Rat and Mouse
Entries in December 2011
Fri
30
Dec

20111230newyear

It's that time of year again. Just for your perusing pleasure, here's what the prediction table looked like this time last year.

201112302011predictions

We're not going to call time on 2011 for a while yet, as we prefer to wait until we get figures based on actual completions data. It is, however, fair to say that we don't expect we'll be handing ourselves the coveted Rat and Mouse trophy this year.

So... 2012. This is the most complete list we've been able to make. If you want to add anything, email us.

Assetz ↑3%
Rightmove ↑2%
Halifax ↑ or ↓2%
Nationwide NO CHANGE
National Association of Estate Agents NO CHANGE
Hamptons ↓2%
Savills ↓2%
Hometrack ↓3%
RICS ↓3%
The Rat and Mouse ↓5%
Knight Frank ↓5%
IHS Global Insight ↓5%
Capital Economics ↓5%
BDI Home Finders ↓6%
Jonathan Davis Wealth Management ↓7% to ↓10%
Henry Pryor ↓10%

Of course, regional variation is guaranteed, and most London agents seem confident that the capital's upward momentum isn't likely to falter in the next 12 months.

But the overall consensus is negative, and the reasons for this are hardly a mystery. Rising unemployment... pressure on banks due to the Eurozone crisis... pressure on pay... and a general sense that 2012 will be all about belt-tightening don't signal a year in which people will be buying unless they really have to.

Before I go, there is a group that's more bearish than Henry Pryor. It's a group of Guardian readers, who are being polled here. This is what they're saying at the time of writing.

20111230guardian

So, it just remains to wish all our readers a very happy and prosperous new year. Thanks for sticking with us in 2011. We're looking to implement big changes in 2012, including a radical redesign and some guest writers. If you fancy contributing to the blog and/or you've ideas about what we should be covering or covering better, please drop me a line at the usual address.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
29
Dec

Graham Norwood and Tracy Kellett demonstrate a ruthless streak in the Telegraph, with a piece about bagging a bargain during what looks like a difficult 2012. Cash is king and seek out those divorcing couples. Read it here.

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More in this Category - _Other

20111229CampdenHillSquare

The survey was by Lloyds TSB, and its Borough (Kensington & Chelsea) dominates the top ten list. Campden Hill Square has an average property price of £4.9m... former home to Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser (and venue for the famous IRA bomb meant for her previous husband Conservative MP Hugh Fraser in 1975. Second came Merton's Parkside, with an average price of £4.8m, and Drayton Gardens was third with average prices of £4.4m.

The rise and rise of top-end London property... it appears unstoppable. New figures by Primelocation show "prime" London property up 10% in 2011. That's £306 a day.

[photograph by Peter Jordan]

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More in this Category - SW19
Wed
28
Dec

Back in early November we wrote about Google's decision to start charging commercial websites for using their GoogleMaps API if they exceeded certain bandwidth allowances. We wondered how this would affect the many property search sites that rely on the facility.

Yesterday, Ed Freyfogle, founder of the innovative Nestoria property search site, appeared to answer that question by announcing he was ditching GoogleMaps for OpenStreetMap. In an interesting and equable blog post he pointed to OSM's excellent service and its sympatico, open-source philosophy, before describing a contact with a Google salesperson that was a less than winning experience.

Having agreed to a time for a call, the sales rep missed the appointment with no warning, instead calling me 45 minutes late. It was quickly obvious he had done no research whatsoever about our service, what we do, or even where (in which countries) we do it. He was unable to explain the basics of the new charging regime - for example, what exactly is a "map-view", telling me instead to "ask your developers". Finally he quoted a price to continue using Google Maps (just on nestoria.co.uk, one of eight countries we operate in) that would have bankrupted our company.

Ouch. Anybody else have a similar story?

In the meantime, it will be interesting to test the Nestoria experience under OSM, and see how many other sites follow suit.

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More in this Category - Property online

He is - according to the Sun - officially a Londoner, now. He's been telling anyone who'll listen that he's now based, permanently, in the city while he pursues his fashion career. No clue as to his chosen neighbourhood, however.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes
Fri
23
Dec

I'm shutting up shop, now, for the holidays. It's been a funny year... lots of news, lots of fear, not much of a change in house prices. At this end of things, we were planning a couple of big changes. 1 - We're overdue a redesign and it would have happened in 2011 were it not for an unusually weighty workload for both me and my Rat and Mouse partner. We're not complaining. But we are sorry, and we're hoping to start talking to designers very early in the new year. 2 - We're also looking for new writers... experts in specific fields working within the industry who might like to provide some entertaining and provocative posts in exchange for some links and notoriety. If that sounds like you, please get in touch.

Finally - thanks for reading in 2011. Have a great Christmas. I'll be back on Wednesday December 28. xxx

Go party...

