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Home of Choice in eleventh hour talks

Home of Choice is in new talks with a potential investor to acquire the business.

In a statement today, Gerry O’Brien, chief executive of Home of Choice, says: “I am pleased to be able to provide you with an update in light of the recent market rumours that have arisen regarding the financial position and future of the company.  

“Let me clear up a misunderstanding – Home of Choice is not in administration.  The directors had to file a ‘notice of intention’ to appoint administrators under our fiduciary responsibilities.  

“Home of Choice is currently in serious negotiations with a significant investor who is looking to safeguard the going concern status of the business.  We and the investor are seeking approval from the FSA and we expect them to respond early next week.”

He says the network and its bank are completely supportive of the proposals and are working towards a successful conclusion expected next week.

He adds: “In light of the above, I urge you to ignore any rumours that are circulating and not to take steps to terminate your contract with the company thereby keeping your licences and registrations intact.  

“I am sure you are all aware that the negotiations we are involved in are aimed at safeguarding the future of the business and the employment of the company’s staff.”  

He says he anticipates being in a position to provide a further update on Tuesday 4 May 2010, including assurances about commission and fees owed.

He adds: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support and commitment during this period of time.”

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  • John Reid 4th May 2010 at 10:56 am

    This may be helpful for some who are in two minds at the moment.
    Would you buy this company? [all figures are actuals to 31st March 2009 from accounts filed with Companies House]
    Cash in Bank: £23 ???
    Group figures
    Overdraft: £629,376
    Debt after 1 year owed: £5,039,798
    Total Debt owed: £7,691,369
    Interest payable annually: £617.179
    Loan increased since 2008: £284,403
    Directors wages:£780.533 [highest paid was £257,536]
    Why buy a company with this amount of debt? The assets in the company are the AR’s and the way things have been handled by the directors you they will be lucky if there are any left since sensible AR’s should have been protecting their own interests and going elsewhere.

  • Lo Lo Properties 4th May 2010 at 10:17 am

    Has anyone else heard rumours that HOC have been bought over by LSL Property Services PLC?

  • steve bell 4th May 2010 at 8:35 am

    Looks like LSL Property Services have bought HOC as a going concern. Lets see what happens in the next few days when they bought Halifax property services they got rid of 460 staff and closed branches nationally….good luck to you all and I hope its a happy conclusion

  • Jerry Simpson 3rd May 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I can’t talk for anyone else but if HOC directors do manage to negotiate some deal to save their skins I wouldn’t go there anyhow. Before anyone gets carried away with the flowery language about how they are fighting for us remember we are talking about the same people who 3 months ago, knowing the network were in dire straights were trying to bully us into signing a new contract with horrendous punative clauses if we try to leave the network.

    “Fighting for us”? I don’t think so!

  • paul young 3rd May 2010 at 7:49 pm

    If you move from HOC now, and it does pull off and stay trading. What would you have to pay to move? Have they broken there contract?
    Anyone have answers

  • hayley maddison 3rd May 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I’ve spoken to one of the directors from HOC today and it’s all looking good!!, we should have some great news about everyones back fees and securing the pipeline very soon.

  • Emma Tempest 3rd May 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I trust that John Ahmed, Richard Coulson and Gerry O’Brien are working around the clock to get this deal tied up. I Know and trust that each one of them have the brokers best interest at heart and will do everything in their power to secure Pipeline and Fee’s owed to brokers. Leaving HOC would be a crazy thing to do as it will take up to 6 weeks to be appointed elsewhere. HOC you have my support.

  • holly murtagh 3rd May 2010 at 1:36 pm

    A bid has been submitted that enables the network to be paid in full, survive,prosper and go forward..the board must be urged to do what is right for the “business” not themselves.

  • Joe Sprado 2nd May 2010 at 11:35 pm

    lots of comments, some good, some written out of frustration….HOC have been an inspiration to the Network model, I for one believe they will still come through, Gerry, Richard and John have done a great job up to now, They always talk discuss all matters with brokers and even when things have got rough they have not been hiding away, Gerry Richard and John have all called me to explain and express how sorry they are for the inconvenience that has been caused.

