Rat and Mouse
Entries in February 2007
Wed
28
Feb

That's what Bloomberg does... in possibly the most bizarre feature I've read in ages.

Local authorities say they can't afford to maintain and modernize restrooms. Many have been sold to property developers, who convert them into more profitable uses, including apartments and nightclubs.

So London, while replete in white-tiled apartments and nightclubs, is cruelly lacking in facilities compared to Beijing (despite the national salary there being just a tenth of London's). Why Beijing is singled out, and what the average national salary has to do with anything, I don't know.

There's more:

Sean, who has been driving a black cab for 10 years, keeps a plastic bottle handy in case he needs to urinate at an inconvenient moment.

That's right, Sean, you explain to the Bloomberg journalist why you've a bottle of piss in the cab. She'll believe anything. And it gets worse:

Others take more drastic steps. Research by ENCAMS, an environmental charity, showed 95 percent of Britons had urinated, vomited or defecated in public because no toilet was available.

Don't be naive. They were just saying they'd defecated in public because, you know, they wanted to sound cool.

Christ... embarrassing... no wonder so many Americans think Oliver Twist's a contemporary thriller.

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It's an annual rate of 10.2%, up from 9.3% in January, following a 0.7% monthly rise in February, and leaving the Bank Of England trigger happy... could a 5.5% interest rate be just around the corner?

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More in this Category - House prices

That's the slightly alarming message property search portal Primemove got when surveying its users. Eighty-two percent said they'd disregard one of the government's soon-to-be-compusory energy efficiency ratings when choosing a house, and 90% said they wouldn't have faith in the rating. Most said they'd make their own improvements to a property post-purchase - even if only to save running costs. Here's Primemove's Henry Pryor:

If they really think a buyer is going to amend his or her offer on a £200,000 home because it has a D rating rather than a C rating then they have completely misunderstood the current market where in some parts of the country there are five or six bidders for a property. A selling agent or vendor is unlikely to take a buyer seriously who wants £300 off the property price to put towards lagging the loft!

Meanwhile, the Better Regulation Committee (established by this Government as a way of avoiding ill-considered regulatory responses to problems) has published a response to the Government's energy efficiency ratings plans:

In our recent review of the regulatory aspects of the Stern report, we explicitly cautioned against ill considered regulatory responses to the climate change challenge. Here we have an example of proposals that are not part of a clear strategic framework and impose additional administration burdens with inadequate justification.

Ouch. Read more on that here.

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Writing in the Telegraph, Andrew Marr announces the end of Wind In The Willows UK. Council house sales and patchy, selective gentrification mean that the fragrant classes are leaving cheek-by-unshaven-jowl with the criminal classes on a scale previously unseen.

But at what point do middle-class people slip off and buy a reconditioned East European pistol for the glove compartment?

I don't know, but you're right, it's currently very one-sided. I recently discovered that if some chav wanders, uninvited, through my front gates, and I shoot him, it's me who'll get into trouble. Political correctness gone mad, isn't it?

20070228Fd 20070228Marr-1

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Tue
27
Feb

Apparently, she's looking for a gaff in or near Knightsbridge. She's £8 million to spend, and it "must have high ceilings so that I can practice my vocals".

[via CCTV.com]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes
... are looking at our storage facilities as a way of preserving quality garments in their original condition as an investment; either to be worn again when the time is right, or to be sold on for profit.

That's Paul Haynes, of specialist movers Cadogan Tate, describing an unexpected result of the current trend for buying vintage. Some of the more valuable and collectable items need specialist care and, instead of choosing to throw huge collections into an oversized wardrobe and wait for them to come back into fashion, hip women are choosing to store off-site.

Here at Cadogan Tate, we have spent a lot of time with the wardrobe departments of dance schools and theatre companies as well as professional clothes curators to perfect our knowledge of garment storage so that we get it absolutely right.

Who'd have thought it?

20070227Ct

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Hi, I've been making my own Calendar for 2007. It's apparent that I have such bizarre taste in men (Ed Kowalczyk, et al) that I have to make my own these days. Mr November I have left for a stunning picture of the semi clad Phil Spencer. Naked from the waist up would make my year. My only obsession on this god's green earth is hairy chests!! With a little bit of forearms thrown in. For 2007 Mr Spencer in my top 12. Hope you can help guide me in the right direction.

