Rat and Mouse
Entries in June 2010
Wed
30
Jun

Any negative effects wrought on the property market by this Budget are likely to come second, third-hand. Just as – during the climbing property market of the Noughties – commentators credited house prices for the booming economy, so now faltering employment will feed back into, and drag down, the property market.

Our publisher examines the mid-term effects of the recent budget on the property market, in his guest column for Citywire.

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It's a modest monthly rise of 0.1% in June, according to Nationwide, leaving the annual rate of house price inflation down at 8.7% in June (down from 9.8% a month ago). By itself, there's not enough science here to confidently talk of trends, but taking other recent data into account, it's probably not premature to at least talk about a slowing in house price growth. Recent gains have all come with the proviso that this still wasn't a healthy market, and it was a lack of supply, rather than a surplus of interest, propping up prices. That appears to be changing.

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More in this Category - House prices
Tue
29
Jun

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He's Paul Routledge, he has a portfolio of more than 100 properties, and he's so sick of "one-sided legislation against landlords" that he's fighting back, with this. Landlord Referencing Services allows landlords to share information about "con artists, skippers and scammers", and claims to be "pro-active" rather than "re-active". So far, it seems to be West Country-orientated, but I'm sure landlords in London will be interested to see how it develops.

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If you know a mortgage broker, now might be a good time to give him/her a call, perhaps pop round with a cake or something. Two-thirds of brokers, according to research by Legal & General, don't expect business to improve from its current sorry state as we move into the traditionally busy summer months. More here.

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According to research by Zoopla... money. The average value of a property on a "Hill" is £341,446, compared to £184,546 for a "View". Full rundown below:

Most expensive:

  1. Hill £341,446
  2. Lane £328,378
  3. Mews £294,869
  4. Park £283,069
  5. Green £269,861

Least expensive:

  1. Street £155,515
  2. Terrace £156,387
  3. Crescent £176,942
  4. Court £178,488
  5. View £184,546

No mention, surprisingly, of "Villas" in that bottom list.

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Mon
28
Jun

The return of the speculative seller [LoveMoney.com]
Table made from old London Bridge timber, for sale [BBC]
Buy-to-let: it's behind you! [Telegraph]
Prime property at risk [Telegraph]
The immunity belt [The Move Channel]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Friday afternoon linkage - Stamp Duty tax break "review" [June 25, 2010]

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The second report of the day, this one comes courtesy of the Land Registry and so carries some scientific weight and it shows prices falling by 0.2% from April into May, clawing back previous gains in the annual house price inflation rate, from 8.5% to 8.2%. In London, however, that figure's at 14.2%. In fact, there's considerable regional variation, with prices up 0.9% on the month in the South East, but dropping back 3.6% in the East Midlands.

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Property research and data company Hometrack reports a small, 0.1% rise in June, following an equally small rise in buyer registrations across England and Wales, but falls in demand in six out of ten regions. Homes coming to the market, on the other hand, rose by 2.9%. And that's the issue: that long-discussed shortage of property - the thing that many believe has been propping up prices - is quickly coming to an end. Interestingly, though, sales agreed were 2.8% higher. Average time on the market: 8.4 weeks; average proportion of asking price achieved: 94.3%.

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Fri
25
Jun

Interest rates can go up as well as stay the same [Mel's Mortgage Matters]
Top 15 moving movies [Change of Address]
Stamp Duty tax break "review" [This Is Money]
South of the river [Property Wire]
New rules to protect borrowers [BBC]
Sarah Beeny: how to be a landlord [Telegraph]

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

Thursday linkage - when letting agents go bad [June 24, 2010]

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The judge has agreed with the Candies that, after Prince Charles' intervention, their Qatari partners breached contract terms by withdrawing from the deal. He didn't, however, award damages... although that appears to be on the cards for a later date. More here.

