Rat and Mouse
Entries in February 2008
Fri
29
Feb

Property - a guide to shorting it [Reuters]
West Norwood - hot-ish [Telegraph]
Amy Winehouse leaves London home [Digital Spy]
House trashed, puppy stoned... teenage sleepover in London home [This Is London]
Ten things about renting [Times]
Unorthodox interior design... two and a half feet of cat shit [CNN Video]
Mortgage lending at 1995 level [Citywire]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

Tuesday morning linkage - catching up [February 26, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage

Way back - and I mean way back - in 2005, the Rat and Mouse reported on steel gazillionaire Lakshmi Mittal's ruckus with The Bishop's Avenue neighbour Princess Samerah concerning plans to build a development of 12 apartments with balconies overlooking his Summer Palace. The ruckus has now ended. Because - according to this - Mittal's decided that if you can't beat 'em, clear out. The house is said to be listed at £40m, with local specialist Glentree Estates, although there's no sign of online particulars right now.

Tumbleweed blowing down Millionaires' Row [February 18, 2008]

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More in this Category - N2

It's a fourth monthly fall, according to Nationwide figures... this time, 0.5% for February, bringing the annual rate of inflation down to 2.7%. The last time Nationwide reported four months of falls was 2000. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Thu
28
Feb

And yesterday it was all looking so hopeless. Now there's news of Foxtons, Muswell Hill estate agent, Brian Gradner, stepping into the fray to defend a Supersave shopkeeper from a drunken chav shoplifter who spat in his face and racially abused him. Credit where credit's due... respect, from the Rat and Mouse, Mr Gradner.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Forty million pounds of it, according to this. The property's in Holland Park, it was once the Burmese Embassy, it's been a home for the blind, by the end of 2008 it's likely to be one of the UK's most talked about trophy homes. Cowell is the latest celeb - after everybody's favourite estate agent - to extend downwards. Plans include an underground swimming pool and car park, and will comprise 21,000 sq ft.

Going underground [September 18, 2007]

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes
Wed
27
Feb

This time, Bairstow Eves, who apparently managed to post photocopied images of a client's passport and driver's license on the Internet. They meant to post photographs of the house. A house... a passport... easy mistake to make. More here.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

Jeez... one moment it's some Government body, next it's the Commies. What's an honest estate agent to do? According to its blog, Class War is planning an afternoon of disruption for Foxtons, Islington on March 3. Furthermore, they're calling on workers to dismantle agents' boards... except only the illegal ones.

[thanks to FP]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

It's a test case. The complaint is that the Foxtons letting contract with landlords stipulates that it can continue to take commission from a landlord after the first term has ended if a tenant renews, and that it can take commission for the full term even if a landlord decides to end an agreement and sell halfway through a tenancy. It seems to me that Foxtons is taking the heat here for a practise that is not uncommon. One "high-profile" complainant, quoted in the Telegraph, is Blue Peter's Konnie Huq, landlady on two flats in west London:

She said on Tuesday that the OFT's decision to take Foxtons to the High Court was "a victory for landlords for everywhere" [sic].

The expected cheering in the streets didn't follow.

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More in this Category - Letting
Tue
26
Feb

2007 saw btl mortgages grow by almost a quarter, to 1,038,000. The growth, however, really reflects the first six months of the year, before landlords began to go blue and sweat. Here, This Is Money catches Birmingham Midshires in a not-the-whole-truth moment claiming that landlords made an average return of 16% in 2007, more than twice what they could have made by tracking the Footsie. But...

... the report excludes the costs of letting fees and mortgage interest costs, both of which would substantially eat into investors' returns.

More interesting are Council of Mortgage Lenders figures showing that arrears in the btl sector are less of a problem than in the general mortgage market.

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More in this Category - Letting

You know you want to. RottenNeighbor.com is a new public service website with a twist. Use the embedded Google map to tag your irritating neighbours, and explain why you hate them. Join the message board to discuss further. It's being marketed as a real estate site, aimed at helping potential buyers avoid nasty surprises. But surely there's a conflict of interest here. I wouldn't want to advertise my noisy, abusive neighbours to potential buyers... and so risk either driving down the price of my property or discourage nice, new, fragrant people from moving into the area. Or am I being picky? Anyway, it's a US site, and the London map is surprisingly sparse right now. You know what to do.

