Rat and Mouse
Entries in February 2012
Wed
29
Feb

Pretty obvious, really, but Money Week's Tim Bennett spells out why spread betting on property isn't the high-geared, low hassle route to profiting from the market it seems like it should be.

Let’s say you are quoted a spread on the result of the June house price survey (the Halifax releases data every quarter) of 158.3-160.5 (indicative figures from IGindex).

You decide to place a downbet as you think prices will have fallen below this level by then. The bid to offer spread is 2.2 points wide (160.5-158.3): that’s over 1% of the average value implied by the price quoted.

Your problem is that since 1975 the biggest quarterly falls have been around 1% so you need quite a steep drop between now and the contract expiry to make any money.

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More in this Category - House prices

It's that blue-plaque end-of-terrace on Hackford Road near Stockwell. It's a three-story property, and it's the first time it's come up for sale in over 60 years. It's also apparently entirely unmodernised, including an outside toilet. The artist moved there as a young man in 1873, and is said to have remembered his time there fondly. It's to be auctioned by Savills next month. Guide price £475,000. More here.

If these walls could talk... 1900 house edition [January 24, 2012]

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More in this Category - SW9

A 1.1% monthly house price rise has sparked off a number of responses, with some estate agents and analysts welcoming the numbers as a sign that the UK property market is rediscovering its mojo, encouraged by a short term first-time buyer rush to avoid stamp duty and a longer term easing in credit conditions. Not everyone's so sanguine:

Tracy Kellett, managing director of UK buying agent, BDI Home Finders, said the rise would end up being bad for the market and homeowners: "Long-term, house price rises such as this are not sustainable. They are being propped up by an extreme lack of stock and historically low interest rates. What's happening is that only the best properties, the ones that attract real buyer competition, are selling right now. This is naturally skewing the figures. Sellers see price rises like this and mark up their own properties accordingly, which accentuates the paralysis in the market as a whole.

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More in this Category - House prices
Tue
28
Feb

20120228landregistry

Download your own copy by clicking this.

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More in this Category - House prices

Not as worrying as it sounds... a plan by architect Sir Terry Farrell to save the chimneys and the end towers, to save the fascinating control room, to use the interior for a park, and join the towers with a new colonnade. The idea is to bring the cost of the project down by treating the station more as a monument, surrounded by commercial development, rather than the structure for the commercial development itself. According to this, Farrell's firm has funded the planning application itself.

Knock down Battersea Power Station for money... has it really come to this? [February 15, 2012]

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More in this Category - SW8

20120228PropertySorter2

An interesting launch, not really a new property search engine but an added layer of functionality for Zoopla, PropertySorty.com takes the Zoopla database, strips out duplicates, adds new sorting facilities (leasehold length, square footage for example) and presents the properties in a clean and pleasing way. It also incorporates Rightmove's "draw a search" tool. It's in beta and it's currently London-only, but so far it appears (very) quick, smooth (I like the fade-outs and fade-ins) and functional.

I asked Michael Dent, of developers Liberty Tech, about his plans for the website. He told me it was designed primarily as as technical exercise... an experiment by some property website addicts to see whether they could improve upon the user experience.

20120228PropertySorter

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More in this Category - Property online

Money men from the City are concerned that as many as a fifth of the Square Mile's office space may be turned into residential property under new planning legislation making it easier to turn commercial buildings into homes.

"The effects of this would be damaging in a number of ways, which taken together would pose a genuine threat to the competitive position of the City," MPs were told by the City of London Corporation.

They're lobbying the Government to exempt the City from the new rules.

From factory to flats on a nod and a wink [July 8, 2011]

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More in this Category - EC1
Mon
27
Feb

Next big thing..."build to rent" [Letting Agent Today]
Spot the mast? [Daily Mail]
Bovis sees growth in the south [Reuters]
Prime London continues to soar [This is Money]
Incoming celebrity alert - Minnie Driver might be back [Contact Music]

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

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More in this Category - Linkage

An interesting piece in Bloomberg quotes the great investor claiming many property owners remortgaged at the top of the market and managed to make a profit when they tossed the keys back to the lender and walked away.

“In these cases, the evicted homeowner was the winner, and the victim was the lender.”

His comments - made from the perspective of an investor left highly exposed to the mortgage market - have been criticised as "mercenary" and failing to recognise the human side of the eviction crisis. It's an interesting piece, and recommended.

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More in this Category - _Other

Kind of, according to Hometrack. Their data shows a 18% rise in buyers registering with agents in February, but it's data skewed by a rush of first-time buyers attempting to force a deal through before the stamp duty holiday ends on March 24. In the south east, the number of first-time buyers registering was up 28%, it was up 22% in the south west. Only time will tell - with plenty of uncertainty in the market - whether buying now, to avoid the duty, will prove sound economic judgment. More here.

