Rat and Mouse
Entries in November 2007
Fri
30
Nov

What madness? This madness...

House prices alert after biggest fall for 12 years [Telegraph]
Biggest drop in house prices for 12 years [Guardian]
Analysis: dire data [Times]
UK house prices see sharp tumble [BBC]
House prices decline for fastest rate in over a decade [House Move]
Shock fall in house prices [Express]

and

Is the roof falling in on the housing market? [Independent]

Now, the Rat and Mouse isn't going to claim the housing market is pointing in the same direction it was pointing this time last year. Nor am I trying to sweep under the carpet the terrible lending data that accompanied the Nationwide figures. But to make out that yesterday's Nationwide numbers are in any way a reliable indicator that something dramatic has just happened, signaling the tipping point, the very moment when the UK housing market fell off its perch, is not only nonsense, it's surely willful mischief on behalf of the media. They know, I know, you know, that the November drop of 0.8% - the "biggest drop in house prices in 12 years" - came after a rise, in October, of 1.1%. Clearly, October's rise was an anomaly (it arrived in the midst of other data that was all pointing to slight falls); and because of that a dramatic, corrective drop was almost inevitable for November. Taken alongside October's figure, November's 0.8% fall still leaves the market 0.3% up on September.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not buying UK property futures. All I'm saying is... let's not throw out our brains for the sake of a headline. Mix yourself a Marge, and have a cool weekend.

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More in this Category - House prices

Excited agent ends every sentence with an exclamation mark! Melissa Etheridge's "country English estate"... in California, $4.995m [link to particulars]
Olsen Twins to sell New York five-bedroom penthouse, $11.9m [New York Observer]
Bruce Willis spends $4.26m on New York apartment, takes out $3.408m mortgage [New York Observer]
Sold. Beverley Hills home to Burt Bacharach in the 1970s, listed at $3.495m... [Berg's Big Time Listings]
Ugly Betty's Michael Urie pays $749,000 for Hollywood condo down the corridor from Tara Reid [Berg's Big Time Listings]
Is it something he said? Tara Reid's leaving [The Real Estalker]
Richard Dreyfuss's other life as a property developer [LA Times]

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

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

He's called Malcolm Green, of Greenfields in Hampstead; but - according to prosecutors at Snaresbrook Crown Court - you might know him as Malcolm "Ferdinand" Green or Malcolm "de Villiers" Green (or, and who knows, if he was feeling very grand as he slipped into his topper and spats and clamped down on a monocle, Malcolm Ferdinand de Villiers Green). Really, he's Malcolm Alan Green, and he faces charges of conspiracy, theft and dishonest money transfer. He's accused of conning a schizophrenic customer into investing in bogus property developments, stealing jewelry and rare stamps from the man, and transferring share certificates into his own name. Not nice... but, this is important and we can't stress it enough, he's denying all charges and hasn't been convicted. There's also a little confusion regarding his school days. He claims to have attended Highgate School, but the school has no record of him as a pupil. Furthermore, there's the little matter of an international arrest warrant following a failure to turn up to court previously.

He said: “I fell from a horse and broke my femur while in Cannes. I was in hospital for 17 days and then I went to Switzerland for rehabilitation."

And it's for the pure quality of that line that the Rat and Mouse has decided to honour Mr Green with this award.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Scottish Widows: Property still viable as pension alternative [HotProperty]
Ex-estate agents can't decide whether now is a good time to start a property search business [4homes forum]
Correction not crash... [Times]
Bleak house [Economist]
Future for Thames Gateway [HouseFund]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Thu
29
Nov

That's I Lick My Cheese and Other Notes: From the Frontline of Flatsharing, a book by Oonagh O'Hagan. More than 120 notes left by one flatmate to another. What a great idea. I can remember sharing a busy house in W6 with a group of medical students, trainee lawyers and others. One girl was obsessed with yellow post-it notes and would leave them everywhere. But she favoured single-word messages, like (attached to the cutlery drawer in the dishwasher) "Up!!", meaning prongs, blades etc should be pointing up; or (attached to the central heating thermostat) "Down!!", which is obvious. My favourite: (attached to the hot tap in bathtub) "Pubes!!", meaning wash them away after having a bath. Lovely. But it could be a little embarrassing having guests around.

20071129Cheese

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More in this Category - _Other

20071129Love

"Ideally, I'd like a house on the green, near the theatre. It's just such an awesome place to hang out."

