Hometrack shows a second consecutive month of rising prices, up 0.1% on the month (0.3% in London), demand up 25% over the last three months (no doubt reflecting the race to catch the end of the first-time buyer stamp duty holiday) and proportion of asking price achieved at an average of 93.1%.
It's a Savills survey, looking at commuting time in relationship to money saved on a house purchase, focussing on some seaside locations and resulting in some daft data. What the survey doesn't appear to address however, is the favourable return on investment (recently) on London properties, compared to the ever-rising cost of train travel. (Nor is a night out to hear a Right Said Fred tribute band much compensation for the missed access to late-night London entertainment, because the return journey to Eastbourne is too much to face.)
An entertaining and thoughr-provoking piece in last Friday's Independent saw Will Self mourning the final silencing of the once "beating heart of Cockneydom" and accusing the new self-serving and self-centred London of social cleansing. If you missed it, it's here.
It's not just about its location (close to the West End and Hampstead Heath) or its facilities (pool, restaurants, shops, St Pancras), according to the FT it's about the Collège Français Bilingue de Londre, a French school in London for the sons and daughters of French residents. It's also, says a local search agent, a bit of a "sleeping giant", offering a relatively good quality of life despite an unglamorous reputation. More here.
LibDem mayoral candidate Brian Paddick has "promised" to build 360,000 new London homes (over the next decade) if he's elected, utilising investment from European and US pension funds. Spare land would be provided by the city. More here.
According to a new Halifax survey more than twice as many people believe house prices will rise in the 12 months (39%) than think it will fall (20%). It's a 12 month high (as long as the survey's been in operation), and - unsurprisingly - London respondents were the most bullish. More here.
Money Week applies (very loosely) the "plankton theory" to the property market. First-time buyers are the plankton, and they're in short supply. They've been replaced by a lettings culture, frustrated vendors and investors searching for a return on investment during a recession on one side, frustrated buyers on the other. But… warns Money Week… don't expect returns from letting to continue to rise as the same first-time buyers unable to afford to buy won't be able to afford ever spiralling rents, and property prices in a slow market won't make up returns with capital appreciation. It's hardly an argument that needs any "theory" attached to it. But it's interesting in that it goes against Money Week's usual anti-supply and demand vision of the UK property market. More here.
According to the latest figures by the Association Of Letting Agents, the proportion of landlords reporting an increase in the number of tenants in arrears rose from 39% to 41% in the six months to March, with more than half of landlords reporting a "haggling" situation when fixing rents. Rents are up 2.7% annually, which is below the rate of inflation. In London, the figure was 4.9%. More here.
Did you catch BBC 2's Have I Got News For You the other night? If you did, you might have laughed along when chair, Jo Brand, asked the audience if anyone lived in Streatham, and told them not to go there, describing Streatham High Street as the worst street in Britain (referring to poll results) and then "a shithole" (which was entirely unscientific and her own opinion). Streatham Council's Angelina Purcell wasn't laughing, and has followed up with a letter of complaint, claiming Brand "let herself down badly" (it's not clever and it's not funny) and had made her own job ten times harder (estimate). More here.
Following Housing Minister Grant Shapps' claims on Radio 4's Today programme this morning that there were more than a thousand affordable properties available in the private rented sector within a five mile radius of Newham (he'd apparently used Rightmove), the story has become an argument as to whether this is a tip-of-the-iceberg situation or a deliberately political move by a London council ahead of important local elections.
The most interesting coverage has been online at the Guardian. Blogging, Polly Curtis takes a closer look at Shapps' Rightmove research and calls into questions how many properties are actually available to social tenants (polls of landlords have shown that less than half are prepared to rent to benefits claimants).
Her blog also benefits from a long and fascinating email from a Newham resident on the receiving end of benefits cuts:
The BBC has revealed evidence suggesting Newham Council has reached out to a Stoke-on-Trent housing association for help re-housing as many as 500 families no longer able to afford to live in the area after new housing benefit caps came into force. (Stoke is approximately a 170 mile road trip from Newham.) The Government had denied the policy would lead to widespread social cleansing, but the leaked communication with the Stoke housing association appears to suggest otherwise, and pressure groups are sure to interpret it as a sign of things to come. More here.
The figures, from Moneyfacts,co.uk, put average five-year fixed mortgage deals at 4.86% (from 5.59% a year ago)… at a time when SVRs are likely to rise at the beginning of next month. The last time they were this low was April 2010. They look tempting. More here.
Exactly how Paragon get from annual returns of 5% to as high as 10.2% isn't clear from the piece, but that's what they're saying. Rising rents, firm house prices, a sluggish market and the re-introduction of stamp duty for first-time buyers will all conspire, they say, to create an ideal environment for buy-to-let.
Lending weight to the widely held belief that recent "firmness" in the property market has been helped by a last minute rush by first-time buyers to exploit the stamp duty holiday, the National Association of Estate Agents reports first-time buyer demand rising in March to 24% of transactions. The NAEA's president, who describes the duty as a "tax on aspiration", unsurprisingly calls for the Government to reinstate the tax break. More here.
Ed's clearly being having more fun in his, than I have in mine. The article includes a tour of Ed's loo and a few details of the loos of his friends, before a chat with Peter York about germs. All of life.
Homes & Property looks at new developments in Hackney, Battersea, Richmond, Crystal Palace, Fitzrovia and Acton which put technology and design first, with smart designs and smart technology… including central locking, lighting and heating controls that can all be operated by iPad/smartphone. It's an interesting read and somewhat cheering… eco-conscious, future-proof design using quality materials, many with six-figure guide prices. More here.