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20100624Charlesletter

Yesterday, the judge in the Chelsea Barracks case released a facsimile of a letter sent by Prince Charles to Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani... part of a behind-the-scenes campaign in which, investors claim, the Prince abused his position and influence to scupper development plans. Lord Rogers couldn't have been under any illusions about the Prince's opinion of his work, nor – presumably – will he have cared. That said, this letter can't have been pleasant reading for him (or anyone with an interest in modern architecture). I wonder whether the Prince regrets apologising, on record, for being "so interfering". I also wonder whether he goes through everything he writes, underlining words with a marker pen. Click the image above for a larger version.

Chelsea Barracks and the case of the missing emails [June 16, 2010]
Candies go to court over Qatari Diar [October 26, 2010]

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'Most people go down the pub, come up with crazy ideas, have a laugh, and then think no more about it,' he says. 'The difference is, I'll follow it through. And I'll do it properly, too.' It's true. The most extraordinary manifestation of this was probably his former west London bachelor pad, which he'd done up as a cartoon stately home, 'where Caravaggio meets Carry On'. The walls were festooned with cod-ancestral portraits of a wigged-up Denton posing variously as a Viking, an Edwardian footballer and a lecherous monk. Artist Ron Mueck and cartoonist Hunt Emerson helped create outlandish furniture and fittings, many of them roped off in the manner of National Trust properties and museums.

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Thu
24
Jun
Lettings agent, Westminster: "This capping of one-bed housing allowance at £250 and two beds at £280 a week is quite a bombshell. My cheapest one-bed is £265pw and that is really scuzzy. My cheapest 2-bed is £350pw. Well before April all my Landlords will be giving notice on the DSS tenants. Nobody on DSS will be able to live here anymore, it is going to seriously alter the demographic round here... Still, we'll always have the MPs... they only want one beds but at least their allowance is £335pw."

Tracy Kellett runs leading buying agents BDI Homefinders. Follow her on Twitter, here.

Tales from the property front line... plenty of mortgages, as long as you don't need one [June 21, 2010]

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Harrow lettings agent uses landlords' keys to rob flats [Harrow Observer]
Advice from RLA's Alan Ward [Landlord Law Blog]
A knotty plot [Telegraph]
Backing modernism [FT]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog, since 2010

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Battersea Power Station's long and tortuous recent history of development ambition and development setback starts a new chapter with news that Irish owners Real Estate Opportunities is looking to raise cash for the development by floating the project on the Alternative Investment Market. They also want a new partner, to share the project 50-50. The firm has taken an inevitable kicking recently, with the disaster that is the Irish property market. But even before then, the Battersea Power Station has been one long tale of woe as expensive and ambitious plans have been shelved, and the iconic London landmark has been left to crumble. More here. Plus some recent history.

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Wed
23
Jun

Research by Paragon suggests 21% of landlords are planning to expand their portfolios in the third quarter of the year, up from 11% and 12% in the first and second quarters respectively. How many see this through and actually complete on anything remains a mystery, and a lot of landlords appear to remain concerned about finance, but it still seems something like a change of mood. More here.

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20100623Chiswick

Two bedrooms, lots of light, nice internal architecture and a bed raided on perspex... bestselling chick lit author Adele Parks is selling her Evershed Walk (Chiswick) flat. It's with KFH, £1.295m. Particulars here.

20100623Chiswick2

If these walls could talk... are you pleased to see a US edition, or is that a gun in your pocket? [June 11, 2010]

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The big news was how small the news about the Capital Gains Tax turned out to be. Months of panic and miles of newspaper column inches later, the speculation ended and CGT is still lower than it was at the beginning of the previous parliament. And since it comes into effect immediately, there's no time for speculation about a hurried mass sell-off. The measures laid out in the budget are also likely to hit growth, which inherently put pressure on the Bank of England to keep interest rates low for as long as possible... which is good for borrowers. Higher VAT is likely to combine with the Tories crazy new planning laws and could hit the construction industry in an unpleasant way. (Although expect a busy period of renovations between now and January, when the rise comes into effect.) Housing benefit curbs and public sector unemployment are the most worrying aspects of the budget for the housing situation. Charities and pressure groups are already worrying about an associated rise in homelessness, and a rise in unemployment-associated repos will knock prices, too (although only investors will be able to afford to take advantage).

