May The Toast Be With You

You may like your toast quite well-browned, or even slightly burned; but for really, really DARK toast you need one of these bad boys – a Darth Vader Toaster…

toaster_darthvader1

And in the interests of keeping the balance of the Force, we move away from the Dark Side to something that’s lighter than errr, a lightsaber and cuter than a baby Ewok, it’s … A Hello Kitty Toaster!

toaster_hellokitty

Both only available in America, natch.

November 7, 2008 at 3:46 PM Leave a comment

Quick Poll: 1.5% Interest Rate Cut

The Bank of England has cut interest rates by an unprecedented 1.5 per cent.

The reaction from housing market professionals to the interest rate cut has been both surprise and delight – though there is concern that lenders will not pass the cut onto consumers.

Will the rate cut be enough to encourage buyers back to the market and stop house prices from falling?

Please vote!

[poll id="10"]

November 6, 2008 at 1:39 PM 12 comments

White Houses for Sale: Have your very own Presidential Palace

I know, you’re all probably sick of the whole US Presidential election. But rejoice readers; it’s all over now! And we couldn’t let it pass without some tenuous property-related blog now could we?

So even as Barack Obama is chasing George Bush around the grounds of the White House shouting “get orf moi laaaaand”, here are few ‘alternative’ white houses currently for sale, should you wish to live out any Presidential fantasies (or maybe if you just like white houses).

white_house_1

The White House, Westover Road, Milford On Sea, Lymington, Hampshire

white_house_2

The White House, Much Cowarne, Herefordshire

white_house_3

The White House, Rectory Lane, Thurcaston, Leicestershire

white_house_4

The Old White House, Dedswell Drive, West Clandon, Surrey

And I did look for ‘Barracks for Sale’, I really did. Sadly there were none. Boo.

November 5, 2008 at 5:43 PM Leave a comment

Is There Really A Housing Shortage?

Read a piece by Merryn Somerset Webb, the Editor of Money Week, a few weeks ago and meant to reply.

MSW gave Graham Norwood a bit of a clip round the ear for suggesting that the slump in house-building was sowing the seeds for the next house price boom.

“This is all total complete and utter nonsense,” wrote an exasperated MSW.

“If there weren’t enough houses in the UK, why would Paddington Basin – home to hundreds of new-build flats – be pitch black at night? Why would the centres of Leeds and Manchester be jammed with empty and utterly unlettable, let alone unsaleable flats?

“The Empty Homes Agency estimates that there are more than 840,000 empty homes in Britain. That’s almost four per cent of our total housing stock. So there’s no shortage of houses here.”

I have two responses to this argument:

1. You’ll notice the crucial slippage from ‘houses’ to ‘new-build city centre flats’ … not the same MSW, not the same at all.

2. Halifax has just published a report based on Empty Homes Agency stats. It reveals that:

  • 17 local authorities have a proportion of empty homes that is at least twice the national average
  • All seventeen English LAs with the highest proportion of empty private homes are in the North of England with nine in the North West.
  • Fifteen of the 17 LAs with the highest proportions of empty private homes are amongst the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England, according to the CLG’s 2007 Indices of Deprivation.

My point? Very simple: if we’re going to debate the issue of housing supply we need to consider property type, location, economic performance of an area, demographic trends and government planning policy.

In absolute terms there may well be lots of properties out there, but what we need is the right (and habitable) property types in the right places.

When MSW packs her bags and moves to a deprived northern borough I’ll be a bit more willing to take her arguments seriously …

November 3, 2008 at 5:28 PM 8 comments

Quick Poll: Rate Cuts – Good Or Bad News?

  • All talk is of a hefty rate cut this week – a half point at least, and possibly even a full one per cent.

But thus far lenders have been reluctant to pass on the cuts to consumers. So our question for today is:

[poll id="9"]

Use the comment box below to explain your answer.

November 3, 2008 at 11:29 AM 3 comments

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