Rat and Mouse
Entries in July 2009
Fri
31
Jul

Melanie Backe-Hansen is the House Historian... residential history-sleuth for Chesterton estate agents. What? That's right... an estate agency historian. Tweed jackets, Twitter and Miss Moneypenny... we asked the questions, she answered them...


So it’s possible you have the single most interesting job in the residential property market… how did it come about? I believe you’re a proper, kosher, qualified historian?

Yes, I do feel thoroughly spoilt, having what I consider as the best job ever.

20070722house_historian.jpg My role came about when, around four years ago, the management of Chesterton commissioned a strategic review of the company and one of the key strengths highlighted was the heritage of the company (Chesterton dates back to 1805), as well as the heritage of the houses we deal with. It was decided to take a bit of a risk on this previously untapped aspect of the heritage of property and its potential to raise the profile of a house and even the value of the house.

Oh, and yes, I am actually a proper, kosher, qualified historian!

Apparently you’re the first estate agency historian? Are you still the only one?

Yes, I am the first historian to work for an estate agent, and I am still the only one. It’s quite fun to shock people when they ask me what I do, but it does genuinely impress when we can claim to be the only agent to offer this unique service.

How have the estate agents – the real foot-soldiers and key-janglers – reacted to finding an academic in their midst? Do they feel they’re getting value from this… that it’s making a property an easier sell? Do they find it interesting anyway?

Continue reading after the jump.

More in this Category - Interviews
Wed
29
Jul

Continuing our series of Rat and Mouse summer holiday interviews we welcome Henry Pryor, arguably the hardest working ex-estate agent in showbusiness, a regular market commentator on radio and TV and the creator of pithy email newsletters which always brighten the Rat and Mouse inbox. We were delighted when he agreed to answer a few questions. Pretty girls, poker players in Minis, and annoying the Establishment. As always, he didn't hold fire...

Estates Gazette characterized you as somebody who’d crossed over from “the other side”… the outspoken ex-estate agent on a mission to irritate the establishment. Any truth in that?

HenryPryorHS.jpg To the extent that I am not keen on the pompus jobs-worths who refuse to acknowledge that ours is an industry and not a profession. The membership ‘clubs’ (NFoPP and RiCS) both think that they represent everyone involved in the business. They don’t and the latest RiCS inquiry into fees illustrates the arrogance of an organization who don’t even admit how many residential estate agent members they have.
So tell me about your estate agency days… who were you with, and when?
Savills 1983-1993; Strutt & Parker 1993-1993; founded The London Office 1993-2005; founder of PrimeMove.com, The Register of Estate Agents, The Hip Exchange and buying agent 2005 –to date.
Did you enjoy being an estate agent?
I LOVED it. I have been very fortunate to work during a period where doing deals was more important than how many years you’d held the wrong end of a tape measure. At Savills, a culture of enterprise and inititive was encouraged and I’m sure it was responsible for my deciding to go off on my own with the then untried ‘Affiliate’ idea that was The London Office. Strutt & Parker was I think more surprised that they had hired me than I was that they had done so. I think it would be fair to say that I was a square peg in a round hole. The firm was culturally a decade behind Savills and Knight Frank and I was never going to contribute to a tweed jacket and steaming Labrador type environment having just come through a flotation experience at Savills. My loss – S&P’s gain, I’m sure.
Tell me about The London Office.
A 3.00am idea. Why not give the great provincial firms who were by and large run by old mates who had worked in national firms the one thing that stopped them getting the big instructions? The chance to put ‘London’ on their note paper. I think I did just two things that were clever – the name and employing pretty girls. The first office at the top of Berkeley Square still rates as some of the most enjoyable times. As with almost all my ventures, I have been incredibly lucky to have had huge support and encouragement from others who have tolerated my ego, arrogance and sharp tongue. I hope that the experience hasn’t been just one way! After 12 years, it was time to move on. Others had come along like The Mayfair Office and The Guild of Professional Estate Agents and they were better run, better resourced and above all, set up in such a way that they could progress the business. The Guild were so clever setting up Fine & Country. Something I wanted to do at The London Office but that I couldn’t make work.
You were earlier than most to spot a likely house price correction. When did you first make your concerns heard? And what was the reasoning behind it?
Like many I had been mumbling about it for months but I ‘came out’ in the FT in January 2007. At the time it was like suggesting that Princess Diana was a trollop. The Establishment closed ranks. The RiCS put out a release contradicting me but the Today program had a slow news day and so I got on that. Unlike all agents and mortgage brokers who can’t voice a negative thought as it will drive clients away, I had no such restrictions and since there were few skeptics and even fewer prepared to say so publically, I got more than my fair share of airtime.
You seem to have a fair media profile these days. Are you the new Phil Spencer?