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Tue
22
Jun

Following the budget, this from the Centre for Economic and Business Research:

With our lower growth forecast we now think that base rates will be stable at 0.5% until the end of 2012 and the 10 year bond yield will fall to 3%. With base rates lower for longer, we also expect mortgage rates to fall from around 4% at present to 3% by early next year.

Mortgages hit seven-year low [June 21, 2010]

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The most important points, from the perspective of property, building, house prices etc:

  • Capital Gains Tax... from 18% to 28% for higher rate tax payers, from midnight.
  • Maximum limits on housing benefit... to £400 a week for a four-bedroom house.
  • VAT up to 20%, from January 4, 2011.

The VAT increase is likely to create the most uproar. The CGT hike isn't as dramatic as many expected.

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According to a YouGov survey for the Chartered Institute of Housing, three in five parents with kids living at home fear their children will have to move out of the community when they leave home, due to a shortage of homes or affordable homes. The survey included homeowners, private tenants and tenants in social housing. The CIH urges the Government to back the building of more houses. Good luck with that. Our publisher wrote here about the potential for problems under proposed new planning laws that replace targets with local decision-making. More here.

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Mon
21
Jun

According to Moneyfacts.co.uk, two year fixed rates have hit an average of 4.52%, the lowest since September 2003. What's more...

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol, says anyone on a standard variable rate (SVR) of 3.5% or more, who does not have an adverse credit history and has at least 15% equity in their property, should consider remortgaging.

 

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The Modern Estate Agent games Rightmove [The Modern Estate Agent]
Landlords... the taxman cometh [BBC]
Someone dares to predict massive property market boom post-World Cup [LoveMoney] 
A guide to Camden [Telegraph]
Hackney Mole Man dies [BBC] 
Olympic Stadium could be "useless" after games thanks to radioactive waste [Observer]

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

Wednesday afternoon and a little late linkage [June 16, 2010]

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According to Rightmove, asking prices were up 0.3% in May, and up 5% on the year. In the accompanying comment, Rightmove's Miles Shipside wastes no time in pointing out that the movements are unsustainable in the mid-term, and hinted that new listings suggested expectations were becoming more modest.

Market report - Government pegs house price inflation at 10% [June 16, 2010]

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In the City meeting a broker with one of the biggest mortgage companies in the UK. "How's things?" I ask. "Great," he says. "We've got some super new lenders, new products for buy-to-lets, lots more flexible deals on the table and rates that are pretty damned good." "What about this FSA abolition and the threatened 75% cap on loan-to-values? Isn't that going to mess things up?" "Nah, we're really not bothered," he says. "Won't affect anything, there are ways round." "So," I say, "does that mean first-time buyers and Joe Public can at last go down the High Street with much more chance of getting a mortgage and at a decent rate?" "God, no," he splutters. "I'm talking private banks. I'm talking about lending to people who already have money… people who don't need mortgages.

Tracy Kellett runs leading buying agents BDI Homefinders. Follow her on Twitter, here.

Tales from the property front line... is nobody going to close the flipping door? [June 1, 2010]

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Fri
18
Jun

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.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

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.

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The 58th Winkworth in London, no less. It's at 106 Highbury Park. More here.

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Consulting the Wriglesworth Consultancy, it appears that, with rents climbing fast than the value of rental properties since December, higher yields should provide some consolation to landlords worried by Capital Gains Tax changes. If house prices level off, as the report expects, landlords can expect to make more from income than capital gains over the next twelve months.

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Land Registry data, analysed, by Savills, shows west and central London bouncing back considerably faster than the east from the house price slump, outstripping their previous 2007 peak while the east and south-east are still 13% off previous peaks. More here.

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They're the empty-nesters... the middle-aged couples who perhaps moved out of London to bring up the kids, but now find themselves once again footloose and fancy-free. According to Cluttons estate agents, they're returning, buying up London property while they can and enjoying all the cultural delights the city has to offer while their kids stack up the debt. More here.

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Thu
17
Jun

If that's just your disposition, then there's nothing we can do for you. But if your particular concerns are to do with your tenants failing to pay, you could always try this free seven-day course, courtesy of Landlord-Law.