Thanks for the email (I think). Actually, there's evidence to suggest your taste in men isn't as bizarre as you might fear. Phil Spencer has quite a significant and diverse following, so you'll probably have to wait in line. Regarding the photograph, I haven't seen one, but then I haven't looked. I have been told, though, that Mr Spencer does turn to the Rat and Mouse occasionally... I'll pass on any response.

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I realise it's a long shot, but as a previous reader tipper and fan of the site... any sister sites in Edinburgh? ... any hot tips for north of the border? I mean - we're doing our best to catch up with the London crazyness ;)

Murray - I remember you well. Hmm, a Rat and Moose? I don't know, but I'm always interested in special reports...

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it's CentralLondonProperty.com, and it's available on the open market for the first time (we're told) since 1996. How much? £795 + VAT. Not too much money when compared to this. If you're interested, drop us a line and we'll pass on any interest to the owners.

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Mon
26
Feb

The Times reports that venture capital group 3i (who recently missed out on Countrywide) will today place a first round bid for Foxtons. There's also gossip that Savills were recently interested. However Savills apparently valued the firm at just £80m... way below the £400m valuation currently on the table. More here.

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Tessa Jowell - kidding no-one [This Is London]
Lily Allen - priced out of London home [StarPulse]
David Cameron - the greening up of his new Kensington home begins [24 Dash]
London homes shortage to last a generation [Bloomberg]
What £1m will buy you - a world property tour [Forbes]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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It's home exchange vacations, for wealthy people. A $500 a year membership buys you access to 8,000 square feet in Breckenridge skiing territory or a castle in Scotland.

20070226Homeexchange

[via LA Times]

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Fri
23
Feb

Qatar's foreign minister funds One Hyde Park [Real Estate Enthusiast]
How to spot an up-and-coming area [BBC]
MPs give Halifax a little Xtra [Times]

The Rat and Mouse - working late

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Apparently, Dustin Hoffman's having a clear-out at his London home (in Kensington we believe). Forty-two antiques from the property will go on sale at Christie's on March 7.

Celebrity Rat and Mouse - Dustin Hoffman incoming [January 11, 2005]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

20070222Organ2
We're back in Notting Hill, with what is pretty much certainly the first converted church organ factory to appear in the Rat and Mouse. Four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a garden, off-street parking and cool conservatory (inappropriate furniture not mandatory), on Swanscombe Road. It's with Bective Leslie Marsh, and has a guide price of £3.95m
20070222Organ
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More in this Category - For sale
Thu
22
Feb

Buy-to-let is dead, long live buy-to-let [Guardian]
CML on HIP warpath [FindAProperty]
Fragrant protest in Chelsea [Independent]
More Lindsay Lohan-moving-to-London gossip [CelebrityGossip.net]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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Well, the suggestion is that he made a few statements at a pre-Oscar party suggesting that, indeed, he is. Any further information is, of course, welcome.

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After this. Our favourite email, ever.

I know that you were not gloating about the Foxtons Mini... but you really should be careful... you never know what you can find in your parking lot... or just send this to all those real estate kids at Foxtons and say you can feel the pain... you've been there in a better ride.

20070222Bmw

It wasn't my BMW. But I can confirm it was one of the Rat and Mouse fleet (Belgravia office). I'm still trying to get to grips with the whole story, but I believe the car had been lent to an estate agent.

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Wed
21
Feb

20070221MiniA very long time ago, in January 2005, the Rat and Mouse published a photograph of a totaled Foxtons Mini. We weren't gloating, but we were intrigued by the details of how a Sloane Street branch car had ended up rolled in the middle of the Dorset countryside, and how the resulting photograph had become the subject of a popular email, sent from London estate agent to London estate agent. Foxtons remained tight-lipped... and we assumed (still assume) that the car had been pinched and wrecked. We were flooded with emails - most of them unprintable in their Foxtons-rage. Regular readers will know that the Rat and Mouse treads a careful path on the subject of estate agents. We respect and feel and a certain amount of sympathy for the good agents, the London property market foot soldiers, of whom there are many, even though that doesn't always play nicely with our readers. Out of a packed emailbag, we printed one response (which - I can now reveal - actually came from an estate agent). Anyway - cut to this afternoon - and this comment:

I cannot quantify the disgust I feel at this picture and the reaction. You people think car crashes are funny? You people would want an agent to crash his car and hurt himself? You think that your property experiences mean you can joke about young people getting hurt in car accidents? I'm afraid I take this very personally. Good bye Rat and Mouse.