The rumour is that she's planning a permanent move to London, and that she's fixated on Richmond. The Rat and Mouse has made some tentative enquiries on her behalf, and finds that the options are very limited. She could just choose any house, grab the owners by the hair and hurl them howling into the night. A more conventional route, via Knight Frank, reveals this, not too far away from the awesomeness of The Green. It's currently three apartments, but it could easily be returned to its original and grand period shape. It's listed at £5m. Otherwise... agents... the ball's in your court.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

Endowments - yet again, fund manages fail to beat market, earn millions [Times]
Home loans tumbling [Find A Property]
The Happy Fools: Five lenders still offering 125% mortgages [Mortgage Introducer]
HBSC warn - UK property market overvalued by as much as 30% [Times]
Sub-prime crisis reaches Arctic Circle [IHT]
Ingenious - London commercial property and the Pet Shop Boys [Citywire]

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

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More in this Category - Linkage

It's a 0.8% drop... the biggest monthly tumble since June 1995. The annual inflation figure now rests at 6.9%, down from 9.7% a month ago. Now - although there's little doubt the UK property market is cooling, and rapidly - it's important to remember that it was Nationwide who posted last month's shock rise. That October figure - a rise, against all other indices and indicators, of 1.1% - not only looks more than ever like a statistical blip, but also goes some way to explain the size of this month's fall. Nationwide's three-month inflation figure shows a softening, from 1.8% to 1.5%.

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More in this Category - House prices
Wed
28
Nov
"When Damien Hirst created his diamond-covered skull, one of our clients asked for the doorknobs of their new house to be similarly bejewelled. We used Swarovski crystals – at a cost of £257 for each knob. But for their favourite rooms, the master bedroom and reception, we created two knobs each studded with 4,328 diamonds, and costing £20,000 for each knob."

That's QuintessentiallyEstates' Lucy Russell talking to the Independent, about her work with extravagant knobs. The thrust of the piece is... if things are turning bad in the London property market... nobody's told the super-loaded.

"Another client requested a bright orange Cinderella pumpkin bed for her daughter. It cost £80,000," continues Russell.

So what? When I was a nipper I slept in a little bed made to look like a hat. Actually, it was a hat. I started in a bowler... got my first real bed when I grew out of the stetson. The real point here is that the top end of the market - the end catered for by these search agents and interior designers - obeys different rules. These properties are so different, and at this £25m+ sector so rare, that they're part art, part property.

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More in this Category - Design

According to Global Insight - yes. They predict three rate cuts in the way. Before you bust a vessel, remember that the the rules of the rates have changed. If the Bank of England said "jump off a cliff", it doesn't mean Nationwide is going to do it...

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More in this Category - _Other

A greater fall - no less - than any other region, totaling 0.6% for the month. It didn't, however, cancel out the previous month's rise, and overall the national figure was a small gain of 0.1%.

Meanwhile, beleaguered vendors might want to turn to MoneyWeek and its essential four-point guide to shifting your home. Er... tidy up, don't waste your time with DIY, drop the price and choose your estate agent carefully. Obviously, a year ago, we were all blithely picking estate agents with a dice, raising the lounge floor with decking, leaving our unwashed pants on the stairs and adding £20,000 to a sensible asking price. Actually, we were doing that last one...

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More in this Category - House prices

According to market research group Mintel borrowers coming to the end of their fixed rate deals have more to worry about than the simple difference between their old, generous deals and the interest rate rises that have occurred since. The banks are - they say - re-categorising... and in the most conservative way. More people will find themselves labeled "non-standard" or "complex prime", which means not sub-prime, darling, but certainly sub-optimal. These people (self-employed, anyone who's had trouble with household bills) will find themselves on the hard end of interest rate rises as lenders re-price with their attention on securing their positions rather than the latest Bank of England meeting. More, courtesy of the Times, here.

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More in this Category - _Other

The proposed expansion of Pinewood Studios, as well as being big news for British filmmakers, will include residential space, too. The Independent claims as many as 2,250 new homes are included in the plan to expand the historic site. And when I say included...

The new development would double the size of the existing studio. It also calls for living and working spaces to overlap so that residents would, for example, live in a building with the facade of a Venetian palazzo that could be used for filming.

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More in this Category - _Other
Tue
27
Nov

£9,000 to green a three-bedroom semi [Sky]
Sub-prime specialist, Kensington, re-thinks [Guardian]
Property still sound investment [The Move Channel]
Big Yellow vulnerable to property market [ShareCast]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Thursday morning linkage - HIPs, buyers, vendors, Boris Johnson... [November 22, 2007]

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More in this Category - Linkage

... there's some great news for landlords. According to Association of Residential Letting Agents Data, tenant levels are at a five year high, driven by high(er) interest rates, a softening in the sales market and immigration. In the south-east, 57% describe seeing demand outstripping supply.

And (younger) landlords will be pleased to read that the UK population is predicted to double by 2081. These new Government figures combine longevity, fertility and immigration projections to paint a rosy picture for owners of flats in south-west London. More here.

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More in this Category - Letting

The latest research also reveals that only 8% prefer coffee, and that British builders drink 3m cups of tea a day. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

20071127Vision

Nestoria has cleverly linked its live search data to a GoogleMap. The result? You can sit back and watch what's being searched, live. Perfect for the property addict who's so far gone their bodies have developed a resistance to Channel 4's televised output and so needs something pure and uncut to stare at. Watch it, here; but remember to blink once in a while.

