New builds are a homeowner’s blank canvas

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

Built-in mod cons, excellent energy efficiency and improved security – it’s not hard to see why more of us are opting for the charms of a new build home.

Ask a new-build buyer and they’ll tell you their home came with all new fixtures and fittings so there’s less chance of being lumbered with faulty boilers or damp patches. Also, new-home builders tend to take account of changing living patterns and build houses in keeping with modern lifestyles: they know what a lot of us are discovering – that Victorian room layouts may no longer be appropriate. New home owners will also likely get peace of mind from the warranty on their homes and an easier buying experience, as there’s no chain when they lay their hard earned cash down on a new build.

The New Homes Marketing Board has come up with a list of top reasons to buy new:

1. A fresh start: new build homes are a blank canvas

2. The price is right: new builds tend to be priced competitively for a swift sale

3. Greener and cheaper: new builds are built to the latest environmental standards

4. Less chain, less hassle: no stressful waiting around for owners to move out

5. More for your money: new builds come with high spec standard features

6. Peace of mind: Many house builders provide a ten year warranty

7. Spoilt for choice: There are countless designs and styles to chose from

8. A wise investment: new builds make good economic sense

March 10, 2011 at 4:18 PM 1 comment

‘The tiny silent estate agent in your pocket’

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

The Sunday Times, famous for its pickiness and independence when reviewing products from beauty products to cars, has put our search app for the iPhone in its agenda-setting Top 500 iPhone app list.

FindaProperty's augmented reality iPhone app

FindaProperty’s augmented reality iPhone app

Described by the paper’s reviewer as “a gorgeously user-friendly way to nose around properties on the go”, the app received kudos for its GPS technology and its synchronisation with users’ online accounts.

“It’s like having a tiny, silent estate agent in your pocket,” the review said.

Download the app now or watch it work its magic here

More about our app:

Ever walked around an area and thought how much you would love to live there? The latest version of the search app will help you find available properties in your area of interest with ease.

You can perform a ‘here and now’ search using the camera view to see properties for sale and rent in your current location. Using the augmented reality view you will be presented with properties within an ½ mile radius, and be able to see these plotted on a compass in the top right corner of the screen.

Property labels will appear on the camera view screen that show the distance to the property, the price, the number of bedrooms and a thumbnail image.

On selecting a property of interest, you’ll be able to see the agent marketing the property, view further details or call the agent there and then.

Augmented reality version is only available on the iPhone 3GS and version 4.


March 10, 2011 at 11:14 AM Leave a comment

Charlie Sheen set to buy £4.65m Mediterranean-style LA McMansion #Winning

Mediterranean-style house Sheen is allegedly purchasing

Across the pond and to a lesser extent over here in the UK, actor Charlie Sheen has been busy on the talk-show circuit (recently being interviewed by UK export Piers Morgan), offering insight into his life with his two live-in girlfriends, aka “the goddesses,” and his plans to drop a £200m ($320m USD) million lawsuit into the laps of media giants CBS and Warner Bros for finally pulling the plug on the show he stars in, “Two and a Half Men.”

His latest jaw-dropping headline refers to his machete-swinging proclamation “Free at last!” after Warner Brothers officially terminated him on Monday from “Two and a Half Men.”

However, we’re more interested in the property side of things on the Zoopla Blog, as it’s easy to get side tracked by what he’s been up to on twitter of late! Thanks to real estate website Zillow over in the US, we’ve learnt that Sheen has a plan to buy a few more pieces of Sherman Oaks real estate in the gated, McMansion community of Mullholland Estates, Los Angeles where he currently resides.

Sold price public records in the US show Sheen paid £4.45million ($7,200,000 USD) for his current 5-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom abode. The idea behind these new property purchases would be to give one to ex-wife Denise Richards and the other to Brooke Mueller (Sheen’s rumored soon-to-be ex-wife).

While the lawsuit is still in the works, and the public in awe of the actor’s media blanketing remarks about his life on a drug “called Charlie Sheen,” Sheen is apparently moving forward with his plan to buy more property sooner than anyone thought.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Sheen is in escrow to buy a property for £4.65m ($7.5 million USD) just a few blocks away from his current home. The home Sheen is allegedly purchasing is owned by Mike Medavoy, the producer behind the Academy Award-winning film “Black Swan.” The Mediterranean-style house (pictured below) sits on a half-acre lot, with nearly 10,000 sq ft, 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, both a game and media room, a library, gourmet kitchen with butler’s pantry, and large living and dining areas. There is also an outdoor bar and kitchen just steps from the outdoor swimming pool. Will this be Brooke or Denise’s new home, or perhaps it’s more fit for a goddess?

A version of this blog post first appeared on the Zillow Blog and has be used on the Zoopla blog with kind permission from

Want to find out what you property might be worth, run a free value estimate in the home values section of

March 9, 2011 at 9:56 AM 4 comments

Top 50 places to rent or buy, according to

Average renter pays 10.5% more than an owner with a mortgage at 5% p.a

While lenders maintain their vice-like grip on the mortgage market, more and more would-be buyers are forced into property to rent instead of trying to get onto the housing ladder. Consequently, rents will likely rise further as a result and renters will continue to pay a significant premium for being stuck in the sector.

Our latest research shows, that buying a property wins out over renting today, however the impact of a possible rise in interest rates cannot be ignored. If interest rates were to increase by 1% and rents were to remain the same, renting would become more cost-effective in 78% of the locations studied.

Key findings:

  • Average renter pays 10.5% more than an owner with a mortgage at 5% p.a.
  • More cost-effective to own as opposed to rent in 8 of every 10 British towns/cities
  • Milton Keynes better to buy not rent, but Plymouth better to rent rather than own
  • Cost difference has been rising steadily since the middle of last year, when renting was 8.7% more expensive.

In some locations, the higher cost of renting is staggering. In Milton Keynes rents exceed average mortgage servicing costs by 42% – with average monthly rents at £785 Milton Keynes renters are left £2,772 a year worse off compared to owners. Completing the top 3 places where buying is far more cost-effective than renting are Walsall and Birmingham which each have a 38% and 35% rental premium respectively. A further nine of the largest 50 towns and cities have average rents that exceed mortgage payments by over 20%.

Several factors are behind the increased cost of renting. The severe shortage of mortgages has kept many potential first-time buyers in the rental market resulting in high tenant demand, while the combination of stagnant house prices and low-interest rates has reduced the monthly cost of home ownership.

Even in London, which has the highest asking prices in the country, buying is still the more cost-effective option. With an average rent of £2,252 per month in the capital, buyers stand to save £4,656 annually compared to renters.

However, there are still some locations where renting is more cost-effective than owning. In Plymouth, the average two-bed flat costs £581 per month to rent versus £156,435 to buy, leaving renting £71 a month cheaper than the average mortgage servicing cost. Following the buy-to-let boom with investors buying properties to rent out to the large student and military population, the extensive supply of rental property has put downward pressure on rents.

Please note: the research looks at the asking prices of two-bedroom flats currently for sale and to rent in the 50 largest cities and towns around the country and mortgage payments are calculated assuming an interest-only mortgage at 5% p.a. to provide an effective comparison to renting.

Full list of the top 50 places to rent or buy

Top 10 locations where renting beats buying

Rank Location Avg. Asking Price Avg. Monthly Rent Rent vs Buy*
1 Plymouth £156,435 £652 -10.9%
2 Huddersfield £130,109 £542 -10.7%
3 Swansea £178,455 £744 -10.2%
4 Aberdeen £215,234 £897 -7.4%
5 Oldham £135,445 £564 -5.9%
6 Edinburgh £175,540 £731 -5.1%
7 Bournemouth £184,773 £770 -4.7%
8 Bristol £182,968 £762 -4.2
9 Lincoln £134,601 £561 -0.1
10 Stockport £140,777 £587 -0.1

Source: (Feb, 2011)
* % variance between average monthly rent and average monthly cost of 5% p.a. interest-only mortgage

Top 10 locations where buying beats renting

Rank Location Avg. Asking Price Avg. Monthly Rent* Rent vs Buy*
1 Milton Keynes £132,919 £785 42%
2 Walsall £89,683 £514 38%
3 Birmingham £129,350 £725 35%
4 Reading £184,592 £1,030 34%
5 Derby £105,537 £557 27%
6 Northampton £107,809 £568 26%
7 York £172,807 £901 25%
8 Coventry £106,680 £553 24%
9 Preston £107,128 £547 23%
10 Peterborough £112,600 £567 21%

Source: (Feb, 2011)
* % variance between average monthly rent and average monthly cost of 5% p.a. interest-only mortgage

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 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM Leave a comment

Sell or not? No, not your home – the nation’s assets!

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

We live in a world of astounding numbers. The total value of homes for sale on is some £185 billion, the national debt is running at over a trillion (or 1,000 billion) and last year the UK ran up a bank overdraft of a further £163 billion. Therefore, most people would say, we’ve got plenty of potential assets but the economy is running pretty much broke.

Sell ot Not Sell

But the one figure no one knows is how much Britain’s public assets are worth, probably because no one’s ever had the cheek or need to tot them up. Until now, that is. Last week Channel 4′s Dispatches programme asked FindaProperty to help it value some of these ‘secret’ but sometimes controversial assets and we’ve been hard at work helping them.

Properties we were asked to find values for ranged from the very controversial (Gibraltar, Buckingham Palace, the government’s grace and favour apartments, Stonehenge and Middlesborough FC’s new stadium) to the striking sensible (Carlton Gardens, Chevening House and the dozen or so judge’s residences to be found across the UK).

The programme, which includes a live studio discussion that FindaProperty’s analyst Nigel Lewis will be in the line up for, is going to be a rare mix of the serious debate and a bit of light hearted valuation – for example could you really get nearly a billion for Buckingham Palace? FindaProperty looks forward to seeing at close hand how presenters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Faisal Islam handle the debate. For question for debate is, how much of an appetite is there among the UK public for selling off Britain‘s assets?

Tune in to Channel 4′s Dispatches at 8pm tonight to find out.

March 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM 4 comments

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