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More in this Category - Property online

Coming soon to C4... Alain De Botton on the perfect home [4homes forum]
Founder sells house on Gumtree, hedges bets with Chesterton [Sunday Times]
Tony Parsons on London bedsits, punk and Burchill [Sunday Times]
On private listings [Observer]
Mortgage approvals pick up [Reuters]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Friday afternoon linkage - Madonna peace talks succeed [February 22, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Mon
25
Feb

The plan was to bring you one of those little jpeg representations of the front page that the Rat and Mouse is so fond of, but the front page repeatedly crashed my capture client. So I saved it as a pdf... a 60 page pdf. It's now clear that I'm not going to be able to bring you an image of the House Prices Will Never Crash front page, because it's just too big and too mad... but what follows are a few highlights.

20080225Hpwc1

It's a truly extraordinary creation. It includes dinner party dialogue in screenplay format celebrating house price hikes, predictions of stratospheric rises in property values pegged to the Olympics and lots of pictures of rockets. Most of all, it's about the sell-to-renters. It doesn't like them.

20080225Hpwnc4

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In fact, the website's so crazy...

20080225Hpwc5

... that it's tempting to wonder whether it's the work of a HousePriceCrash agent out to discredit the bulls.

But... there are videos, too... 140 in the last three weeks, none of which I feel like embedding in the Rat and Mouse, and some of which are entirely unacceptable. What's going on? I'm scared. Who's Bruno?

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More in this Category - House prices

Good morning, and welcome to a new week. House prices have fallen again. This time... it's a February fall of 0.2%, according to Hometrack, leaving annual inflation at just 1.4%. The worst news is for vendors in a hurry... the average time taken to shift a property is up at 8.5 weeks, the longest since Hometrack began asking. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Fri
22
Feb

Humberts: For Sale [FT]
Garden grabs continue [This Is Money]
Does a swap require stamp duty? [Times]
In NY: Madonna peace talks succeed [Herald Tribune]
Luxury affordable homes in London [Times]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

Thursday lunchtime linkage - got'ya! [February 21]

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More in this Category - Linkage

Supt Wayne Mawson - head of operations for Haringey - has admitted moving out of his Hackney home because of the youths sitting on his wall. They apparently made him nervous when he arrived back from work. That's comforting.

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More in this Category - E8

It's the continuing battle to save Little Green Street... a Kentish Town cobbled street with 300 years of history, a handful of families and immortality thanks to the Kinks' Dead End Street video (click the link above). According to this, actor Tom Conti led protesters this week as they lay down in the street to block site traffic.

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More in this Category - NW5
Thu
21
Feb

Roof to collapse on lofts [Times]
New property fraud avoidance guide [HotProperty]
British Gas: price increases necessary to avoid loss... hah hah got'ya! [This Is Money]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Wednesday morning linkage - rate cuts, stamp duty and more Northern Rock clownishness [February 20, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
"I’m still living in an hotel. We have looked at houses and it’s a lot more expensive than it is up north."

Millionaire Spurs star Jonathan Woodgate balks at London property "stupid money". More here.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes
Wed
20
Feb

Alliance & Leicester, Coventry Building Society, Abbey National and Godiva Mortgages are all scrapping their 100%+ mortgages this week, leaving just Northern Rock and Birmingham Midshires in the stupid mortgage game. So, if you're shopping for a 125% mortgage, you'd better wind up your hat propeller and move quickly.

HBOS under fire for 125% mortgage [November 7, 2006]
Super-mortgage leads news agenda [November 1, 2006]
Your big fat 100% mortgage [March 6, 2006]
Hollingworth defends the 125% mortgage [February 10, 2006]
Endowment crisis - we're more stupid than anyone thought [February 6, 2006]
Great new crazy mortgage [June 16, 2005]

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More in this Category - _Other

According to the new edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to London, the future of fun is to be found east, with Hoxton, Brick Lane, Whitechapel et al officially ending the West End's part time dominance.

