s second to Purplebricks in terms of listings, received a further £20 million cash boost from its existing big-name investors in August.
Z is for ZPG – the sale to US tech giant Silver Lake for £2.2 billion officially completed in the third quarter, with a number of executives leaving and a subtle change in messaging since as the firm embarks on a new era.
And breathe! Before I sign off, just time to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
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.