Britain’s Greenest Home: Challenge Michael Fish & win £3000

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

Ducking and diving through the throngs at London’s Ideal Home Show, FindaProperty caught sight of weather icons Michael Fish and John Kettley and could just about forget about today’s other big news story (erm, that’s the Budget for anyone who hasn’t been following).

Weathermen icons: John Kettley and Michael Fish launch Britain’s Greenest Home competition

The weathermen, who are almost as famous for a 1998 novelty song as they are for telling us what to expect outside, came together today to launch a brand new competition to find Britain’s Greenest Home with a winner’s purse of £3000.

The two, who were clearly delighting many a visitor to the Ideal Home Show with their old-school charm, posed with a weather map to launch the competition, which is being run by solar panel company HomeSunand sponsored by

Fish told us he was very happy to be involved with a competition that encouraged people to make their homes greener.

“I’m seriously concerned about global warming and climate change and every contribution that can be made to cut down Co2 emissions and therefore slow down, what I call, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction is worth doing,” Fish said. “This is just one small thing amongst many things we can do to make a contribution.”

While Fish doesn’t have any solar panels on his West London home because “it’s in a conservation area and faces in the wrong direction”, he told FindaProperty that he’s always strived to take the lead with eco measures at home.

“I’ve done everything I can to make my home greener, in fact I was ahead of the game, when I started 40 years ago. I’ve got double glazing, loft insulation, all my light bulbs are energy saving and I’ve installed a new boiler.

“I’ve done everything I could possible do, in fact, I could possibly win this competition.”

Right then, we’ll consider ourselves warned. Although if you think you can give Fish a run for his money, click here to enter the competition, and be in with a chance to win £3000.

March 23, 2011 at 5:17 PM Leave a comment

2011 Budget: Thanks for the help, George, but is it enough?

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

During the cost cutting frenzy initiated by the coalition after the election last year, one of the casualties was the Homebuy Direct scheme, which had been set up by the Labour government to help first timers buying new homes. It helped some 10,000 people on to the property ladder through a ‘shared equity’ scheme.

But despite the protests of many at the time, the coalition said it was a luxury the nation could not afford and the scheme ended in late 2010. So it’s interesting to see that that help for first time buyers is back on the agenda in today’s Budget.

The truth is first time buyers are the bedrock of a healthy housing market – without them the seemingly eternal stream of people moving up the property ladder comes to a halt, eventually.

The average price for a first time buyer home in the UK is £153,601, our figures show, so the government’s £250m shot in the arm for Britain’s growing army of thwarted wannabe home owners will help an extra 16,275 of them onto the first rung of the property ladder.

This will help improve the feel good factor but it’s still not enough and is a slightly bigger version of the Labour government’s Homebuy Direct scheme, which helped an extra 10,000 into home ownership in that government’s dying days.

But high prices and a difficult mortgage market mean there are at least 50,000 first time buyers being locked out of the housing market each year – so to be effective the scheme needs to be more ambitious if it’s going to ease the first time buyer crisis.

Osborne’s scheme sounds almost identical to the Homebuy Direct scheme but, for the purposes of a budget statement, is being repackaged as a new idea. The government will fund 10% of a new home’s purchase price as an interest-free loan for first time buyers (who have a household income of under £60,000 a year) and the developer will then pitch in with another 10%, and the buyer needs to produce a further 5%, adding up to 25%.

This is significant because, at 75% loan to value, mortgages are much easier to secure and usually cheaper to pay for. This, along with the recent Stamp Duty relief for first time buyers, may sharpen up an increasingly soggy housing market.

March 23, 2011 at 9:36 AM 1 comment

FindaProperty named Property Portal of the Year

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

FindaProperty has a bit of a sore head this morning, but in a good way, if you know what we mean.

Samantha Baden, Nigel Lewis and Jenny Warner – aka the FindaProperty content team – show off the Property Portal of the Year award

Afterall, who could blame us for having a couple of glasses of the bubbly stuff to celebrate being named Property Portal of the Year at last night’s LSL Property Press Awards in London. As you might expect, we were thrilled to be honoured by our property industry peers in such a public way.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the awards, they aim to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of property journalists from across the UK.

