What Mortgage deposit gets you the most access to mortgage products.

Here’s a handy visual representation of figures recently published by Moneyextra.com about mortgage availability.

It shows that in the first quarter of 2009 people with a 25 per cent deposit had access to the largest number of mortgage products: 797.


In Q1 2008 there were still plenty of deals at 90 per cent LTV (401) but this had plummeted to a mere 67 by Q1 2009.

It will be interesting to see if the Budget announcement on mortgage backed securitisation produces a shift in loan-to-value ratios – high deposits are currently a big obstacle for many buyers.

However, not everyone believes this is the key to a market recovery – David Lawrenson over at Letting Focus recently argued that many people overestimate the impact of mortgage access on the future direction of house prices.

Why? Because, in his own words:

“Over 40 per cent of people have no mortgage so don’t give a stuff about mortgage rates; and if they are not buying for themselves they will be giving their lucky offspring at least some of the money for a deposit and for the hefty mortgage fees which are now the norm.”

That’s a fair point, and well made. But let’s hope LTV levels do improve so that all those people who can’t make a withdrawal from the Bank of Mum & Dad get a chance to buy a place of their own.

April 24, 2009 at 4:39 PM Leave a comment

New Zealand Supreme Moter Lodge bans a whole town from staying there.

Great story on Sky News about a motel manager in New Zealand who’s banned an entire town from staying in his holiday complex of studio apartments and villas.

The town in question is Wainuiomata, population circa 17,000 – none of whom are now welcome at the Supreme Motor Lodge in Palmerston North, NZ.

The reason for this all-out ban?  Well, it seems the town’s sports teams – regular visitors until recently – are somewhat lacking in manners, leave rubbish strewn around and have scant regard for fellow residents.

When their last stay resulted in all night music and rudeness towards staff, manager Malcolm Glen, who goes by the nickname Basil Fawlty, deemed it the final straw and issued his blanket ban.


Even the MP for Wainuiomata is barred: when he phoned to test the ruling, using the old “don’t you know who I am” trick, he was promptly informed by Mr Glen that it mattered not a jot, particularly as he was a Scotsman and therefore didn’t have a vote anyway.

Fair play to the man, I say. And could this be a canny wee marketing campaign, too?  It certainly enticed me to sneak a peek at the motel’s website, and sure enough, it states on the homepage:

“Just to add some extra character to our offering, we have Malcolm (better known as Basil Fawlty) at the helm.”

Sadly, there’s no mention of a Sybil.  Boo.

April 24, 2009 at 1:34 PM 3 comments

Five homeowner tips to beat a recession

Our top tips on how to manage your finances to survive and thrive, even in a property market downturn.

1. Get on top of your mortgage payments

  • With interest rates at historical lows, check that you are on the best deal.
  • If your current deal is up, remortgage at a good rate. Get a free mortgage quote.
  • If you get behind with payments, speak to your bank immediately.

2. Review your monthly expenses

  • Do you really need that 3 pound gourmet coffee every morning?
  • Eat in more often – and have fun and get healthy from cooking from scratch.
  • Get a better deal on your home insurance by shopping around? Get quote.
  • Reduce monthly electricity and gas bills by switching providers.  Save money.

3. Consolidate or sort out your debts

  • Try to create and stick to a schedule so you can pay debts off little and often.
  • Avoid credit card – it’s usually very expensive compared with a bank loan.
  • Consider an IVA or Debt management solution.  Get free, no obligation advice.

4. Consider downsizing or equity release

  • You could reduce your mortgage by selling and moving to a smaller home.
  • Relocate to a great value area like Shropshire, Dorset or Norfolk.
  • Consider releasing equity in your home through a secured loan.  Get loan quote.

5. Be smart about renting or buying

  • Rental activity has grown recently as people fear losing capital as prices fall.
  • However, buying at the bottom, if you can time it right, can make you money.
  • If buying in a down market, look for price reductions and don’t overpay.
  • Search thousands of Zoopla homes to rent in England, Scotland or Wales.

April 22, 2009 at 2:08 PM Leave a comment

Advice for Keeping Chickens in a Coop

Sometimes you’re drawn into a world you know little about and come back both amazed and enlightened.

It’s happened to me twice today already. The first came about by following the @talkirish Twitter feed.

To explain: I have an Irish girlfriend I’d like to impress with my knowledge of her native tongue. But thus far my Irish vocab only includes such useful words as ‘poc’ (goat) and ‘ceapaire’ (sandwich). So if I’m ever starving in Sligo I can at least ask for a goat sandwich.

bull-headToday’s Irish word came through on the Twitter wire.