For a (very) brief moment, it made me feel like the bad guy. Now I've reviewed the two posts, I've regained my real estate fu. But I do think the comment deserves being read, which is why I've posted it below the original post, and dragged it from the bowels of the Rat and Mouse up to the front page.

23.2.07 UPDATE - THERE'S BEEN FURTHER ACTION IN THE COMMENT SECTION - GO HERE FOR THE LATEST

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Thanks to the reader who alerted us to this little ten-bedroom Holland Park hideaway, marketed by Knight Frank with a guide price of £28m. Yes, ten bedrooms, 12 bathrooms to ensure that everybody's really clean, six receptions rooms to ensure that everybody can receive their own guests, and leisure facilities that include an indoor swimming pool and a funny little man statue in the back garden.

20070221Hollandpark

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It's a known fact that having a celebrity vendor can be a double-edged sword for an estate agent. Yes... the property will probably get more attention and maybe appear in a newspaper. Yes... they'll risk a steady troop of W.O.F.T. viewers (if you saw this, you'll understand; if you didn't, you've the afternoon to work it out before I explain in the comments, below) who don't want to buy the house, they just want to sniff the pillows or steal something. So it's with some surprise that the Rat and Mouse finds actor Treat Williams and family shamelessly exploiting their celebrity with a series of fabulously unposed photographs in the particulars to their $4.75m Upper West Side apartment.

20070221Tw1

20070221Tw2

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

Damon Dash's Benedict Canyon villa, $3.795m [The Real Estalker]
LA vendors snigger at Beckhams' poor taste [The Real Estalker]
Sopranos' Lorraine Bracco sells Snedens Landing (on the Hudson) cottage: $3.2m [link to particulars]
Britney Spears' Beverley Hills villa, back on the market already: $7.495m [link to particulars]
Bette Davis's final home, West Hollywood, $2.295m [pictured, link to particulars]

20070221Davislounge

The Rat and Mouse - sometimes London's not enough

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Tue
20
Feb

According to the Radio Times:

Real life stories of estate agents abusing their power, including a cheeky agent who used his client's luxury penthouse flat to entertain girls, claiming it was his own, and another who helped stage an exorcism in order to sell a house. Estate agents reveal how they know where your most personal possessions are kept, and talk about some of the compromising positions they've founds their clients in. Plus, we let you in on the secret code that estate agents use to get you to part with your cash.

10-10.30pm, ITV 1.

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New C-Charge zone - property price winners and loser [Telegraph]
Record for mortgage approvals [Guardian]
Ruth Kelly: Let's mix things up a bit [Channel 4]
Stamp Duty remains a serious problem [Times]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

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20070220Heatmap1
Congratulations to Mouseprice for coming up with a great idea... they've used their access to Land Registry completion figures to build a "heat map" of UK house prices. It's fascinating and addictive. Go play.

20070220Heatmap2

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20070220Thistle
The Times has the exclusive on plans by Minerva, new owners of Lancaster Gate's Thistle hotel, to turn the site into 80 apartments with price tags set to break Bayswater's price-per-square-foot record. The piece also claims that a number of bankers have (and this is pre-planning permission) made informal off-plan offers. Minerva had already secured planning permission to build 124 apartments, but the new vision is all about less resulting in more.

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More in this Category - W2
Mon
19
Feb

Comes from the Guardian:

In some ways the housing market has resembled a drunk standing at the bar in some back-street boozer. With every drink he has, people think he must soon stagger and tumble over. But he doesn't. He keeps drinking and he remains standing. He stays up for so long that eventually people decide they were wrong to think he would fall over. But then, just as they decide he will never fall, he takes the last drink and finally tumbles to the ground.

It's the one they're all talking about... read it here.

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One hundred years ago it was the setting for Europe's largest complex of lunatic asylums. That was when epileptics were considered lunatics and housed in "colonies". There's a lot of interesting historical information here, but don't bother following any links, because half of them are now dead. The latest installment is that West Park and St Ebba's Hospital are to be converted, and form the centre for a 700 eco-home development across 133 acres. Full story, here.

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20070219Masts Property listing-map mashup site OnOneMap has added mobile phone masts to the database. Interesting and useful, I guess, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like the idea of your brain being a through-route for a million digital conversations every night. (Or if you want to make sure you can get some decent reception.)

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More in this Category - Property online

20070219Oscars
Once you start to notice it, you start seeing it everywhere:

Just ahead of the glitz and glamour of Oscars night, Miller Homes has unveiled its very own star attraction at its new ‘Leven Gait’ development in Kelty, Fife.

