Zoopla continues to paint the town purple

Zoopla is continuing to paint the town purple with its latest billboard advertising.

09.06.14 Advert 1

New posters can be seen in some of the most high profile advertising locations available, including two double-sided tower screens on the A4 Hammersmith flyover.

This section of the A4 sees large volumes of traffic, including daily commuters and people from overseas travelling between Heathrow and Central London.

The iconic digital gateway to the UK’s Capital regarded as the UK’s best digital advertising opportunity


More adverts can be seen in the City and on the prominent Holland Park roundabout.

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Have you seen one of these outdoor adverts? Did it inspire you into prose or poetry?

Let us know by leaving a comment and you could win some Zoopla goodies.

14.03.14 Adverts 2

Competition ends June 13 at 11am, please enter a valid email when commenting so we can contact the winner.

June 9, 2014 at 2:20 PM 1 comment

UK Planning permissions reach new highs

The number of new homes granted planning permission has soared to its highest level since 2008, figures showed today.

03.04.14 New build

A total of 43,926 homes were given so-called outline planning permission during the first quarter, according to the Home Builders Federation.

The group said a total of 177,731 permissions were granted in the year to the end of March, the highest level since 2008.

But it warned that with house building activity increasing on the back of rising demand, driven largely by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, it was vital that the number of planning applications granted continued to rise.

The HBF added that although the number of individual properties that received planning permission rose during the first quarter, the number of sites that received consent actually fell.

A total of 679 sites were granted the first stage of planning permission during the three months to the end of March, down from 885 in the previous quarter and 807 during the same period of 2013.

The group warned that the planning permission process needed to be sped up if it was going to be able to meet growing housing demand.

“we are facing an acute housing crisis that will only be solved by building substantially more homes”

It said many sites became stuck in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots currently at the outline permission stage, waiting for full sign off by local authorities.

Outline planning permission is only the first stage of the planning process, and usually means that while planning permission has been granted in principle, there are a number of conditions that need to be met before work can begin on a site.

The HBF called on local authorities to ensure that their planning departments were sufficiently resourced, and applications were processed efficiently and speedily, so that developers could get to work on new sites.

It also urged the Government to urgently implement measures outlined in the Autumn Statement to speed up the planning permission process.

These measures included introducing legislation to remove ‘blockages’ in the system by imposing a limit on the pre-construction conditions local authorities can impose.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “All political parties and commentators now agree we are facing an acute housing crisis that will only be solved by building substantially more homes.

“The Help to Buy Equity Equity Loan scheme has led to a big increase in sales of new homes and the industry has responded and significantly increased output.

“Existing sites are being built out quicker and we now desperately need new sites to come on stream if we are to see increases in house building sustained. All builders are now identifying the planning system as the biggest threat to further increases in supply.”

House prices are currently being driven higher by a combination of strong demand and a shortage of supply.

Recent price growth has left the average home in England costing £265,612, according to Zoopla.

In 2007, the Government set a target of creating 240,000 new homes a year by 2016 in order to meet rising demand.

But recent figures showed that just 133,650 properties were started during the 12 months to the end of March.

New build properties for sale

1. Four bedroom detached house in Doncaster for £279,995

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2. Two bedroom semi-detached house in Yeovil for £165,000

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3. One bedroom flat in London for £550,000

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June 9, 2014 at 11:38 AM Leave a comment

House staging tips – making every room have a purpose

Have you been to view a house recently? Were you walked into a kitchen and told – somewhat unnecessarily – ‘this is the kitchen’? It is common practice for those showing people houses to announce the title of each room as it is entered, writes house staging expert Anna Hart. But when showing buyers a house, it is usually best to keep quiet and let the room speak for itself.

09.06.14 Hart 2

It is best to make it as obvious as possible to buyers what the purpose or identity of each room is – in your photographs, your floorplan, and when they visit the house for a viewing. This is especially important if your house has more than four bedrooms, or its floor plan is unusual in any way.

When we search for a new house there are a few basic parameters that we type into Zoopla to narrow down the available options so the search only returns those we’re likely to be interested in. Location, price and number of bedrooms are the three major criteria, and number of bedrooms is the common way to judge how large a house is.

While there are dozens of uses for a bedroom other than for sleeping, when you’re selling, my rule is that you’re best to give buyers what they will feel comfortable with, what they expect, and what they can understand.

09.06.14 Hart 3 09.06.14 Hart 4

That means if you’re selling a house that is listed or described as having a living room, dining room and four bedrooms, then you need to show your buyers a living room, a dining room and four bedrooms – not a living room, an office, two bedrooms, a gym and a storage room.

Many people find it difficult to imagine things any other way than how you present them. So if they’re looking at photos expecting to see four bedrooms and they only see two, the first thing they have to do is work out which of the other photos are the dining room and the missing two bedrooms. This makes extra work for buyers, and that’s never a good idea if you want to wow them and keep them happy. You want to tick their criteria boxes immediately, not make them work.

Anna’s top 5 tips for presenting easily identifiable rooms:

  1. property_viewingIf a room counts as one of your advertised bedrooms, put an appropriately sized bed in it. It means double beds for double rooms, avoid king size unless it really is large enough to take it, and use single beds for smaller rooms.
  2. If you’ve got a downstairs room that’s not a kitchen, utility room or lounge, then put a dining table and chairs in it and call it the dining room.
  3. Try to define and present a positive use for extra rooms, such as rooms upstairs that are not listed as bedrooms, or additional living spaces downstairs. Office, studio or library are far more attractive than ‘dumping grounds’ or storage areas.
  4. Always have a floor plan on your internet listing, and make sure the room names match up with the image you’re presenting in the photos for each room.
  5. Ask your estate agent to name each photo on your internet listing appropriately, such as using the terms ‘master bedroom’, ‘family bathroom’ and ‘en-suite’.


