Rat and Mouse
Entries in May 2011
Tue
31
May

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.

[via Planet Property Blog]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

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.

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More in this Category - House prices

Secret plans for 95% mortgages? [Telegraph]
Institute suggests 90% cap [Bloomberg]
Hometrack index shows sharp May fall [Reuters]
The big switch to interest only [Telegraph] 
Not so funny for the 40-year-old property virgins [Independent on Sunday] 
Top end of London market booming thanks to foreign buyers [Bloomberg]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

It's by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and it's made a Daily Express front page.

20110531express

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.

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Fri
27
May

Raising interest rates to offset VAT hikes is counter-productive because a VAT increase contracts nominal demand, while its measured price impact is one-time only. Energy prices are volatile and can reverse with no notice, as they just did. Setting monetary policy in response to short-term commodity price gyrations would only destabilise the UK economy and create greater uncertainty about future inflation.

It's a well-written and well-reasoned editorial coo-ing by one of the MPC's leading doves, in the FT.

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More in this Category - _Other

20110527rics

Good luck with that. (Not seeing much action so far.)

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20110527nationwide

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.

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More in this Category - House prices
Thu
26
May

20110526hey foxtons

Appearing on a Foxtons Mini windscreen in Clerkenwell soon, apparently.

[photo by bristly pioneer]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Equity release: misunderstood... literally [Propertytalk Live]
Keeping property journalism relevant [Property News Hound]
FTBs want responsible lenders [Mortgage Strategy]
Jason Satham's selling in Hollywood [Daily Mail]
Inside Number 11 [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

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More in this Category - Linkage
Wed
25
May

A test case, heard in the Court of Appeal earlier this week, might open the door to litigation brought by buy-to-let landlords who don’t feel they’ve been dealt the hand they were promised.

Scullion vs Colleys dates back to 2002, when Mr Scullion bought a buy-to-let flat, based on a valuation (of both capital value and rental income). The valuation turned out to be optimistic, and Scullion sought damages. Colleys (the Bank of Scotland’s valuation wing) denied it owed the usual duty of care because Mr Scullion wasn’t a residential buyer… he was an investor. Different rules applied.

The judge disagreed, pointing out that the apartment in question was at the bottom end of the market, the investor was an amateur and it was reasonable that he relied on the valuation. He was – in effect – in the same position as a first-time buyer. In 2010, he awarded damages of £72,234 amazingly even though the capital valuation turned out to be conservative, but based on an over-valuation of rental income.

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.

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More in this Category - Letting

According to LSL Property Services the average London rental is up 8% on the year, at £988, with a break through into three-figures expected by July.  More here.

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More in this Category - Letting
Tue
24
May

.... 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?

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More in this Category -

Homeowners optimistic over five years [Property Talk Live]
Cool houseboat in Amsterdam [DigsDigs]
Seventies man: built a good house [Telegraph]
Has the BBC property boom hit Manchester? [Manchester Confidential]
Yuk! [Curbed]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Mon
23
May

From the outside... a pleasant three-bedroom home in Kew with period features and off-road parking.

20110523Kew 1

On the inside... an eccentric bicycle museum, packed with history on two wheels.

20110523Kew2

20110523Kew2 1

The property's with Foxtons, priced at a catchy £949,949, and the vendors looking for a buyer who'll take the collection, too. Particulars here.

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More in this Category - For sale

In Deed

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.)

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More in this Category - Property online
Fri
20
May

In America, Homer Simpson's on the move [the Real Estalker]
London's rents reach record high [City AM]
Muslim ordered to get out of town [Independent]
London's first-time buyers  don't expect to own home until 43 [This is Money]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

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More in this Category - Linkage

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.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
19
May

20100519mykea

A cool concept - until Ikea rips it off.

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.

20100519Mykea2

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More in this Category - Design

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.

So here's my advice. If you are thinking of getting into the buy-to-let market, don't. Use the deposit cash to buy NS&I inflation-index-linked certificates instead. Buy-to-let is likely to give you a zero or negative return. The NS&I deal doesn't offer a certain return (it depends on RPI) but it is 100% certain to - at worst - be positive and to beat inflation. It really shouldn't be a tricky choice.

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.

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More in this Category - Letting
Wed
18
May

20110518buyers strike

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.

So far, sign ups seem low. But there's an interesting and lively website.

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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.

20110518MPC

MPC Overview

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On the Tower Hamlets bid to become a city [diamond geezer]
Kirstie Allsopp's property portfolio [Primelocation blog]
Rachel Whiteread protests against "alien" Shoreditch tower plans [Evening Standard]
A fascinating look at St Giles' 18th Century slums [Independent]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

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More in this Category - Linkage

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.

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More in this Category - Letting
Tue
17
May

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.

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More in this Category - House prices

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.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
16
May

7 bedroom house for sale in Clifton Hill St Johns Wood London  NW8

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.