And at the risk of bigging ourselves up, FindaProperty would just quietly like to mention the judges’ very kind words about us. “The site often takes the lead providing intelligent and witty comment that both informs and entertains,” they said. “It cleverly combines topical news stories with real life experiences of buying a home.”

We’d also like to congratulate all the other winners at the LSL Property Press Awards and a special mention to the lovely team at Tepilo who were named runners-up in our category.

And the winners are:

National Newspaper Property Staff Writer of the Year

Francesca Steele, The Times

National Freelance Journalist of the Year

Ruth Bloomfield, Freelancer

Property Business Journalist of the Year

Claer Barrett, FT Group

International Property Journalist of the Year

Zoe Dare Hall, The Sunday Times

Regional Property Journalist of the Year

David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post

Property Columnist of the Year

Anne Ashworth, The Times

Sustainable/Environmental Property Journalist of the Year

Sarah Lonsdale, Sunday Telegraph

Property Scoop of the Year

Dan Thomas, Financial Times

National Newspaper Property Supplement of the Year

The Times Bricks & Mortar

Property Trade Magazine of the Year

Estates Gazette

Property Portal of the Year

Property Journalism’s Rising Star 2010

Anna Mikhailova, The Sunday Times AND

Tanya Powley, Financial Times

Overall Property Journalist of the Year

Ruth Bloomfield, Freelance

March 22, 2011 at 1:28 PM Leave a comment

Home values hit 8 month low, according to

Our latest property data shows that property values have fallen every month since last July.

However, whilst it has been a challenging period for the property market over the past few months, the recent dip in prices and the notable variance between regions may have created some interesting buying opportunities. The first half of 2010 provided strong gains in market values but, since last summer, economic uncertainty and lending constraints have eroded these gains and put downward pressure on house prices.

Our latest figures show:

  • British property values down 11% from last July
  • Avg. house price down by £26k in England
  • With house prices 18% below peak, is now time to buy?
  • North East remains hardest hit area, London most resilient

Having hit a 5-year low in February 2009, property values rose steadily during the rest of that year and throughout the first half of 2010, but have since fallen for the past eight successive months, by an average of 11.09% since last summer, creating a potential buying opportunity.

Property prices in England have fallen by an average of £26,240 (11.06%) since last July, whilst in Scotland they are down on average by £21,489 (12.37%) and in Wales by £17,205 (10.73%). The average home values now stand at £211,003 in England, £152,106 in Scotland and £143,182 in Wales according to our figures.

Across Britain, average house prices are now 18.01% (£45,594) below their peak, with the average house price at £201,911 compared to £247,505 in October 2007. The recent dip over the past 8 months could well have created a buying opportunity if prices start to pick up in the second half of the year as predicted by many.

Regionally, the North East has been hardest hit over the past few months, down 14.12% since last July with average local house prices now at £146,242. Not surprisingly, London has proved most resilient down only 7.59% over the same period to an average of £378,295 today. Property values in the North East now stand at 24.39% below their October 2007 peak, a massive drop of £47,173, compared to London where prices now are only 8.36% below the peak levels having fallen £34,527.

House price drop by country

Country Avg. value
Mar ‘11
Change since
Jul ‘10
Avg. value
Oct ’07 peak
Change since
Oct ’07 peak
Scotland £152,106 -12.37% £161,436 -5.79%
England £211,003 -11.06% £261,035 -19.17%
Wales £143,182 -10.73% £182,537 -21.55%
BRITAIN £201,911 -11.09% £247,505 -18.01%

Source:, March 2011

House price drop by region

Region Avg. value
Mar ‘11
Change since
Jul ‘10
Avg. value
Oct ’07 peak
Change since
Oct ’07 peak
North East England £146,242 -14.12% £193,415 -24.39%
South West England £208,806 -12.73% £261,879 -20.27%
East of England £216,186 -12.56% £268,517 -19.49%
Scotland £152,106 -12.37% £161,436 -5.79%
South East England £257,211 -12.19% £313,010 -17.83%
Yorkshire & The Humber £133,915 -11.69% £172,216 -22.24%
Wales £143,182 -10.73% £182,537 -21.55%
West Midlands £161,342 -10.19% £204,297 -21.03%
North West England £148,269 -9.56% £189,378 -21.71%
East Midlands £153,244 -8.29% £183,660 -16.56%
London £378,295 -7.59% £412,822 -8.36%

Source:, March 2011

As always, please feel free to share and use this information, all we ask is that you credit the source as and link to either or Thank you.

March 22, 2011 at 12:08 AM Leave a comment

Would you live here, Charlie?

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

I’m at the opening of the Ideal Home Show. As the crowds mob Ken Barlow at the Coronation Street show home, I notice the white mock Georgian house next door. It’s typically Prince Charles – defiantly old fashioned, eco-friendly and it has a vegetable patch in the front lawn and one day will be up for sale.

The Ideal Home Show's show homes

The show homes at The Ideal Home Show

This isn’t just another show home. The Prince’s House is an example of The Prince’s Foundation’s for the Built Environment’s vision and is designed to be rolled out in high volume. This example is detached, but the Foundation believe you should enjoy sustainable living whatever your life stage or class and have incorporated affordable housing, terraced housing, semi detached homes and apartments into their eco-town design plans too. They currently have planning permission to build nine natural homes in eco-hamlet Coed Darcy in Wales.

The Prince's House at The Ideal Home Show

The Prince’s House at The Ideal Home Show

I meet Hank Dittmar, the chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation. Dittmar walks me around the house, which took four and a half days to build and cost £175,000. “The house is off to the Scottish Home Show in Glasgow in May,” he says, “ then it will become a show home at one of our projects in Wales and will eventually be sold and someone will live in it.” Dittmar says that the Prince of Wales’ takes a long term view – don’t create things to make a quick buck or save some energy today, make sustainable efforts that will last a life time, made of quality materials and with longevity in mind.

The house is modelled on a long term project, The Natural House, which has been undergoing testing in the Foundation’s headquarters in Watford at the Building Research Establishment (BRE). They are made from natural resources and everything is British and, if possible, locally sourced. The tiles are made of stone, the walls are aerated clay blocks with lime render (rather than cement), insulated with sheep’s wool and lime-hemp and even the furniture is recycled: “This chair is covered with dyed recycled coffee sacks, the coffee came from Brazil originally but it ended up over here so we re-used the sacks” says Dittmar.

Master bedroom in the Prince's House at The Ideal Home Show

Master bedroom in The Prince’s House

He says people imagine future eco- living like being in a spaceship that is modern, un-homely and high tech. “You don’t have to adopt the flying saucer lifestyle.” Dittmar believes people want to live in a home that is well made, “green and elegant” and The Prince’s House certainly has that feel to me. If elegance was in the planning then that must be why they chose the Georgian style for the home: “Georgian is timeless. Even modernists like them; they are simple and well proportioned,” says Dittmar, and according to the Good Homes Alliance,  40 per cent of homebuyers are more likely to buy an eco home if it comes in a traditional form.

Dittmar and his team have designed a house that is so efficient it doesn’t require heating and because it is made of natural materials, it breathes, keeping warm air in when it’s cold and letting warm air out when it’s hot. Dittmar points out the wood burning stove in the living room, which is the only source of heat the house will need, just to “take off the chill” in the depths of winter. They tested the house in winter and the lowest inside temperature was 17 degrees Celsius.

I ask Dittmar what we can do to our current homes to easily make them more eco-friendly naturally. “Insulate your loft,” he says. “Sheep’s wool is best and it’s easy to install as it won’t irritate your skin.” He explains that, although it is a little more costly to buy initially it will quickly pay itself off in saved energy bills.” Also make sure your windows fit properly and install an efficient boiler.”

Insulate your loft

Insulate your loft at the Ideal Home show with the help of Start – a national initiative by The Prince’s Charities Foundation to promote and celebrate sustainable living.

How much has Prince Charles had to do with this project? “Well, I update him regularly,” says Dittmar. “And he has visited The Natural House and laid a block, so you could say he’s had a hands-on involvement.”  So is this home fit for a Prince? “Well, yes you could say that and we have a duty to keep up the good name,” says Dittmar before heading back to see the large queue gathered around his project on the opening morning of the Ideal Home Show.


The Ideal Home Show, is on until the 27th March 2011, at London’s Earls Court. Tickets can be either booked online or by calling the Ticket Hotline on 0844 415 4144 or visit the website 50p per ticket sold goes to the Ideal Homes for Heroes appeal supporting ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

March 16, 2011 at 4:45 PM Leave a comment

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