    I agree the clock is ticking, however lets see what happens on Tuesday or Wednesday this week as has been stated. GOOD NEWS I HOPE!

    Lets have some faith not every network or its directors are the same…….some try hard and truly represent their brokers.

  • holly Murtagh 2nd May 2010 at 10:06 pm

    there is rumour that an offer has been made today. Are any details available ?will the board make an announcement on Tuesday as suggestede

  • tony murtagh 2nd May 2010 at 10:00 pm

    An offer to buy HOC has been made today.Does anyone know anything.?..will the company be making an announcement on Tuesday ?

  • Tony Harrison (Greenway Financial Solutions) 2nd May 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Greenway are looking to recruit quality Protection Specialists and Mortgage Advisors either on a Commission Only basis or by way of offering a Franchise Opportunity. Please contact Tony Harrison at Greenway Financial Solutions if you are interested in finding out more.

  • Rob 2nd May 2010 at 9:54 am

    I am a sole trader within Home of Choice I have built a good business with a large GI renewal base . I worked in home service for many years and it was drummed in to us from day one work on your GI from day one , I am sure several of you know where I am coming from . The point is yes i can leave and move on but the work involved in re writing the GI would take me a year alone . I think the Directors of home of choice asked for too much money and potential investors thought so to . I received the e mail friday pm i was shocked to be honest are we ok are are we not that is the question . I think if this is sorted out i will be staying but lets cut out the trips to Spain and Dublin for the few and make sure we pay the many what they are owed each month . lets have a meeting in a travel lodge not Newmarket race course lets cut out cloth accordingly for the future.

  • anonymous 2nd May 2010 at 12:52 am

    I believed from the beginning about HOC proposition but they have certainly lost there AR’s now and there is no business to sell .The investors if their is anyone looking to buy will let it go to adminstration if they had any sense just as Towergate did with Charcoal and buy with the debt written off .

  • Ar hoc 1st May 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Looks like hoc is going to survive, greats news after a horrible week.

  • carl Davies 1st May 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Come on Richard and Gerry Deathcrawl the lentgh of the pitch for us ARs and your Staff.
    We’ve all had to over the last 9 month. When there was light at the end of the tunnel we’ve had a cave in, come on guys, Richard You want us to fill ya booooots.

  • Chris Hulme - HoC AR 1st May 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Its been a rollercoaster week and life seems to hang in the balance. I can only hope the Gerry and Richard can afford us the news we ALL want to hear – that HoC is still a viable and productive business.
    Gerry, your AR’s have had a fantastic start to 2010 and the business levels continue to improve. We ARE behind you and wish to continue in this business going forward. We take note of your heed not to rush into agreements with other Networks.
    Please understand though that we HAVE to plan ahead for ourselves, our families and those we employ and as such HAVE to undertake serious discussions with alternative routes of Authorisation. We could soon be ‘on our own’ and our livelihoods are in your hands.

  • Anthony Dowsett 1st May 2010 at 12:14 pm

    What really irritates me though is those men in suits BDM’s from some of the Networks spouting their corporate line about the future of the industry, the future of the mortgage industry, and the future of mankind as we know it, when in reality they are not capable of forming an opinion all on their own. It is doubfull that some would recognise client in real life if they tripped over them, or worse still they are just failed financial or mortgage advisers. I wonder how many are worthy of cleaning the shoes of the likes of the founders of HOC.

  • Brian Dobson 1st May 2010 at 10:34 am

    Like everyone at HOC I believe it to be one of the most dynamic of networks. Too many AR’s have forgotten that over the last 2 years our businesses have survived because of the support and development given to us. If the network can be saved it seems to me to be crazy to go elsewhere. At least we will know our network is secure and will have the backing of what presumably will be a financially strong parent company. It will take a while to get back to where we all were before but ultimately unless we go DA it could well be a case of deserting a refloated ship to one which may well be sinking!

  • ken 30th April 2010 at 11:27 pm

    cant belive some folk are still saying stick with it – its bust – gone- defrumped – up the chute – they have fecked us all over by the sound f things. time to move or ship out…..

  • Mr Reality 30th April 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Reality check people….. HOC have been refused extension to their overdraft. That means insufficient funds.

    The Invester will hardly buy the company now as within the last 24 hrs a sustantially large percentage of HOC Ar’s have already made applications to change to another network. So the Invester will see that the company as each day passes is fallimg in value.

    An existing Network which is debt free was in talks about buying HOC but have realised that they dont need to buy the company as most HOC AR’s are already moving to them anyhow.

    I’m afraid people that is the reality so prepare yourselves and start to put your Plan B into action.

    Good Luck

  • Richard Jones 30th April 2010 at 10:05 pm

    The end is inevitable I’m afraid. One of you HoC ARs need to start a forum like Network Data ARs did where you can exchange views and ideas.

  • Chris Downham 30th April 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Just heard that 95% deal is done to save HoC, staff and commissions. I for one am delighted and am confident this is not a hoax, put away the application forms and lets give HoC a chance to put things right. Wonderful to have heard the genuine support expressed by many towards HoC. However, no laurels can be rested on lots of making up to be done, but isn’t that sometimes the fun bit ;o)
    Time for a glass of merlot but keeping champers on ice.

  • Josh 30th April 2010 at 8:47 pm

    The time of the Packager has gone! The time of the Networks have gone! How would any network survive when their brokers are struggling to write business with lenders whose criteria has changed so much over the past 3 years.
    Good for HOC to last as long as they have done!! The truth is, unless the networks charge a higher fee to their AR’s, no network will survive. The problem with this is would be – No broker would then survive. Catch 22!
    The moment Mortgage Times went, that was the time to despair. Really, the truth is, any broker/ IFA, who has lasted this long has done really well – and I really take my hat off to you guys, but, when will you realise; lenders do not need brokers right now. This is why the commissions are so low, dual pricing, and I could really carry on here etc… Its about time to start looking for a new career or look at other areas to earn an additional income i.e mortgage brokers to get involved in insurances or referral fees for passing clients to an estate agent (maybe). Maybe, even, finding clients a property who are looking to buy, through setting up a connection with an estate agency?
    You may have heard of CEDAR MORTGAGE SERVICES. We were packagers. We have adapted, and are now an online estate agency – Wetherbys (www.wetherbys.net). We currently work with brokers and pay vast commissions of up to 1%. If you feel you would like more information on what we just mentioned, please feel free to call us on 01923 85 00 88. Thanks and good luck to all the AR’s of HoC.
    I really hope you get paid your commissions.

  • Paul 30th April 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Would anyone HOC AR’s reading all the comments be able to help me.
    We were due to be paid out last week and again this week (showing on the statements) large amount of commission from life plans, as we have not recieved any of this money and HOC have if HOC do end up going through are we still liable for any clawback if the plans cancel.
    apoiligies in advance if this sounds stupid but we are new to the industry but we have been told we are.

  • Chris Downham 30th April 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Just heard that 95% deal is done to save HoC, staff and commissions. I for one am delighted and am confident this is not a hoax, put away the application forms and lets give HoC a chance to put things right. Wonderful to have heard the genuine support expressed by many towards HoC. However, no laurels can be rested on lots of making up to be done, but isn’t that sometimes the fun bit ;o)
    Time for a glass of merlot but keeping champers on ice.

  • Eddie Tweedie 30th April 2010 at 7:12 pm

    With some providers and lenders witholding payments to HOC…could this be a feeble attempt by the directors to get their hands on more of OUR commission?. We are now owed two weeks money..tell the truth- fold the company and allow us all to move on and try to earn a living elsewhere HOC AR

  • Anonymous 30th April 2010 at 6:57 pm

    They have debts of over £3m – anyone who buys them, will have these to take on.

    Why file for bankruptcy if your not bankrupt? – sound like insurance salesman talk… oops, they are, sorry.

    Good Luck HOC – another one bites the dust. Just wait till RDR comes in 2012, 2012 onwards will see huge casualties.