If these walls could talk... Robbie Williams edition [April 12, 2011]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

Toilet paper: over or under? [CNet]
Jude Law in peace talks with London neighbours [OK]
W1J5 - London's priciest postcode [Evening Standard]
Mail on Sunday hotspot map [Mail on Sunday]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Fri
13
May

20110513cigar

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.

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More in this Category - House prices

The reason I ask is this:

Made in Chelsea offers a rare glimpse into the private lives of young Sloanes in, er, Chelsea. Ever wondered what that prick from Foxtons does when he slips off the suit and slides into whatever godawful casual wear posh people put on because they’re too rich to care? Does the prospect of seeing a girl called Flopsy or Dropsy or whatever realise both her ambition of making it in handicrafts and hooking up with Mr Righty-Ho fill you with hope for your own dreams? Have you ever heard some bastard called Sebastian yell ‘Look at me!’ and thought, ‘Yes, that seems like a great idea’? If so, you might like the show.

I'm confused. I didn't watch Made in Chelsea, and for a moment I wondered whether an actual, factual, live Foxtons agent had made it onto the show, and everybody knows how much the Rat and Mouse loves watching a London estate agent making a cock of themselves on the telly. But it appears not. So I'm confused.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

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.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
12
May

In the US, somebody really hates the mosque next door [Curbed]
Rogue hawk attacking posh pooches of Belgravia [Daily Mail]
Housing and branding [Guardian]
Expect house price falls [MSN]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

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.

Buy-to-let resurgence? [May 11, 2011]

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More in this Category - Letting
Wed
11
May

Buy-to-let is coming back because land and houses are cheap, and bricks and mortar won’t go to the wall like shares.

The words of dentist Mike Valente, courtesy of Bloomberg, in a quote I hope we won't need to revisit in the coming months.

The thrust of the piece is the resurgence of buy-to-let, particularly among the cash-rich looking for a hedge against inflation. It's an interesting piece.

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The threat of negative equity [This is Money]
Property: the "unexploded economic bomb" [MoneyWeek]
UK teenagers plan house purchase by 25 [Inside Housing]
Win a signed copy of deer-hunter Spencer's new book [Globrix]
Corruption pushes up property prices in Moscow [BBC]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

20110511apprentice

Another Apprentice, another estate agent [May 9, 2011]

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More in this Category - Property TV
Tue
10
May

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.

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More in this Category - CR0
  • 18% more agents recognised a rise in new instructions, as supply increases
  • 21% more agents recognised falls in house prices... strangely, the lowest number since June 2010
  • 11% more agents expected the rate of transactions to rise
  • the number of sales per agent rose in the three months to the end of April

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More in this Category - House prices

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.

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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.

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More in this Category - SW6
Mon
09
May

Irish agency Sherry FitzGerald is to sell its 72% share in London agency Marsh & Parsons. Talk is of something like £60m... they paid a tenth of that for their stake in 2005. More here.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

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.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

20110509Cabral

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.

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More in this Category - Property TV

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.

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More in this Category - House prices

20110509spencer

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:

Anyone who can describe a blood sport as a “passion” and boast of a long-held ambition to stalk and kill defenceless animals should undergo a psychiatric evaluation to see if his or her mirror neuron, the one that allows a person to experience empathy, is underdeveloped.

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.

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Fri
06
May

How to be a bear with profits? asks Moneyweek. Spread betting falls short, due to the ungenerous spreads that make it almost impossible to rake in any serious profit. So how's this?

The best route, therefore, is to short property companies and house builders via a downbet on their share price. Bid-to-offer spreads on the bigger listed firms are reasonable, and the underlying asset – a share – is pretty liquid. As ever with short bets, make sure you use a stop loss to limit the damage from an unexpected share price spike.

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More in this Category - _Other

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%.

Bank of England adviser warns: interest rates to quadruple [April 11, 2011]

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More in this Category - _Other

In the US: Facebook's Zuckerberg buys in Palo Alto [The Real Estalker]
Lloyd's 150,000 negative equity mortgages [Daily Mail]
Builders bullish [The Negotiator]
Emergency building necessary to save London from slums [Evening Standard]

The Rat and Mouse - property blog

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More in this Category - Linkage
Thu
05
May

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:

The Mini One makes the podium in third – perhaps not as premium as the others, but the large number of attacks on Foxtons estate agents' cars could have boosted its numbers.

20110505foxtons 1

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More in this Category - Estate agents

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.

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More in this Category - _Other

20110505DailyMail

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.

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More in this Category - House prices
Wed
04
May

20110504binLaden

We like: exposed brickwork in areas of the walls, the sunny roof terrace with views, the brutalist retro-chic design.

We dislike: the poor quality exterior rendering, the ugly barbed wire and opaque windows.

[via Cool Hunting]

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More in this Category - _Other

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.

20110504nationwide

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More in this Category - House prices
Tue
03
May

... as profiled by Citywire, and including (of course) One Hyde Park, other recent market headline-makers (Witanhurst, Toprak Mansion, Updown Court) and a few properties unlikely to reach the market, but based on valuation (Highclere Castle, Longleat).

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More in this Category - _Other

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.

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More in this Category - _Other

 


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