Google Image Result for http www residentadvisor net photos 2009 uk091212button buttoneddowndiscokoko12dec0918 jpg

More in this Category - About

If you're driving home for Christmas out west, it's worth knowing that - following a week of leaks and rumours - Transport for London have finally confirmed that Hammersmith flyover is suffering from a serious structural defect and, deep breath, please, they've closed it. Expect congestion. Don't expect it to re-open quickly. Sorry.

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More in this Category - W6

What does the property millionaire who has everything get for Christmas? Congratulations to both of them. And - this being the Twitter age - you can see the moment live, below and here.

 

20111223valance

Holly's reply:

20111223twitter

I'm assuming she actually told him there and then... she didn't just go off somewhere quiet and tweet him an answer.

Anyway... jeez, he really knows how to do it.

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More in this Category - _Other

Solicitors Irwin Mitchell claim there has been a 20pc increase in the number of people seeking to sue surveyors for negligent valuations which led to property being bought for more than it was worth in 2011. Most litigants were buy-to-let landlords.

RICS claims rents are rising and a shortage of supply is preventing the bottom falling out of sale prices, but Irwin Mitchell claim falling  house prices and problems with voids are tempting landlords to court. This, despite the recent Sculiion vs Colleys case that appeared to show surveyors don't owe landlords the same duty of care, when it comes to overvaluing rental income, that they do residential buyers when overestimating the value of a property. Irwin Mitchell appear to be suggesting this still leaves the door open for smaller, amateur landlords.

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More in this Category - Letting
Thu
22
Dec

Another good year for low-supply, high-demand, safe-haven, super-prime London property has left cash-rich Savills celebrating by signing a 20-year lease on 64,142 square feet of new office space in 33 Margaret Street, on the corner with Regent Street (better known as Marcol House). More here.

20111222MarcolHouse

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More in this Category - W1

November was a decent month for transactions, according to the HMRC, with sales up to 85,000 from 79,000 in October, and a record set for the year. Why only decent? The first 11 months taken as as whole were still down on the same period in 2010.

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More in this Category - _Other
Wed
21
Dec

Business Week claims to have a source with news of a £100m sale of Knightsbridge penthouse, in the Bulgari Hotel and Residences, the mage-upscale block at no. 171. I'm guessing we're talking about this property, recently advertised with Christie's. The sums come out to about £7,000 a square foot. That's not a record, but it's hardly recession chic either.

20111221bulgari

]

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More in this Category - SW7
Tue
20
Dec

Santa-safe chimney designed and tested in Cotswolds [London News]
Top 10 property trends 2011 [Telegraph]
Time to switch to a fixed-rate? [Money Week]
First-time buyers regret it [Evening Standard]
Not the bloody mansion tax again? [Evening Standard]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

There's no such thing as standing still at property search engine Nestoria. Its Indian operation went live at the end of January, now it announces an important strategic partnerships with the mighty Hindustan Times, something of a behemoth of an English language newspaper in India. (Here's what happens when you click "property".) Congratulations to Nestoria. The developing world... "It's the future", as Nestoria's Ed Freyfogle points out.

20111220nestoria

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More in this Category - Property online
Mon
19
Dec

Average house prices are falling/static, depending on who you believe, but at the top of the two-tier market, it's all champagne, Ferrero Rochet and 27,000 new property millionaires in 2011. The figures come courtesy of Zoopla, who put the gains down to cash-rich buyers at the top of the market looking for somewhere to stash their cash and a shortage of suitable properties. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

It made the news headlines this morning... the Financial Services Authority's Mortgage Market Review, a revised (amended following feedback) consultation aimed at ensuring the types of irresponsible lending that flushed us all deep into the economic u-bend remain firmly an embarrassing memory. Like losing your virginity. Or this.

The crux of the proposals are about separating lending affordability from predicted house price rises and applying stricter, more realistic criteria. Lenders should assume interest rates might rise, and test affordability under those circumstances. Income should be verified (an end to "liar loans"), council tax and heating should be taken into account when testing a borrower's ability to meet mortgage repayments.

And that's it?! It took a body of experts to realise current interest rates can't be relied on indefinitely, that people might lie about their income, and it's unreasonable to expect rising house prices to cover unaffordable loans? Apparently so.

Here's the official page. The new consultation period runs until March 30, 2012.

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More in this Category - _Other

Second-steppers stuck [Guardian]
Buying cheaper than renting in 94% of UK towns [Zoopla]
Check your Euro mortgage [Independent on Sunday]
Turkeys don't foresee Christmas [NAEA]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Fri
16
Dec

A 0.4% drop in November, according to LSL Property Services, but this doesn't reflection action in some of the hotter rental markets, including London (up 0.3% on the month), Yorkshire and West Midlands. More here.

