Graph Of The Week: Market Confidence Improves

This week’s graph comes from our research team, whose MyHomeLife survey regularly polls our visitors to find out how they see the housing market.

Back in May – just as prices were beginning to pick up again – they were pretty downbeat. Only 11 per cent thought prices were recovering while 23 per cent expected them to keep falling.

By August – no doubt in response to several months of positive reports – 18.7 per cent felt prices were on the rise while 17.9 per cent expected them to keep falling.

The most recent wave of research was carried out in November and found that 30 per cent thought prices were rising while just 12.8 per cent thought they would keep falling.

Looking further ahead, 45.5 per cent expect the market to stabilise over the next six months.

This is somewhat at odds with the gloomier predictions for 2010, but it does accurately reflect the surprising recovery this year.

Can it continue? Our users seem to think it can, but only if there’s more money available at the bottom end: 84 per cent think a full recovery will depend on greater mortgage availability to first-time buyers.

With this in mind, it’s worth noting that lending levels, while still low, have risen significantly over the year (from a low of 27,294 in November 2008 to 57,345 in October 2009).

The latter half of 2009 surprised us all; if this lending trend continues, could 2010 also prove to be a better year than many pundits are predicting? Your thoughts, please!

December 21, 2009 at 5:34 PM Leave a comment

What’s my overseas home worth now?

For over three decades now we’ve been a nation gripped by house price ups and downs, famously keen to discuss the subject at dinner parties, bars and work.

And quite right too. There are half a dozen UK house price indices available these days – including our own one – each offering a snapshot of the market. And happily for home owners they answer a simple question – ‘how much is my property worth’?

Spain's gorgeous Mediterranean coast: but how much are homes there really worth?

Spain's gorgeous Mediterranean coast: but how much are homes there really worth?

But buy abroad and it’s much harder to find this out. The official index in Spain, for example, has been heavily criticised. Spanish property expert Martin Dell of is sceptical of its accuracy,  referring recently to the “garbage that the Spanish government continues to produce”.

While most agents on Spain’s Mediterranean coast admit prices have dropped by 20 per cent from their 2007 peak,  official figures show a drop of just six per cent – which big guns including Reuters, the International Monetary Fund and several Spanish banks have cast doubt on.

A report by a leading consultancy showed a drop of nine percent on the Costas over the past 12 months alone – so how can the official Spanish figures be so far from the what most people on the ground say is the truth?

But the lack of information is nothing compared to some other popular overseas buying hotspots – if you own a property in any of the East European states (particularly Bulgaria), Cape Verde, Brazil – I could go on – then house price data is non-existent or difficult to find.

All I can say is this: if you ever feel the need to scoff  at indices and some people’s obssession with house prices, then pause to consider how lucky we are to have so much information.

Dull though it may seem sometimes, it enables buyers in the UK to make informed decisions in a more transparent market – unlike the Spanish.

December 21, 2009 at 4:35 PM Leave a comment

Cate Blanchett’s Former Home For Sale

When Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett moved to Brighton a few years ago, she had to close off a whole street in order to have her enormous stone bath winched into the house.


Blanchett later sold the Grade I Listed Regency townhouse to songwriter Richard Stannard, who has worked with U2, Kylie Minogue, Will Young and Little Boots.

He added to the property by building a sound-proof music studio and recording booth in the basement, but is now selling up with an asking price of £3.1 million.

Blanchett’s famous bathtub is still here, as is the funky red metal staircase she installed.

Other features include suede covered walls in the master bedroom (!); a top-notch home cinema; and a tunnel under the seafront road to seven acres of private gardens.

You’ll be wanting a peek inside, we know, so here are some pictures. Not bad, is it?!

(Click on pics for full details)
 £3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

£3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

 £3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

£3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

 £3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

£3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

 £3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

£3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

 £3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

£3.1m, five-bed house, Lewes Crescent, Brighton, Savills (Tel: 0843 2822 019)

December 21, 2009 at 1:55 PM 3 comments

Wreck Of The Week

The Property: A detached barn for conversion

The Place: Gimingham, Norwich

The Price: £80,000

The Pain: The main issues here are that this is quite a small building – 700 square feet – and that the planning consent is for a holiday residence only. Aside from that, it looks like a relatively straightforward conversion.

The Gain: It’s in pretty good shape and won’t break the bank to convert – the agent thinks you could manage it with a budget of £50,000-£60,000.

It will be worth around £220,000 when completed, which is not bad at all.

It’s very well located just 2.5 miles from the coast and four miles from Mundesley, which has a small high street served by local shops. It also has a medical centre, a library, a post office, a primary school and three pubs.

The Agent: Barn Masters (Tel: 0843 2823 467)

December 18, 2009 at 5:36 PM Leave a comment

Why Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp are such a des duo

Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp have the perfect celebrity jobs, or at least I  thought so after a short spell working with them.

Their careers are lucrative, part-time and, although they wear out shoe leather trudging around dozens of properties for each programme, not particularly arduous.

Their pickings have been rich: enough to provide Phil with a thrumming Range Rover and Kirstie with a substantial designer wardrobe.

And when Phil’s executive home search firm, Garrington, got into trouble earlier this year, it turned out he had been well-off enough to personally fund its staff’s salaries for a while.

The duo’s fame, which the BBC feels is bankable enough to poach off an ailing Channel 4 – it was revealed today –  is based on an unusual mix.

Not famous enough to be mobbed in the high street when they’re filming, but well-known enough to earn £100,000 or more from their TV contracts and appearance fees, Phil and Kirstie are a modern phenomenon – the professional celebrity.

Both had ‘real’ jobs before coming to TV but have gone on to acquire national treasure status – something only property-related programmes seem able to create. Consider Amanda Lamb, Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and Kevin McCloud as well.

But why has Phil and Kirstie’s chemistry worked so well in particular? On camera their rather stiff and forced attempts at flirting don’t wash – we all know she’s far too feisty for cool, serene Phil and his pink-lipped grins.

And away from the cameras the two are more like a bored married couple. Kirstie’s flustering and off-the-cuff opinions tended to bemuse and mildly irritate Phil in equal measure – although touchingly in private he often picks fluff off her coat, a gesture usually restricted to partners or parents.

I liked them because they didn’t really try to be famous – which is perhaps the key. Both know that if Location, Location, Location does fall off schedules or the BBC transfer doesn’t work out, they have other talents to fall back on.

December 17, 2009 at 7:09 PM 2 comments

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