  • Jeff Baird 30th April 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Sad to See HoC on it’s knees and I respect all those well meaning comments for Gerry and Richard and the rest of the team, but for those AR’s who are doing nothing and playing the waiting game, just wake up and smell the coffee! – This is business, make sure you have a plan B, because it is going to be a lot more painful when you relise Plan A with Gerry and Richard has gone pear shaped! Good luck everyone.

  • Colin Johnston 30th April 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Get real Gerry!! Who in their right mind will buy HOC now. The damage is done and cannot be repaired. What is your investor buying? How many A.Rs? How many RIs? your network is now feathers blowing in the wind and we all (Including your investor) know how difficult it is to go and gather them up again. I am not affilliated with HOC and I have smpathy with those with whom this affects. Excluding the board whose praises have been sung. Your mismanagment of this fiasco renders your business a complete liability. To those of you who live in hope, carry on with your plans. If in the EXTREMELY UNLIKELY EVENT of an announcement next week that a buyer has been found your pipeline will be available and this will be a bounus and little compensation for the distress suffered. Each and every one of you with access to the companies financial information could have predicted to within a month or two when HOC would run out off money (probably 8months ago). Assuming this to be the case and the directors could also have predicted the same, why didn’t they find a buyer months ago even as a parachute they were in denial or under a false illusion that the bank would refinance them. If the bank refinances you pull the pin on your deal with the buyer and if they don’t you allow the deal to go through. I will bet money on it that interested parties walked when it became public knowledge that there was nothing at the bank and ARs weren’t getting paid. Why.. because they have saw it before. When you wait to this stage to sort out the mess a feeding freenzy ensues. The vultures are circiling your Network and your A.Rs are running for cover and looking for somewhere safe. It is HOC that they are running from so anyone who was in talks re a purchase know only too well when HOC get to this stage they are buying a carcess of bones with no flesh left. Not worth what the banks will accept against the debt. Bankrupty previals and those that were interested in buying will finish up with a slice of HOC for free. Shame on you.

  • Anonymous 30th April 2010 at 6:31 pm

    When you lot going to realise, Richard & Gerry are fighting for the future of the Mortgage Broker!

    Message to Richard & Gerry

    Any Given Sunday – Al Pacino for those who can’t remember the American Football Half Time teamtalk – the biggest fight of our professional lives!

    Deathcrawl

  • Colan 30th April 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Personally I’d rather stay with a network with fresh investment than move! If the deal goes through commissions will be paid and the infrastructure secured. I’m my opinion Gerry and Richard have done all they could. They filed ” notice of intention” to appoint administrators after one missed payment. Remember Mortgage Times and Network Data ARs went through 6 months of missed payments.  I firmly believe they did not want to go down that route as it would destroy the AR’s they have built relationships with.  I also firmly believe they thought the deal was done with the investor who pulled out. Hopefully this new investor can see the true value of the network.

  • Anthony Dowsett 30th April 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I joined HOC from Mortgage Times in January so I’ve been here before, since joining I have been really impressed with everyone involved with the company, for the first time in probally 18 months I have felt the buzz of being in this business again. I was shell shocked on hearing the news this week, but I do believe that the best solution for all would be for HOC to survive. Of course we need explanations but negotiations like this are no doubt confidential.

    I am however obviously making plans so that I can continue to write business.

    Good luck Gerry !

  • Zebedy 30th April 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Too little Too Late.

    If there had been more communication early on then I am sure that there would have been whole hearted support from everyone inside and outside of HoC.
    Yet again another newtork tries to hide the problems and then when the “11th hour” talks happen with the directors trying to save the interests of the ARs it just seems a little false.

    I know of several HoC ARs in my area that are already jumping ship and I don’t doubt that it is the same all over the UK.

    For anyone staying with HoC I wish you the very best of luck and believe you are going to need every bit of it.
    For those who have had enough I hope you are able to settle quickly and get back to effective honest work again.

  • Anne Hipkiss 30th April 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I worked in the industry until January this year, when i left my network and retired. Maybe it’s time to consult one of the many vultures detailed in a post earlier this week.

    Good luck to all involved.