Continue reading the Henry Pryor interview, after the jump

More in this Category - Interviews
Mon
27
Jul

We were delighted when the lovely Sarah Beeny - bang in the middle of her most compelling series of Property Ladder yet, and in the midst of a website launch - agreed to kick off our fortnight of interviews.


Prices falling, developers hurting... is this the series the viewers have been waiting for?

20090722Sarah_Beeny.jpg When Property Ladder was first made, I remember the original commissioner saying: It's good now but it will only really come into its own when the market's not so hot. So, yes, in a way this is what Property Ladder's always been made for. People's decisions actually count... they're not just being rescued by the market. But sometimes it's been terribly painful to watch... they might have been a bit silly going into some of these projects, but the reality is very sobering.

How recently were you involved in a property development project of your own?

We [Sarah runs an investment company with her husband] have an investment portfolio, and we do bits and pieces, but I've been a little concerend about the market for a few years. From about 2005/6, particularly the 12 months leading up to the failure of Northern Rock, just the speed at which the market was going up worred me. We probably got out of the market - or at least slowed ourselves down - a little too soon.

Do you feel any genuine irritation when amateur developers ignore your advice and insist they know better? Or are you satisfied by the knowledge that it’s going to be good TV, and that’s what it’s ultimately all about?

I honestly don't think that much about the TV side, I let the others just get on with that. I suppose the reason I don't get really cross is that it's not my money. And ultimately I'd much rather they did what they think is right. Actually this series people have started taking a bit more of my advice and it slightly panics me. If you offer some advice and they don't take it you think: Oh, well, fine, whatever... and if it turns out at the end they should have done it, great. But if they change their plans and do what you suggest, that's when you feel a little bit more responsibility. I've had moments when I've been lying in bed at night thinking: That definitely was the right advice, wasn't it? It's not an exact science, and a little bit is about going with your gut. But there's a difference between me going with my gut, and somebody else going with my gut.

Is it possible to tell fairly quickly which developers have what it takes to make a career out of it, and which don’t?

Read the rest of the Sarah Beeny interview, after the jump.

More in this Category - Interviews

I'm on holiday. As you read this, I'm quite likely to be sitting on a beach perusing local property supplements while one or other of my editorial assistants peels lemon for my silverbullet Martini. Alternately, it's possible I'm in a traffic jam in the rain. The Rat and Mouse will continue, however, with a series of original interviews with the good, the great and the inbetween of the property business. Most days will feature a new interview, so keep coming back... and enjoy. (I'll be picking up email and giving thumbs up/down to comments periodically, too, but it might take longer than usual, access here is sketchy, so please be patient.) B


More in this Category - Interviews
Fri
24
Jul

I'm packing up for the weekend, but before I go I want to say a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

Next week, the Rat and Mouse will be trying something new, so be sure to come back on Monday to see what's happening. Have a great weekend.

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More in this Category - About
"It has been a difficult day for staff," said Colm Quinlan of the UNITE trade union, which represents over 1000 branch workers at Irish Life's banking arm, permanent tsb.

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More in this Category - _Other

Are your children repeating on you? [Independent]
Keats home declared open [Guardian]
New buy-to-let loans on the block [Property Hawk]
Living cheap in Chelsea [Times]
Pimlico's hanging basket debacle [Evening Standard]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog, since 2005

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More in this Category - Linkage

The Guardian harks back to...

... the halcyon days two years ago when the job of a valuation surveyor was little more than establishing the "comparables". A tough task indeed: dropping in for a chat at a local estate agency, and finding out what similar properties have gone for.

Actually, I have no memory of that. I do remember this, though.

The piece turns the spotlight on current valuation practices... confused, bewildered and frightened surveyors unsure where to turn for a price guide when market activity is so low and after so many have disgraced themselves so badly by turning into yes-men for apartment block developers. It's time - argues Patrick Collinson - for the RICS to take a good hard look at its members.