Stamp duty holiday, stamp duty shmoliday [February 13, 2012]

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More in this Category - _Other
Fri
24
Feb

Shocking Government statistics by show the number of rough sleepers in England up by 23% between autumn 2010 and autumn 2011.

London, the South East and the South West had the highest number of rough sleepers with 446, 430 and 337 respectively. The North East had the lowest number with 32.

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More in this Category - _Other

And persuades Joanna Gosling, Alan de Botton, Paul A Young, Watson & Oliver and Kate Humble to show you where they do their stuff .

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes
Thu
23
Feb

20120223foxtons

Two new offices are due to open in the next few weeks, first at 94 Borough High Street (London Bridge) on March 3, and then at 3-5 Crouch End Hill (Crouch End) on March 17. Both are offering the usual 0% commission for a limited time to fill their window and annoy the competitors.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

If you're looking a new build, and you've an iPad, iPod Touch or smart phone running Apple's IOS or Google's Android, you might want to consider this from What House:

Available for Apple here, Android here.

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More in this Category - Property online
Wed
22
Feb

According to the owners of Mulberry Cottages... yes. They tell us that 2011saw an increase in European visitors of 10%, and domestic visitors of 12%, with the Germans, Belgians and Dutch the most common Europeans renting their properties.

Sarah Wood, Director of Mulberry Cottages says that “Bookings for 2012 continue to grow strongly with the northern European market share growing by 15% in the first 6 weeks of trading.  Early signs show 2012 to be a very buoyant market”.

Second-home owners, take note.

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More in this Category - Letting

For that, you get n-n-n-n-ninteeen buildings, plus/including tennis courts, a swimming pool, stables and a village hall... and what one local has described as a community of "thieves, ravers and squatters" (French ones, mind, so they're probably quite stylish). The village is called Courbefy, and it's 30 miles from Limoges. If you want it, a French village for the price of a Fulham flat, bids are being accepted up until Friday. According to this, so far there haven't been any. If you sit tight, maybe they'll chuck it on ebay.

20120222 Courbefy

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More in this Category - _Other

Long (boring) story - but posts I thought had "posted" hadn't... so, apologies. Everything's working again now.

More in this Category - About

Pay more, or move out [Metro]
A map of the world's dearest houses features Bournemouth, Plymouth, but no London [Money Week]
Mortgage demand in steep rise [Daily Telegraph]
Alex James - home improvement Geek [Daily Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage
Tue
21
Feb

That's the message from SkyscraperNews.com's James Newton, writing in the Telegraph, following local opposition to plans to build a 50 metre "eco-tower" (130 apartments, interesting-lookoing hanging gardens) next to Dalston's Kingsland Station. Locals are concerned about living in its shadow, and argue Dalston's not the right place for this type of building.

It's enough to make you wonder why people bother to live in the big smoke of London at all, let alone quite firmly in central London if they are so against urbanity. There are plenty of small-scale, sleepy English hamlets that would welcome them with open arms. They can savour their little shops, china cups, Tudor houses and billiards game while those who remain in the city can embrace what it means to live in an urban environment.

20120221dalston

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More in this Category - E8
Mon
20
Feb

Property prices since the peak - the Halifax view [BBC]
House price volatility hits the greys [FT Adviser] 
Buy-to-let losses [Daily Telegraph]
A guide to climbing the property ladder for the 20-something [Sunday Telegraph]
How much gold does it cost to buy a house? [Money Week]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

It's only been up since 12 years, but Thierry Henri already has plans to tear down his Richard MacCormac-designed Hampstead home and replace it with a giant new four-story property, including 15ft by 40ft of fishtank (four tanks, one on top of each other) rising up the middle. The Daily Mail is among the newspapers obsessed with the tank. They estimate a £12,000 annual bill just for lighting, heating and cleaning the tanks. MacCormac is said to be understandably unimpressed. More here.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

According to Rightmove data, average asking prices rose 4.1% on the month... the largest increase in almost ten years. Accompanying comment points out a shortage of property for sale, particularly family homes, as the likely cause, but warns that the bounce is likely to be limited to these factors. In London, asking prices are now a 1% whisker off their all-time high (achieved last October). More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Fri
17
Feb

After a brief break, rents are rising once again, according to LSL Property Services, up 0.1% in January (the first ever January rent rise since they've been keeping records). In London, the rise was 0.8% (leaving the average rent up 6.3% on the year). There were falls in four regions. More here.

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More in this Category - Letting

A moving article in the Guardian moves away from the hysteria about immigrants renting wings of Buckingham Palace, paid for by fire fighters' taxes, with this look at how the changes are unsettling the kids.

All pupils at the school set themselves a personal challenge each term. "Mostly it's things like learning times tables. She said her challenge was to get a home … She's eight years old. She shouldn't be worrying about that."