[via Guardian]

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More in this Category - _Other

MPC member hints at rate cuts [Independent]
Stamp Duty - Mr No Friends [HotProperty]
Northern Rock's unorthodox approach to self-promotion [Telegraph]
125% borrowers face 125% pain [Times]
The iniquities of the market [4homes blog]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Tuesday morning linkage - the taxman, the landlord, the lenders, Kate Moss and Ali G [February 19, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Tue
19
Feb

According to figures from Mouseprice, Kensington & Chelsea's glory days are over, and it's Courtenay Avenue, a road running parallel to The Bishop's Avenue, in Highgate that's now paved in the thickest gold and lined with the bushiest money trees. The average property price necessary to achieve this? Just £6.8m. Last year, the winner was Kensington Square, with an average price a whole 23% less than this year's... an example of what's happening in the prime-and-above market. Go here for some interesting analysis from Bloomberg.

Tumbleweed blowing down Millionaires' Row [February 18, 2008]

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More in this Category - N6

Brent and Harrow Councils are getting tough on residents who park their cars in their front gardens without permission. How tough? This tough. They've taken to putting up bollards in the middle of the night, in some instances actually blocking in cars that have already been parked.

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More in this Category - _Other

The taxman and the landlords [Scotsman]
Northern Rock would like to thank you for your £3,500 [Telegraph]
Demand, faltering; supply, way up [Daily Mail]
Don't love your lender [Patrick.net]
Australians seek Ali G's help [This Is Local London]
Kate Moss's home vandalised [Adelaide Now]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

Monday morning linkage - high heels and deposits [February 18, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage

House prices are up 3.2% in February, according to Rightmove, following a reported fall of 0.8% in January. A recovery? Not necessarily, says Miles Shipside. More, courtesy of Citywire, here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
18
Feb

This sweet Candy & Candy development has been the subject of a record-breaking level of speculation, but apparently:

Of 80 available units, 40 have exchanged, totaling more than £600m, with average unit prices of over £20m.
Price per square foot is "nudging toward" £6,000.
Volume has been increasing in the last quarter.
20% of buyers have been British (a large proportion, in the world of super-prime).

The Lancasters - some prices revealed [January 17, 2008]
One Hyde Park: Bank of Scotland out, Eurohypo in [October 26, 2007]
One Hyde Park penthouse - SOLD! TO THE OWNER! [March 29, 2007]

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More in this Category - SW1

Reports of the return of sell-to-rent began to appear toward the end of 2007, and over the weekend they made front page property news in the Observer. According to Rightmove research, the practice - selling, hopefully, at the top, renting for a while while prices drop, and then either buying back in further up the ladder or taking a profit - is picking up pace. The Rat and Mouse can only applaud bubble-sitters' courage. Few financial decisions are as risky, or real-world calculations as tricky... taking in the cost of storage, rents (which can go up and down), the costs of selling and buying, the value of time, inconvenience and risk, all multiplied by however long it might take for prices to start to drop and then assuming it's possible to buy in just before everybody else does. The chances of getting all this right are low, and the Rat and Mouse has seen shrewd people brought down by this tactic. Exciting, though. Best of luck.

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More in this Category - _Other

Reports of the return of sell-to-rent began to appear toward the end of 2007, and over the weekend they made front page property news in the Observer. According to Rightmove Findaproperty (apologies, see comments below) research, the practice - selling, hopefully, at the top, renting for a while while prices drop, and then either buying back in further up the ladder or taking a profit - is picking up pace. The Rat and Mouse can only applaud bubble-sitters' courage. Few financial decisions are as risky, or real-world calculations as tricky... taking in the cost of storage, rents (which can go up and down), the costs of selling and buying, the value of time, inconvenience and risk, all multiplied by however long it might take for prices to start to drop and then assuming it's possible to buy in just before everybody else does. The chances of getting all this right are low, and the Rat and Mouse has seen shrewd people brought down by this tactic. Exciting, though. Best of luck.