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More in this Category - House prices
Thu
23
Jul

Chavs and yobs to be interned [Daily Mail]
A very Fiennes house in the country [Telegraph]
UK house prices "bottom", apparently [NY Times]
The Keats house restored [Telegraph]
Everything's a pound in SE2 [The London Paper]
Ferrari fails to impress [Metro]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Consumer group Which? revealed in April 2009 that it was undertaking a mystery shopping exercise into the quality of equity release at an event held by the Safe Home Income Plans group, reporting that the early findings had been disappointing.

Yeah, well the later findings aren't up to much either. Two-thirds of advisors failed... some failed to ask enough questions, some failed because they didn't even ask about the potential client's income. Some failed to disclose fees. It's funny, because you wouldn't have thought there was anything complicated about equity release advice, would you? It's simple. Don't do it.

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More in this Category - _Other
More than one in 10 (13%) 18 to 34-year-olds are considering buying property for the first time in the next year, but of those 16% are considering taking out a loan to cover the cost of the downpayment they need.

The data comes from Moneysupermarket.com, and it's a sign of how far we still have to go before the property market becomes rational. Has the tightening of lending criteria undone what falling prices have achieved, resulting in a tantalising glimpse of a purchase for the first-time buyer who doesn't have stinking rich parents? With everybody some people suggesting this may turn out to be a small window of opportunity, can we blame the frustrated first-time buyer from doing what they have to do to secure a mortgage? Lenders might. (Read the T&C carefully before supplying a commercially borrowed deposit.) The other concern... what happens when interest rates begin to rise from their current artificially low level?

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More in this Category - _Other
Wed
22
Jul

So how much have private landlords lost? [FT]
How unemployment might kill house prices [Yahoo!]
I'd pay £3,000 for a big house [BBC]
Blair, the taxpayer, and a big property profit [Daily Mail]
Deluded on house prices [Telegraph]
Council caught sniffing your bins [24 Dash]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

The headlines... in the Prime London market, there was a probably insignificant increase (0.33%) in asking prices, but a significant reduction in stock levels, down 1.43% in June, or -2.53% in the Central London area. So where've the vendors gone? Prime London lettings stock increased, leaving them an astonishing 96% higher than a year ago, resulting in a 15th successive fall in average rent.

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More in this Category - House prices

And it's not Capital Economics! It's the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and it's entirely unimpressed by the recent little flurry of market activity and firming of asking prices. Mortgage approvals, they say, will continue to until the final quarter of the year, while house price growth won't return until 2012.

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More in this Category - House prices
Tue
21
Jul
Do you drool over the pages of glossy interior magazines and wish that your home had a unique, individual style?

Uh, check.

Antiques Expert, Mark Hill, and Interior Designer, Kathryn Rayward, present a brand new BBC interior design show that will prove that furnishing your home with vintage items, beautiful antiques and bespoke pieces doesn’t have to cost any more than shopping on the High Street.

You're kidding?!

If you’ve got a room in your house that you’d love to see transformed and are willing to put in some of your own money, we’ll provide an interior designer and antiques expert to help you hunt out design classics, antiques and one-off items to create a truly original home.

What? I'm a property blogger, I've all the money in the world. What do I do next?

Please e-mail caroline.menzies@silverriver.tv or call 0207 907 3440 for further details of how to be on the programme.

My assistant's dialing right now.

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More in this Category - Property TV

And he's doing okay. Sales were up 15% in June, according to HM Revenue & Customs, at the highest level in 12 months. Seventy-five thousand properties changed hands for £40,000 or more. It's still way down on the decade's average, but it shows June - traditionally a busy month for movers - didn't disappoint.

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More in this Category - _Other
It is the classic game with a new twist in its tail. You can physically build a hotel or a school or whatever, but you can also construct things like sewage plants or prisons next to your competitors' properties, which will damage their value and mean you pay less rent when you land on it. Essentially, it means you can shaft your opponents, which will appeal to a lot of people.

The game will also come with an electronic screen, offering up "live" financial data (although how that data feeds back into the game, I'm not sure... via interest rates perhaps?). Interesting. Not nice, but interesting.