  • HOC AR 30th April 2010 at 4:51 pm

    If this is true then why wasn’t it explained yesterday. Also i thought administrators had been appointed.

    Too little too late trust has gone. If a deal is done many will simply take their pipeline and then leave anyway.

  • Bob Scott 30th April 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I do understand where the disappointment and even cynicism comes from in our fractured industry,but do NOT forget,Richard Coulson and Gerry OBrien revolutionised the Network landscape and HoC was one of the very few to always come out on top with their ARs.I for one,wish them the best of luck.If HoC does fail,i fear for the remainder of the intermediary market.Time to stand tall guys.

  • David Penny 30th April 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Knowing John Ahmed, he will not be letting the dust settle and am sure that he is working 24/7 with his fellow directors to make things happen. From what I know HofC were obliged to advise the FSA of there intentions to enable investment into the business to proceed. As with this type of transaction nothing can be confirmed until it is concluded which obvious feeds rumours of this nature. Have some faith in the guys as difficult as it may seem

  • Chris Downham 30th April 2010 at 4:46 pm

    So that we can express our views collectively and professionally to HOC (if the eleventh hour talks) are successful please email me chris@simplicityfinancial.com so I can communicate directly with you and get your feedback / input. We don’t really want to be making too many comments on forums. If things continue we need to be better protected and have our views clearly expressed to the board.

    HOC AR

  • AR 2 DA 30th April 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I just hope the FSA are able to handle another 8000 odd DA applications. There’s already a 6 month waiting list, God help all of us torn by HOC…

  • shyteds 30th April 2010 at 4:29 pm

    As an ex NDL AR looking in from the outside this is similar to what happened to us. Mr O’Brien and Dick Griffiths have large egos, AR’s of the two networks have no commissions and empty bank balances.

    Were they separated at birth as not too long ago they were both saying we are the biggest and we are the best?

    Why would a sale of a network not allow payment of AR’s earned commissions?

    Answers on a post card but don’t send it to the FSA, they have their bonus to count whilst drinking the FSA branded bottles of spring water.

  • DA Adviser 30th April 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Another network gone, another set of advisers left to wonder whether they will get the income they were expecting. Why do people still not get out of these ridiculous situations and go down the DA route?

  • oliver Whitehead 30th April 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Home of Choice AR
    What a shambles!!
    Who says the Directors are looking to save their own skins with this latest deal?!
    Trust is gone, i am afraid.
    It’s been mishandled at every step and I feel seriously tricked and let down. Everyone they claimed to care about (Employees & AR’s etc) has been hurt and will be seriously out of pocket.
    Do you expect me to change my ongoing plans? Will it all be okay by Tuesday? I think your Network is and will be a lot smaller going forward.
    Yours unhappily…

  • Anon 30th April 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Does anyone know if HoC are in breach of contract with their ARs?

  • Paul 30th April 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Given the recent events and lack of communication from the directors, would HoC AR’s be happy continuing with the network assuming a rescue takes place? I applaud any attempts by the directors to save the business, and anything paid to the AR’s will be over and above the expectations of this morning, but can the directors be trusted going forward? I for one would be looking to go elsewhere.

  • Hopeful HOC AR 30th April 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Here I am living in hope that HOC are rescued, my outstanding commissions paid, my pipeline business secured and a secure future to place new business.

    If there is a god, please let these talks prove positive! ! !

  • AR of HOC 30th April 2010 at 4:00 pm

    For most (including myself) the trust is gone

    I for one won’t be giving them anymore time

  • Sam Jones 30th April 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Didn’t Network Data say the exact same thing before they collapsed without paying anyone? The question has to be asked, what serious investor would buy a network that can’t function as a profitable entity already – in buying the assets, they also buy with it the liabilities.
    That said, very sad to see HoC going this way and wishing them every luck in trying to secure some sort of deal to pull themselves and their ARs out of this situation.

  • Jo Pond 30th April 2010 at 3:52 pm

    is this a last ditch attempt to stop everyone leaving so that they remain an ‘asset’ to sell etc……..hmmmnnn I wonder!