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More in this Category - _Other

An interesting interview with Trevor Abrahmsohn, the man who brokered the Toprak Mansion deal and is now selling Lakshmi Mittal's gaff next door, in the Telegraph. He has The Bishop's Avenue sewn up, and he doesn't seem in the least concerned that it's a ghost town. The piece is a good read, and includes a potted history of London's most expensive avenue.

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More in this Category - N2

The facts appear to be: serving prisoner manages to take out nine buy-to-let mortgages, using the prison as his official address on the forms. The FTAdviser has an unnamed source, who reveals that the lender in question is located in the north east and is currently in crisis. Northern Rock, however, denies it's them. It appears to be a breaking story, scooped from local IFA gossip, and the local police apparently haven't yet received a complaint. In the context of a growing mortgage fraud crisis, this could be interesting.

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More in this Category - _Other

HIPS schmips - on shoddy work and photocopies [Independent on Sunday]
In London, what's going up? What could come down? [Telegraph]
Ouch... Britain's biggest builder in breach with banks [Observer]
America on fire [CNN Money]
Assetz' big bull-snort [Assetz]
Homeowners take everything, including kitchen sink [Homemove.co.uk]
Woman falls for "easy street" pitch and proves house prices can go up and down, idiots go in one direction only [Guardian]
More on the MPs second-homes scam [Sunday Times]
High heels and deposits [Observer]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Friday afternoon linkage - Lambeth gangs, the bankers are coming, the sexy suburbs [February 15, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Sun
17
Feb

Breaking story, here.

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More in this Category - _Other
Fri
15
Feb

More Bank of England not your dad news [Telegraph]
Lambeth, like South Central LA, except with funny walk [BBC]
Not in our name [Telegraph]
Look out, the bankers are coming [Times]
Indo-Russki battle for prime London [Times of India]
The lure of the sexy suburb [My Finances]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

Thursday afternoon linkage - ill-gotten riches [February 14, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage

My favourite email to the Rat and Mouse so far this year:

Hi There, Just wanted to let you know that your site contains a Googlewhack (i.e. only one web result
returned when you enter the words shambolic degentrification into google).

Thanks, John. You've made me absurdly proud.

20080215Googlewhack

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More in this Category - About

Despite the scare stories circulating at the back end of last year, of residential auction houses deserted but for a couple of spectators and a handful of derelicts who've come in out the cold, the auctioneers kicking the tumbleweed... day one of the Allsop Residential Auction sounded like the old days. We've a report of a thousand people on the day, including first-time buyers, an 86% sale rate, and properties going for way above what must surely have been some conservative guide prices. Big sales included Flat 6, 21 De Vere Gardens (Kensington) which made £1.925m (guide price: £1.25m-£1.5m). Day two... February 18, Cumberland Hotel.

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More in this Category - House prices
Thu
14
Feb

I've scoured the Sotheby's website but to no avail, so if anybody else can lay their mouse on the particulars, I'd be keen to hear from them. The story is that Sotheby's are marketing the Green Street (Mayfair) top floor flat rented for the Beatles by Brian Epstein in the autumn of '63, shortly after She Love You. It's the only property the Beatles stayed in together, and it's featured on the cover of The Beatles Book ('63 edition). Guide price: £1.75m.

UPDATE - THANKS TO MARK IN THE COMMENTS... A LINK.

If these walls could talk... Naked Chef edition (February 8, 2008]

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More in this Category - For sale

Government figures reveal two years of falling owner-occupancy, with 2007 representing a particularly dramatic fall (the largest on record) from 70.3% to 69.8%, the lowest rate since 1998. London saw the biggest falls, by 6.3% between 2001 and 2006, and there's absolutely no reason to doubt that trend hasn't continued. More, courtesy of Citwire, here.

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More in this Category - _Other

Goldman Sachs predicts 7% house price fall over 24 months [Times]
Build your own... save thousands [Reuters]
Russians in London... and their "ill-gotten" riches [Times]
City bonuses... £7bn [This Is London]
On shared ownership [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

Wednesday afternoon linkage - smash and grab [February 13, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage

That was Mervyn King talking at a press conference for the Inflation Report, yesterday. He pointed to what is surely any intelligent person's preferred option... static house prices gently shifting price to earnings ratios over the next five years. Interestingly, he also tackled the decoupling of lenders' rates and base rates, suggesting surprise only at people's surprise. Naturally, he said, lenders will want to rebuild margins. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

An interesting Merryn newsletter, on developer scams, buy-to-let gullibility, the Batoum Gardens house (tasty) heading to auction and what a central London agent let drop recently:

One agent caught off his guard told me a few weeks ago that going on his experience prices are already off 10-15% in some areas.