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More in this Category - Property online

Home Truths London is the name of a report by the Housing Federation (an organisation representing non-profit housing associations), and - with the media largely panicking about a potential downturn in the market - further emphasises where the pain is in the London market. (A clue: it's not where a 5% or even 10% downturn would make any substantive difference.) Some facts:

  • in a quarter of London boroughs, a first-time buyer would need to be earning more than £100,000 to by an average priced home.
  • The number of people on the waiting list for social housing has risen by 57% in five years (to 330,000).
  • In Barking & Dagenham, the rise has been 150%.

More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
26
Nov

First [via Renthusiast], Extate appears to have become DotHomes. Sensible?... asks Renthusiast. Yeah. I reckon.

And - fresh from the blog that is all things Nestoria - now it's easy for anybody to use the Nestoria data to show average house prices for a particular area. Each Nestoria search offers you a simple cut-out-and-post widget, which you can embed into your blog.

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More in this Category - Property online

... claims Rosie Millard, writing in the Sunday Times. Avaricious... property obsessed... aren't we all "ghastly", she comments. I'm still trying to fathom the logical narrative of the piece, which starts as an attack on agents, turns swiftly into a defence, and then ends in an attack on everybody for their boring property fixation. And then it's signed off by Rosie Millard, who traded in a career discussing the arts for one writing about letting and debt. Help me, I'm lost.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

It's a 0.2% fall for November, the second monthly fall, leaving the annual house price inflation rate at just 3.6%. And this is a London thing, too... with falls as significant as 0.5% recorded in central London. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

It would appear so. Last month they were predicting a 2% fall in house prices in 2008. Now, the figure's -7%... considerably higher than any non-tradeable forecasts, even the traditionally nutty Capital Economics, who are sticking with -3%. Is this a question of wise traders putting their money where their mouths are? Or wiser investors finding a hedge?

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More in this Category - House prices
Fri
23
Nov

Yesterday's announcement that HIPs are to be rolled out to one and two-bedroom properties from December 14 has been received with disappointment by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who see the move as another blow to long-suffering first-time buyers. The Rat and Mouse has always been a little skeptical about the view that a £300-£500 HIPs fee would deter a homeowner from putting a £500,000 property - even speculatively - onto the market. But at this end - the ftb end - things could well be different. Especially when combined with a fear that prices might be sliding... For all the Rat and Mouse's HIPs coverage so far, go here.

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More in this Category - HIPs

The Guardian has been going through the Northern Rocks books, and what's been uncovered casts serious doubt on the bank's ability to survive and the security of tax-payers' money. It appears that 70% of its mortgage portfolio is owned by a Jersey trust. What's more, the details of Northern Rock's lending is an eye-opener... loans on 90% or more of property value soaring from £2.7bn to £16bn in three years... 2,500 mortgages in which loans exceed property value. The bank is highly vulnerable to a slide in property prices. All in all, sobering reading.

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The Rat and Mouse comes to you live from office floor today. Yesterday, I was poleaxed by a slipped disc. It's just fortunate the Rat and Mouse central offices have a full typing pool today, so I can at least dictate copy from the lush and expensive carpet.

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More in this Category - About
Thu
22
Nov

"... what they really, really want," says Rosalind Russell, writing in the Telegraph. And it's the basics... with that old chestnut - location - right at the top. Everybody wants to be near a tube, near decent shops, near a decent school, near a useful outdoors space. Fancy shmancy lighting, hot tubs or wet rooms are considered - according to research by Hamptons - a total waste of money. And, interestingly (in the wake of EPCs), energy efficiency measure were ranked the most irrelevant feature of all to buyers.

20071122OutdoorwallpaperAh... wonders the Rat and Mouse... but did Hamptons mention outdoor wallpaper? I bet they didn't, and it's got you intrigued, hasn't it? It's not strictly wallpaper (unless you're prepared to stretch your definition to something made out of metal), but it's decorative, it goes outside, and it takes its design cues from conventional wallpaper. It's by Susan Bradley, costs from £220 per sheet, and it looks intriguing. [via trendir]

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More in this Category - Design

The 21st Century mansion [Telegraph]
The latest stage in the HIPs fiasco [Zoomf blog]
Average viewing time before offer: 17 minutes [Telegraph]
Boris Johnson starts mayoral campaign by insulting women at National Housebuilding Council [Politics.co.uk]
Agents urge vendors to be sensible [Finance Markets]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Wed
21
Nov

I appear to have missed a corking Property Ladder. It sounds as if Sarah Beeny suffered another hour of frustration as her clients blew sacks of cash on an ill-advised (and in this case possible dangerous) project, involving supporting a Chiswick home on stilts while the basement was dug out to make more room. Over at the 4homes forum, there's s a little investigation taking place - aided by 4homes editor Lucy Searle - into whether the developer has had any offers. The house is here.

And a hearty welcome to Housing Rubble, a brand new blog about the vagaries and illogicalities of the UK housing market. No shortage of material there.