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They've been bought by Countrywide for an undisclosed sum. According to Estate Agent Today... almost everything's been hoovered up, including 80 branches and the rights to expand worldwide; however the Middle East and North Africa operations will continue to be run by the Dubai developers who bought the company back in 2006. Countrywide continues to head upmarket... presumably where the money is.

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The last government talked of a need for at least 250,000 homes a year between now and 2020 to avoid a housing emergency. Orr suggested the effect of the combined funding cuts and planning changes could reduce total house-building to below the 100,000 mark for the first time in 100 years.

Our publisher examines how Pickles is putting the building sector into a pickle, in his guest column for Citywire.

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Ever wondered who would be the UK's preferred celebrity house-sitter? Me, neither. But thanks to a survey of moneysupermarket.com users, that data is available:

  1. Jeremy Clarkson (28%)
  2. Christine Bleakley (23.9%)
  3. Sarah Beeny (23.8%)
  4. Cheryl Cole (14.2%)
  5. Lord Alan Sugar (6.3%)
  6. Wayne Rooney (3.7%)

The results are surprising. Remember, these are people entrusted to look after a gaff while the occupants are away, so catching Bleakley in the shower isn't a possibility. And what possible value will the presence of Clarkson add? To anything? The lovely Sarah Beeny? I suppose you could always leave a note asking her to do a bit of remodelling if she's time.

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Wed
16
Jun

Lending restrictions just around the corner? [Telegraph]
Better to buy then to rent [Which4U ]
Three more mortgage brokers banned [Citywire]

 

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That's the Department for Local Government and Communities data, based on completions in April. Annual inflation... 10.1%, the highest since October 2007; and a 0.4% increase on the month.

Market report - surveyors upbeat [June 15, 2010]

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Courtesy of research by Reallymoving.com:

  • to inform utilities, friends, neighbours, family members. According to the research, even co-habitants have failed to be informed (although this sounds deliberate to me).
  • to dismantle bulky furniture (never heard of this... I've always assumed it will be carried into and out of the lorry).
  • to disconnect white goods if you're taking them with you. Most removal firms aren't qualified to disconnect gas cookers, for instance. (Although, if you're the kind of person who takes the cooker with you, you've probably already thought of this).
  • to pack. What? Yup, removal firms apparently regularly turn up to find movers just starting to think about packing the contents of the shed or garage or basement.
  • to bring tea and coffee. (And milk.)

 

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The long-awaited, much-discussed, widely-feared Google Maps-integrated property search service launched, with zero fanfare, this morning, catching pretty much everyone by surprise. Not really aimed at private sellers, but agents and pre-existing portals with their own linked-up websites, it's already fairly well populated, although - with the bigger portals staying away - it's hard to see how it could be a first port-of-call for a homebuyer. It's a game, now, of data v exposure. Rightmove, Primelocation & co will know that it's all about the data. Google will argue it's all about the exposure, and when it comes to search, Google's king. Here's the Google page. If you want to give it a whirl, go to Google Maps and type in "property" plus a location.

20100616GoogleProperty.jpg

 

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Things appear to be heating up in court, where the Candies are chasing Qatari Diar for compensation after their deal to redevelop Chelsea Barracks fell apart. Long time Rat readers will remember an explosion of anger on the part of investors and starchitects, when it was revealed traditionalist Prince Charles had had a hand in the business... phoning his pal the Emir of Qatar (cousin to the chairman of QD) to express his disapproval of the plans. The latest is an accusation that emails were deliberately deleted, in an attempt to separate the prince from the decision.

Monday linkage - landlords' loss, first-time buyers' gain [May 17, 2010]
Candies go to court over Qatari Diar [October 26, 2009]
The prince and the starchitect [June 16, 2009]

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Tue
15
Jun

New figures by the Council of Mortgage Lenders suggest first-time buyers are making up the lowest proportion of borrowers since September 2007. In April 2010, they accounted for just 35% of all new loans, down from 39% in March. The typical first-time buyer borrowed 75% of the value of their home.