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More in this Category - Letting

In the Telegraph... a bunch of real-life property experts are asked where they'd most like to land and invest on the iconic Monopoly board. The answers are an odd mixture of contemporary London market logic and Monopoly game-play. Fun.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
15
Dec

The story is... the tenants (who were in the process of being evicted) wouldn't clear up to make the property look decent in photos, they wouldn't get out of the way when the camera came out and one fo them wouldn't even get out of bed. Hence:

20111215tenant

Apparently, though, the intention was to Photoshop the woman from the image (not an easy task), but the agents somehow "forgot".

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Here it is:

20111215squatters

Youch.

Mr Siklodi was stabbed 18 times and beaten around the face with a crowbar after he asked to listen to music from Hungary rather than his native Romania.

Which just goes to show, doesn't it? If there'd been English squatters in there, instead, they wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. Or something.

It all happened in Sydenham. Which is the first time I've ever needed to type that.

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More in this Category - _Other

WANTED: Irish estate agents. No, it’s not Irish property buyers out seeking revenge, but a recruitment agency which is holding a roadshow in Dublin in January aimed at finding agents to work in the London property market.

What does this mean, exactly? That local agents just aren't cutting the mustard for top London agencies?

Deverell Smith, doing the recruiting, point out the perks.

The rewards can be high: agents typically charge vendors 2 per cent of the sale price. “If you sell a property worth £5 million , that’s £100,000 ,” says Deverell Smith.

Happens all the time.

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More in this Category - Estate agents
Wed
14
Dec

Up on the month (of October... they're always late) by 0.6%, down on the year by 0.4%. Regionally, London's still 3.9% in the black over 12 months, which is helping to skew the national picture. Take London and the south east out of the equation and the average fall October-to-October is 1.8%. Interestingly - and this one caught me by surprise - new-builds have done better over the year (+12.1%!)  than pre-owned dwellings (-1.2%), suggesting what? That surveyors have been conservative on new-build valuations? That developers have been keen to shift bricks-and-mortar? More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

Renting - world's most expensive cities [Daily Telegraph]
Livingstone hints at "Living Rent" rent control... but does he have the power to implement it? [BBC]
Bangladeshis leaving London to return home [BBC]
Prime central London property up 8% in 2011, according to Cluttons [FT Advisor]
Where the London footballers iive [FindaProperty]
Incoming celebrity alert: lovely Kelly Rowland... maybe [Daily Mail]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Tue
13
Dec

Do with it what you will, but here's the November "truth" according to the Royal Institution of Surveyors:

Seven per cent more members reported increasing enquiries than decreasing, and 14% saw increasing sales over the previous month. However 17% more agents saw property prices retreating.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
12
Dec

Are they agents or landlords? It's difficult to tell, because Spudnic Ltd tread lightly when it comes to an internet imprint. They don't tread so lightly, however, when it comes to harassing tenants. How's this for a list of dirty tricks? Cutting off the power, changing locks, sealing letterboxes, moving in builders, moving out belongings, faking eviction orders... and we're not talking about tenants in arrears, either. Presumably, they were looking to take advantage of rising rents and wanted to move in tenants who'd pay more. Full story, here.

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More in this Category - Letting

An apocalyptic neo-dark age of inequality-fueled riots, theft and depression might be just around the corner, but it's not stopping Brits from surfing particulars of expensive properties online until their wrists ache and their eyesight's impaired. According to Rightmove, a £36m St John's Wood mansion and a dream property in Mayfair with a £48m price tag are two of the top three most viewed properties on the website. (The other one was an equestrian place in the 'burbs.) But David Tucker, whose company developed the St John's Wood house, is nobody's fool:

Despite the popularity of property porn, Mr Tucker thought serious buyers would arrange a viewing in person. "No one is going to spend £36 million just from the internet," he said.

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More in this Category - Property online

Noel Edmunds stung for £1m after property deal dispute... no house party [Daily Mail]
Uk's most remote home for sale [Daily Telegraph]
Reading woman sees lounge window "speared" by estate agent pole [Get Reading]
Apparently London's super-rich aren't above renting out their homes when they're away {Independent]

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

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More in this Category - Linkage

Battersea's seemingly cursed power station is once again for sale to the highest bidder after owners Real Estate Opportunities, after a full five years securing planning permission for an ambitious mixed-use development, is unable to find the £500m needed to repay debts. More here.

Chelsea eye Battersea power station [November 24, 2011]
Battersea Power Station - there's a "latest" [November 12, 2010]
Battersea Power Station saga latest [June 24, 2010]
Disappointing public opprobrium for Battersea's finest [March 23, 2010]

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More in this Category - SW11
Fri
09
Dec

Ten property hotspots based on travel improvements [Daily Telegraph]
Pigeon-lovers threatened with council house eviction [Evening Standard]
Congo ambassador's home squatted [Ham & High]
Mortgage fraud way up [Daily Telegraph, via Yahoo News]
Distressing bargains [Daily Mail]
Fall in first-time buyer loans [Guardian]

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

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More in this Category - Linkage

According to Forbes, in a column written shortly before this morning's announcement, possibly...