Submissions welcomed.

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It seems like only - well, last October 30 - when the Telegraph looked at ways of selling your home privately, taking advantage of private sales websites such as The Little House Company and House Ladder to avoid estate agency fees. So it's about time, I guess, for another Telegraph feature about ways of selling your home privately, taking advantage of private sales websites such as The Little House Company and House Ladder to avoid estate agency fees.

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Prince of Wales to build eco-village near Newquay, call it Surfbury [Sunday Times]
Kick out the freeloading kids [Times]
Kensington gets cross about Congestion Charge [BBC]
Furniture fashionistas [Canadian Globe & Mail]
New Notting Hill shared-ownership scheme [This Is Money]
Sealed bids mandatory in posh London [Guardian]
Bonuses feed into Wandsworth borough house prices [Local Guardian]
UK homeowners to be taxed for bus stops [Sunday Express]s

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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20070218Gazump
Just ten days after the Word A Day blog defined gazump, we received this:

We had an offer accepted on a flat in November. Last monday, the day in which we signed contracts to exchange with other side they pulled out for a higher offer. The thing is that a condition of our offer was that they would take it off the market which they broke in the last few weeks. Now no one will even return our calls. We have spent a lot of time and money do you know where we can get help on what we can do?

Ouch. I'm truly sorry to hear about this... it's one of the evils of the current system that no agreement is binding until contracts are exchanged, and contracts aren't exchanged until the buyer spends not inconsiderable amounts of money. In a competitive market in which prices are rising, it's a recipe for pain.

I don't know what evidence you have for the flat being put back on the market (a new offer might have arrived from somebody who viewed the flat a while ago, and the agent has a duty to pass on all offers), but - as a general rule - if either a buyer or a seller starts to slow down the process or becomes hard-to-reach, it's time to put a deadline on exchange, after which you have to be determined to walk away. If your offer was accepted in November, it sounds as if a long time has been allowed to pass before exchange.

Was Monday the first you heard of another offer? Have the vendors actually exchanged contracts with another party? It's possible that they've been reading the headlines about rising prices since November, and are trying to frighten a few more thousand out of you to compensate for what they believe is now a discount. There's no easy answer - and the Rat and Mouse feels loathe to offer advice without all the facts - but if it was me I'd be tempted to visit the estate agent in person and make it clear that your offer has a time limit of hours, after which it's either reduced or rescinded.

If anybody wants to add to this, please feel free to comment.

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Fri
16
Feb

20070216Coward2It's a bit of a triumph for unconventional estate agency franchise Re/Max... 17 Gerald Road in Belgravia was home to Noel Coward between 1930 and 1956, and the venue for some truly star-studded parties. It features a double-height reception room (extra clearance for all those egos), four bedrooms, a library and roof terrace. It also comes with 1 Burton Mews, which adds another two bedrooms, a garage and off-street parking (and was used, at the time, as an office by Coward's secretary). It's on the market with a guide price of £4 million. Too, too glamorous. Particulars, here.
20070216Coward

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Thanks to the Rat and Mouse reader who sent me a link to this announcement... a new "one-stop shop" to be called H&F Home Buy with the aim of helping first-time buyers in Hammersmith & Fulham via a range of shared-ownership options. Apparently more than half of the borough's residents rent, one of the highest proportions in the UK. The new scheme will be open to first-time buyers with a combined household income of £19,000 to £60,000.

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As interest rates creep up, Patrick.net - over in the States - asks a pertinent question:

With millions now wishing they had not borrowed so much on such awful terms, can they use stupidity as a defense? If you are found to have been mentally incompetent at the time you signed a loan, you may be able to evade responsibility for it. Certainly you cannot make binding contracts with people who do not understand what they are signing. Now the question is, what happens to the loan if you are declared a moron by a court of law?

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This is Blacklers, Harrow, and it's celebrating its 70th anniversary by giving away a quarter of its fees in February, to help local school St Joseph's raise £200,000 to build new classrooms.

[via Edgeware & Mill Hill Times]

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According to research by Mouseprice.com, 1,352 UK streets have an average house price of over £1m, up from 322 at the start of the decade. Inevitably, it's all about London, with Kensington & Chelsea providing 16 of the top 20, and the capital really dominating the top 100. For a full rundown, and to see if your street's listed, click here

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More in this Category - House prices
Thu
15
Feb

20070215Mews
1 St. John's Mews didn't last very long in the Telegraph before appearing on the Knight Frank website as under offer (guide price: £12.5m). It's stunning... a RIBA award-winning home, built for the current owners, set right in the heart of Notting Hill and very original and beautiful. So much work went into it, including a computer-led design period that involved measuring light fall over a period of months, how can the current owners leave after less than two years' ownership? The kids have left and it's just too big is the line... but the piece makes it clear that the house took far longer to build than expected. For particulars, head over to Knight Frank.