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More in this Category - Property TV

Marcel Berlins - writing in the Guardian - asks whether the tenants of 50 Irvine Drive in Margate ought to receive compensation for the inconvenience suffered while police dig up their home to retrieve dead girls. Thank God, he says, they're tenants rather than homeowners. A macabre event rarely enhances the value of a property. Apparently, agents report finding the attic flat at 23 Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill (eeew) hard to shift. But the fact is that psychopathic killers rarely own their own homes. Christie, Crippen, Nilsen... all renters. Presumably, killing and dismembering is one thing, risking a kicking in the housing market if you get caught is quite another. Only Fred West was a proud homeowner... but then he need to be in order to facilitate an ambitious schedule of home improvements tailor-made for the serious, prosumer psychopath.

Real estate stigma [August 7, 2006]
"If a celebrity dies in your house, that's a landmark..." [May 16, 2006]

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20071121Russianinfo

Exactly. From here.

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Northern Rock could need an extra £1bn [Property Week]
Market Q&A [Times]
"It should be called try-to-let" [Guardian]
The giant repayment increases faced by millions [Daily Mail]
Britain's billionaires at risk? [Forbes]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Tuesday morning linkage - logjam [November 20, 2007]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Tue
20
Nov

It's a standard bear-line... City bonuses will be down, and so house prices will be down. Another standard bear-line... want to know how bad it's going to be here? Look to the States. The Rat and Mouse looks to Curbed. New York's brilliant property blog, and reads:

20071120Bonus

Apparently, Wall Street bonuses this year are expected to be a record $38bn.

[via Curbed]

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Phil Spencer - advising the Telegraph - suggests holding off until February or March unless you really need to sell in a hurry. Prices - he believes - will stabilise in 2008. Right now - however - buyers are ultra-cocky and ultra-aggressive, and they'll try to force you to compromise on the price. Read more here.

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More in this Category - House prices

Shares have fallen by 40% this morning, and the company is said to be considering emergency rights to fill a gap while it continues to finalise refinancing. Meanwhile, dividends have been scrapped, and the future - judging by the this from CityWire - looks less than rosy:

Underwriting the share issue has been agreed in 'principle' with UBS but Paragon said that it remained conditional on a number of factors which 'may cast significant doubt on the group's ability to continue as a going concern'.

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More in this Category - _Other

Christmas moves [Find A Property]
London property logjam [This Is Money]
Going down [Times]
Brokers: frustrated [Housefund.co.uk]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Monday morning linkage - mixed bag of bad news [November 19, 2007]

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More in this Category - Linkage

So far, 124 bids have pushed the price up to $3.5m. The auction closes on November 23 at 11.02 (Pacific). Learn more about Albert, Texas, here. The ebay listing's here. Meet the neighbours here:

20071119Texas

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More in this Category - _Other
Mon
19
Nov

According to a survey by Savills, the following addresses are potential candidates for future primeness. The important driver is an influx of professionals combined with nice existing stock, preferably Victorian or Edwardian homes. The advantages to being "prime"? If you've been reading the Rat and Mouse at all over the last few years you'll know that prime London tends to outgrow the rest of London, indeed the rest of the UK. So here goes:

  • Tooting ("the new Notting Hill")
  • White City
  • East Acton
  • Tulse Hill
  • Camberwell
  • Fortis Green
  • Finchley
  • Brondesbury
  • Willesden Green
  • Cricklewood

[via the Times]

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More in this Category - House prices
R House Estate Agents welcomes to the market this detached Victorian style DOLLS HOUSE, the House comprises of 3 Bedrooms, Lounge, Diner, Study, Kitchen, Scullery, Bathroom, Basement patio garden and servant's entrance. The property has stained wooden floors and fully working electric lights with suitable transformer supplied. It is sold complete with all furniture and furnishings including some hand made carpets. Viewing strictly by appointments.

£1,500 buys you a three bedroom detached doll's house in Cornwall. The agents - R House - have done a fine job of integrating it into their more conventional sales, including full particulars... the room dimensions listed in inches.

20071119Dollshouse1-1

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Only in London:

The price of £18m may seem a lot for a maisonette, but it is a third less than an equivalent home would cost on Chester or Belgrave Squares.

It's the Sunday Times on the subject of Bayswater. Jimmy Choos in. Claudia Schiffer in. Ilaria Bulgari in. Sally Croker-Poole, who? The point of the piece is that Bayswater prices have risen 40% since January - which would have made for some happy hookers if they didn't all rent - and estate agents concur that what we're seeing is a long-awaited gentrification. It is - in the words of search agent Robert Bailey - "becoming sexy".

