Pause for thought, Houses or Flats?

I ask because I recently had two blog posts sent my way, one urging investors to buy flats, the other saying, nah, don’t be daft, it has to be houses.

In the flat corner is Robin Bowman of Property Secrets, who argues:

“There is almost always rental demand for good flats in good locations, which are generally what renters will be looking for rather than houses. Larger, family suited apartments also. Provided there’s no oversupply.”

But  David Lawrenson, over at Letting Focus, reckons the typical leasehold flat can sometimes be a bit of a headache:

“If the management of the block is good, the lease is well drafted and there are not too may other flats in the local area then flats are OK. But often this is not these case.

“If you are thinking of buying a flat, think about noise and inconsiderate neighbours. In converted flats, noise is always a real problem because the properties were never built to be soundproofed in the first place. In the long run, properties that are freehold and have gardens will always keep their price – just as long as they are in decent areas.”

[poll id="12"]

Feel free to send your reasons using the Comments link below.

April 8, 2009 at 3:47 PM 2 comments

Diary of a Commuting Gentleman: #1

robert_phillipson_esquireTired of London, not tired of life

I first hauled myself out of Macclesfield around a decade ago and, after a fleeting stop-off in Nottingham, where I abjectly failed in my attempt to seize fame as a latter day, chubby Robin Hood, I found myself living in Clapham.

Did I enjoy my stint in Sairf West Larndan? I certainly did, but given my propensity to binge beyond my means and the proliferation of bars, clubs and e-coli ridden takeaways, I soon found myself knocking on the door of gout.

When gout wasn’t in, I’d be sniffing round to see if Type 2 diabetes was home. Whilst this was truly a glorious time in an already gluttonous existence, there came a point when I had to put my club-foot down.

Where next, then, on my odyssey of discovery? Well, I thought long and hard before deciding it was about time to make a break for the country. Time to bite the bullet, screw my courage to the sticking place and immerse myself in any number of other clichés.

Could I handle the commute? Was I really man enough to get on the overland train at 07:39 every morning and change at Finsbury Park?

Would I miss the edgy 24-hour glamour of ‘town’? Would a quaint market town really be a suitable location for a loquacious bar-propper-upper such as myself?

To answer those questions, I’ll simply ask them again. Could I handle the commute? Was sauntering onto a practically empty train, sitting down, spreading out and reading a newspaper at 07:39 more or less pleasant than shoe-horning myself between half a dozen sweaty city workers on the Northern line at 08:15?

Would I miss the late-night hollering of disaffected youths and my bi-monthly trip to the garage to have my kicked-off wing mirrors replaced?

Is the last train out of ‘town’ at 01:11, and does this leave plenty of room for Soho booze-hounding, whilst also allowing the option of a genteel, countrified night on the tiles if the mood so grasps me?

And there it was.

I realised that what I really wanted was to live in a sedate, picturesque, Waitrosey town but without removing the possibility of spontaneous, Central London debauchery.

I found it in Hertford, and, nine months on, can say with hand firmly on heart, that it’s the best move I’ve made since I slapped Gary Kasparov with a checkmate at the 1998 World Chess Championship held at Macclesfield Leisure Centre, before absconding to Gretna Green to marry Keira Knightley [citation needed].

Rob Phillipson is National Key Client Manager for

April 7, 2009 at 1:05 PM 6 comments

Twittering Estate Agents

Everyone’s aflutter over Twitter. Its trajectory over the last few months has been as steep as North Korea’s recent ‘satellite’ (cough) launch; but unlike the Korean rocket, Twitter continues to rise and rise (insert Vaughan Williams ‘Lark Ascending’ allusion here).

I’d like to brag that was one of the pioneers of the medium, but we were somewhat sluggish to jump aboard the bandwagon – November 2008 to be precise.

And like most of the Twitterati, I remain unsure as what exactly Twitter is good for. Real-time search engine? Global noticeboard? Or just a few million people letting another million people know what they’re eating for lunch. Or tea. Or that they are now awake. In case you were interested. Which you weren’t.

Anyway, some of the more web 2.0 savvy, switched-on estate agents have also decided to catch onto the tailfeathers of the little blue bird and are now tweeting with the best of them.

Some use Twitter to announce they’ve got new properties, some tweet about property-related news, whilst others gaze silently around in wide-eyed wonder, as bemused as our very own Sales Director, but gamely determined not be left behind: 

Should you wish to follow them, here’s a selection of Estate Agents on Twitter:

If I’ve not mentioned your agency on Twitter, then let me know and we’ll start following you. But only if you follow us first:

Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo.

April 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM 8 comments

Google Street View live on Zoopla!

In case you missed it, Zoopla! announced last week that only days after the launch of Google’s UK Street View we have integrated it into our mapping.  Street View is currently only available in 25 UK cities, covering just under 10% of the 233k miles of road in the country but a far greater proportion of UK population and therefore property.

Street view image in NottinghamStreet view image in Nottingham

In the context of property search and market information, it’s certainly a great addition to the site experience.  Street View supplements the bird’s eye and aerial property views already available, giving users the ultimate tool to research an area for buying, renting or understanding property values.

How to use Street View on Zoopla!

1. You’ve found a 3 bedroom house in Oxford that matches your criteria.

2. Scroll down the listing page, where the default Map view is shown, and select Street View at the top right of the image.

Selecting Street View on Zoopla!Selecting Street View on Zoopla!

3.  You’re now taking a virtual tour of the street where this property is for sale.  You can either get a full 360 degrees view, or take a stroll up and down.

Henley Street in OxfordStreet View of Henley Street, Oxford, OX4

4. To get a 360 degree perspective of a street or change the directional view, drag the ‘N’ around the dial in the top left or click on the arrows, to move down the street click the white arrows on the line pointing down the centre. To zoom in or out click the + or – to the left.

NB – due to Google not being able to pinpoint the exact position of an individual property, Street View images are likely to be several metres away from the property in question or facing the opposite way.

Street View can be found on all Zoopla!’s maps. If you’re researching current home values in Oxford and wonder why a particular area is more valuable than another, Street View allows you to compare streets by selecting Map View for that search result. When selecting Street View you’ll notice that areas covered by Google are outlined in blue.

Areas covered by Street View are outlined in blueAreas covered by Street View are outlined in blue

As you zoom in further you’ll see individual streets outlined in blue and a simple click will allow you to take a virtual tour of that area.

Zoopla! are big fans of Street View and think it will add a huge deal of value to people researching property online which is what we’re all about. We hope you agree but feel free to let us know what you think.

April 6, 2009 at 1:02 PM 1 comment

Graph of the Week: Records Highest Daily Traffic Ever

Our guys in the Research Team have some interesting news to report.

On Monday March 23, attracted 174,014 unique visitors. This is the highest daily level we have seen since daily tracking records began in mid-2006.

How do we explain this?

It’s partly down to the fact that in the week preceding March 23 we had two big events: the launch of our McDonalds Best Chance Monopoly promotion (win 2 x £300k to buy a home) and our partnering of Google to launch Street View UK.

But our research team also say the rise in visitor numbers is evidence of a pick-up in market activity: since the start of 2009, the number of visitors to has been 8.6 per cent higher than the same period in 2008.

In March, unique visitors to were up 6.7 per cent month-on-month and 8.6 per cent year-on-year.

Is the market enjoying a spring revival? We’d love to hear what’s happening in your neighbourhood.

April 3, 2009 at 12:55 PM 14 comments

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