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There's a good piece in the New Statesman about the American "home ownership for all" model, in which subprime lenders like Chad and Mike sell dreams that turn into nightmares and which has got the world into all kind of trouble, and the European rental model, in which sophisticated Germans and Swiss spend the time they could be reading their mortgage documents reading philosophy, instead, and can move to a more cultured city at the drop of a well-blocked hat. It's not exactly that, but it does make the case that there's nothing wrong with renting. Read it here. Our publisher made a similar point here... but got all jumped on by Citywire's readers.

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Our agents and surveyors aren't going to let a falling HBOS index spoil the party... wherever they look, prices are rising, according to the latest RICS poll. The difference between those reporting a house price rise and those reporting a house price fall rose to +22, the highest figure since January. Maybe it's the sunshine. Or maybe it's all the cheap supermarket World Cup booze. At least some people are happy.

Market report - [June 10, 2010]
Market report - Halifax and Nationwide in rift [June 4, 2010]

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Mon
14
Jun

For a while, now, I've been of the belief that current house price indices, stock shortages, Capital Gains Tax increases, HIPs abolition were all worthy of comment, but would be rendered insignificant when compared to the effects of public sector cuts in the next few years. Graham Norwood appears to agree, and tests the theory in a great Observer piece, combining public sector with interest rate increases into something like a perfect storm.

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Blair's property empire now at £14m [Property Mentor]
Will the banks bring us down, again? [Observer]
East London line boosts Upper Norwood prices [Croydon Today]
It's garden-grabbing or homes shortage... your choice [Observer]
Camden: the grunge and the grandeur [FT]
Don't bank on rising house prices [Independent on Sunday]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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Fri
11
Jun

It's 226 West End Avenue, it's on the market for $30m and it used to be home to Mae West. The current owner appears to have picked it up for a bit of a bargain ($1.2m) in 2004. Here are some particulars.

[via Curbed]

If these walls could talk... the Spaced house [May 6, 2010]
If these walls could talk... Paula Yates edition [April 29, 2010]

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... based on the third successive fall in the Acadametrics index (based on completion prices following transactions in England and Wales). Prices - according to Acadametrics - fell 0.2% in May (prices even fell in London, by 0.1%). Transactions were down on the month too. Interestingly, though, despite the index's highly conservative recent monthly changes, its annual rate of inflation remains at a bunker-busting 9.7%. More here.

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A Cornish letting agent gets a roasting in Parliament for going beyond the bounds of decency in a letter to a tenant in arrears. Estate Agent Today, however, comes to the agent's defense, claiming that the quotation is lifted from a single letter that follows a chain of correspondence in which the tenants were given every support and opportunity. The question begged is whether there's ever a situation in which such a comment from a lettings agent to a tenant is acceptable... I tend to think not.

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Thu
10
Jun
‘I am simply saying to those who aspire to own their own home: This Government will support you; you will not be ignored; the age of aspiration is back!’… the words of Grant Shapps, the new Housing Minister, speaking at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors earlier this week.

Our publisher tackles Shapps' "age of aspiration" and Cameron's decade of pain, in his guest column for Citywire.

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You know there's something wrong with an economy when a 15th month of record low interest rates raises no eyebrows. Base rates - half a percent - and unlikely to move in the near future.

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Land Registry figures show a 0.2% rise in April, leaving the annual rate of inflation at 8.5%, the highest that number's been since September 2007. In London the monthly figure's 1.6%, and annual inflation's at 14.8%.... not the kind of number we expected to see a year ago. Turnover? Sales were 26% higher across the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2009, but to put this in perspective they're still around half of what we were seeing in the years preceding the credit crunch.

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That's according to a new report by the Office of National Statistics. Average salaries in London are £32,240, the highest in the UK, and Londoners enjoy better life expectancy, too. Interestingly, though, London also has the greatest disparity in income, with the highest 10% earning more than £42, 640, the lowest earning £23, 920. And remember, almost everything (not just property) costs more in London, which puts greater pressure on the London wage.