20071119Bayswater

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Barratt bearish [Tiscali]
In the US, Fed's Stern stern on repos [Reuters]
Agents expect further slowdown next year [Reuters]
Is this a crisis? [Observer]
Estate agents forced to be nice [Sunday Telegraph blog]
Why buy houses when you can buy handbags? [Sunday Times]
It's slippy in the suburbs [Times]
On a lighter note... two-thirds of Brits would walk out on their partners for £1m [The London News]

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

Friday lunchtime linkage - enticing bargains, expensive homes, and zero growth [November 16, 2007]

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It's reporting a 0.7% fall in the month to November 10. Remember, Rightmove bases its figures on asking prices, and this month's report comes after last month's dramatic 2.6% drop. It's pretty clear that vendors are low in confidence. Rightmove joins Nationwide in predicting flat house prices in 2008. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Fri
16
Nov

Answer: Richard Rogers. At least, here in this fascinating tale of Lucy Musgrave and Zad Rogers' two-storey glass cube in Shoreditch, built on top of a friend's warehouse conversion, and accessed via a bridge from an adjoining building. Quite a project? No shit. But then, Musgrave is a founder of the General Public Agency and Rogers is, well, son of uber-architect Richard Rogers, who apparently helped with the design. Rat and Mouse readers with long memories (or who have discovered the "search" box) may be reminded of the cool Wimbledon Zip-Up House, currently occupied by Zad's brother Ab. Those lucky Rogers' kids. Apart from their names, obviously.

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More in this Category - Design

"Enticing bargains"? London property? It's a slowdown... [Assetz]
The world's most expensive homes [Nubricks]
£24,000,000,000 - a matter of public interest [Guy Fawkes]
Nationwide predicts zero house price growth in 2008 [Sky News]

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

Thursday morning linkage - the beauty of Crouch End, agents' boards ban mooted for Hackney [November 15, 2007]

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More in this Category - Linkage

According to this interesting piece in the Times London's tall, thin homes are a problem for wealthy Arabs and Russians, who are more used to lots of ground floor space. Which is why the smart vendors are adding lifts, and - in the view of a W.A. Ellis agent - an extra 10% to the value of their homes.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
15
Nov

It's called betternest.co.uk, and it might appeal to anybody with second thoughts about moving in the current slightly unstable market. A kind of off-the-peg design service, it investigates any planning issues related to your address, examines photographs and floor plans, and then returns a report suggesting ways to maximise the value of your home - by adding an extra bedroom, or bathroom, or extending the kitchen - without needing planning permission. The report combines local property price information with the cost of suggested works, to come up with an overall profit figure. Obviously, we're talking ball parks... especially in the current market climate. But betternest's both clever and useful.

20071115Betternest

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Angel Cottage (2a Windmill Lane) stood on the corner of Windmill Lane and Angel Lane, it was built in 1826... when Stratford was a rural area not yet connected to London by rail. It was destroyed over the weekend. Nobody - as yet - knows who was responsible. English Heritage have advised Newham Council to hand the matter over to the police.

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Half-full, half-empty: buy-to-letters could profit from auctions next year [CityWire]
Bank hints at interest rate cut [BBC]
The beauty of Crouch End [Londonist]
The new rules of buy-to-let [BBC]
Luxury renting in London [Country Life]
Countrywide and Foxtons: banks sing the buyout blues [BBC]
Hackney Council debating estate agents' boards ban [This Is London]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Monday morning linkage - agents v. the web [November 12, 2007]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Wed
14
Nov

This time, from the Council Of Mortgage Lenders, and figures showing a sharp reversal in lending between August and September. CLM chief Michael Coogan lays the blame directly at the door of interest rates, expressing disappointment that the Bank of England didn't take the opportunity to cut rates last Thursday, and pointing out the effect on first-time buyers. Affordability was down - with the average ftb spending 20.4% of monthly income on repayments, the highest proportion since 1991. It will be a while before gently sliding house prices do anything to ease the discomfort for ftbs.

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More in this Category - House prices

20071113Love-1
The answer, if rumours are to be believed, is Kate Moss-messy. The story goes that Love failed to make an offer on Moss's north London home because the house was just too much of a tip... scratched wooden floors, depressing colours, old plugs. The Rat and Mouse never understands this mentality... you're buying a house not a life. Buy, then redecorate. But Love apparently didn't think it was worth the effort or the money, even after Moss offered to throw in a valuable painting of Sid Vicious hanging in the bathroom. What's she been doing in there?

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

... and even huger thanks to those who emailed pointing out the lack of R&M (some even offering to help). I honestly - and I really mean honestly - had no idea you cared.

We were down for almost 24 hours, thanks to the shock waves of yesterday's RICS figures causing actual, physical damage to the Rat and Mouse server. Our hosts battled valiantly to limit the carnage, but it was extensive. We're taking new measures - just in case of an actual prolonged property price downturn or, God forbid, a crash - including the introduction of panic-retardent enclosures and anti-negative equity chipsets.

Thanks - in all seriousness - to the prolonged and skillful efforts of our brilliant hosts for getting us back up and running.

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More in this Category - About
Tue
13
Nov

Thanks to the Rat and Mouse readers who emailed me about this. We're experiencing problems with our "comments" facility. We're working on it. In the meantime, feel free to email.

