Why Generation Rent isn’t in a happy place

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 fresh eyed and ready to roll at 6.30am on Saturday then you may have seen FindaProperty.com analyst Nigel Lewis with BBC Breakfast News anchor Sussanah Reid discussing the weekend’s hot topic – ‘generation rent’.

The energetic debate around this subject had been kicked off last week when housing and homelessness charity Shelter issued a report on the impact of high housing costs on Britain’s 18-36 year olds, revealing among many things how 22% of them have been forced to remain living with, or move back in with, their parents by the high cost of renting or buying a home.

This echoes FindaProperty.com’s recent Rental Index figures which revealed how for over a year now demand for properties to rent has been outstripping supply in many of Britain’s towns and cities. And consequently rents are up by five per cent year on year or, in the case of London, prices rising by over £100 a month recently.

As the BBC programme (along with pieces by the Daily Mail, Guardian, Telegraph and the Financial Times) pointed out, there is extraordinary financial and economic pressure on the younger generation to not buy – and hence the ‘generation rent’ tag that’s being pinned on them. And the numbers are worrying – some 100,000 to 130,000 wannable first time buyers are currently being kept in rental accommodation by a range of challenges.

This includes the ever- shrinking number of new or affordable homes being built. New builds are at their lowest level (102,000) for 70 years, extraordinary given that Britain needs to have 200,00-plus built every year to keep up with demand. Mortgage lending to first time buyers is sluggish but showing some signs of improvement, but overall their waiting longer – much longer. Research by FindaProperty.com reveals that the average age of becoming a first time buyer for today’s 21 year olds is set to hit 40 nationally and 50 in London.

This, of course, is not a happy place. But one thing worth remembering is that while interest rates remain low, buying remains cheaper than renting – so if you can scrape the deposit together then month-on-month you’ll probably be better off.

June 6, 2011 at 12:37 PM 2 comments

The new kids on the short-term holiday-letting block

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.

It’s not often that FindaProperty gets blog post ideas on the top deck of the number 38 bus, but as we cruised past Angel tube station in north London and looked down on the teeming throng of morning commuters, a young man holding a placard caught our eye.

Alistair Wilson of Staywimi gets to grips with his placard advertising short-term holiday lets during the London Olympics

Unlike most London placard holders he wasn’t advertising waxing, tanning or a cheap lunch. His placard read: “Want to rent rooms out for the Olympics? Ask me how. Staywimi.”

And he wasn’t alone. During the time it took the 38 bus to cross the lights and head into Clerkenwell, Mr Staywimi spoke to a handful of young, interested-looking passersby – clearly home owners who wanted to find out more about renting out a room in their homes during next year’s Olympic Games.

Turns out Mr Staywimi was no other than Alistair Wilson, the 27-year old founder of Staywimi a new online holiday lettings service that allows homeowners to rent a room in their home to tourists.

Wilson says it’s early days for Staywimi, which is a kind of hybrid holiday accommodation and social networking business and they’re currently focused on building up their pool of hosts.

He describes the service as a social marketplace with a friendly community of hosts and guests. The idea is that hosts (those offering a room) sign up for free and create a property profile offering a spare room or a sofa bed, which can then be linked to a specific event or area (in the case of the Olympics it will be specific venues). The prospective guest can then search for suitable accommodation, find a room, check the host’s profile information and read reviews of the accommodation before booking with a credit card. Presumably Staywimi makes its money by taking a cut of the charge.

Wilson says Staywimi is founded on the ideals of sharing and helping others and aims to change the way people see the world by putting travellers in touch with home owners. Sounds like a nice idea. Plus it’s always a bonus to see a company owner out there on the street getting to grips with his customers (and his placard) in such a hands-on way.

June 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM Leave a comment

Has housesharing gone high tech?

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.

Sharing a home with friends (or more likely strangers) is a rite of passage for students, graduates and more recently, those who can’t get onto the property ladder and find themselves renting rather than buying.

If only all flatmates looked like this

And as anyone who’s ever had to find a flatmate will know, the hunt for a house share is a time consuming one: it’s not only the home that has to tick boxes, if you know what we mean.

With that in mind, FindaProperty.com was bemused to read that savvy housesharers are now turning to technology to help them cut down the time it takes to find a flatmate. A new study by Windows Live Messenger claims people spend an average of 21 hours on the task. It also claims they’re now increasingly turning to video chat to help vet flatmates before they’re invited round for a cup of tea and the mandatory chat about “cleaning” and “social life”.

