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Archive for April, 2011


Two reports out today about mortgage lending.

The first from the British Bankers Association manages to wring some spring-bounce optimism from as set of decidedly wintery figures:

The number of mortgages approved for house purchase rose to an eight-month high during March as activity in the property market showed signs of picking up.

A total of 31,660 loans were approved for people buying a new home, 5% more than during the previous month and the highest level since July last year, according to the British Bankers’ Association.

The data backs up anecdotal evidence from estate agents that potential buyers are beginning to return to the market ahead of the traditional spring bounce.

But despite the improvement, the figure is still down on the 35,124 mortgages for house purchase that were in the pipeline in March last year and is significantly below the 70,000 to 80,000 approvals a month that are considered to be consistent with a stable housing market.

The second, from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, discusses repossessions and reads:

In August, we revised downwards our forecasts for the year to 175,000 cases of arrears and 39,000 possessions. In the event, the outcome was even better.

We eventually reported that at the end of the year 169,600 mortgages were in arrears and there had been 36,000 cases of possession – both lower totals than in 2009.

But we are not confident that arrears and possessions will be countered so successfully in 2011. The outlook for economic recovery remains weak, and planned cuts in government spending, tax increases, higher inflation and the prospect of rising interest rates are all likely to bear down on borrowers’ finances.

The CML predict 40,000 repossessions this year. Taken together, these reports  make it hard to a) credit talk of a market revival and b) be optimistic about the prospects for the economy in the months to come.

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The architects KWK Promes call it The Safe House, but online it’s being dubbed the Zombie Proof House – the perfect place to take refuge in a post-apocalyptic 28 Days Later world plagued by hordes of staggering, drooling undead.

And you can see why.

In its closed form it looks like an impenetrable concrete bunker, a dark grey cube that closes in on itself. Doors, windows, roof – the whole lot can be sealed off like a tomb.

Once the ravenous army have worn themselves out banging their empty heads against the walls and have moved on to devour the neighbours you can open the place up.

There are moveable walls, a draw-bridge that drops down from the entrance and great sliding concrete panels that expose the windows.

Opened up it looks pretty good … but it does make you wonder if KWK know something that the rest of us don’t…

Via Cushdesignstudio 

Zombies

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House

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A Russian billionaire investor has forked out $100 million for a big old ugly French chateau-style mansion in Silicon Valley, making this the highest known price paid for a single-family home in the U.S.

But apparently he’s just bought it as an investment … according to the Wall Street Journal Asia.

The buyer, Yuri Milner, 49, who heads Digital Sky Technologies and whose investments include Facebook Inc., Groupon Inc. and Zynga Inc., had no immediate plans to move into the home.

I know, I know. Bonkers.

The house, which runs to 25,000 square feet, looks slightly better inside, albeit in a more-money-than-sense Louis XIV meets Citizen Kane kinda way.

Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner house

Yuri Milner house

Yuri Milner house

Yuri Milner house

Yuri Milner house

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London, New York, Hong Kong, and Moscow: these four cities, says Savills, function like independent entities with property markets driven by global demand rather than by domestic conditions.

At the top end, that demand comes from an elite tier of billionaires who compete for the primest properties in the best neighbourhoods – hence the wild prices paid in London (£140m for a flat in One Hyde Park etc).

London townhouse, £29.5m

“Our analysis shows that global billionaires inhabit an international realm that transcends national borders, very much detached from the rest of the market,” says Yolande Barnes.

The average value of the homes  owned by the super-rich ranges from around £12 million in New York to £33 million in Hong Kong. In terms of square feet, the super-rich are paying around £2,500 to £3,000 in New York, Moscow and London, and up to £6,500 in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, fulled by Chinese money, and Moscow by Russian oil, have set the pace in terms of price growth but both markets are more volatile than the more established London and New York, says the report.

In London, the super prime market (Kensington, Belgravia, Holland Park, Mayfair) is now dominated by international money: only 40% of £5m plus purchases were made by British buyers in 2010.

And Savills expect prices to keep on climbing.  “Over the five years to 2015, prime central London prices will rise by a third,” predicts Yolande Barnes.

Prices paid

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We’re frankly agog at the latest piece of luxury real estate to hit the market: three private islands off the coast of Italy with an asking price of $236m.

That, my friends, is £143,338,573. A colossal  figure, no doubt, but given that a flat in London (oh alright then, a  two-floor penthouse at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge) recently sold for £140m, it looks like a bit of a steal.

Certainly if I had the necessary wonga, I’d be more inclined to splurge on the Li Galli islands, washed by azure waters on the lovely Amalfi coast, than I would on a Candy Brothers extravaganza barely raising its well-groomed head above the exhaust fumes of central London.

Li Galli islands

The islands were once owned by the Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev (what is it with Russians and real estate?) until his death in 1994. They were then bought by a wealthy Italian family from Sorrento.

In addition to the islands you also get the luxurious Villa Tre Ville estate, perched on the shores of Positano, and once owned by film director Franco Zeferelli.

Guests here have included Greta Garbo, Laurence Oliver,Liz Taylor, Roberto Rossellini, Ingrid Bergman, Anna Magnani, Sofia Loren, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Onassis.

The villa comes with two swish elevators connecting through the mountain down to the sea – which kinda puts the high tech features at One Hyde Park in the shade.

It was sold by Zeferelli a few years ago and has recently been used as an uber-luxurious hotel. And my God is it luxurious.

Highlights: 19 bedroom suites with en suite bathrooms; four salons; 1500 square metres of terraces; over 2900 square metres of living areas; two kitchens; three salt water pools; a large garden complete with spices, vegetables and fruit; spa area; helipad; boat launch and 30-foot antique wooden tender; 17 staff; and complete furnishings, down to the silver spoons.

Li Galli islands

Villa Tre Ville

Villa Tre Ville

Villa Tre Ville

Villa Tre Ville

Villa Tre Ville

Villa Tre Ville

Via: Propgoluxury

More pics: Domain

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Will: "They were so poor, her Daddy had to have a mortgage!"

House building – we don’t do it any more 

Confidence in the housing market now at its lowest point since the election

Danny Blanchflower: house prices overvalued by 20%

Your friendly local building society would rather lend to the Big Bad Wolf than to Little Red Riding Hood

Sellers beware: starving agents may over-value your home

Call to ban interest only loans for landlords … (like that’s gonna happen)

Daily Mail sees error of wicked ways and amends house price information in bereavement story

1 in 7 Baby Boomers nearing retirement own a second home. Damn them.

Kate Middleton … she was raised in this hovel.

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‘Call me Ishmael’ …  the opening line of Moby Dick is one of the most famous in world literature.

Its author, Herman Melville, lived in this house on Craven Street, London for a brief period in 1849, a fact commemorated by a blue plaque.

Benjamin Franklin lived on the same street – his former home is now a museum.

£4,500,000 E.A. Shaw

Herman Melville

Former home of Herman Melville

Former home of Herman Melville

Former home of Herman Melville

Former home of Herman Melville

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