It's an interesting read. Catch it here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Wed
13
Feb

Police smash top London properties, grab drugs [Telegraph]
Nondoms prop up prime market [London Stock Exchange]
Sub-prime... greater proportion of repos than mortgages... but why's this a suprise? [BBC]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog

Monday morning linkage - open-plan living, new dining rooms, hip tours, greedy MPs [February 11, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage

The number of surveyors/agents reporting a fall beat the number reporting a rise by 54.7% You'd need to go back to 1992 to equal that. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices

Back in August, the Rat and Mouse celebrated the Coin Street Community Builders' plans for a 472ft tower on the South Bank. We warned, however, that English Heritage weren't happy. Here's news of a public enquiry... currently taking place at Lambeth Town Hall.

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More in this Category - SE1

After 15 years, according to a judge. Djabar Babal has been awarded squatter's rights to his £200,000 Stockport home, after failing to pay anything on the property since coughing up just £40 sometime in 1993. So is the rule good news for people struggling to pay their mortgages? Not likely... it may mean lenders acting quicker on defaulters, for fear they'll lose everything if they hang around. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other
Tue
12
Feb

They're looking for stories of triumph or tragedy in the current property market for The Truth About Property... a property TV highlight of 2007. If it sound like you, contact Gemma Peakhall and tell her the Rat and Mouse sent you.

UPDATE - I'M TOLD THE ABOVE IS A DODGY EMAIL ADDRESS... I'LL LOOK INTO IT, BUT FOR NOW THERE'S A CONTACT PAGE, COURTESY OF THE BBC, HERE.

Got an interesting property? Wanna be on TV? [February 1, 2008]

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More in this Category - Property TV

... Pointing out that only 40% of first-time buyers in 2007 managed to escape the tax by buying under the £125,000 limit. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

Buy-to-let's not dead, according to GMTV in association with homebuying and facelift experts BuyAssociation. It's a radio show, but you can download the MP3 by pressing this.

Foxton's podcast dalek [July 13, 2007]

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More in this Category - Letting
Mon
11
Feb

It's tempting to apply screenwriter William Goldman's first rule of the film industry - "Nobody knows anything" - to the property market. In the red corner... HousePriceCrash and HousingPANIC accusing the mainstream media of talking up the market in order to service vested interests. In the blue corner... this morning's heroes, Assetz, now accusing the FT and the BBC of talking the very same market down. (In the middle, in a freshly starched white shirt, the Rat and Mouse... when I say break, then break...)

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More in this Category - House prices

What's all the excitement about? It's the Government's official completion figures for December... the figures that are based on somebody showing somebody else the money, rather than what a vendor dreams about getting or a number pulled out of an estate agent's watch pocket. And December's particularly interesting because - as far as the Rat and Mouse is concerned - it gives us that true 2008 house price inflation figures, which was... 9.1%. (We got there, by the way, after a December rise of 0.4%.) That 9.1% figure is down from a July peak of 12.3% and represent a year low; and the three-month figures (10%, from 10.5% in November) also suggest a softening market. Now, back to the 2007 predictions. The looked something like this:

20080211Predictions

Which just goes to show what an almost unimagined peak prices are currently teetering on. A couple of Decembers ago, the Rat and Mouse called the above list "a big bunch of bulls", and yet only the very, er, bullishest came close. Well done, Assetz, the entire Rat and Mouse staff will be raising a toast to you tonight, on expenses, at one of London's swankiest champagne bars. (To see what Assetz have predicted for 2008, go here.)