20070215Mews2

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20070215Mews
1 St. John's Mews didn't last very long in the Telegraph before appearing on the Knight Frank website as under offer (guide price: £12.5m). It's stunning... a RIBA award-winning home, built for the current owners, set right in the heart of Notting Hill and very original and beautiful. So much work went into it, including a computer-led design period that involved measuring light fall over a period of months, how can the current owners leave after less than two years' ownership? The kids have left and it's just too big is the line... but the piece makes it clear that the house took far longer to build than expected. For particulars, head over here.

20070215Mews2

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According to Douglas & Gordon's Ed Mead, writing in the Telegraph, we've got enough luxury... these days it can mean anything, from a marble counter top in a toy-town suburban development to this:

Take The Knightsbridge. You can drive into your parking space, get into a lift and watch CNN while being whisked directly to your flat, secure in the knowledge that every access point is secure and/or watched 24/7. You could be in a seven-star hotel anywhere in the world – or anywhere in London.

Anywhere in London is his point. The developers have finally cracked luxury, but Mead would like a little originality and flair.

Meanwhile, on the subject of quality and new-builds, nobody should miss this incredible slideshow courtesy of the BBC. Our favourite? Click on number two.

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The Royal Institute Of Chartered Surveyors extrapolates from its tortuous system of house price rating today that interest rates are biting and inflation is slowing. Its three month balance (the difference between the percentage of surveyors seeing prices rising and the percentage reporting prices falling) fell to 28.0 in January, from 36.6 in December.

"The Bank of England's hawkish activity has deterred some buyers who have started to hesitate before taking the property ladder plunge," said RICS spokesman Jeremy Lea.

However, according to the survey, both sales and sales-to-stock ratio rose in January at their fastest since May 2004. So where does that leave us? Confused. More here.

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Wed
14
Feb

The bank made its quarterly inflation report today, and despite a recent sudden drop in inflation, still hinted of a likely rise to 5.5%. More here.

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New Council Of Mortgage Lenders figures reveal a 48% increase in volume (and a 57% increase in value) in buy-to-let mortgages during 2006. That's 330,000 loans, worth £38.4 billion. The CML points to further growth, too, citing rising rents and falling void periods. More here.

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More in this Category - Letting

On one of its regular More For Your Money jaunts, the Independent visits Highams Park and finds it quiet:

The drawback with Highams Park is that it lacks action. Whether you're after a movie or a meal - or just a decent cup of coffee - you're better off heading a mile up the road to Chingford.

What are you complaining about? You've Chingford on your doorstep.

Highams Park, on the fringe of London and the edge of Epping Forest, is a place however where you can buy a one-bedroom flat for £125,000 and a three-bedroom house for £250,000... both acceptably near a mainline station that can get you to Liverpool Street in 30 minutes.

property for sale
Nestoria - UK Property Search Engine

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Mortgages: cap and track = crap? [Reuters]
A journalist's house auction experience [Independent]
Government to reign in London skyscraper plans [Times]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

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Tue
13
Feb

Figures by Nationwide suggest that an "average" first-time buyer pays £125 more per month now than 12 months ago. Increases in house prices account for £75 a month, the extra £50 comes courtesy of interest rate increases. More here.

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Lindsay Lohan rumoured to have bought Marilyn Monroe's West Hollywood apartment [Curbed LA]
Fred Durst sells Hollywood home for $1.4 million [LA Times]
Shock jock Howard Stern's (ex-)summer house: $7.6m [The Real Estalker]
Scarlett Johansson wins - yes, wins - free one year lease on Miami beachfront condo [Luxist]
Photograher David LaChapelle's New York (East Village) apartment: $1.95m [link to particulars]
Tom Jones to sell "spare" Bel Air mansion: $3.95m [pictured, The Real Estalker]

20070213Tomjones

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20070213Sloanesquare
Broadcaster Sue Lawley, singer Brian Ferry and actor Rupert Everett are all said to be backing the Save Sloane Square campaign, which is challenging Kensington & Chelsea Council's proposals to build a four-lane road through the square, splitting it into two piazzas... or squares. It looks like a stand-off.

