Going for gold: Olympics add almost £60,000 to house prices

The Olympics are 66 days away today, but their impact is already being felt in London and beyond when it comes to UK house prices.

It's not just about the sport, asking prices of homes near Olympic and Paralympic venues have increased by an average £60,000 in the past year

Asking prices for homes in areas close to Olympic and Paralympic event venues, including those outside London, have increased by 14% in the past year, adding an average £59,928 to property values, according to new research by FindaProperty.com.

Around London

In London SW1, home to The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, both of which will be used as Olympic venues, average property prices have increased by 48% in the past 12 months. Olympic events taking place here include Beach Volleyball, the Marathons and the Olympic Cycling Road Races. The average value of property in this exclusive area of the capital is now £1,499,952 – up from £1,015,321 a year ago.

Asking prices of homes in Earls Court, in West London, where the Volleyball competition will be held, rose 38%, adding £298,021 to the cost of homes in the area within 12 months.

Outside London

Outside London, house prices in areas surrounding the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing competitions in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour in Dorset increased by 25%. Prices increased by £38,552 to an average £190,645.


Asking prices for renting a home near an Olympic or Paralympic event venue have also been affected with prices increasing by an average £152 per month (9%) in the past year.

Tenants in Stratford, East London – home to the 2012 London Olympic Park where there are 10 separate event venues, can expect the highest Olympic rental premiums with rents up 38% (£433) year-on-year, bringing the average monthly cost to £1,575.

In a similar vein, asking rents for homes in Greenwich, south east London, where the North Greenwich Arena and Greenwich Park venues are located, have increased 32% (£523) in a year to £2,143 per month.

That’s not a bad result for the legacy Olympics, especially considering we’re still some time away from the opening ceremony.


May 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM Leave a comment

Mortgages: Whats your Story?

This is a legacy post from the findaproperty.com blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

For homeowners, paying the mortgage is one of life’s true constants. So it’s no surprise our ears prick up when we hear chat about them on radio, TV, or even in the supermarket queue.

That’s because mortgages can be complicated, but go hand in hand with buying a home. How do we know whether to opt for a base rate tracker, a standard variable rate or a fixed rate? And if we do opt for a fixed rate – how long should we sign up for?  Is five years better than three years? And how do we remortgage?

The Bank of England has held interest rates at their historic low of 0.5% since March 2009. Despite this, some homeowners are facing higher repayments as lenders raise rates on some mortgages to recoup their costs

The encouraging news is that despite record low bank rates, which have pushed down the interest rates on home loans, there’s also been an increase in the quality and quantity of mortgage market reporting, commentary and help. Many of us will need to call on that assistance in the coming months as we take the decision to remortgage or notice our repayments increasing as a result of rate increases.

Some people are already feeling the effects. Halifax, the Co-operative Bank and Yorkshire Bank made headlines last month when they raised their standard variable rate (SVR) in a move that is estimated to cost the average mortgage holder an extra £40 a month.

This rise was not tied to the Bank of England base rate which remains at an historic low of 0.5 per cent – where it’s been for the past three years – but has more to do with the costs incurred by the banks when they borrow the money from savers to fund their lending in the first place.

This rate rise, which only applies to those on an SVR mortgage, has been criticised by consumer group Which? whose chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith blamed the rise on a lack of competition in the mortgage market and the failure of the government to take action to promote competition.

But the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) have said it’s wrong to assume banks borrow money to lend out in mortgages at the same rate as the bank of England’s base rate. Instead, the cost to the lender is much higher – and the banks need to make sure their own balance sheets tally and account for these costs.

The mortgage market is a constantly evolving beast that does not have a one size fits all solution. Tracker mortgages – where the interest rate tracks the Bank of England base rate – and fixed rate mortgages – where homeowners sign onto a particular rate for a certain period of time – can end up being safer for some homeowners, but aren’t appropriate for others.

Whatever your mortgage story, the key is to make sure you keep pricking up your ears about mortgages and ensure you get the information you need – after all, we’re all responsible for our own mortgage story.

May 22, 2012 at 11:42 AM Leave a comment

Why is renting so expensive?

This is a legacy post from the findaproperty.com blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

How much do you spend on your monthly rent? And if you’re no longer a renter, how much did you pay the last time you had a landlord or letting agent to keep happy? Unless it was a very long time ago, you probably spent a pretty penny and certainly more than you wished you had. So spare a thought for those who rent now, especially the growing numbers of single-person households living in small homes.