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More in this Category - House prices

Families and open-plan living [Sunday Times]
Nondom tax threat to super-prime [Times]
Hip tours by Urban Gentry [International Herald Tribune]
Prince's Watfrod eco-home not as eco as he'd hoped [Guardian]
MPs consider "cleaning up" politics by giving themselves £22,000 extra a year [Independent]
New visions of the dining room [Sunday Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Friday morning linkage - Nondom crackdown bad for business, Debt Factor winner scoops £10,000 [February 8, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Fri
08
Feb

20080208Brickschicks

Returning to the Times, briefly... The Bricks Chicks. Love it. A kind of Charlie's Angels... with interest rates. Although I thought there were laws about this kind of sexual discrimination.

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More in this Category - Property online

It's the Chequer Street house made famous by Jamie Oliver in his very first TV series. It's over three floors and has been expensively modernised with five plasmas and fibre optics, and comes with a garage. The famous spiral staircase remains, but my memory of The Naked Chef isn't good enough for me to be able to tell whether the kitchen's changed. It's with Stirling Ackroyd and it's POA (of course, if somebody would like to apply and let us know, we'd be all ears). Particulars here.

20080208Oliver

If these walls could talk... George Bernard Shaw edition [January 30, 2008]
If these walls could talk... Peter Pan edition [January 15, 2008]

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More in this Category - For sale

They don't get a link, but it's pretty clear whom Anne Ashworth is talking about here.

This pro-crash lobby accuses the economists at Nationwide and Halifax of publishing figures that give a falsely optimistic view. Journalists who report these numbers are deemed to be either mouthpieces for lenders or determined to support the value of their own property investments. The motives of this online fraternity that longs for the human misery produced by a market collapse are a mystery. Perhaps they hope that if they spread sufficient gloom, their rantings will become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The Rat and Mouse believes the motives are a mystery because they're a complete mixture. At the more noble end... a mixture of old-fashioned Marxism and a genuine desire to address some of the iniquities of the system. Less noble... envy and a desire to punish (although these motives haven't been thought through, because it won't be the rich who'll be punished by rising interest rates and lower house prices, it will be anybody who just managed to get a hand on the bottom rung of the property ladder). Furthermore... a few instances of a need - at any cost - to be proved right. Clearly, though, after a certain amount of time, all bets are off. You can't predict something, wait indefinitely for it to happen, and then claim a victory. And finally - of course - there are the nutters, who just like attacking people on the Internet. Luckily, the site has enough of the former to make it an interesting read. If that's your thing, don't miss out on HousingPANIC either.

Meanwhile, if you want to know who the nutters are, it might be worth watching the comments section below Anne Ashworth's article for the next few days.

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More in this Category - Property online

30% less mortgage advice given in last quarter of 2007 [Channel 4]
Nondom crackdown bad for business [Property Week]
Debt Factor winner scoops £10,000 [Sun]
Kate Moss takes in lodger [Times]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

Thursday morning linkage - expecting a cut? [February 7, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Thu
07
Feb

The Telegraph takes a tour of celebrity cake meister Eric Lanlard's modern Battersea home. Lanlard's the man behind Madonna's wedding cake and Brooklyn Beckham's first birthday cake. The apartment, all glass and steel and timber, packs a white grand piano, a specially made deep purple carpet and a hot tub. Go here, for the details, and pictures.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

From 5.5% to 5.25%. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

Expecting a cut today? [Channel 4]
It's all HIPs fault [The Business]
In trouble? Tell your lender... [Mirror]
Darling: UK housing market ballsier than US [Bloomberg]
Bloodsucking lenders [Telegraph]
Obnoxious student tenants [Telegraph]
Dubai buys Metropole [Google]
Return of the extended family [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog, since 2004

Wednesday morning linkage - unemployed must "work for homes", the rest of us must work for MPs' homes [February 6, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Wed
06
Feb

20080206Itv
Tonight, ITV1, 10.35pm... Repossession, Repossession, Repossession:

Business journalist Jeff Randall investigates how and why the nation got hooked on spending money it doesn't have - and concludes that people are about to wake up to the painful realisation that all debts eventually have to be paid.

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More in this Category - Property TV

Islington Green Party have named and shamed Foxtons for leaving the lights on. The estate agents and Borders book shop were condemned as Upper Street's worst polluters a few months ago. Borders have since been praised for changing policy, Foxtons is - apparently - still lit up like a casino. More here.