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More in this Category - SW1
Mon
12
Feb

A three-bedroom house in north Clapham's Burgoyne Road - three bedrooms, one bathroom, lots of stripes. £465,000 with Aspire.

20070212Stripes-1

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It's always late, but - based, as it is, on completions - it actually means something. Today's DCLG figures - for December - reveal a lively market, leaving December-to-December house price inflation at 9.9%, the highest annual rate since March 2005. In London the figure was 11.8%. More here.

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Who's going to be a millionaire? [Glasgow Evening Times]
Glasgow design twats move to Clerkenwell heartland [Guardian]
London: capital of the world [Independent]
A First Rung maths lesson [First Rung]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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Fri
09
Feb

20070209Redrow-1Apparently, suburban identikit executive home builders Redrow have employed the services of interior designers Connections In Design and charged them with a very special mission: monitor the action at London Fashion Week and come back with some ideas about how to incorporate a little sophisticated glamour into Redrow's developments [illustrated]. Hey, no problem:

Dawn Kitchener, managing director for Connections in Design, comments: "There are four directional themes for spring 2007 - which can appeal to people who have just bought a new home who need inspiration for their blank canvas; or to those who are thinking of selling up and need to refresh their home to appeal to particular home buyers. All four will create truly stunning interiors."

Four! Great! That doesn't sound too stupid. What are they?

Well. There's Beyond Mirage ("Soft organic shapes and a variety of fabrics such as washed out linen, floaty sheers like silk/satin, and iridescent polished fabrics that shimmer to create an optical illusion"). Okay, in my Redrow home I'll go for the optical illusion of space and intelligent design.

There's Elegant Exotic ("Why not consider crystal chandeliers with black droplet features and tinted bulbs?") Hell, yeah. In fact, why not make them standard in all Redrow Homes?

There's The Interactive Wall ("Shelving is used decoratively rather than for functionality.") What's that? The small print?

And finally, there's The Call Of The Wild ("Think entwined wines, gnarled wood as seen in the jungle, punctuated with bright tropical flowers. Furniture such as sofas make a style statement with their shape, while wallpapers and fabrics incorporate a reworking of large tropical leaves.") Yes, that classic jungle sofa shape statement.

What does any of this mean? Anybody?

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No sooner do Hamptons announce The Address Book, than Foxton's come right back at us with area (small "a") - a new monthly magazine published in 22 individual editions, each mixing listings with local knowledge. Foxton's plan to distribute 950,000 copies to homes in London and Surrey.

20070209Area

Breaking news - Hamer cracks Foxton's nut [February 8, 2007]
Foxton's - heroes [February 6, 2007]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

A big congratulations to Zoomf.com for apparently winning a substantial quantity (the actual figure remains top secret) of cash for future development, courtesy of Howzat Media. Go to Real Estate Enthusiast for the scoop on that.

Meanwhile, we're intrigued by a new video feature coming courtesy of Extate. Vendors now have the opportunity to upload - YouTube-style - short video clips either from their computers or direct from their mobile phones. The videos are then integrated into the listings. We've had a good play with this feature and really love the way the videos are integrated... they play smoothly and flawlessly. (I'm not sure about the light classics accompaniment, though... for some reason it makes me want to laugh.) A question for Extate: do vendors get some kind of password or account? I've clicked as far as "add video" on a random listing and a box has offered me the opportunity to upload any video from my hard-drive... holiday vid, school sports day, ex-girlfriend... could be anything. What's to stop the unscrupulous having some fun with this? Presumably they're not checked by real people? That wouldn't be very Web2.0.

Anyway - if you want to watch some property action, go here and click the buttons marked "video".

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More in this Category - Property online
Thu
08
Feb

The Ombudsman for Estate Agents, Christopher Hamer, has announced that Foxton's has finally come in from the cold and signed up to the new Code of Practice. Foxton's founder Jon Hunt is quoted thus:

By joining the Ombudsman scheme we will be able to build upon our own complaints procedure, which has always been robust, consistent and fair. We were particularly impressed by the way in which the new Code of Practice introduced by the OEA provides a more comprehensive and common sense approach to redress, and the manner in which new Ombudsman Christopher Hamer is seeking to introduce it.

Foxton's - heroes [February 6, 2007]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

... no advance on 5.25%.

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After last month's surprise fall, Halifax is back to reporting gains today, with a 1.3% rise in national prices in January, leaving annual inflation at 9.9%.