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More in this Category - _Other
Mon
20
Jul

Primelocation index shows slight rise in London prime [FindaProperty]
Top 10 most expensive streets in the world [Wealth Bulletin]
Bovey meets bailiff, filmed by Daily Mail [Daily Mail]
Hope is in the suburbs [Observer]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

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More in this Category - Linkage

It's 17% up in June, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, reflecting a seasonal pick-up in market activity. Before anybody sparks up a cigar, gross mortgage lending through the second quarter remained unchanged on the first... the lowest since early 2001.

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More in this Category - _Other

It's not the most valuable house price indicator of the bunch, but it is an indicator, and it's telling us asking prices rebounded by 0.6% in July (after a 0.4 fall in June), leaving them just 3.1% down on the year (from -5.5% in June). The website is reporting unseasonably strong traffic, including a 20% rise in new seller numbers. Click this for the actual report (pdf).

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More in this Category - House prices
Fri
17
Jul

20070717Rotunda1

A former torpedo testing tank, close to Hampton Court, converted after the war into a modern and unique house, in 1.3 acres. Particulars here.

20070717Rotunda2

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More in this Category - For sale

Posh London vendors going it alone [Telegraph]
Rental market recovery [Marsh & Parsons blog]
Beware the serial bad tenant [Upad blog]
Those eco-town locations [Country Life]
German man blows up flat trying to mend inflatable mattress [BBC]
Send down... for spreading false rumours about estate agent [EAT]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
When you type the words 'squatting laws' into Google, as many websites pop up offering tips on how to occupy a property as those that advise you how to protect against it.

It's political correctness gone mad! So what can you do? Apparently, "the key is to seek legal advice and avoid doing anything rash", like shooting them.

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More in this Category - _Other

A couple of months ago we were the victim of an attempted knuckle-rapping by a Somerset estate agent who couldn't understand why we failed to laugh at his jokes. It must be because we're keeping our sponsors happy, he suggested. Comedy's in the ear of the beholder, we replied. According to Estate Agent Today, he's tried to be funny again, this time with a mailshot.

Cards from his Real Ralph Bending estate agency bear the words: “Fart in my room you will have to pay me £1. So don’t fart in my room. R.”

Apparently, recipients have been queuing up to complain. I suspect Bending's view is... bad publicity's better than no publicity. And it's certainly true, you've all heard of him now. I'm not sure the fart card would be the detail to inspire me to list a property with him, though; but - as I initially said - it's all in the ear of the beholder.

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More in this Category - Estate agents
Thu
16
Jul

After last night's Property Snakes & Ladders and the case of the converted train station, FindaProperty come up with a couple of converted railway carriages. The romance of rail... nice.

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More in this Category - Property TV

Asset-backed Guarantee Scheme failing [Independent]
When tenants go bad [BBC]
Homes with cricket pitches [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

According to American Express, it's okay to say, "Sorry, we just can't make the payments at the moment."

Recession digression 22 - austerity pant finding queried [July 7, 2009]
Recession digression 21 - let's just enjoy this one more time [July 2, 2009]

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More in this Category - Recession digression
Wed
15
Jul

The latest.

20090715Swimmingpool

It looks phallic to me, like the whole meat and two veg platter.

I don't know. I suspect you're a modernist.

Penis-shaped pool... tracked down by Rat and Mouse reader? [July 14, 2009]
Italy's fraud squad and the case of the cock-shaped swimming pool [July 14, 2009]

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More in this Category - _Other

Want to live on The Bishops Avenue? Opportunities are few and far between. Last year you could have made an offer on Lakshmi Mittal's place, on the market for £40m. Or you could just go and squat in a property a few doors down, like 32-year-old Calin Ciufudean. According to this, Ciufudean claims to be doing the owners a service... renovating, fixing, gardening, even going so far as to set up a Ltd company (Prep Ltd). He's said he'll stay there until the owners sell or develop. The property's worth around £30m, and it's extraordinary that it's been left to apparently rot, and that the security was so poor a cleaner could break in. So who does own the property? Right now, we're not sure, but we're looking into it.

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More in this Category - N2

The Government's house price index - always trailing but based on actual completion figures - appeared to little comment yesterday. It showed a fall for the average house price in May, down 0.1% in the month, down 0.4% in the quarter to the end of May and leaving the index down 12.5% on the year (from 13% in April and a peak of 13.6% in March). Download the actual report by clicking this.

