It's that time of year again. Just for your perusing pleasure, here's what the prediction table looked like this time last year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Apparently, though, the intention was to Photoshop the woman from the image (not an easy task), but the agents somehow "forgot".
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.