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More in this Category - House prices

It was (just) less than a year ago when the Rat and Mouse said "goodbye" to Knightsbridge's Bowater House and "hello" to news that it was to be replaced by a Rogers/Candy & Candy construction of 86 apartments.

The talk is of higher than high end, with price tags reaching £20 million...

... we said. Well, if only we'd have known. London's currently packed to the bonuses with UHNWIs (ultra-high-net-worth individuals) and rich people are said to be going nuts about the properties, even though One Hyde Park isn't yet a reality. In fact, there is already talk of penthouses in the development exchanging hands for £84 million.

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[image from Candy & Candy website]

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More in this Category - SW1
Wed
07
Feb

The Guardian takes bets on future interest rate movements.

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More in this Category - _Other

It measures 10 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 9 inches, but it does come with a balcony, so there's a bit of extra space if you're very wide or very tall. It's on Winchester Street in Pimlico... really not a bad area at all. Our favourite part of the particulars:

This is a very light flat facing North East.

It's with Stern Studios, and it's at £139,000 for anyone brave enough to accept indemnity insurance in lieu of planning permission. Viewings Thursday February 8, 6.15-6.45pm and Friday February 9, 1-1.30pm.

And if you're stuck for idea about how to furnish your new mini-flat, check this for some ideas, courtesy of SketchUp user Simple Simon.

Only in Chelsea - flat the size of a snooker table: £170,000 [January 22, 2007]

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More in this Category - For sale

Not all of them, judging by the illustrations, but we feel a little sympathy... it must feel expensive at the moment. She's featured in a slightly breathless New York Times piece that marvels at London property prices, and compares Ms Eklund's £3,208 monthly rent (for a two-bedroom flat in Kensington's Observatory Gardens) to the slightly lower figure she'd be paying for a Manhattan equivalent with obsequious doorman. Also, we're apparently "pickier", counting every last scratch on the wall and broken glass in the inventory.

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More in this Category - _Other

In a Sun money editorial that manages to honk of advertorial Tom Harvey writes that innovative estate agency The Step is offering to pay the 15% deposit on buy-to-let purchases. How do they do it? Well, much of their property is bought off-plan and at considerable discount (a proportion of which, I guess, is passed on as the deposit). We wonder whether buyers are tied into any particular lender or deal?

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More in this Category - Letting
Tue
06
Feb

Gerkin - London's, highest value single property sale, ever [Guardian]
Rate rise likely [BBC]
First-time buyers - save and wait [Mirror]
It takes more than a spook to spook a buyer [FindAProperty]
The parents who live like students after their kids leave home [TheMoveChannel]
"Downsizing" in Putney and Hampstead [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - now with added search

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More in this Category - Linkage

They've left London - and who can blame them? - for a seven-bedroom, £3.5 million house in Surrey, with plasma TV in the bathroom. Hell yes.

[via Now Magazine]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

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According to everybody's favourite estate agency, London house-hunters increased by a factor of three in 2006. And in January 2007 alone, Foxton's arranged 60,000 viewings. I believe there are around 20 branches in London. So that's 3,000 viewings per branch per month, or approximately 750 a week. More than 100 viewings a day! Holy mother of particulars those guys deserve every penny they get. They're heroes.

[via Easier]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

According to this, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research is talking about a 10% interest rate as the only direction to go if property prices are to be brought back in line with general inflation. Yes sir, that's one way to extract the flavour from an orange.

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More in this Category - _Other
Mon
05
Feb

Well, Their Currency, technically, since this is an American site... but the concept's still interesting. You post a home and its asking price, then users are invited to comment with what they consider a more realistic suggested value and a figure - between one and ten - relating to how strongly they think they're right. I know what you're thinking... people will take the piss. Well, they figured that, too, and have implemented a system that weights contributions depending on the past performance of the contributer. Interesting. So why would anybody bother? The theory is that estate agents might use it as a way of creating dialogue and generating real leads. Find it here

20070204Mycurrency

The Rat and Mouse - now with added search [January 29, 2007]

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Glancing at a newspaper ad tonight, a new development caught my eye. Sadly, it doesn't seem to have a website yet. What's it called....?

So Bow. Seriously.

the last bus home on the madness of new London developments and their names.

[via Londonist]

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More in this Category - _Other

Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan are apparently shopping for £8 million homes in the Richmond Hill area. So what of the £18 million Chelsea home the pair were reported to have purchased in May last year?

