Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Lobbying government for a change in the house buying process

We need a lobby.

I don't mean a nice Italian marble one for the entrance of my house, no, I mean a professional lobby that will approach the government to change the law on house purchase.

This is the first step towards modernisation of this industry. Who can perform this role? Unfortunately, I don't have a great deal of confidence in the NAEA or any of the other bodies out there.

I believe the industry needs a professional group that is paid to lobby parliament, get a few MPs onside and grease the palms of the people who need greasing.

I, along with others, would be prepared to source and brief this group and perhaps I ought to arrange a research and intelligence gathering stage where I collate views from agents, mortgage companies, solicitors etc etc. So let's start that here. What do you think should change?

By the way, I would also like an Italian marble lobby, but not sure my flat would support the weight.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Look4aproperty £1 billion marketing drive

You will recall that James Caan and the guys at Look4aproperty made some ambitious claims a while back that they were going to single handed kick start the housing market.

They have now announced a £1 billion marketing offensive. Look4aproperty has tied up a deal with a finance company to provide interest free loans to first time buyers to cover fees and disbursements. Buyers can apparently borrow any amount from £500 and pay it back over 36 months interest free. Sadly, it doesn't include the deposit!

Speaking with the Negotiator, James Caan said '...The market has changed dramatically in terms of the deposit you need today versus what you may have needed a couple of years ago. In that environment, a few thousand pounds today is a material sum. First and second-time buyers don't have that level of liquidity; whatever cash they have, they need for the deposit, so I think this product can make a big difference.'

I like this idea, it has balls on the face of it. But dig deeper and is it all a little vague. Is this just a big £1 billion marketing exercise?

Indeed, if the average number of houses sold per month is currently 35,000 (Land Registry) and average fees were £1,000 then even if look4aproperty was involved on every transaction they would not come close to the £1 billion. So, if you have a billion why not offer deposit loans?! Now this really would have balls!

The devil will be in the detail and the terms and conditions are conspicuous by their absence.

Punters can only access this through agents who are signed up to the scheme. These agents must be signed up to look4aproperty, i.e. paying £200 per month. Agents get a healthy commission of £500 (apparently) per sign up and only two agents per region (no definition) are allowed to participate.

This has all the hallmarks of a clever PR stunt, but I can be persuaded otherwise if the guys at Look4aproperty send me the terms and conditions and fill in some of the blanks.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Real estate was never our cup fo tea

FOREM says this comment is straight from the founder of dothomes.co.uk which is now up for sale by way of auction.

How many more entrepreneurs with portals feel a bit like this at the moment I wonder? I must admit I have had similar thoughts from time to time. Why? A hundred and one reasons, but fundamentally we are dealing with a very mundane act (a house purchase, house rental) and the market is well served with established players providing a reasonable customer service.

Many new portals have sought to shake up the industry concentrating on the b2b elements (i.e. free for agents to list) and indeed have improved the market and probably the customer experience. But buying a house is still a function the average human being will do only three to four times in their life and won't start until they are on average 31 years of age. Yes, there are millions of us, but the whole process is nothing to get excited about and whichever way you cut it, it has a finite point.

From an entrepreneurs point of view many have immersed themselves within the industry and maybe it just isn't exciting enough to keep their fires burning. That said, the industry is not short of new entrepreneurs who want to give it a go (Zoopla and a host of other new portals), but I suspect a few others may prefer the taste of coffee very soon. For me, I still like tea and will continue to try a few different flavours and this industry won't get rid of me just yet.

The dothomes Auction closes on 1 October 2009, but no information on how to bid, where to go etc etc?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Property Owl Blog is back, long live the blog

Apologies for the lack of posts, I have been .... well, fed up!

If I am honest, and I usually am, I had grown a little disheartened with certain areas of the property industry (i know, we are in a recession). I saw portals opening daily, more software providers giving away their products for free, more agents doing the same things or less. It felt to me that so many were not listening and missing the point. It was all too much, too crowded, too claustrophobic.

So instead of falling into a well of despair I asked myself, what does this industry need?

Apart from less of everything, I concluded we need an entirely new model! And I don't mean sell it yourself websites, tinkering with new pricing models based on leads, clicks, views, subscriptions, free hosting etc etc and I certainly don't mean more portals. I mean a completely new approach. One that turns the industry on its head. Out with the old and in with the new. It is mid life crisis time!

So where to start?

- The law regarding house sale/purchase needs to change (i.e. the Scottish approach)
- Agents, if they remain, need to be regulated
- The entire industry needs to be rebranded
- Should we go communist and let the government control house sales
- Surely one feed and one portal is enough
- How about every house sale is auctioned on one portal (the land registry)

I think we should discuss this, preferably over a pint or two.

See you all at the Windmill Pub next week.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Drinks bash

Evening all

Don't forget the Owl and the Pussy Cat drinks bash next week.

Hope to see you all there.