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More in this Category - Estate agents

20080206George
Apparently, the light's "special". It's the George Tavern on Commercial Road. Plans to knock down next door's Stepney's nightclub (mmm, sounds nice) and replace it with affordable housing has left the George's landlady concerned about the future of her pub. Moss and a band of east London fashionistas are also concerned... the pub's also used as an impromptu venue for fashion shoots. Go here for a picture of Moss in a campaigning t-shirt.

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More in this Category - E1

According to new research by the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit buy-to-let investment has had only a 7% effect on house prices in the last five years, throwing into doubt the assumption that the availability of buy-to-let mortgages has been an important factor in first-time buyer misery. The major causes of rising house prices and unaffordability have, the report suggests, been rising interest rates and higher numbers of households. The research follows similar finding by Capital Economics. Furthermore, both CE and NHPAU (NUPOW!!) believe that buy-to-let has had a positive effect on the quality and quantity of available rented accommodation. You might not like it, but that's what they're saying. More here.

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More in this Category - _Other

Poor Wendy Sloane and her £2m property conundrum [Sunday Times]
UK homeowners worth £2 trillion [Guardian]
Aylesbury Estate - coming or going? [icSouthLondon]
Meanwhile, at the Commons, the trough is overflowing [This Is London]
For and against... "work for home" plan [BBC]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

More MP pigs at property trough [February 5, 2008]
Monday afternoon linkage - ftbs and upsizers [February 4, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage
Tue
05
Feb

London's £2.5m plus property sector has clearly been too busy test driving Astons and lighting Cohibas to hear the news about the housing slowdown. According to Knight Frank, it saw a rise of 1.1% in January, with the market being led from the top... at £10m or more. Read more, here.

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More in this Category - House prices

Thanks to the Rat and Mouse reader who alerted me to this cracking tale of right honourable greed. Tory man-and-wife MPs Sir Nicholas Winterton and Ann Winterton have managed to get their trotters on £165,000 of Commons expenses for a £700,000 second home with zero mortgage. How've they managed that? They've taken the home out of their own name and into a "family trust", benefiting twice... avoiding any future inheritance tax when the property would have been left to their kids, and claiming £30,000 a year in "rental", tax money paid into the family trust to benefit their kids. Clearly, there's nothing illegal about this. But is it right? Sir Nicholas - challenged by the Standard - can't see why not:

He said: "I am not dishonest. We don't own the flat, because once it is handed over, it becomes the property of the beneficiaries of the trust [his children].
"I see nothing unethical or wrong in it. It was agreed by the Commons Fees office – I happen to rent a property that I bought outright."

Let's hear that again, Sir Nicholas:

"I happen to rent a property that I bought outright."

One of two things is happening here. He's either being disingenuous. He can see the problem, but chooses to pursue self-interest at the expense of ethics. Or, he really can't see why buying a house and paying his own family rent from the public purse is a problem. Either way, is this a man suited to making law?

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More in this Category - _Other

No shift at all in January, according to the Halifax, leaving the annual rate of house price inflation at 4.5%. More here.

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More in this Category - House prices
Mon
04
Feb

It's Bursting the House Price Bubble...

An exposure of sharp practice in the housing market which has kept house prices artificially high and plunged some homeowners into negative equity. Developers, valuers and solicitors all come under the microscope in Raphael Rowe's report, which reveals some nasty surprises for those who joined the buy-to let-frenzy.

Tonight, BBC 1, 8.30pm.

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More in this Category - Property TV

Will ftbs and up-sizers profit from slowdown? [Times]
Recession-proof properties [Sunday Telegraph]
And more on mortgage fraud [BBC]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

Friday morning linkage - the battle for King Street, Daphne and Rocco, the Candys and the barracks [February 1, 2008]

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More in this Category - Linkage

The rumours were that Prince Andrew had been forced to give Sunninghill Park in Ascot away at a bargain price of under £6m. But the Sunday Times have had a look at newly released Land Registry figures and discovered that the Prince somehow managed to secure no less than £15m, in a sale to a Kazakhstani business man. The property was a present from his mum on the occasion of his wedding. Beats a toaster. Since then he's managed to see his ex-wife off for just £300,000 and lives rent-free in Royal Lodge in the Windsor Great Park. Which all just goes to show... not so useless after all.

