Archive for May, 2011

Had to check calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st when I read about this, but apparently it’s true: a not-for-profit estate agency has been set up in Cornwall.

Describing itself as a community led social enterprise, imoveCornwall will charge a flat fee of £399 (no VAT) to list the property.

It pledges that ‘not one penny’ will go to its shareholders – 50% of profits after tax will be given to registered charities and 50% to non-charitable good causes in Cornwall.


The  constitution promises to offer customers a platform similar to traditional estate agency services, but at low cost.

That, in effect, means the seller does the viewings while the company advertises online and provides professional photographs, floor plans, a ‘for sale’ sign etc.

The agency promises to tell customers in advance which charities and other good causes will benefit.

Excellent idea. Good luck to them!


Read Full Post »

House prices in London rose by a hefty 3% in April, bringing the average price to £352,187, says official Land Registry data.

Prices in England and Wales rose by 0.8%, the biggest increase since January 2010.

On an annual basis, only London (5.0%) and the South East (0.5%) registered price rises while at the other end values were down 8.1% in the North East.

This divide was also evident in London where annual prices in Islington rose by 7% while prices in Bexley fell by 3.8%.

The figures do represent a considerable improvement in the market, albeit off a very low level of transactions (from an average 54,479 per month in November 2009 to February 2010, to 46,818 in the same months a year later).

To a large extent, it is low supply levels that is supporting prices.

Land Registry, April

Land Registry, April

Land Registry, April

Read Full Post »

Mel Gibson, Braveheart

Read Full Post »

New research by Santander reveals that 26% of those questioned are stuck in their current home and will not be able to move until its value increases.

Without sufficient equity they simply cannot contemplate moving.

Many “frustrated middle-movers” are also struggling to find an affordable mortgage for the amount they need to borrow, while others said wider economic issues, such as personal fears about the state of the economy and their own job security precluded a move.

Phil Cliff of Santander Mortgages says: “There are a lot of frustrated middle-movers who made compromises on their first homes and have been stuck with these for longer than they wanted, as they are finding it difficult to move up the property ladder.”

Read Full Post »

News reaches us that Richard Booth, the self-styled King of Hay-on-Wye, has sold his castle for close to £2m.

Booth, who opened a bookshop in the town in 1970, helped put Hay on the map as a centre of literary culture.

In 1977, in a genius piece of publicity, he proclaimed it an “independent kingdom” with himself as king Richard Cœur de Livre and his horse as Prime Minister.

Richard Booth declaring the independent state of Hay, outside the castle in 1977.

The stunt gained extensive news coverage, and resulted in several spin-offs such as “passports” being issued. The hugely successful Hay Literary Festival followed  and now brings 500,000 tourists to the town every year.

Booth says he is selling up to take his book town idea to other shores.

The reason I want to sell is that my role is now the kind of founding father of the International Organisation of Book Towns. I am very, very sad to lose the castle but the full theory of book towns is more important.

Along with a very fine Jacobean manor house, the new owner also gets a holiday cottage, a carriage house, and lots of outbuildings – barns, stables, and commercial premises that are let separately.

The whole place is set in terraced gardens and surrounded by 13th century walls. Legend has it that the orignal keep was built by a giantess named Moll Walbee  in just one night, carrying the stones for it in her apron.

According to tradition, while she was building she was annoyed by a pebble in her shoe, and threw it away, and it landed in Llowes churchyard (three miles away across the river) where it remains to this day as a large standing stone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Via: Rightmove Blog 

Read Full Post »

Earlier in the year I spoke to a London (Docklands) agent who told me that there was such demand from Chinese buyers that they’ve had to employ Mandarin and Cantonese speakers to handle the surge of interest.

New build, Knight Frank

This trend is confirmed by new Knight Frank research which shows that just under 60% of new-build property sold in central London in the last six months (Nov 10-Apr 11) went to Asian buyers.

This, it should be added, is 60% of developments Knight Frank handled, not all London developments, though the agent says they are “instructed on the majority of the key central London schemes, so this data is representative of the market as it is at the moment.”

Hong Kong buyers were the largest group (24%), followed by Singaporeans (12%) and mainland Chinese (10%), and then other countries in the region.

The market, says the agent, is largely been driven by a favourable exchange rate – the pound has lost a quarter of its value since the end of 2007 and the Singapore dollar has appreciated by more than 50% against the U.K. currency in that time.

Read Full Post »

In the last three months of 2010, cash buyers increased to 36% of all house buyers in the UK, says a wide-ranging report on the residential market from Savills.

Back in 2002 the figure was just 15%; just before the credit crunch struck in 2007 it was around 25%; but since then tighter lending and falling prices have meant only those with the money can move.

And most of those are in affluent areas and are well-established homeowners in the middle and upper end of the market. This is why we are currently seeing such price polarisation both regionally and at different levels of the market.

According to Land Registry figures, values in the leading 10% of the country grew by 7.5% in 2010 and are now just a fraction from their peak, while in the bottom 10% of areas they dropped by 3% and remain almost 20% off peak.

This situation, says Savills, is unlikely to change soon (mainly due to tighter lending) meaning that different sectors of the market will recover at different times.

Once again, the equity-rich prime markets, centred on London, are recovering first. The question is how far and how fast can this recovery spread to markets not soaked in equity, where in the face of frail mortgage lending, owners are reliant on income and borrowing rather than cash and a history of previous home ownership?

What our new analysis shows is that the recovery ripple effect can take as long as ten years to work through the country, with notable differences in the timing of a recovery both between and within regions.

As a result, regional market leaders such as Solihull in the Midlands, York in the North, and the Cotswolds and the City of Bristol in the South West, will stand out from their regions over the first half of this decade.

Savills expect prime London to see prices up 33.4% by the end of 2015 but reckon the mainstream UK market will see values up by 11.8%. Their full forecasts are below:

The rise of the cash buyer

Leaders and laggers

Prime market forecast

Mainstream market forecast

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: