Showing posts with label house prices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label house prices. Show all posts

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alright for some

THERE was a boom in sales of £1million homes in Scotland just weeks before a new sales tax came into force. A total of 36 properties with a £1m price tag were sold in March – the highest number ever in a single month. It came before the Land and Building Transaction Tax replaced stamp duty on April 1. Two thirds of the £1m homes sold were in Edinburgh. There was also a spike in sales of properties over £400,000 in March, with 644 sales registered compared with 238 in the same month in 2014.


Estate agents Strutt & Parker, said: “The massive spike in both Edinburgh and Scotland in the month before LBTT saw the average sale price in Edinburgh rise to £280,000. It had not risen above £240,000 since 2008.”


Friday, May 25, 2012

Room with a view - £7 million

Scotland’s most expensive flat, yours for £7m. The penthouse is priced at offers of more than £6.3m or a fixed price of £7.3m to take it off the market immediately – smashing the previous record for a Scottish apartment, thought to be Whittingehame House in East Lothian, priced at £2.5m which sold in 2010. Selling prices in Edinburgh for whole houses have nudged £5m, while rural estates can go for far more.

It is no surprise that the newly-refurbished Hamilton Grand in St Andrews is the most expensive apartments in Scotland. The former hotel towers looks across the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and therefore has a legitimate claim to “the best view in golf”. It was bought in 2009 by US billionaire Herb Kohler’s company, which is creating 26 apartments, with prices starting from £2.2m and ranging in size from 1,133 to 2,780 square feet. Owners will share a roof garden with sweeping vistas over the golf course and coast, and the penthouse will have its own private terrace along two sides overlooking the 18th green. Jamie Macnab of Savills, which is marketing the Hamilton Grand in the UK, said buyers are likely to come from abroad. There will be a golf concierge and butler service in the building and residents will have access to the Old Course Hotel facilities and spa. Complimentary membership of the Duke’s Course is included and permanent residents can apply for a yearly golf ticket for the more famous links courses.
http://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-news/top-stories/scotland-s-most-expensive-flat-yours-for-7m-1-2316884

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Who's country does it belong to?

Scotland is on the verge of having its first Chinese laird. Wealthy Chinese investors are said to be scouring the property market to find a Scottish castle to buy.

Leading property agents are reporting a rise in interest from rich Chinese and Taiwanese buyers, who have made their fortunes in the Far East boom. Wealthy Russians are also snapping up prime properties in Edinburgh for the first time. Prices in central London have been driven up by wealthy Russians seeking a safe environment to invest. Agents say the next step could be the purchase of Scottish landed estates, which, even with thousands of acres, are relatively inexpensive compared to London. In Kensington, the average residence costs £2m.

Ran Morgan, head of Scotland residential property at Knight Frank, which has several properties over £2m on its books, confirmed an increase in interest from China. He said. “This year so far I’ve been out showing properties to Chinese, Taiwanese and Saudis. It’s something that we’ve seen growing for a while.” One of the biggest recent property sales in Scotland, by Knight Frank and Retties, was of 14th-century Stobhall Castle in Perthshire, which, despite a price tag of £2.35m, went to a closing date last October with six prospective buyers, three of them from overseas. “Of those one was Singaporean, one Belgian and one Canadian,” said Morgan. “If you’re a foreign buyer you want to be investing in a tangible asset. They will initially flock to London, tour round and get outbid, get disappointed and begin to look elsewhere. In our Edinburgh market we have sold three properties to Russians in the past six months. The Russians have never really been in the market before, and that is definitely a recent trend.

Jamie Macnab, of estate agent Savills, said it had also seen an increase of interest in Scottish rural properties from China. “It’s a market we expect to grow. We’re constantly looking at how to attract Asian money, and we’re confident it will come. We had one young Chinese man who came into the Edinburgh office recently, hired a cab and then went to view eight properties in Fife because of the golfing interest. Golf is a key reason why the Chinese and the Koreans want to buy property here.”

