This replaces previous indices published by the Land Registry and ONS, includes the entire UK (including Northern Ireland) and deals with cash sales data as well as mortgages. Interestingly, it opens with a caution that the index is still being treated as “experimental” and so isn’t officially a “UK national statistic”. What does it say? UK average house prices rose 8.2% April-to-April, with London leading the way at 14.5%, and the City of London local authority topping every region at 27.3%. Get your own copy here.
That’s its nickname, based on its white, stucco frontage and proximity to the American embassy. It’s for sale with a guide price of £2.5m and - for the next year, at least - it wouldn’t be too much to claim it’s the most secure private property in the country. When the embassy extended its security zone in the wake of 9/11, the property fell within its boundaries. So - now - the buyer will come across patrolling armed guards and anti-tank blocks and need special security clearance to come and go. The embassy’s due a move, however, next year and the existing complex will become a luxury hotel. Put up with a little strangeness now and reap the benefits later, say agents Wetherell. More here. Particulars here.
The number of surveyors predicting a drop in prices outnumbered those predicting a rise by 10%… with London and East Anglia expected to be most affected. But don’t - they warn - expect a significant shift in the market. These are the short term results of EU referendum uncertainty combined with a natural cooling following a rush to complete by investors/landlords ahead of stamp duty changes. Prices may pick up again after three months. More here.
Despite Brexit uncertainty historically high prices, a slowdown in London and Government policies aimed at making investment in property for rental or as a second home less affordable, the three-month to three-month annual index was still up 9.2%, with prices 0.6% up on the month . Accompanying comment, however, warned of increasing unaffordability, as prices continue to outpace wages. Read it here.
“Off-market” properties… usually the high-end homes that might be for sale if the right offer came in or the right buyer turned up, but owned by individuals not sufficiently motivated to sell to deal with the privacy concerns of a Rightmove listing and endless speculative viewings. The traditional way these properties changed hands was via clued-in buying agents. Our friend Henry Pryor has a different idea, and has launched a private Twitter feed, where personally screened potential buyers can access grey market information for a pound a day. Interesting. The pricing scheme seems slightly at odds with the nature of the sector, and it’s a little hard to tell the difference between this and the free online sales platforms, funded by buyers, that have come and gone (except, of course, for the clever take-over of Twitter technology), but who, in the property business, likes the idea of there being information out there they can’t see? More here and here. And on the subject of Twitter, don’t forget to the follow TheRatandMouse, here.
It’s going to be a keen vendor prepared to wake the family and hover, bleary-eyed in a corner while a caffeinated agent shows round a coke-fuelled City boy looking to spend their bonus on a rental. Worse, still… imagine the no-show. According to an agent, contributing in the comments, who already offers the service, actual viewing requests in the middle of the night are rare, but - unsurprisingly - requests to see properties before work (7-9) are more common.
Perpetually bearish MoneyWeek glances over a new report by Fathom Consulting ("The UK’s housing bubble: ready to pop?”) and asks, is the current market being kept alive by a combination of parental loans, Government schemes and near-zero per cent interest rate life support? The conclusion, clearly, is “yes”. But is it “ready to pop”? Not until enough voters want it to. More here.
Just two properties at the moment, courtesy of estate agent Martyn Gerrard, and while Foxtons have been conducting VR viewings from their Islington office for a while, and there have been pop-ups in Harrods, this is still a first for Rightmove, bringing 3D immersive virtual reality property tours to homebuyers with a smartphone and a Google Cardboard headset. More here.
The new mayor is quoted here, warning Middle Eastern investors that change might be imminent:
It is possible to build 50,000 homes a year… but there is no point if they are all bought by investors in the Middle East and Asia for use as second homes or they sit empty… Nobody is against people investing in London trying to get a good rate of return. The issue is using our homes as gold bricks for investment.
The plan is to channel the money in the direction of the new Homes for Londoners project, encouraging the super-wealthy to put their cash (together with cash from institutional investors) into affordable housing projects instead. So what is this? A profound misunderstanding of why the Middle Eastern and Asian elite buy penthouses and cutting-edge developments in prime Central London? Or a visionary scheme that will change the relationship between foreign investors and London’s working population forever?
He’s James Murray, currently Islington’s lead councillor for housing and development. Islington has the fifth highest rate of planning rejections in London, and is known for a rigid approach to development… 50% affordable housing or nothing gets built at all. It’s principled, but is it practical? Developers argue not, pointing to cases where Islington has chosen “nothing” when developers can’t make a 50% figure pay. More here and here.