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Wed
09
Jun

It's a online property management software for landlords, enabling you to manage properties, communicate with tenants and other property professionals, track payments, maintain documents etc... all in one place and accessible from any computer. We like... but it's strictly beta right now, so they're looking for testers. Interested? Sign up or ask questions here. Tell them the Rat and Mouse sent you.

Uk Online Property Management For Landlords – Manage, Connect And Share With Your Tenants Online - Rentbuddy

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After "garden-grabbing" by developers proved unpopular in the leafier constituencies, the new government has announced a re-classification of gardens from "brownfield" (which classed them alongside abandoned industrial sites and so made them tempting targets for developers and hard for planners to protect). The Tories argue that garden-grabbing has been stripping towns of valuable green space. John Prescott (and if you heard him squabbling with Zac Goldsmith this morning in the Today programme... who'd have thought they wouldn't get on?) argues that if you've got a garden big enough to build a block of flats in, then you're probably not living in an area that's short on green space. More here.

London's garden grabbers [May 12, 2008]

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Tue
08
Jun

A kind-hearted Rat and Mouse reader made it for us and sent it over an embarrassingly long time ago. We've finally installed it, and we think it's rather nice. (See above, before the web address.) He didn't want any publicity, so we'll just leave it at "thanks". You know who you are.

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In a speech to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Housing Minister Grant Shapps stages his own personal Ashes to Ashes, ignores the public mood and pretends the Yamaha DX7 is still current and nothing went wrong with the property market:

Mr Shapps will promise to help more people 'achieve their aspiration to become home owners'.

Apparently, he's inviting the banks and building societies around to his place, to explain to him why they're not too keen on sub-prime. Mmm, where to start?

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Telegraph readers fight Capital Gains Tax hike [Telegraph]
Scottish landlords face ASBOs for party flats [Scotsman]
£1.25m for Primrose Hill lock-up [Mail on Sunday]
Most high-end London property buyers are foreigners [Telegraph]
Don't cry for David Laws [Observer]
Footballers in dumb decisions shocker [Telegraph]

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

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Mon
07
Jun

Actually, he's an ex-landlord. He built up a portfolio of 40 properties, using just his student loan as capital. But when the mortgage market turned ugly, he turned to the lucrative but entirely fictitious business of carbon trading. Go here to read how he's now positioned between two Hollywood stars in the Young People's Rich List.

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In both print and in conversation (with colleagues not noted for their radical politics) the question’s been mooted: Hey, why not go the whole hog and apply CGT to principle properties too? Writing in the Times, former banker Nick Kamm went so far as to state: ‘A reforming and fiscally responsible government would introduce CGT on all home sales. One day it will happen.’

Our publisher looks at how the Capital Gains Tax debate is throwing up some basic questions about the role of our homes in financial planning, in his guest column for Citywire.

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20100607Zoopla Ebay

Property listings portal Zoopla has announced new partnerships with eBay and Gumtree. The deal, they say, is exclusive, and will include, on eBay, all the latest sale and rental properties, while the Gumtree deal will be limited to properties that are for sale. The listings will be featured in special "channels", which will direct enquiries to agents via branded emails or redirect numbers (in the same way the portal operates elsewhere). It's innovative and shows willing, but I'm not convinced the claim the deals will give Zoopla agents "the opportunity of being seen by over 73% of all UK website users monthly, a far higher figure than any other portal" is meaningful. Unless you consider someone bidding for vintage sunglasses or Pokemon cards who stumbles across a property listing a useful lead; or that there are Internet users who know how to access eBay, but not Rightmove, Primelocation or Zoopla. There's a matter of profile, too. Will owners of more expensive properties welcome a Gumtree listing?

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Fri
04
Jun
Telegraph Motoring has found that a further eight out of London's 33 borough authorities have introduced their own CO2-based plans, in many cases doubling the cost of a resident's parking permit. And what happens in London today - road pricing, low emission zones, CCTV traffic enforcement - will appear on a street near you tomorrow.