09.06.14 Hart

This four bedroom semi-detached house in York has room names on the photographs, which is especially useful in pictures eight and nine where they identify the ground floor bedroom and shower room. The third bedroom is named but has no bed in and so putting a single bed in this room would help buyers be confident that a bed would actually fit into this small room (provided of course that a bed will fit). The floor plan is useful as well, but would be even more helpful if the ground floor bedroom was named as such to match the photographs, instead of simply ‘reception room’.

03.01.13 Anna photoAnna Hart is an expert in staging homes for sale, working with house sellers to maximise their chances of selling as quickly and as profitably as possible. Anna’s ebook ‘How To Sell Your House For Top Price, Fast‘ brings her practical and proven house sale preparation strategy to sellers across Britain, and there’s a special offer on her books for Zoopla blog readers here.



June 9, 2014 at 11:10 AM Leave a comment

Nearly 50% of young homeowners fear interest rate rises

Young homeowners are storing up problems for the future by resorting to “desperate measures” to get on to the property ladder, a study warned today.

First time buyer 3

Seven out of 10 homeowners aged between 25 and 34 admit they relied on non-standard routes to buy a house, according to the HomeOwners Alliance.

Some took out a mortgage with a term of more than 25 years, while others opted for an interest-only loan, took out a mortgage with a very low interest rate or put down only a small deposit.

Young homebuyers also turned to the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ for help, or took advantage of Government schemes such as Help to Buy.

But among those who could not afford to buy their home with a standard mortgage, half admitted they were worried about their housing debt.

Around 23 per cent said they were concerned about the size of their mortgage and being able to repay it one day, while 20 per cent said they worried about getting into negative equity.

A further 19 per cent were nervous about how they would afford their mortgage payments over the long term.

Most worryingly, 49 per cent admitted that they feared that an interest rate rise would make it more difficult for them to meet their monthly repayments.

The HomeOwners Alliance warned that while non-standard financing options may help young people to afford their first home, they could also be storing up problems for the future.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said: “As house prices rise and homeownership levels drop, young people are left with no choice but to resort to desperate measures to realise their dream of owning their own home.

“This goes to show how the housing crisis is giving young people a raw deal.

“Schemes to help make homes more affordable in the short term do little to solve the fact that we need many more new homes, in the right places and at the right price.”

The research, which was carried out with conveyancing provider myhomemove, found that young people were more likely to have to take steps to make homeownership affordable than other buyers, with 72 per cent resorting to non-standard methods, compared with 62 per cent of people across the population as a whole.

Taking out a mortgage with a term of longer than 25 years was the most popular option for people struggling to get on to the property ladder, with 28 per cent of young homebuyers doing this.

A further 24 per cent borrowed money from family or friends to boost their deposit, while 23 per cent opted for a low interest rate or mortgage deal.

Around 12 per cent of young homeowners said they had taken out a high loan to value mortgage, and 10 per cent had used a shared ownership scheme to get on to the property ladder.

But despite the challenges they face, the desire to buy a property is still strong among non-homeowners, with 68 per cent saying they aspired to buying their own place in future.

But 52 per cent of potential first-time buyers admitted that they viewed high house prices as a very serious problem.

Doug Crawford, chief executive of myhomemove, said: “Our own data shows that over the past year, the average deposit size has decreased by 1.2 per cent despite house prices rising by nearly 8 per cent – just showing how much schemes like Help to Buy are having an impact.”


June 9, 2014 at 7:00 AM Leave a comment

Hundreds of JCB diggers buried underground – London’s property development legacy?

So how do you solve a problem like ‘digger’? A small JCB digger that is. Used to dig an increasing number of basements in London and the South East, the challenge is getting them out once the work is finished. Developers are turning to an alternative solution to the problem.

06.06.14 Digger 2

Image via Till Krech.

The development of so-called “iceberg” homes has soared across London as homeowners who seek more space have no option but to build downwards due to the capital’s planning rules that restrict building upwards.

The luxury basements often include swimming pools, cinemas and studies – and require huge amounts of building work that can only be completed with a small digger.

06.06.14 Digger 1The difficulty is getting the machine out again as the digger often has to go so deep into the earth that it is unable to drive out again.

Developers would often use a large crane to scoop up the digger from the large hole, but now they are no longer bothering with this approach. Instead, they are simply buried in the ground with a layer of concrete.

One developer has suggested that as many as 1,000 diggers may now be buried in London.

Ed Smith explains in the New Statesman: “A new solution emerged: simply bury the digger in its own hole. Given the exceptional profits of London property development, why bother with the expense and hassle of retrieving a used digger – worth only £5,000 or £6,000 – from the back of a house that would soon be sold for several million? The time and money expended on rescuing a digger were better spent moving on to the next big deal.”

“This metallic icon was a special sacrificial gesture”?

“The new method, now considered standard operating practice, is to cover the digger with ‘hardcore’, a mixture of sand and gravel. Then a layer of concrete is simply poured over the top.

“Digger? What digger? The digger has literally dug its own grave – just as the boring machines that excavated the Channel Tunnel were abandoned beneath the passage they had just created.”

He concludes by imagining an archaeological programme chancing upon the diggers many years from now: “What will the explanatory caption say? ‘Situated immediately adjacent to the heated underground swimming pool and cinema at the back of the house, no superior London address was complete without one of these highly desirable icons, sometimes nicknamed ;the Compact Cat’. This metallic icon was a special sacrificial gesture, a symbol of deep thanks to the most discussed, revered and pre-eminent god of the age, worshipped around the world: London Property.'”


June 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM 3 comments

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