John Coleman, head of residential and farm agency at Smiths Gore in Scotland, said: “There have been one or two large Chinese consortiums looking for investments in the UK and have looked at a few Scottish estates but we’re unaware of any transactions having gone through yet. They are testing the water, and they’ll do it in London first.”

At least three country castles on sale for more than £2 million have been sold or are under offer after buyers sought to avoid the end of the stamp duty holiday in last month’s Budget. Sales prior to the Budget attracted a 5 per cent tax, which has now risen to 7 per cent. Deals signed prior to change will have saved the buyer £40,000 on a £2 million property.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

No housing crisis for some

Dick Place in the Grange area of Edinburgh is Scotland's most expensive residential street, according to data.

The average price of a property was estimated at just over £1.5m. A total of 13 of the 20 most expensive streets named were located in Edinburgh. Some of the other most expensive addresses in the capital were Ann Street, with an average property price of £1,188,000, and Kinellan Road (£992,000).

The next most expensive streets were in the west of Aberdeen - Rubislaw Den South (£1,430,000) and Rubislaw Den North (£1,190,000).

The Glasgow area's most expensive streets were Burnside Road (£974,000) in the Whitecraigs area of East Renfrewshire and Bowmore Crescent (£908,000) in Thorntonhall, South Lanarkshire.

Outside Scotland's three major cities, the most expensive homes were on Queens Crescent in Auchterarder, Perthshire, with an average sale price of nearly £1.2m.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rich Scotland

Scotland's million-pound-plus property market is bucking the trend as wealthy foreign buyers snap up prime residential homes across the country. Georgian townhouses in Edinburgh, properties within putting distance of a golf course in St Andrews and Highland sporting estates are particularly in demand by international buyers.

Figures released by the selling agents Savills yesterday show the top end of the property market performing well, with 146 high-value homes costing £1 million or more selling in 2010, compared with 106 in 2009. Sales at £1 million and more during the first six months of this year were up by a third on last year, from 50 to almost 70.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

safe as houses?

House prices in Edinburgh and Glasgow have slumped in the past three months and are set to fall further.

The average price of a home in Edinburgh in the three months to the end of June was £219,530 - down 3.6 per cent from the same period last year. The average selling price of a flat in the Leith Walk and Easter Road area of the capital is now under £100,000 for the first time since 2006.

House prices in the west of Scotland have also tumbled. Prices were 2 per cent lower in the last quarter than in the same period last year, taking them back to 2006 levels. The average selling price of a home in Strathclyde is now £136,000, almost £3,000 lower than a year ago.

There were sharper falls elsewhere in east-central Scotland. The average price of a home in Midlothian in the last quarter was 10.8 per cent lower than a year ago, while the West Lothian average plummeted 9.5 per cent.

David Marshall, business analyst at ESPC explained "There are around 30 per cent more properties available for sale than you would normally see at this time of year, and the number of properties selling is around half that seen prior to the credit crisis,"

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said the market faced "significant headwinds" that would constrain housing demand. "Low earnings growth, higher taxes and relatively high inflation are all continuing to put pressure on household finances."

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A bankrupt society

A record number of Scots will be made bankrupt in 2011, according to accountant and business adviser PKF. Accountancy firm RSM Tenon also predicts that personal insolvencies in the UK will set new records in 2010 and 2011.

PKF predicts that final figures will show about 22,000 Scots were sequestrated (the Scottish term for bankruptcy) or took out a Protected Trust Deed (PTD) in 2010, or 425 a week, and that this year will see even higher levels of personal insolvency. Personal bankruptcy during 2011 will be impacted by the Comprehensive Spending Review (the full impact of the CSR is yet to be felt) , which is likely to result in higher levels of unemployment among public sector employees, and potentially by the effects on mortgage-payers of rising interest rates.

“Many people are only able to cling on to their homes as long as their mortgage payments are being kept at an historicallly low level due to the 0.5% base rate. Once interest rates start to rise, I believe we will begin to see a considerable growth in what might be termed the “middle class insolvent” Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner, explained. It was likely that interest rates would have to start rising this year, whereas the housing market was unlikely to start a recovery until 2012 at the earliest, which meant “there will not be the escape route of rising equity to reduce debts which has been used by thousands of individuals in the recent past”.

The VAT increase, coupled with rising utility costs, would pile further pressure on those who were staving off insolvency. There is already evidence of an increased take-up of payday loans and other products from high-interest lenders which only temporarily put off the inevitable.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

11 yr wait to buy a house

First-time buyers in Scotland face an 11-year struggle to break into the property market, with many more frozen out by low wages and high house prices, according to new research.
On average, Scots trying to get on to the property ladder will have to find a £21,000 deposit for their starter home, according to the Halifax. It means at least a decade of scrimping and saving to get a foot on the ladder. Someone earning the average Scottish wage of £25,350 and saving one-tenth of their take-home pay would need more than a decade to amass the down payment, while still paying rent.Overall, the average house price paid by a first-time buyer in the UK has more than doubled over the past decade, increasing by 102% from £68,644 in 2000 to £138,682 in 2010 – equivalent to a weekly increase of £135. With such high demands made of those looking to buy, the average age of a first-time buyer in 2010 was 29. But it estimated that the average age of first-time buyers without financial assistance, such as a parental loan, had increased from 33 in 2007 to 36 now.
While the average-earning Scottish buyer will take 11 years to amass a deposit, a typical buyer elsewhere in the country would take nearer 15 years if they saved at the same rate.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Indian wealth

According to the BBC , UK developers are heading to India in search of wealthy new customers for their luxury flats. But why would anyone invest in London's wobbly property markets? Because the super-rich still have plenty of cash to spend.

One of the world's most expensive homes is currently being built in Mumbai for Reliance head Mukesh Ambani. His personal skyscraper will boast six storeys just for parking cars, and is expected to cost nearly $2 billion by the time it is complete.

Nick Candy, one half of the design and development firm Candy & Candy, is in Mumbai to drum up interest for his own super-luxury project, One Hyde Park. The central London project is offering apartments - to the right kind of customer - for an average of £20m. Mr Candy is a man used to dealing with the fabulously rich. But he says, "I'm flabbergasted by the amount of wealth in India. It's staggering."
Candy & Candy specialises in strictly top-end property. Its customer base is a roll-call of the super rich: royals, entrepreneurs, private company bosses. It's now looking to open an office in India. India now has more billionaires than any other country in Asia - 36 at the last count. Together they are worth nearly $200bn. India's top three richest people are all successful businessmen, but have made their money in old-economy industries, such as oil and property.
And while they have thrived in India's new economy, they have all built their wealth on fortunes inherited from their parents.

Many of those super-rich are now keen to invest their wealth around the globe. But why would Indian investors want to put money into London's property market now the boom is over?
"It's going to be very tough in America, and I think the UK will probably mirror it six months later," admits Mr Candy. But, he says, this applies only to properties under £2m where buyers need to borrow the money. There, you can expect "serious reductions in prices", according to Mr Candy - "and you're looking at a lot more than 10%." For top-end property - costing more than £5m - he thinks prices will be stable. There are not many people who can afford that level of luxury - and in London, there are still very few properties for them to buy.

Besides, says Mr Candy, "they've still got huge amounts of wealth. Maybe it's come down from $1bn to $500m - or if they've been very unlucky, it's $50m. But it's still huge amounts of wealth."

And of course they are the economic migrants that the government want .

Blair's Riches

Tony Blair have bought a £4 million stately home that once belonged to the late Sir John Gielgud, it was reported . The Grade 1 listed mansion in Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, has seven bedrooms, a drawing room, ornamental gardens and two paddocks. The house, South Pavilion, built in 1704, is said to have been snapped up by the Blairs before being put on the open market. It has undergone extensive renovation since it was Gielgud's home and now includes a four-bedroom converted outbuilding.

The Blairs' property portfolio already includes two houses in London, two flats in Bristol and a home at Trimdon Colliery, Co Durham, in his former constituency.

Seems as if he has no problem with the credit crunch that his pay-masters in the banking world created .

Saturday, May 03, 2008

tails we win , heads you lose

Before it was rising house prices that left workers unable to get a foot on the housing ladder , now its the refusal of mortgages .

It is reported that Building Societies are now only lending to one in 10 would-be homeowners, compared with a traditional level of almost one in five. A 68% decline means that building societies are scaling back lending as a result of the credit crunch even more severely than major mortgage bank rivals, such as Halifax and Cheltenham & Gloucester.

And for those workers lucky to have a house , prices in the UK are dropping by almost £500 every week . The Halifax said the average home price has fallen £8,136 since the start of the year reaching £189,027 - a fall of £479 a week. Two other surveys - from the Nationwide and Hometrack - also said it was the first time since the mid-1990s that house prices were down year-on-year.

Seema Shah, economist at Capital Economics, said: "The last time we saw two such large falls in consecutive months was during the depths of the housing market crash of the early 1990s, and even those falls fell short of the declines seen in the past two months...With the economy and labour market set to weaken further, our forecast for a 20% fall in house prices by end-2009 is firmly on track,"

Under capitalism , workers just can't win

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Poor little rich Guy

Guy Ritchie has complained that British people are being priced out of the property market by "big money" foreigners who are buying all the desirable properties in central London. The film-maker and husband of Madonna railed against the rising price of property saying it was almost impossible to buy a house in central London "unless you've got 10 million quid".

Madonna and Guy's homes

* A £7m family townhouse in Marylebone
* A £6m, 10-bedroom property next door
* Two mews cottages close to the Marylebone house, one bought for £900,000
* Two properties used by the Kabbalah religious sect: a £3.6m building in the West End used as its headquarters and a £1.6m five-storey townhouse in Regent's Park
* A 1,200-acre estate in Wiltshire, bought for £9m
* An £8m house in Beverly Hills
* An apartment in New York

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Keeping a roof over ones head

House prices are now six times the salary of the average Scot, according to new government figures revealed yesterday.
The statistics show that the average house price of £137,192 is running out of reach of the £22,261 median salary.

First-time buyers with little or no savings are being faced with debilitating interest rates as the industry recoils, and many young people can't buy without parents' help. The pressure on those with low incomes was highlighted by one case where a couple with a joint income of £26,000 were paying £700 a month in mortgage repayments.

Don Fleming, of the Mortgage Advice Network said in one instance a lender was offered a 95% mortgage and as soon as the papers were signed a further 30% loan was offered as a top-up because the person was then classed as a property owner. He said: "Lenders were calling it flexibility, but what they mean is they are pulling the wool over society's eyes. Government should have stepped in to stop people receiving large unsecured loans."

Monday, January 28, 2008

1957 and 2006 - Are we better off ?


What difference does 50 years make for the working class . Are we all better off . Well , it certainly appears that way . UK household income has doubled in real terms over the last fifty years. And the pattern of family spending has also changed dramatically. Basic necessities including food accounting for a smaller proportion of our family budget, while spending is up on leisure activities, travel and motoring. Income going to housing makes up a greater share.

In 1957, spending on food, fuel and rent , the basic three items , made up nearly half of all household expenditure. Taken together with clothing and travel, basics made up nearly two-thirds of family spending. The main luxuries for the ordinary family were tobacco and alcohol, which combined made up just under 10% of spending. The biggest other luxury item was meals eaten out making up 3% of spending. Four of the top ten spending items were food or drink, with spending on meat, fruit, vegetables and beer all in the top twenty.
Overall, the average family spent a total of £14.30 per week in 1957, out of a gross income of £16. In today's money, spending was £243 per week.


In 2006 the average household spent £456 out of a gross income of £642 before taxes.


In five decades, spending on most basics has declined sharply, with food making up only half as much of the average household budget as it did in 1957. And half of that food budget now consists of meals and takeaways - a new category introduced in the l970s.


But the cost of housing, including mortgage interest payments or rent, has more than doubled since 1957. Mortgage interest payments or rent accounted for 19% of spending in 2006, up from 9% in 1957Using a slightly broader measure of housing costs, which includes council tax, insurance and home improvements, UK households spent an average of £143 a week on housing-related costs in 2006 - or 22%.