It started with Richmond Borough Council and it's spreading, hyper-aggressive residents' permit pricing. What's this got to do with houses? Imagine how much value a little off-road space, just enough to squeeze four wheels onto, will add to your home. Grass? What grass?

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It's a new show, planned for BBC 1, looking for six individuals with ambitious grand designs. The show will fund the projects through to completion, and film the process. But - and here's the twist - only the "winner" (judged by an as-yet-unannounced property "guru") will get to keep their home. It's like Britain's Got Talent, crossed with Grand Designs, crossed with Property Ladder, crossed with Fame Academy.

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Today HBOS index for May comes hot on the heels of yesterday's Nationwide report, but paints a very different picture... prices falling 0.4%, leaving annual house price inflation still in the black, but by a more modest 6.9% compared to Nationwide's 9.8%. Interestingly, both indices are formulated the same way, from their own mortgage approvals data. The fall in May, reported by HBOS, follows an April fall, of 0.1%. The message: exactly what it seems... a genuine lack of clarity, with recent political uncertainty combining with relatively small datasets.

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Thu
03
Jun

Against all the odds, house prices continue to rise, according to the latest Nationwide report, with a 0.5% rise in May, leaving the annual inflation figure at 9.8%, a whisker off last month's 10.5%. The accompanying comment uses low transaction rates and a scarcity of available property to explain the rises. More here.

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The idea is... go here and click the map to read reviews for your location. Except, there doesn't seem much motivation to go in and negatively review an area, so the database has been largely filled up by local fanboys. Reviews are up to five stars, I can't find any place with less than two (but then Weston-Super-Mare - possibly the worst place on earth - doesn't appear to be there).

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An extraordinary recent poll by Barratt shows:

  • 71% rated home ownership an eight or above in importance (out of ten)
  • 46% rated marriage as important
  • 44% gave having children the same rating
  • 27% considered an active social life an eight or more
  • Between the ages of 18 and 24, that 71% rises to 81%

The Rat and Mouse was founded in order to comment on the UK obsession with home ownership, so it takes a lot to shock us. Given recent events - the debt crisis, with property at its centre - we weren't expecting these kinds of results in 2010.

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Wed
02
Jun

In the three months to March 31, cases referred to the ombudsman increased 90%, and it sounds as the lettings sector and, specifically, that issue of renewals fees are largely to blame. More here.

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Building targets scrapped [BBC]
Property prices and future theft [Citywire]
Damn, I bought a house [FT]
My house is so big it scares me [Telegraph]
Bad things come in threes, and to London [NDTV]
Rightmove's buying itself [Estate Agent Today]
A FTB guide to mortgages [Citywire]
Estate agency and the gender wars [Estate Agent Today]

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

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Excuse the slow day yesterday... I was dealing with computer issues. The one that went missing was - of couse - the Land Registry figures for April, which showed a further 0.2% monthly rise and left the annual rate of house price inflation at 8.5%, its highest since September 2007. In London, the figures are more startling... up 1.6% on the month, and 14.8% annually. We'll see, next, whether more stock coming to the market, due to the abolition of HIPs and the threat of Capital Gains Tax on second homes, affects the balance, and thus the index, in coming months.

More in this Category - House prices
Tue
01
Jun
Espresso with a buy-to-let friend. He's near retirement and has a couple of small flats which were bought as a mini-pension fund. "What do you think of the CGT issue?" I ask.
"It's been a worry," he tells me, "but I've been to see my accountant and talked to other landlords. I'm putting the bills at the flat in my name, I've back-dated the council tax and I'm going to flog it as soon as I can as my main residence."

"The thing is", he says, "I wouldn't have minded paying 18%, but who the hell knows what it might be in the future. So, I'll sell now and pay nowt." Where there's a will there's a flipping way.

Tracy Kellett runs leading buying agents BDI Homefinders. Follow her on Twitter, here.

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And - according to Knight Frank - it's thanks to the Russians. The Knight Frank Prime London index has just seen its 14th consecutive monthly rise, up 1.4% in May, pushing it 23% above it's March 2009 low, and just 6.4% below its March 2008 peak. Interest is apparently being driven by a strong rouble. More here.

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