The first, deliberate non-profit making estate agency, anyway. It's in Cornwall, and it's got that community, co-op, West Country feel about it. There's a flat fee of £399 to list, you get an online listing but you have to arrange your viewings/negotiations by yourself, and profits (remember, this is after "general expenses, transport and cost of staff and tax etc") go to charities and local good causes. Don't expect beards and sandals, the website looks fairly slick, if you don't dig in too deeply. There are only a couple of properties listed so far, but it's early days. IMoveCornwall will be more of a local force if they can arrange listings on the larger property portals.
We posted earlier about the Centre for Economic and Business Research's headline grabbing 16% house price rise prediction. But former MPC member David Blanchflower's unimpressed, telling the British Property Federation to expect house price falls of between 10% and 15% before we reach the bottom. More here.
It's by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and it's made a Daily Express front page.
The details? A chronic and ongoing shortage of available property and a recovery in the position of the banks which will lead to much looser lending conditions will add 4% a year to the value of the average home every year from 2011 to 2015. More here. But where will be inflation be during this period? (It certainly doesn't suggest any radical increase in interest rates.) If these figures aren't adjusted for inflation, this headline-grabbing story might mean little more than house prices in some parts of the country just about beating inflation, while in other parts they don't.
According to Nationwide, prices rose 0.3% in May, leaving them 1.2% down on the year. Frankly, with volume so low, the value of the figures is debatable, other than for excluding a dramatic recovery or dramatic rout. Some commentary here. Read the Nationwide's actual release by clicking this.
Our publisher looks at an interesting Court of Appeal hearing, which may have implications for buy-to-let landlords who feel they might have been misled by promises high rental income, in his guest column for Citywire.
.... and foresees mortgages at 8%, factoring in base rates at 5% and current levels of profit. The result? Mortgage repayments as a percentage of take-home pay rising from 34% to 51%. More here. But can CE really believe 5% bass rates are just around the corner?
A new launch by Rightmove founder and former Countrywide CEO Harry Hill sees the property business entrepreneur take on the solicitors, with an interesting online conveyancing product aimed at making the legal side of a property purchase more transparent. It's called in-deed, and it looks something like a digital UI between you (the buyer) and your solicitor... a place to go to get access to a vetted property lawyer, and then an interface where you're guaranteed updates at least every two days and clear communication showing exactly where you are in the process. There's also a price guarantee... they'll stick to the quote, and work on a no-completion, no-fee basis, which is significant in the property market's current climate. Sounds interesting. (Phil Spencer's set to promote the service, when it starts a serious advertising campaign in the autumn.)
That's Telegraph finance editor Ian Cowie's theory... that, coupled with falls in sterling and rising oil prices, a sense of being unwelcome in the States following 9/11 has driven a great deal of Arab property wealth to London. More here.
Mykea sells customised design panels to fit the popular Ikea furniture. "Say no to naked furniture" is their slogan, apparently, and the designs range for the garish to the, well, less garish. Check out the website, here.
An interesting an provocative piece in Money Week by Merryn Somerset Webb calls bullshit on buy-to-let. Yes - she argues - it's easier to get a buy-to-let loan than it was, yes rents are rising (gradually) and, with house prices lower, it means that btl enthusiasts can talk about higher yields. But what do those yield stats mean? Not much - she argues - if you own just one or two properties and take into account the cost of upkeep, the threat of voids, arrears etc, and the battle against constant capital depreciation.
Since those NS&I investments are limited to a maximum of £15,000, it doesn't seem much like an equivalent, but the arguments against buy-to-let still stand. Unsurprisingly, the piece receives a lot of comments. One - from a smug landlord who manages to insult the generation before him (his old-fashioned and honest, hardworking father) and patronise the one after him is irritating in the extreme.
It's a campaign against property as a speculative device, an attempt to alter domestic economic policy so that it discourages bubbles, an attempt to correct house and land prices so they become affordable for ordinary Australians. It's interesting.
The minutes of the last meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee show another 6-3 vote to keep interest rates unchanged, with Andrew Sentance, in his final meeting before being replaced by the less hawkish Ben Broadbent, leading the way again, joined by Martin Weale and Spencer Dale. The vote followed the pattern set in the previous three months. The committee appears to be very much in a holding position, while Mervyn King continues to argue the dangers of rate rises while the economy is still so uncertain. After the rush to fix at the beginning of the year, the advice is now to wait-and-see... with many commentators arguing a rate rise is unlikely this year.
It's an extraordinary story... the north Yorkshire landlord who claims the American tenants living in his four-bedroom farmhouse owe him £15,000 in rent arrears, and who took matters into his own hands by surrounding the property with a dozen skips and farm machinery in an attempt to stop them moving out and returning to the States. Without the payment, the landlord is facing repossession of the property (which he's owned for 22 years... suggesting he might have taken out a remortgage at some point). Fighting back, the tenants called on 20 friends to help get their belongings out through fields. A scuffle broke out in which the two wives went at it, at one point falling into a hedge. Amazingly, the landlord and his wife have been living on the property in an adjoining apartment. More here and here.
Department for Communities and Local Government figures show house prices rising in March, up 1.2% on the month, down 0.5% in a quarter-on-quarter comparison, and up 0.9% compared to March 2010. The rise follows an equivalent fall in January and zero change in February. The overall picture? A static market with suppressed transaction levels.
Average asking prices were up 1.3% in May, 0.7% on the year. Among new sellers, the asking prices reached a three year high, their highest level since June 2008. Meanwhile, this year's festival of bank holidays has resulted in substantially fewer properties coming onto the market, perhaps helping prop up prices (although average unsold stock still managed to rise slightly). Download the actual report in pdf form by clicking this.