There’s definitely more than a bit of the ‘well, they would say that’ about this new trend. But perhaps Windows Live Messenger have touched on a valid point. The idea that prospective housemates can be inititally met via a video chat before they’re invited into the actual home does have benefits, especially for those who are time poor or security conscious.

Windows Live Messenger says the whole vetting thing works the other way round too – ie – prospective flatmates get the chance to see the whole property in high definition over video chat before they schlepp out to see it in real life.

Call us cynical, but FindaProperty has lived in more than our fair share of houseshares and wonders whether it’s sometimes better not to see absolutely everything in high definition, if you know what we mean?

May 27, 2011 at 9:14 AM Leave a comment

Guess who Ryan Giggs bought his house from…

Zoopla.co.uk have integrated Google Street View to help you search/research property

In July 2004, Manchester United player Ryan Giggs purchased a 105 year-old Victorian property for sale, that at the time was called, Silver How.

A fascinating and somewhat timely fact we’ve discovered, thanks to a local Manchester newspaper, was that Mr Giggs actually purchased this house from a lady called Mary Wibberley.

Now, Mary Wibberley was a seller with an interesting career. She was a writer of romantic novels. An author of many romance novels for the Harlequin Presents imprint which later merged with non other than Mills & Boon in 1971: the UK’s undisputed market leader in romance fiction.

Her titles include: A Dangerous Man, Savage Love, Loves Sweet Revenge, Fire & Steel  and Law of the Jungle, to name a few and Mills & Boon claimed that their:

…army of dedicated readers know that once they pick a brightly coloured paperback, they will be taken on an easy, thrilling read – with a guaranteed happy ending.

Love's Sweet Revenge (1979) A novel by Mary Wibberley

So, what can Zoopla tell us about the property?

Looking at Zoopla.co.uk sold house prices section (we have 16.6m), we see that the current owner paid £1,940,000 for the property on 23rd July 2004. We can also see from the Zoopla.co.uk sold house prices section that the previous owner (Mary Wibberley) paid £645,000 for the property on 25th October in 1996.

What we have also found out is that Ryan Giggs, having bought Silver How, immediately demolished the property in order to build the property we see above today. Not such a dissimilar story to that of the current Apprentice House.

We can tell you that the property is a six-bedroom home with landscaped gardens,  every bathroom is en suite. There is also a four-car garage, a gym, sauna, swimming pool and steam room.

In terms of current home values in the area, properties on Chatsworth Road have an average value of £743,716 with properties in the M28 outcode (it sits within) have an average home value of £184,085.

As always, please feel free to share and use this information, all we ask is that you credit the source as Zoopla.co.uk and link to any of the links above or Zoopla.co.uk. Thank you.

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May 25, 2011 at 11:24 AM 2 comments

Does the buying process need reform? Computer says: Yes

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.

Such a question is unlikely to come up on the TV show Family Fortunes, but given that just under 62% of us want the home buying process reformed – a new survey reveals – perhaps it should.

Britain has one of the most clunky purchasing processes in the world and in Europe only Greece can hang its head lower than ours – while France, Germany and these days even Spain have clearer and easier systems.

And the US system via is ‘multi listing system‘ has the best – fair, easy to understand, simple.

So isn’t it about time we did something to at least plug the gaps in our wheezy version particularly because it invites expensive and unfair behaviour such as gazumping (when a vendor accepts a higher offer from someone else after accepting yours) and gazundering (buyers who drop their offer just days or hours before exchange).

The Labour government’s ridiculed and ultimately doomed attempts to smooth the buying process with Home Information Packs (HIPs) failed because it just made everything more bureaucratic – not to mention more expensive – but didn’t really tackle gazumping or gazundering.

The coalition isn’t much better. Since it scrapped HIPs not a squeak has been heard from Housing Minister Grant Schapps; it’s just not on the political agenda at all.

So we decided to find out if you care about and have now finished a survey. The results are surprising – 61% of those surveyed said they thought the home buying process ‘needs reform’, the remainder believing it is ‘OK as it stands’.

And just over a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said they had been gazumped while buying a home, and of those just under 82% walked away from the deal while the rest had ‘offered more’ to sin the bidding war.

MyHomeLife Survey – results

Do you think the buying process:

Needs reform: 61.68%

Is OK as is stands: 38.32%

Have you ever been gazumped?

Yes: 26.95%

No: 73.05%

What did you do once you found out you had been gazumped?

Offer more to win the bidding war: 18.52%

Walk away from the purchase: 81.48%

The MyHomeLife survey was completed in May 2011 and surveyed 501 people.


May 25, 2011 at 11:16 AM Leave a comment

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