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The new RICS house price index shows another fall... except for us. London is the only region in England and Wales that isn't showing southerly motion in the house price department. The RICS blame high interest rates (they're higher, but are they really high?) and unaffordable property (okay), and claim that it's only a shortage of supply that's propping up the market. The details of the RICS's rather tortuous methodology... 22.2% more surveyors/agents (the people, in other words, who help the market set prices) said they'd seen a fall rather than a rise.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
12
Nov

Did you know that a fifth of London's workforce work in the financial sector? I didn't. Last year, 62% of end-of-year bonuses went into the property market. According to Savills' Yolande Barnes, this year that figure is forecast to be just 30%, as City people tighten their Prada belts for tough times ahead. What's more, vendors are accepting offers. More here.

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Telegraph call a cooling, and offer ten tactics for avoid falling house price pain, including looking for flats "with a difference" to avoid the value slide almost sure to hit the ranks of unsold identi-flats and list your home in the small ads to cut out the agent. Interesting, London-specific advice includes:

5. Watch for the £1m London house slide

Apparently the £1m to £3m house sector is likely to be hit the hardest, coming off record returns in the last year, has furthest to fall. This, from a Knight Frank agent:

"Six weeks ago I could sell a good house 20 times over. Now there is double the number to sell, but the phones have stopped ringing"

And this:

10. Buy in the comfort zone

Knight Frank says the strongest part of the London market is likely to be in the £500,000 to £750,000 bracket, fuelled by later first-timers trying to get a foot on the ladder.

A £750,000 comfort zone fuelled by ftbs. Only in London... Read it all here.

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Sunday Times property price round table [Sunday Times]
Estate agents v. the web [Independent]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Friday morning linkage - Anna Ryder Richardson's a celebrity, ftbs up, but won't like the HIPs effect [November 9, 2007]

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Rumours that Johnny Depp was about to buy in Norfolk proved to be pretty much off the mark, with news that he's forked out for a Victorian hunting lodge in...er... Somerset. The home cost £1.3m, but he's apparently spending a further £2.5m in improvements... the swimming pool, tennis courts, helipad type of improvements.

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Fri
09
Nov

Beat it! Michael Jackson's Neverland in Santa Barbara foreclosure report [Implode-o-Meter]
Martin Scorcese spends $12.5m on Upper East Side [Berg's Celebrity Real Estate Blog]
Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, Bruce Willis drops $4.26m [Berg's Celebrity Real Estate Blog]
There's oil under Tom Ford's house [AP]
What does £150m buy you on Madison Avenue? Leonard Blavatnik knows [The Real Estalker]
Here was there. Now he's gone. And £1.5m richer. Kanye West in Beverley Hills [The Real Estalker]

The Rat and Mouse - hungry for house news

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An interesting piece in the Economist takes a closer look at the costs associated with obscene wealth and a London lifestyle. Lifestyle inflation, just like house price inflation, is greater at the top, according to the Stonehage "Affluent London Living Index". Caviar is up 28% in the year to July, Range Rovers are up 20%, a box at Chelsea is up 25% and the vintage wine market is booming. But it's not all bad news for the plutocrat and lifepartner:

Breast implants for the high-earning woman are down 10%.

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20071108Islington

£1,245,000? It's clearly neither here nor there when it comes to top London property. So it's here, in an interesting Telegraph piece about a Highbury Place mansion, over five floors, and with a separate converted coach house and 19 garages (currently let out and bringing in £20,000 a year... not far off what the current owner paid for the entire property back in the 1960s). According to the Telegraph, the guide price is £5.95m. But it's not there... in the Savills particulars, which list the property at £4.75m.

[One theory - I notice that the particulars make no mention of the garages. Have the owners decided not to part with a valuable going concern? Or are they being sold separately?]

The property's beautiful, and with an interesting history. Neighbours included Neville Chamberlain's dad, and the Rolling Stones apparently recorded in the basement.

For sale: the best view in London? [November 7, 2007]

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Anna Ryder Richardson signed up to I'm A Celebrity [Daily Record]
The London 2012 stadium, looks expensive, and there's a reason for that... [USA Today]
Consumers expect house prices to rise 1.9% in next six months [FindaProperty]
First-time buyers up to 38% [FindaProperty]
Luxury rentals market... happening [Times]
HIPs hit ftbs [Sky]

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

Wednesday morning linkage - Kings Cross and Smithfield, the US mortgage experience in their own words, landlord arrested for asking for rent [November 7, 2007]

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Thu
08
Nov

No movement. Base rates remain at 5.75%.

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20071108Zoomf

First, Zoomf announce visual search... a tasty alternative to entering a postcode or street name. Now, you can draw the areas that interest you directly onto the map. It comes as part of a colourful redesign that's keeping Zoomf fun and fresh. Meanwhile Nestoria have teamed up with Sportsbase to add sports information to their listings. If living close to a pitch, court or club is as important to you as living close to a tube station or school, Nestoria have the tools to make it happen. Don't expect this kind of innovation or responsiveness from the larger portals.