“Hey Mike,” I say to Winging It’s Hibernian Editor, “today’s Irish word is ‘Bó’.”

“That’ll be ‘Cow’,” he says.

Next thing I know I’m knee deep in Irish myths on th’internets reading about the Cattle Raid Of Cooley, which as far I can tell is all about mass slaughter through bull envy.

The second voyage of discovery happened just now as I was researching chickens (bear with me) …

As the credit crunch bites even harder more people are starting to grow their own veg, make their own stuff (Kirstie Allsop throws a pot and uptake in pottery classes quadruples*) and even keep their own chickens.

To this end, via notcot.org I came across the rather lovely and enthusiastic www.backyardchickens.com, which proudly presents itself as the: “#1 destination for the information you need to raise, keep, and appreciate chickens”.

It’s fairly USA-centric, but does indeed contain pretty much everything you (n)ever wanted to know about chicken keeping.

There’s a guide to breeds, which takes chicken appreciation to a new, intimate level. The ‘Blue Laced Red Wyandotte’ is apparently “a bird of curves”.  Hmmm. Not sure I needed to know that.

A bunch of Chicken sayings: “Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.” (Frank Lloyd Wright.)

And (relating to the previous quotation) there’s a great gallery of chicken coops, some of which would indeed shame Notre Dame. Ok, maybe that’s a slight eggsageration (ahem) but some of these chickens have seriously nice cribs…


The Kreitz Family’s “Poulet Chalet”



The (slightly odd) GopherBoy's Coop

The (slightly odd) GopherBoy's Coop

And finally … the one I saw on notcot.org that dragged me into this odd – but strangely comforting – world of chicken keeping, the wonderfully absurd:

Maurice, The Car Chicken Coop

Maurice, The Car Chicken Coop

The last one is from England, naturally. No-one does eggcentricity (ouch) like the English.

For a more modern take on the chicken coop, see ‘Chicken Coop For The Soul‘.

*Note: I just made up this statistic, but it’s probably true.

April 21, 2009 at 2:18 PM 7 comments

Diary of a Commuting Gentleman: #2

Glitzy City, Curious Town

The Easter weekend is always a bit of a treat and this year certainly didn’t disappoint.

Far from being frowned upon, the pursuits of stuffing one’s face with gigantic roast dinners, ovular chocolate and day-beer are positively encouraged, which never fails to fill my clogged heart with gladness.

On Tuesday I experienced a brief bout of commuter chaos when, on arriving Finsbury Park, I learnt that there’d been a jumper on the line and so trains on the Hertford Loop were indefinitely suspended.

Naïvely, I asked why it wasn’t possible to simply pounce down onto the track and snatch it off when there was a reasonable gap between trains, or even try hooking it up with a broom. Did it have a hood, I wondered, because that would surely be a doddle to snag.

After a wearisome roll of the eyes from the First Capital Connect platform manager, the term “jumper” was explained to me and I realised my suggestions had perhaps been a little less helpful than I’d hoped.

Rather than wait around twiddling my thumbs and spending eye-watering sums of money at the organic snack shack betwixt platforms 5 and 6, I quickly scanned the departure board and got set for a four minute wait for the Welwyn Garden City service.

I was in Hatfield about twenty minutes later, and quarter of an hour after that the taxi was pulling up chez moi.

It’s the first time there’s been any real travel chaos in nine months (even during the snow earlier in the year) and, whilst I wouldn’t fancy the prospect of doing it every day, it’s good to know that by crossing a mini-cab driver’s palm with gold (well, fifteen quid), I’m not stranded just because I’m not on the Tube.

I’d have comfortably spent more than that on a couple of cups of boredom tea and floor-biscuits had I waited for the ‘Loop to re-open.

Maundy Thursday arrived and, as I enjoyed quaffing a handful of post-work Soho holiday-beers outside one of the area’s fine hostelries, I was delighted to be approached by a heart-stoppingly pretty young lady dressed as a rabbit and dishing out flyers for some modern discotheque or other.

After a brief, flirtatious chat that was in no danger of going anywhere given the clear disconnect in our relative prettiness, I was able to enjoy a good old fashioned rock back on my heels with my eyes on stalks as she sashayed off into the night never to be seen again.

Feeble, I know, to count this voyeuristic non-event amongst the highlights of my city week, but she had whiskers and everything, that wascally wabbit, so I really was powerless to resist.

April 15, 2009 at 5:10 PM Leave a comment

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