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More in this Category - Celebrity homes

"Sod London house prices" and "Screw working in Staines, hello Adelaide" are among a number of new South Australian Government slogans, designed to attract Brits who might be considering a move to Australia, and to further enforce national stereotypes that portray Australians as crude. The campaign - which starts today - will claim a four-bedroom detached house on the beach will cost as little as £195,000. According to this Australian news source, the campaign will be aimed at chefs, butchers, physiotherapists, dentists and dermatologists.

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More in this Category - _Other

An interesting piece in the Independent on Sunday about Tesco's imminent plans - after the failure of its private sales initiative in 2007 - to become a fully-fledged estate agency. According to the piece, we should expect to see estate agency offices and dedicated staff in Tesco supermarkets across the country by Spring. The agents will not only undercut traditional high street services - charging, the rumour goes, as little as 1% commission - but will also be able to use competition laws to force Rightmove to list their properties.

Tesco launches Rightmove complaint [December 11, 2007]
Tesco sounds retreat [October 4, 2007]
Estate agents grab whatever's to hand, prepare to fight Tesco [July 30, 2007]

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More in this Category - Estate agents

It's a paper by The Centre for Policy Studies and it suggests that a UK household pays, on average, £7,800 more in tax each year than in 1997. Disposable income is down from 71% of gross income to 67%. That's of gross income, which, frankly, surprises me. If I'd had to stick the disposable income tail on the donkey of gross income I'd have put it somewhere lower. The report - by the way - is called Why Do We Feel So Broke? And the CPS is chaired by the ex-Head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit 1995-1997. So, an academic, neutral piece of research it isn't. If you want to read it for yourself, you can either feel even more broke by ordering a paper copy for £2.50, or you can download a pdf by pointing your mouse here and clicking one of its buttons.

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More in this Category - _Other
Fri
01
Feb

It goes something like this:

Despite massive opposition the Home Information Pack has been introduced for all residential properties. Currently the marketing of a property can begin as soon as the HIP is ordered but the Government intends to end this concession on 31st May 2008 and will require that the pack is physically complete before marketing commences. This will cause delays for sellers wanting to begin marketing quickly and is an infringement of the personal liberty to sell a property at will. There is no sustainable argument in favour of ending First Day Marketing and we call on the Government to allow its continuance indefinitely.

And you'll find it here. The petition's been organised by SPLINTA. Don't take this post as an official Rat and Mouse endorsement... we don't feel that First Day Marketing is the issue, we're more concerned about the quality of the HIP itself.

That - for now - is that. Have a great weekend. Back, Monday.

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More in this Category - HIPs

Not if, like Heenal Lakhani, you don't mind storing up a bit of bad karma by snapping up repo homes at bargain prices and selling them on at a profit. Be prepared, though, for some unpleasant surprises. The properties Lakhani buys are cold, damp, a mess. Later in the piece, the Times talks to somebody who chases mortgage debt for lenders. Clearly he sees the extreme side of things when the lender-borrower relationship breaks down... with tales of trashed properties, kitchen units ripped out, windows smashed, doors removed, "and worse... much, much worse". We think we know where he's going with that.

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More in this Category - _Other

Waitrose, Tesco, and the battle for Hammersmith's King Street [PropertyWeek.com]
Daphne and Rocco guard Frank Lampard's Chelsea gaff [Daily Star]
Analysts predict rate cut [Introducer Today]
Another commercial property fund padlocks the gates [Guardian]
Kenny Logan and London property [Telegraph]
The Candys and the barracks [Independent]

The Rat and Mouse - because Londoners think about property every three seconds

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More in this Category - Linkage

Channel 4 seeks people with strange buildings - you know the score, water towers, windmills, toilets - to take part in a renovation series. Interested? Contact Emma Martins here. Tell her the Rat and Mouse sent you.

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More in this Category - Property TV

 


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