20071108Nestoria

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20071108Moffat

Crawley MP Laura Moffett is apparently renting a London flat (and claiming £20,000 in expenses), despite living just 40 minutes away, because she's been flashed once too many times on the train. Obviously, this is threatening behaviour, and once is once too many, but Moffett appears to be suggesting that seeing penises has become a regular problem on the London to Brighton line. How she copes on the Labour benches is anybody's guess.

[via The Argus, photo by skuds]

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... it's "a rich man's game". That's according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who point out the need to put down increased deposits and higher interest rates. The average deposit now stands at £65,000, up by a multiple of more than five since 2002.

[via Daily Mail]

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It's a fall of 0.5% on the month, leaving the annual inflation figure at 8.9%. This, after the 1.1% rise shown in the Nationwide's figures. Is it enough to encourage a cut in interest rates? The Rat and Mouse doubts it... but we'll know for sure shortly.

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Wed
07
Nov

Cadogan Tate's "party move" service is designed to take the risk out of your big Christmas party. It's a kind of temporary, small-scale removal... they'll come in and take off with anything - delicate furniture or valuable artwork - you don't want lying around. They'll store it until after the party, and then return it after your hangover's cleared. Perfect. Cadogan Tate are here.

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20071107Albertembankment

93 Albert Embankment, SE1. Three beds, three baths, on the ninth floor, with views over the Houses of Parliament and the Tate. With Fine & Country, guide price: £3.55m.

20071107Albertinterior

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Savills predicts a 3%-ish feel for 2008 [AboutProperty]
Kings Cross: still up, still coming [Newsweek]
Smithfield, let the battle commence [BBC]
Essex landlord arrested for asking for rent [Echo]
Next sales hit by higher mortgage repayments [Telegraph]
Experian predicts property price falls in half the UK next year [This Is Money]
US credit crisis - Americans speak [BBC]

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

Tuesday morning linkage - Bovis and Butthead, and who wants a fixed future? [November 6, 2007]

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Tue
06
Nov

20071106Mini

How many ways can an estate agent say "I quit"?

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Including:

  • Hold a public event in your home/garden.
  • Give your estate agent presents.
  • Offer prizes to the first estate agent to sell it.
  • Get your house to win the "popular" best patio competition.
  • Have keyrings made with photos of your house and the address. Remember not to attach your house keys to one.

I'm not saying he's wrong. I'm just saying...

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Research by Halifax estate agents suggests that one in four of us have had a rumble of some kind or other with our neighbours, with a third of those rumbles taking place in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly, noise was the biggest single cause of grievance, and was a feature of a quarter of all cases. But - warns the Halifax - keep your cool if you don't want to keep your noisy, argumentative neighbour for ever.

"It's also important to remember that any formal disputes will have to be declared on a 'Sellers Property Information Form' when you come to sell your home. Ensuring good neighbourly relations is always a prudent measure – that way unpleasant situations can be prevented."

[via HotProperty]

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Where the boardroom big-hitters live [This Is London]
Barratt bullish [Times]
Bovis: "That's bullshit" [Times]
End to free money [Mirror]
House prices to "cool", like Fonzie [BBC]
Long-term fixed rates, the people don't want them [CityWire]

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

Monday morning linkage - rate cuts, gazunderers, death threats and the £30,000 a month mortgage [November 5, 2007]

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Mon
05
Nov

Dispatches examines the house price boom and what it means for the future of home-owning. It's tonight, at 8pm.

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Nadeem Walayat - writing for the Market Oracle - gives five case studies aimed at first-time buyers, to demonstrate the relative costs of buying versus renting for five years, in different market scenarios:

  • no change in house prices
  • house prices rise 2% each year for five years
  • house prices fall 2% each year for five years
  • house prices crash 5% each year for five years
  • house prices boom 5% each year for five years

The results (on a £200,000 home, and £160,000 loan) - from a net cost of buying over renting of £67,014 to a net gain of £37,694 - demonstrate how highly geared the process can be. It's an interesting read.

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A survey by kitchen and bedroom supplier Sigma3 suggests that the future of the dining room is extinction. Sixty-four per cent of those polled have no use for them, doing all their entertaining, as you might expect, in the kitchen. Not only is the kitchen the 21st Century home's entertainment hub, it's where we pay our bills and watch our TV, too.

That headline? I - for one - mourn the loss of the Quagga. (The dining room, I'm not so bothered about.)