According to the piece, it's becoming a new and widespread role... primary schools stepping in to try to help families remain in the area.

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More in this Category - _Other
Thu
16
Feb

London's daftest skyscraper? [Londonist]
In Oxford, voluntary homelessness preferable to exploitative rents {Metro]
In America: German architect arrested at airport, charged with manslaughter after death of firefighter [Curbed]
Sarah Beeny on the meaning of home [Daily Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

It's sounds wrong, but according to Homes & Property:

More private-sale homes are being built in London than at any time since the Eighties, as developers respond to spiralling demand.

12,700 new unites were sold in 2011, up from 8,500 in 2010 and fewer than 7,000 in 2009; and construction starts were up 37%. Half the properties are going off-plan, with a disappointing (for Londoners) number of those changing hands abroad, with developers doing deals on the property roadshow circuit.

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More in this Category - _Other
Wed
15
Feb

£433,000 a month... it's the Olympic dream [Reuters]
Eighteen buyers per London home [Evening Standard]
Croydon "second happiest place in London' [Local Guardian]
But Kingston's even happier [Kingston Guardian]
Rise in homeowners taking in lodgers [Daily Telegraph]

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

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More in this Category - Linkage

So let's get this straight... it's not the financial incompetence of the development companies, ti's not the architects' lack of vision, it's not the failure of the planning system to support a streamlined and affordable route from concept to delivery in less than a third of a decade without resulting in this kind of monstrosity, or this... it's the chimneys' fault. It's really impossible for the finest minds in urban development to turn the biggest brick-built structure in Europe, an icon in the heart of London, into a modern mixed-use development? Apparently so.

EC Harris calculates that after demolition and based on current density plans for housing, a developer could build 1,200 apartments where the building stands and sell them for an extra 470 million pounds.

Flattening Europe's largest brick structure and its four chimneys would save estimated renovation costs of about 500 million, roughly equivalent to the cost of demolition and apartment construction combined.

That would leave the 470 million pound proceeds as an extra "cushion" of profit for any developer running the numbers on the site, according to EC Harris numbers.

That's so shameful I blushed reading it.

It's a Grade II listed building, so lets hope that keeps the monkeys and their sledgehammers at bay, but Mike Brook, economic and development officer at Wandsworth Council said...

Never say never.

Next disappointing chapter for Battersea white elephant [December 12, 2011]

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More in this Category - SW8

According to this in the Daily Mail, four years ago Santander would you give you a 100% interest-only loan, from this week you'll need 50% to qualify. Other lenders are re-thinking their interest-only deals, too, with some demanding to see realistic plans in place to pay off the capital, plus higher levels of equity, otherwise borrowers will have to choose between staying put, settling for continuing on an SVA when their deal runs out or shifting over to a repayment mortgage. Not, in the totality, a bad thing at all, but certainly potentially painful for many of the 1.5m currently with interest-only loans.

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More in this Category - _Other
Tue
14
Feb

Figures from Savills show that mortgages funded just 46% of residential property transactions in 2011, down from 55% in 2006 and 62% in 2001.

“Equity has replaced debt as the dominant source of funding of house purchase. It favours high-value markets, particularly those in the South of England.”

As a result, the total value of transactions was down 47% compared to the peak of the market, with the private rented sector growing by 42% in the last five years to help pick up the slack.

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More in this Category - Letting
Mon
13
Feb

Central London rent downturn [Bloomberg]
Prices down in Ealing [Ealing Today]
Peers urge curbs on downward extensions [BBC]
FT on down-valuations [FT]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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More in this Category - Linkage

Our friend Henry Pryor popped up on the BBC website over the weekend to make a very good point:

"House prices over the last 12 months have fallen by 1.2% according to the Land Registry. If they were to continue to fall at that sort of rate or more, as some commentators are suggesting, then clearly the saving you are going to make will be wiped out very swiftly."

Very true. His comments are in the context of a discussion about the Government's FirstBuy shared ownership scheme and their NewBuy scheme, to help first-time buyers get themselves into new build's on 95% mortgages. Yes, ouch and ouch.

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More in this Category - _Other
Fri
10
Feb

Total number of outstanding landlord loans: 1,400,000.
Total value of outstanding landlord loans: £160,000,000,000.
Average monthly rent: £771.
Average monthly rent in London: £1,000.
Number of properties bought to let in 2011: 84,000.
Number of new tenants registering interest with a single leading UK agent in 2011:  275,000.

[via Daily Mail]

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More in this Category - Letting
Thu
09
Feb

20120209particulars

They list the quartz counters, the double oven and the custom made windows. You'd think, if they were throwing her in as an incentive, she'd at least get a mention. Unless that's the balcony. Listing... here.