What is now being said is that the FTT will come in: but that if Britain blocks it (or other non-eurozone states do) then it will be introduced in the eurozone alone.


Which would be absolutely fabulous for London as it would mean that the 20% of Europe’s wholesale finance which is not already in London would move to London. With all the implications that has for the price of decent property in the capital. Quite simply, the biggest obvious economic impact of such a scheme would be to boost London’s property prices.

And I, for one, if Sarkozy and Merkel are silly enough to do this, can only say “Bring it on!”.

Is the Financial Transactions Tax next on the table. It appears the UK's use of the veto was on the grounds of City regulation.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
08
Dec

The Bank of England base rate remains at 0.5% for the 33rd straight month. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

Save like mad, perhaps even to the detriment of paying off the thousands of pounds you’ve likely build up in debts. Now stretch yourselves to the limit and take on, say, £165,000 worth of debt by bundling everything you have, and committing much of your future earnings, into one single, risky investment.

According to the British Social Attitudes survey, that's the general view.

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More in this Category - _Other
Wed
07
Dec

20111207eastvillage 1

They're calling it "East Village". Just so you don't confuse it with Manhattan's historic Beat/hippie/hipster/gentrification neighbourhood east of Greenwich Village (above), this one (below) will be next to The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in E20, and will feature a mixture of new housing, plus an educational campus called Chobham Academy and a medical centre. More here.

20111207eastvillage2

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More in this Category - Design
Tue
06
Dec

Halifax reports a 0.9% drop for November, leaving the index down 1% on the year. The three-month to three-month number (largely considered more reliable) was down, too, for the second month in a row, at -0.6%.

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More in this Category - House prices

Brits keep their faith in property [Daily Mail]
Clever people are getting on their bikes [BBC]
Woman trades Diana Ross's former home for minivan [Curbed]
DTZ calls in administrators [Daily Telegraph]
Olympics gold rush for landlords [Rentman]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Mon
05
Dec

First, a fascinating opinion piece in Al Jazeera, entitled "Global rebellion: the coming chaos?". According to William I. Robinson:

Simply put, the immense structural inequalities of the global political economy can no longer be contained through consensual mechanisms of social control. The ruling classes have lost legitimacy; we are witnessing a breakdown of ruling-class hegemony on a world scale.

And that's the argument "simply put".

He goes on to argue that the post-2008 economic woes aren't cyclical, they're structural, and only a fundamental reorganisation of the way markets work will get us beyond the pain. If the global elites don't do it themselves? They'll be overthrown.

Meanwhile, and closer to home, Patrick Butler, writing in the Guardian, pictures London in 2017 as "an urban neo-Victorian dystopia", in which Osborne's austerity measures have pushed the poor to the fringes, where food parcels are handed out in Walthamstow and crime, suicide, depression are all by-products of intense, Victorian-level depravation.

By 2015, academics had coined the phrase "urban neo-Victorian dystopia" to describe the dramatic social and spatial changes in the city they had begun to compare, with only a little exaggeration, with the London described by Charles Dickens 160 years earlier.

Enjoy your week.

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More in this Category - _Other

Congratulations Glen Owen of the Mail on Sunday:

Ed Miliband's controversial new backer made an astonishing  £21million profit by selling his house in a tax haven to the daughter of a dictator reviled for boiling his political opponents to death.

And soon as Daddy's finished looking over the plans, she's going to have the Best Kitchen Ever.

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More in this Category - _Other
Fri
02
Dec

According to research by Halifax, older houses (built before 1919) have lost almost a third of their value since the 2007 peak of the market, suffering considerably more than houses built in any other period. Conversely, houses built after 1960 have weathered the storm with much more aplomb. It's surprising, because we've been led to believe the more mature a market, the more stable (hence the collapse in value of new-builds). Perhaps the data reflects the long-standing trend toward period property that saw older houses gain value much quicker during the boom years. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

"To think that there are 350,000 permanent empty homes, the equivalent size of the city of Leeds, sitting there, empty... "

Channel 4, next Monday and Tuesday, at 9pm.

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More in this Category - Property TV
Thu
01
Dec


20111201bins

The answer to one Brooklynite's problem with bin theft. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

According to this, ex-News of the World editor and Tory strategist Andy Coulson is selling his Dulwich (actually, Wood Vale) five (actually, six)-bedroom home in a downsizing exercise. He's lived there since 2001. On this occasion, we've decided to not give away an address.

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More in this Category - SE23

 


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