If I hadn't seen this with my own eyes, and heard it with my own ears, I wouldn't have believed it. Here's Bob Geldof, kicking off a property "superconference" for budding get-rich-quick property investors, talking some sense about the ponzi scheme that was the global debt market, before launching into a very odd motivational speech in which he quotes Gandhi to property investors, praises Germany for not having an economy that relies on bricks and mortar, before slagging off the banks for not lending his audience money to enable them to make loads'a'money from British property. I'm confused. Are you?
"The impact of London's dysfunctional housing market is both deep and widespread. Correcting it must be an urgent priority for the mayor."
The words of impressive independent London mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita, whose housing policy includes fixed, controlled price affordable housing… to a total of 80,000 properties by the end of her first term in the job. Annual price increases would be set by the mayor. Applicants would be chosen via a lottery system. It's a fascinating idea, and it poses some questions. Would property without the inherent investment opportunity be as attractive to buyers? Would a mayor downgrade the value of property when the rest of the market's falling? More here.
Not exactly knock-down prices, but the Telegraph asks whether the financial crisis has made the prospect of owning one of the 6,000+ islands off the cost of Greece a possibility for the cash-rich, investment opportunity-poor.
Lovely few days in Florence, thank you. They have churches, you know.
And we're back to some market report madness, and a Rightmove asking price index bulging at a new national high. That's correct. According to the vendors, there's never, ever, been a better time to sell your home. London asking prices rose 2.1% in April, helping bring the national figure up 2.9% in the month, leaving it up 3.4% across 12 months and at a new all-time high 0.5% above its previous May 2008 peak.
Needless to say, it's more complicated that that. Inflation has scooped 11.5% from the value of money since spring 2008, so… seen in those terms… asking prices have actually failed to keep up. It's also a massively regional picture, with Wales 12.3% off its peak, even before accounting for inflation. For a closer look at the figures, get your own copy of the report here.
The former Crown & Dolphin was built in 1850… a proper corner pub with all the architectural details you'd expect, plus a historic location on the corner of Cable Street and Cannon Street Road. Love the open plan kitchen/reception room with reclaimed Victorian shop counter. The overall effect, bizarre (click on the particulars and check out the bathroom), but beautiful, and the vision of its architect owner. Guide price: £434,999. Particulars here.
Three bedrooms, spectacular views, a Chelsea location, a historic vessel and cosy, wood-lined interiors… what's not to like? Okay, the name. "Bolgen" isn't the most romantic, but it's true to its heritage. The vessel is said to date back to 1898 and a Gothenburg boat yard, and boasts a history running both people and cargo up and down the Danish coast. Guide price: £595,000. Particulars here.
It's no surprise that the Rat and Mouse likes the Span aesthetic… Eric Lyons' and Geoffrey Townsend's vision of a post-war architecture for the masses that was modern without being impersonal, stylish without being impractical, affordable on an estate scale without looking like this.
Here we have a three-bedroom "T15" Span house on Blackheath's Brooklands Park, dating back to 1964 and featuring a Cator Estate location (with good access to schools), floor-to-ceiling windows, views of the park and a £595,000 guide price, which isn't a ludicrous figure for an SE3 property with architectural significant. The interior could use some work. An owner with a love of mid-century modern could make this place special. It's with The Modern House Estate Agents, here.
I'm taking a rare break, this week, heading to Italy for a few days of peace, quiet, culture and Chianti. The Rat and Mouse will soldier on in my absence, and feature a London property a day… homes that have stirred our property porn obsession over the last few weeks but which we haven't had time to feature previously. Ciao!
It's Halifax house price index day, and March shows an eye-catching rise of 2.2%. Before anyone's tempted to proclaim business-as-usual, it's worth reflecting… the rise comes after a fall of 0.4% in February (expect greater variation during periods of low transactions), and the more meaningful three-month change (which averages out this volatility) (Jan-March) is -0.1%, exactly the same as the three-month change (Oct-Dec) before it. Furthermore, the annual change is still in the negative, at -0.6%. The accompanying comment mentions the end of the first-time buyer stamp duty holiday as a reason for the sudden spike. Get your own copy here.
W12 saw some of the fastest rising asking prices in London last year, up 11.6 per cent to £545 per sq ft.
The rate of increase puts it not far behind Kensington W8 and Chelsea SW3. Research by Hamptons International shows that the biggest increase in asking prices came in W8, where they went up 14.8 per cent from £1,249 per sq ft to £1,467.
They've been active in Battersea, posing as estate agents apparently (although only to gain entry to apartment blocks, a crowbar was used to get into actual flats). They're smartly dressed, fast and they take pretty much everything. And they're still no the loose. More (including Crimestopper contact details) here.
Data by Templeton LPA (receivers acting for landlords) suggests both arrears and evictions are on the increase, with arrears of two months or more up 20% on this time last year (to 94,000) and 10.2% since the start of the year. Evictions rose 9% in the first quarter of 2012. Accompanying comment suggests rising rents, inflation and poor job prospects are to blame. More here.
With the shortage of social housing at emergency levels and interest rates unrealistically low it seems like an odd time to be pushing a new right-to-buy drive, but that's exactly what the Prime Minister's expected to do today, announcing a quadrupling of the discount cap in London to £75,000 to keep it in line with house price inflation since the 1980s. More here.