20071105Quagga

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A rate cut coming? [Hot Property]
Hey guys, should I gazunder? [4homes forum]
Wall Street analyst who downgraded Citigroup receives death threats [Times]
Wave of foreclosures to sweep America [BBC]
And yet, in NY, they're training more real estate investors [Curbed]
The man with £30,000 a month mortgage repayments [Telegraph]
Strutt & Parker's Lulu Egerton... on seeing more gazunderers [Telegraph]
On video particulars [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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According to the latest Knight Frank figures, prime central London growth has slowed to 0.3%, making October's the lowest monthly figure since July 2005. So where does that leave the annual inflation figure? Must have taken a hit, right? Haven't you been paying attention? 2006/2007 have been such crazy years that it still leaves the annual inflation figure at a ludicrous 34.1%. And we all know there's no such thing as a single market when it comes to property. Even on a given London street, it's not uncommon for one side to outperform the other. Within Knight Frank's prime central London index, the top end continues to outperform the rest, with £5m+ homes growing in (percentage) value by more than twice the £1m/£2m bracket in the three months to the end of October.

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Fri
02
Nov

20071101Google

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The homes games [New Statesman]
East Churchfield Avenue, Acton: home of the UK's fourth worst road hump [This Is Local London]
A love-hate relationship: it's plummertime... [BBC]
Famous NY estate agent found bludgeoned to death [NY Times]
Buy-to-let survivor's guide: Part 1 - don't panic [Telegraph]
Bet you didn't know you've just given Northern Rock £730 [BBC]
48% don't know what an Energy Performance Certificate is [/eco]

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

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In Mayfair, according to the Telegraph, and I've got to trust their judgement on this, it's out with the fat old cigar smokers and in with the hip. Evidence? New clubs are opening, buzzy boutiques and restaurants, celebs are being spotted... oh... and this:

In the summer, [Richard] Cutt [of Knight Frank] sold a fabulous apartment in a modern development in Davies Street over Cipriani's at £2,300 per square foot. "The price last year for that flat was £1,300." And he is now marketing a smart three- bedroom flat in Green Street for £5 million, equating to £2,439 a square foot. This is one for the boys with all the toys - Lutron lighting, Creston sound system, Baulthaup kitchen, top of the range TVs and electronic blinds.

Meanwhile, even East Dulwich is continuing to distance itself from Peckham in every way it can short of tearing up the Earth's very crust and leaving a wide rupture along the A2214. According to resident Ginetta Vedrickas - also writing in the Telegraph - it's become so chi-chi it's in danger of just becoming chite. Foxtons have arrived, house prices are shooting up, and residents are concerned the area might be about to lose its character. Before leaving us to worry about the future of SE22, she does, however, point out a few tasty properties, including this rather special former bakery on Silvester Road, currently being used as an office but presumably - judging by the particulars - with a residential future. Guide price £750,000.

20071101Bakery

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They're an estate agency and they've a house price index all of their own. The October results show a 0.3% rise on the month, nationally. The top 20% of the market (I like the way Chesterton does this) is up 14.5% on the year, the bottom 20% is up 6%. Now, here's the kicker:

Prices in London fell 0.1% in October but annual inflation remains robust at +12.4%.

Yorkshire and the Humber also saw falls in the month. And here's another interesting bit of data:

The average property of a retired person is now £22,203 higher than the price of a property owned by a skilled manual worker – which is £123,203.

Exactly how the Rat and Mouse interprets that I'm not sure, but we like Chesterton's statistical creativity.

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Thu
01
Nov

That's the message from Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors chief economist David Stubbs. There is and won't be a market free-fall, and so don't count of vendors biting any pillows in the near future. (Not his exact words.) The market isn't being flooded, he says, and so there's no incentive for sellers to drop prices:

"At the moment the supply side is actually holding up much better than most people would have imagined, and that’s actually keeping the market fairly tight, and should actually prevent sellers from having to give discounts to most buyers."

[via HotProperty]

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Smart South Bank [This Is London]
The ghost of Berkeley Square [Zoomf blog]
How to winter-proof your home [What Mortgage]
Rosie Millard's buy-to-let column... repossessed [Sunday Times]
Living near an airport can raise your blood pressure [The London News]
Congratulations to Curbed [New York Times]

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

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Tempted by the prospect of a self-build, but worried that the inherent stresses and strains might cause you to argue with your spouse? Help is at hand, courtesy of YourDreamBuild.com and their "project compatibility test". You and your partner will answer a series of questions, and the self-build experts will tell you whether they think you're cut out for the lifestyle. Cool. How do I sign up? Well, for access to the compatibility test, you just need to be a member of YourDreamBuild, an innovative and highly unusual business proposal that involves you giving them a join-up fee of £65 and an annual subscription of £35. Okay, what do I get for being a member of YourDreamBuild? Good question. You get the right to vote on design decisions relating to the luxury self-build project that YourDreamBuild plans to launch with all the loot. Their plan is to prove that you can build one house and use it as collateral to pay for the next, and that in three properties you're living in a lovely self-build with zero mortgage. What you get out of it is the feeling of belonging, of being involved in the process... oh yeah, and there are monthly competitions for best garden design etc. What? I get to pay to design a house for somebody else? You're shitting me? Think of it as a real-time training course. And you also get to take the "project compatibility test". For free. Rat and Mouse advice... don't tell your spouse how much you paid for it.

20071101Selfbuild

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