It's been home to ex-Hollyoaks actress, toilet paper heiress, ex-Ryan Giggs love-interest and member of the Primrose Hill set Davinia Taylor, but now she's selling it in an act of divorce settlement liquidation. Interestingly, it also doubled as her friend Kate Moss's hideaway during her widely reported split with Pete Doherty. (Full rundown on that, here.) It's a white seven-bedroom semi-detached house in St John's Wood, and it even comes with a garage. In NW8! Guide price? £5.95m. Particulars here.
The heavy end of the London market continues to obey its own rules. Values rose 1% in April, leaving them up 8.3% (or £767 every day) on the year. Mayfair, Marylebone, St John's Wood and Kensington lead the way with double-digit growth over 12 months.
According to Council of Mortgage Lenders figures , the number of UK homes repossessed in the first quarter rose a worrying 15% to 9,100. Which is bad. The figure however is still 10% below the same period in 2010, and comes out around the same as the average quarterly figure of 2010. One - we think - to watch.
According to a Savills report, one in six homes will be in the private rented sector by 2016, and rents - in London - will continue to rise. The company expects the best growth in south west London. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor predicts that as many as a third of buy-to-lets might be in negative equity by the end of 2012 as house prices fall. The danger point would kick in after a 5% fall this year and another one next year. More here.
They're thought to be brown tail moth caterpillars, and they've been stripping trees, creeping in under front doors and leaving residents in New Addington with nasty rashes. One resident needed hospital treatment.
In an interview with Sky news yesterday Vince Cable admitted that the tax isn't part of any Coalition plans, but went on to hint that it may be discussed as one of a number of tax reform proposals aimed at squeezing a bit more out of the rich. The truth is that the recent election results are going to result something of a free-for-all among senior Liberal Democrats and - no matter how the "policy" is rubbished by everyone else - it remains, inexplicably, a pet project for Vince Cable.
It's part of a parcel of eight Hammersmith & Fulham Council-owned properties for sale in a bid to raise around £14m. Grade II-listed and in the midst of a refurbishment, it's apparently already had offers, including interest as a potential hotel. The council argue that - as one of the smallest in the country - they can't afford to run two town halls.
That's according to MPL Interiors who - reported here - have seen increasing numbers of estate agents choosing the colour for their interiors. Other popular hues are purple, burnt orange, gold, black and who gives a toss.
They haven't had the most distinguished record on The Apprentice, but here's another estate agent looking to impress Alan Sugar, when the Series 7 kicks off tomorrow night. He's called Alex Britez Cabral, he's 28, and - apparently - he's "not frightened to make enemies and I like being unpopular because usually that means you're doing your job properly". Wow... so much to learn. He's apparently based in London. I've been trying to work out where he's been working, but it turns out he's been working for himself. (The uncomfortable truth is that becoming an estate agent can be like becoming a movie producer... you go and get some cards printed.) Watch his audition reel here.
The HBOS house price report shows property values falling at their fastest rate in 18 months, down 1.4% on the month, leaving the three-month to three-month average down 3.7% annually. Prices are at their lowest since July 2009, and the annual decline is more than at any time since October 2009. Prices are now 20% below their 2007 peak.
Phil Spencer appears to not only have blown a deer away but blasted a great hole in his own popularity by appearing on a web-based TV channel shooting a deer. Animal welfare charities have been quick to come out and condemn the film. The pick of the bunch? Elisa Allen, from PETA:
Spencer makes an impassioned defence... he comes from farming stock, has been blasting away things that move all his life, 100,000 deer are culled out of necessity every year and at least he's not an estate agent. (Okay, I made the last one up.) Next week: Kirstie Allsopp makes a necklace from kittens' teeth.
It was, of course, Andrew Sentance's last rate-setting meeting and, despite arguing for an interest rate rise throughout his entire tenure, rates remained at a record low. He's being replaced by a less-hawkish Ben Broadbent, the recovery appears to be struggling, and Charcol's Ray Boulger is quoted here speculating on 2011 ending with the base rate remaining at 0.5%.
According to data from insurer Swift Cover, the Mini One is high in a list (topped by the Lexus IS) of the UK's most oft-vandalised cars. It's decidedly "un-premium" to attract so much attention. But Autoblog has a theory:
As expected, base rates remain at the record low of 0.5%, as the MPC grappled with the combination stalling output and inflation way above target and decided the safest course of action was no action at all.
The newspaper picks up on research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, which predicts five years of falling prices (after inflation...which is high) with the wider economy suffering as a result (although the report's assumption that the correlation between rising house prices and consumer spending is chicken-egg, rather than egg-chicken, is simplistic). The NIESR's predictions are for "real" (after inflation) house price falls of 4.5% this year, and an average of 1.5% for the following four years. More here.
A 0.2% fall in April, leaving the annual figure down 1.3%. Nationwide point out that the index has risen in three and fall in three of the last six months. The message? Move right along, nothing to see here. Nationwide doesn't expect any significant movement either way through the rest of the year. Download your very own copy of Nationwide's actual press release (including charts) by click this.
Further evidence of a tale of two markets... sales of £1m+ homes are rising at their fastest rate since 2006, with an estimated 185,000 property millionaires in the UK, according to research by Lloyds. There were over 7,000 exchanges on £1m+ properties in 2010, up 54% on 2009 (that's the largest increase since 2005/6 and 62%). What's going on is the upper end of the market recovering (remember, there were over 8,000 equivalent exchanges in 2007) at a faster rate than the rest of the market.