Hugh Grant - "property mad" [April 25, 2006]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

No wonder his heart's flopping around in there like a trout on dry land... the police are after him, Brown's after him, and now he might have mortgage debts of up to £5 million, making him, er, more sensitive than most to interest rate fluctuations. The Telegraph asked Charcol how much Tony and Cherie should be able to borrow, based on their combined income, and they replied £1.3 million.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

England - getting gated [Independent]
Countrywide estate agents - 3i gone, now in talks with US buy-out firm [Sky]
The Telegraph and the "c" word [Telegraph]
Poles make up one in five of every UK home purchase [Daily Mail]

The Rat and Mouse - now with added search

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More in this Category - Linkage
Fri
02
Feb

All final traces (except, apparently, for a sad, discarded birthday card) of Jade and her Hertford "beauty" salon, Ugly's (the subject of the "reality" "show" Jade's Salon), have apparently been torn out by builders in preparation for the arrival of new owners... Enfield-based estate agents Lanes.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Building Design reports on the latest chapter in arguably south London planning's longest-running fiasco. Remember how excited we got when we learnt of the ambitious, joined-up plans, developed over 13 years, that Parkview had put together for the Battersea Power Station site? Well, new owners, Treasury, clearly weren't as excited, since they've secretly decided to start afresh, refusing to meet West 8, Ron Arad & Associates or Benson & Forsyth, even though their involvement in the Parkview master plan was well advanced (to the point of planning approval). In the meantime, they've been meeting new architects, but only ones who've agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement:

A source at one leading firm which decided against taking part in the contest said it was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement even before learning it was for Battersea.

Friendly. Battersea Power Station's too important a London landmark for this kind of foolishness. Are Wandsworth Council and English Heritage really as powerless as they seem in the face of private sector muscle?

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More in this Category - Design

There's a new survey out, courtesy of the National Association of Estate Agents, suggesting - despite so much evidence to the contrary - that we do in fact love our neighbours. Nationally, 90% of say we've a good relationship with our neighbours. In London, where overcrowding is a genuine enough excuse for a tussle, a very surprising 83% still had good things to say about them next-door.

[via FindAProperty]

Sex noise, and other complaints [April 24, 2006]

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More in this Category - _Other

City bonuses - the property effect [Telegraph]
FSA names City risks - flu and consumer debt [Guardian]
Shifting mortgages - clever or stupid? [Guardian]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

The information we're getting is that it was for a new high rise development by Brilla Mare Ariake, and it was filmed by Steven Klein somewhere in London last week. We're being teased with the prospect of amateur photographs. We'll let you know...

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
01
Feb

It's rare a press release leaves me in shock... but B&Q's guide to getting that Wisteria Lane look has created a strange kind of blinking symptom... does it actually say this?

If you like the idea of sexy, but stylish rooms, Gabrielle Solis’s home is more your thing. Pastel coloured rooms speak of a woman who values herself and her feminine side. Couple these colours with luxurious textures give any room a sexy undertone. B&Q stocks a range of soft furnishings, candles and holders perfect for stylish looks.

Ah, if only there was a B&Q near Wisteria Lane, Gabrielle would have had better things to do than bang the gardener. Like shop for flat-pack bookshelves.

If you’re a sophisticated woman, who likes things to be ‘just-so’, then you’ll aspire to being Bree Van De Kamp. You’re house proud and everything fits to a tee. You take military precision in your decor and prefer to paint in safe neutral colours. B&Q’s range of paint offers a wide range of calm, collected colour. Like Bree you’ll enjoy entertaining friends with impressive cooking skills. B&Q’s three-tiered chrome effect spice rack, £16.00 will keep your impressive range of herbs and spices organized.

Right. And if you want that Nip/Tuck look, why not invest in one of their 16-piece tool kits with orbital sander, too?

The Rat and Mouse - now with added search [January 29, 2007]

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More in this Category - Design

20070201Bubble

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Over at US bubble-watch blog, Patrick.net, readers debate the morality and practicality of gaining pleasure from the deflating house price bubble.

The Rat and Mouse - now with added search [January 29, 2007]

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More in this Category - _Other

Repossessions rose 65% last year, according to new figures by from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, to 17,000 homes... that's one in every 690 homeowners failing on their mortgages and losing their homes. And it sounds bad. Except when you compare it to the great disaster of 1991 and the 75,540 homes that were repossessed during negative equity's dark days. The CML also point out that the number of homeowners six months behind on their mortgage repayments dropped by 8.5% last year.

London: repossessions galore [January 25, 2007]

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