That’s because the latest FindaProperty.com Rental Index reveals the cost of renting a flat has reached an all-time high. Rental asking prices for studio flats have increased by nearly 7% in the past year to reach an average £718 a month, while one-bedroom flats increased by 2.5% to a record £660 per month.

It’s all smiles when you get the keys to your new rental home, but affording the monthly rent isn’t always so much fun

Overall, asking rents have increased in the first quarter of 2012 and are now at £868 per month, 1% up on the same time last year, but below the record high of £890 in September 2011.

But it’s the proportion of take home income spent on letting a home that brings the renting story to life.

Tenants are now spending on average 38%, or £10,416, of their typical £27,242 net salary on rent. In London, it’s even more – households spend 71%, or £25, 824, of their average £36,384 net income on paying rent. Or think about it another way – the average rental household in London spends nearly as much on their rent in a year as the average UK household takes home as income.

There’s an important regional story here too. Renters in South East England spend the next highest proportion with 42% of take-home income going on rent; in the South West it’s 39%; in the East of England it’s 33%; and in the West Midlands, Wales and the North East it’s 32%. Those in Scotland spend 31% of their take-home income on rent; in the North West and Yorkshire it’s 29%; and in the East Midlands it’s 28%.

But what’s causing this? Quite simply, rents have risen because of stricter lending rules which have made it harder for aspiring buyers to get a foot on the property ladder. As a result, less of us are buying, more of us are renting and the increased demand for homes to rent have forced asking prices up. The good news is that mortgage lending was 30% up in March compared to January, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

And while some of that increase is down to buyers scrambling to complete their sales before the end of the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers, it’s still a good sign. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for the trickle down affect on rents.

May 22, 2012 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment

Carpets for sale (with house included) – Curious designs

1. 3 bedroom bungalow for sale £485,000

2. 4 bedroom detached home for sale £675,000

3. 4 bedroom bungalow for sale £380,000

4. 3 bedroom semi detached home for sale £125,000

5. 3 bedroom semi detached home for sale OIRO £94,950

6. 6 bedroom semi detached home for sale £665,000

7. 4 bedroom semi detached home for sale £575,000

8. 4 bedroom detached home for sale Guide price £545,000

9. 3 bedroom terraced home for sale £375,000

10. 3 bedroom semi detached home for sale £129,950

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May 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM Leave a comment

Renting a property: Are you being safe?

This is a legacy post from the findaproperty.com blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

If you’re a renter, or have ever rented a home, you’ll already know the toe-curling truth about the sector – it’s expensive and involves, at least at the beginning of a lease, an awful lot of money changing hands.

The other thing about renting is that it’s a wholly unregulated industry, which means anyone can set themselves up as a letting agent. This becomes a problem when inexperienced letting agents go bust or disappear overnight taking renters’ (and landlords’) money with them.

Thank goodness then for SAFEagent – a scheme created by agents to help make the lettings industry “safer” for renters. And what better time to remind ourselves of the positive work the scheme is doing than during SAFEagent Awareness Week which was marked today in the House of Commons.

Are you safe? Look out for the SAFEagent kitemark when using a letting agent. SAFEagent Awareness Week was marked at the House of Commons today.

In a nutshell, SAFEagent is an income protection scheme that aims to stamp out the devastating stories of renters being left homeless, cashless and without a legal leg to stand on when their letting agent collapses. The idea is that would-be tenants (and landlords) look out for the SAFEagent kitemark (pictured above) and choose their agent knowing they have income protection in place. This simply means that renters (and landlords) are protected if the letting agent goes bust or tries to rip off its customers.

It’s of course worth remembering that the vast majority of letting agents are reputable, however, the unregulated nature of the industry means risky agents do exist.

Today’s gathering at the Palace of Westminster was a great opportunity to hear from SAFEagent about their success. After launching to the public in September last year, SAFEagent already has close to 2,000 agents signed up and plans to expand even further. It’s backed by some big names including the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), the Law Society and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

So whether you’re a renter or a landlord, the next time you use a letting agent, check they’re a SAFEagent first. It makes sense to be protected.

May 15, 2012 at 4:35 PM

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