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More in this Category - House prices
Tue
14
Jul

Following our appeal earlier... we've received this:

20090714Swimmingpool

And I think I - for one - am convinced (if slightly unimpressed... were that my swimming pool let's just say it would take longer to swim a length). There my be other candidates, but in the meantime I'm forwarding this to the original poster, and saying thanks to the Rat and Mouse reader who tracked it down but for some reason doesn't want to be named.

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More in this Category - _Other

A great story... here. Italy's finance police, the Guardia di Finanza, have apparently used Google Earth to nab a tax-evading businessman who under-reported the value of a villa he sold to avoid tax. Using Google Earth satellite images, and armed with details of an unusual penis-shaped swimming pool, they tracked down the property and compared its value to those of nearby properties, thus uncovering the fraud. The link, above, features a photo of a swimming pool, but they're not (and we're not) convinced they've found the right one. If you can do better, let me know and I'll pass on any information... a victory for the Rat and Mouse's eagle-eyed, cock-pool hunting readers.

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More in this Category - _Other

A new study by the accountants predicts further falls in 2010 and then a flat market, leaving 2015 prices (relative to inflation) still below 2008 levels, with a 30% chance of this remaining the case in 2020. Average property prices will - of course - rise in cash terms, but inflation will render those rises meaningless. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
13
Jul

Sex attack in MPs' squat-house [Daily Mail]
David Tennant moves into north London tardis [Google]
Londoners are sticking about [Guardian]
Investing in property funds [Independent on Sunday]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog, since 2005

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More in this Category - Linkage

According to Savills...

At the estate agency's branch in Oxford, one in 10 properties is selling above the asking price while at its Truro branch, buyers have been queuing at the door before it has even been opened.

is that kind of urgency really rational? I'd say no... but we'll know more in autumn, when we'll have either reached and recovered from the bottom, or we'll look back on this as one of those little spikes common before either a continuing fall or, more likely, a long period of stagnation.

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More in this Category - House prices

According to the National Association of Estate Agents, the difference between what vendors want and what they get was down to just 1.9% in June, down from 6.3% in May. Agents are still selling, on average, just ten homes a month... but it seems a lack of supply is supporting prices. However, what this suggests is that with unemployment still likely to rise and mortgages scarce, all it will take is a increase in homes for sale for prices to topple once again.

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More in this Category - Estate agents
Fri
10
Jul

It's a £3m north London townhouse, according to this. Elsewhere, we learn that, until relatively recently, she was kept unaware of her £10m fortune, presumably in case she went on some crazy splurge or something. As if.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes
A freedom of information request by Andrew Slaughter, MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush, shows notes of presentations to senior Tory figures made by Stephen Greenhalgh, Tory leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, which suggest limiting social housing to the old, infirm and disabled in a bid to solve the "concentration of deprivation".

Also among the recommendations: enforced "downsizing" for single tenants, perhaps to rooms in shared houses, and five-yearly reviews of personal circumstances, and the demolition of the some of the boroughs housing estates. Labour MP Andrew Slaughter has accused the Tory borough of "social cleansing". Council officers have denied contributing, other than by providing facts.

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But they managed to get a great some great photos first.

20090710Soho Fire-2

Follow them on Twitter for the latest.

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As some of you may know, this has been going on for some time. Foxtons and the Office of Fair Trading have been locking horns in the Court of Appeal regarding Foxton's T&Cs. Was it fair that they should charge landlords commissions when tenants decide to renew contracts, even though they've done no extra work? Was it fair they sales commission if a tenant decides to buy the property, even if they didn't formally introduce it as a potential sale? Other lettings agents have been watching the case closely, concerned that a precedent would cost them dearly in a renewal fees... because everybody does it. Finally... a judgement. No, Foxton's T&Cs weren't fair. But not due to their content, due to their wording. They simply weren't clear enough. Is charging commission on renewals unfair in itself? No. So there you have it. Everybody's a winner loser winner loser whatever.

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More in this Category - Letting

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps met the National Association of Estate Agents' Peter Bolton King and Gary Smith and told them... yes, we'll ditch the HIP; no, we won't make the licensing of estate agents compulsory under current circumstances; should those circumstances change we'll consider only a "light touch" approach. The big question... after they'd shaken hands with Shapps, said goodbye and left the building, did King and Smith high five? Who knows... but when will Shapps learn about negotiating with estate agents? More here.

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More in this Category - Estate agents
Thu
09
Jul

Interest rates remain at 0.5% for the fourth consecutive month.

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The Mail has been examining the Land Registry for the details of Boris Johnson's recent move.

His new neighbours include Angus Deayton, with whom Johnson appeared on the TV show Have I Got News For You, while pop star Lily Allen used to live around the corner. Boris bought the property from Daniel Done, director of a City recruitment agency.

Apparently, he shifted his previous Highbury home to his estate agent, and spent £2.3m on his new one, after knocking £600,000 from the asking price.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

Following yesterday's calls by the National Association of Estate Agents for the Government to apply a bit of "duress" and help get lenders lending, today two of the UK's biggest builders have warned that the it's the mortgage industry holding back a property recovery.

Mark Clare, group chief executive of Barratt, said: “The market is shut for an awful lot of people. It has removed the opportunity [for many people] to buy their first home.” Redrow also sounded a note of caution on the mortgage market, stating: “Without doubt this is a major obstacle to the recovery of the housing market and we are of the view that resolving this issue can play a significant role in a recovery of the economy as a whole."

One exception appears to be Nationwide, who is also making headlines with its 125% mortgage. A return to the crazy mortgages that caused all the trouble in the first place? asked Radio 4's Today Programme this morning. Possibly... although it's strictly a "niche" product... with a high interest rate and aimed at clients who are in negative equity but need to move house. More here.

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Wed
08
Jul

According to a National Association of Estate Agents survey... very tough. The figures, released today, suggest 22.5% of homeowners have been unable to find a new deal. Peter Bolton King - leader of agents - continues to harangue the Government, demanding it forces lenders to lend. More here.

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The all-important Halifax index is a timely reminder that we're still witnessing an unpredictable market. Property prices, it says, dropped by half a per cent in June, after May's headline-grabbing 2.6% rise. The annual rate of decline, however, continues to ease, from 16.3% to 15%. The quarterly movement - a decline of 1.9% - was the lowest since the beginning of 2008. Official press release, here.

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More in this Category - House prices

Vultures prey on home loans market [Times]
Extraordinary homes to rent [Primelocation blog]
Minis out, Mondeos in [PropertyHawk]
Time to get out? [This Is Money]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog, since 2005

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More in this Category - Linkage
Tue
07
Jul
The former chief executives of housebuilders Redrow and Centex UK have teamed up with Steve Norris, twice London mayoral candidate, to take advantage of lower property prices by buying discounted flats in the capital.

The plan, according to the FT, is to float, later in the year, under the name London Residential Opportunities. They're looking at 330 properties across 15 sites.

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He's been looking at the difference between the Nationwide's raw and seasonally adjusted figures, and concludes they're being too conservative.

I now think that house prices will show a small rise in 2009, rather than the 5pc fall I predicted at the end of last year.

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At the end of April, all the talk was of the return of the Y-front... an austere pant for an austere economic climate. Just weeks later...

New figures have revealed that fishnet stockings, suspenders, basques, and cleavage-boosting bras are all selling at a "record rate".

Now, it's about staying in and making your own entertainment. For data addicts... fishnets are up 83%, suspenders 50%, basques 45%, and if you'd bought garter futures you'd be laughing with a 71% increase in sales.

Recession digression 21 - let's just enjoy this one more time [July 2, 2009]

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More in this Category - Recession digression

A Putney gem [Independent]
London property ABCs [thestar]
Watford... UK's second most house proud town [Watford Observer]
Top Ten buy-to-let "hotspots" [Times]
Harsh lessons from buy-to-let fraud [ThisIsMoney]
Google turns attention to property listings [Future Of Real Estate Market]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Mon
06
Jul

20090706Crapphotography

Check out 1stavenuelondon's festival of crap property photography on Twitter.

20090706Crapphoto2

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More in this Category - _Other

In Friday's Times... Allsop auctioneer Gary Murphy talks of "urgency" among bidders, with some auctions, according to EIG data, shifting as much as 85% of listings. Savills are apparently selling 96% of their auction property above guide price, usually around 20% above.