[via Curbed]

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More in this Category - _Other

Interest rates remain at 0.5%, where they've been since March 2009. There was little expectation of (or appetite for) a move either up or down. The big news, however, is a further £50bn in quantitative easing, bringing the running total to £325bn. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

20120209gto

It was a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of only 39 ever built, registered to none other than Jon Hunt, and it made the record price of £20.2m. There's been no comment from Mr Hunt, but those with sharp memories my recall the ambitious underground garage (complete with two-car lift) planned for his Kensington Palace Gardens home. Vintage car collectors should perhaps take note. When Hunt sold Foxtons, it was moments before the market went belly-up. More here.

Jon Hunt's new property project [September 15, 2010]

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More in this Category - Estate agents
Wed
08
Feb

Tower Hamlets councillor Shelina Akhtar has been sentenced to a 16-week prison sentence after illegally subletting her housing association home. The length of the sentence also means that she will automatically lose her job. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other
Tue
07
Feb

That's according to a report by Rightmove that showed that while just 8% of potential first-time buyers had concerns about meeting mortgage repayments 29% named finding a suitable property as the number one problem. First-time sellers, it seems, are struggling to move on, due to a lack of further financing and, in some cases, problems with negative equity. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

It would be a new committee, headed by the Governor of the Bank of England, with powers to deflate bubbles before they happen by demanding minimum deposits, and inject a bit of life into the market when it needs to, by temporarily allowing mortgages of 90%, 95%.

The FPC [that's Financial Policy Committee], which has already been set up but will only get legal force next January, will report back on the powers it should have in March.

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More in this Category - _Other
Mon
06
Feb

The Halifax house price index is out and it shows a moderate rise in values in January, of 0.6%. The three months to end of Jan (compared to the same period last year) show a weakening in house prices of 1.8%. Accompanying literature singles out better-than-expected employment data and low interest rates for supporting house prices. Download your own copy of the actual report here.

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More in this Category - House prices

... and what do you get? Something grim probably.

It's hard to tell whether the newspaper is wilfully making too much of a throwaway comment, but the Sunday Mirror reports here that the rapper-turned-property investor-turned-US-property show presenter with a home in Richmond is planning a UK television makeover show. What would it be like? Here's a clip from his ongoing US show, The Vanilla Ice Project.

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More in this Category - Property TV
Fri
03
Feb

The number of sale-and-rent-back deals done before 2009, when the FSA took on regulation of the sector: give-or-take 50,000. The number of deals since: 61. And - according to the FSA - that number has trickled down to pretty much zero, with the remaining 22 firms effectively bullied into inertia.

"The FSA has referred one firm to its enforcement division while others have either stopped taking on new business or cancelled their permissions," the FSA said. "Effectively, this means the entire sale and rent back market is temporarily shut," it added.

But let's not loose any sleep over this. Remember the bad old days of sale-and-rent-back? The companies bought houses from homeowners struggling with their mortgages at knock-down prices, and with a promise that they'd thus avoid eviction, and stay in their homes as tenants. But the tales of sharp practice were many and varied... most commonly involving short-term tenancy agreements and unsympathetic landlords. They're unlikely to be missed.

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More in this Category - _Other

That's according to data from moneysupermarket.com, using insurance data. Not far behind Stokey comes Apperley Bridge in Bradford and West Bromwich.

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More in this Category - N16
Thu
02
Feb

According to Winkworth, there's no sign of London's top-end boom market ending soon, while wealthy Eurozone and Middle Eastern buyers continue to plough money in. Prices in Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Belgravia rose 17% in 2011, with 41% of those sales involving figures above £2m (up from 33% in 2010). London's safe haven status is behind the demand, and a shortage of available properties is pushing prices ever higher. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

20120202michigan

In bubble-hit Michigan, beautiful house of the future, as the future looked in 1971 [Curbed]
The big bribe, £1,000 each for homeowners to allow high speed rail contractors onto property [Daily Telegraph]
Shapps' state-backed 95% mortgage scheme... the details [Guardian]
20 great Matt cartoons about property [Daily Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

More in this Category - Linkage
Wed
01
Feb

Nationwide's January data's out, and it shows a 0.2% fall in house prices, leaving the annual change down to just +0.6%, from +1%. The important three-month-on-three-month measure was up 0.3%. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

She's said to have bought in a luxury new-build development in the Fitzrovia area. Details? It's apparently "modern concrete" on the outside, has floor to ceiling glass, four penthouses and a communal courtyard. Any ideas?

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More in this Category - WC1

Its price has earned it coverage from Bloomberg and Business Week. It's a 16,000 square foot, at the southern end of Kensington Palace Gardens, and it sounds - from something Aylesford International (handling the sale) say - it's either not quite reached the market yet or it's never going to appear formally, but buying agents "know". The exact guide price also remains undisclosed, other than it will be more than £100m.

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More in this Category - For sale

 


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