Christopher Coleman-Smith, head of auctions at Savills, says: “Sentiment in the auction room has turned since October, November and December. A lack of supply is underpinning prices, with some lots seriously outperforming expectations.”

And now, here's ThisIsMoney, telling us the sealed bid is apparently back, and even using "the b-word".

Although the market has supposedly crashed, here in Middle England a housing bubble is making it impossible for us to buy a property at anything like a reasonable price.

What the....?

In Stratford, at least, the property-market plunge seems greatly exaggerated, with prices not far off those of 2007. We are now considering continuing to rent until the bubble bursts in the cold, short days of autumn.

Yes, indeed. All eyes on autumn.

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More in this Category - House prices

Yesterday, as the removal men crunched the gravel to their modest little country cottage - complete with polo field, orangery and 100 Surrey acres - they tell the Mail on Sunday about the day buy-to-let turned bad, and how they feel and understand the pain of the British everyman, hit hard by the recession. Yes, they've lost their house. They're being forced to downsize... selling the house for a slim £4.5m profit and buying Chris Evans's old £6m pad. They aren't asking for sympathy, explains Anthea, which is good, considering Bovey took millions out of the failing company, which - with its tens of millions of pounds of losses - is now, via HBOS and then Lloyds - largely the taxpayers' responsibility. But who suggested they talk to the MoS? Especially after the publication's made its feelings about the Boveys known. Sometimes silence is golden.

Monday morning linkage - in a bovver [February 16, 2009]
Bovey hands Imagine to HBOS [October 13, 2008]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

Those of a nervous disposition, look away now.

We're lucky enough to have the strength of our content recognised by Google. So when you search buy-to-let our buy-to-let guide is the top result. So if we measure the amount of people clicking on it, we can gauge British appetite for investing in property.

Ironically, the conclusion - the bubble's not deflated yet - is probably spot on. But extracting that conclusion from the above data? How do you explain this?

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More in this Category - Property online
Fri
03
Jul

Here's a strange one. Colin and Collette - immediately that sounds as if I'm making this up, but I'm not (they are) - design their own Lancashire palace on a computer, print it out and use it to get planning permission. Now that the property's built, however, it's bigger than they'd specified, and they might face having to tear it down. So how did it happen. Apparently, the computer automatically scaled the blueprint down when it printed it out. Hmmm. The council isn't convinced, and points to 15 other discrepancies.

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More in this Category - _Other

Is it time Camden cleaned up its act? [Londonist]
The new renters [Telegraph]
Is the crash now over? [Independent]
Cluttons: London prices up, but don't expect it to continue [FindAProperty]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

20090703Gisa

Made by Leolux, designed by Jane Worthington, available here, starting at £1,900.

[via Trendir]

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More in this Category - Design
Thu
02
Jul

Seven of London's boroughs are in the country's top ten for noise complaints. Which means you're either noisier than the rest of the country, or quicker to complain. Westminster topped the list, confiscating five sounds systems and issuing an ASBO, followed by Haringey and Tower Hamlets. In my experience, neighbours are split into either perps or complainers... and rarely cross the line. Which one are you?

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More in this Category - _Other

Kelly Brook and Danny Cipriani property shop in Wimbledon [Daily Mail]
Hatchet-faced Dragons' Den star threatens pensioners [Telegraph]
Historic London property, a photo tour [Country Life Picture Library, via House Historian]
Three homes for tennis players [Telegraph]
Christian Candy to marry [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

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More in this Category - Linkage

Recession digression 20 - London economy battered by death of King of Pop [June 29, 2009]

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More in this Category - Recession digression
Wed
01
Jul

This may turn out to be useful... a teleseminar courtesy of Mary Waring Associates. Mary will ask solicitor James Picknell about your legal options, and you'll have the option of submitting your own questions before the event. It's technically free... although call charges of 5p per minute will apply to the 60 minute call. It's on Tuesday July 14, at 1pm. More here.

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More in this Category - Letting
We've been gazumped twice in the past month on homes we're looking at; each time, by a considerable sum. Is there anything we can do?

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That's the rumour. And it makes sense. Zoopla began as an information resource, but moved into the portal racket relatively recently. They recently raised cash, and how better to spend it than on an established portal that would bring them credibility and traffic?

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More in this Category - Property online

 


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