Motoring and travel costs have doubled from 8% of spending in 1957 to 16% in 2006, mostly because of rising car ownership .


There are big social divisions in the ownership of some popular consumer goods, and the greater affluence is at least partly a result of more families having two incomes - both parents going out to work .


And But there are big differences in consumption between rich and poor.
Nearly every household in the richest tenth of the population had a computer and an internet connection. In contrast, among the poorest tenth, only 31% have computers and 21% have an internet connection. And 56% of that group have mobile phones, compared to 92% of the richest tenth. The pattern of car ownership also varies sharply by income, with less than a third of the poorest tenth of households owning a car, compared to 94% of the richest tenth of families.


Nor are we happier it is claimed .


According to economist Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, once people can afford the basics, happiness does not increase with income when comparing happiness among rich and poor countries. And looking at surveys of happiness over time, he says levels of happiness have not changed across either the UK - or US - in the last 30 years, despite the doubling of living standards in both. Moreover, the availability of new goods can just make people more jealous of what they are unable to afford, especially for the less well-off.


Other studies show that what we have lost in the last 50 years is time. Strikingly, most families now talk more in the car than at home.


Paradoxically , while we spend more on leisure goods than half a century ago, we have less time to enjoy our free time - increasing numbers of households need two earners as earlier said and working hours have increased even if there has been an official reduction , since doing overtime has climbed .


Friday, January 04, 2008

Definitely not for the homeless

House hunting for a new home ??

10. 2 OSWALD ROAD EDINBURGH
Some buyers are looking for a house they can make their mark on, others are looking for a home that has already been renovated to the highest standard. This traditional Victorian stone villa in the perennially popular Grange area is in the latter category. From the outside, it has a traditional appearance, but the inside has been made over with a light, contemporary feel and state-of-the-art fixtures and fittings. It has a cinema room and substantial Victorian conservatory, and a guest flat was recently added above the triple garage.SOLD FOR £3,500,000 (April 07)

9. 37 DRUMSHEUGH GARDENS, EDINBURGH
A former architect's office over seven floors, this property was converted by its former owners into a family home. The house is now one of the biggest in the West End of Edinburgh and includes a fully-equipped gym with stunning panoramic views over the city. The garden looks out on to Dean Village and the Water of Leith, while the front of the house has views of the castle. Converting former offices into top end residential homes is one of the big trends at the top end of the market.Blair Stewart, who is head of residential sales for Strutt and Parker, said: "The beauty of the West End is the easy access to the financial district and to the airport."SOLD FOR £3,500,000 (Jan 07)

8. 22 HERMITAGE DRIVE, EDINBURGH
Buyers are sometimes willing to pay a premium for homes that have not been modernised and renovated to someone else's taste – which is one of the reasons this Edwardian property raised more than a million over the asking price.Properties in Hermitage Drive come on the market rarely and before it went up for sale, Allanton, built in 1904, had been in the same family for 40 years. A fine redstone property, it still retained a lot of the original features but was ripe to be renovated. It also features a ground-floor annexe.SOLD FOR £3,729,500, Oct 2007

7. GREEN GABLES, CALEDONIAN CRESCENT, GLENEAGLES
The fashion here is for huge American-style modern mansions, but there are a few older homes from the 1920s when the street was originally built.Green Gables, a large traditional family home, which dates from that period, is on one of the biggest plots on this private road, which enjoys a peaceful wooded setting.Recently sold, it is likely to be extensively remodelled or perhaps even demolished if the buyers want a home to compete with the vast marble mansions of their nearest neighbours.SOLD FOR £3,750,000 (Sept 07)

6. STRATHEARN LODGE, CALEDONIAN CRES, GLENEAGLES
Caledonian Crescent, overlooking the famous golf course, is the new must-have address for Scotland's multimillionaires.Built in 2004, Strathearn Lodge is, by our reckoning, the most expensive modern home in Scotland. With marble floors and a bright airy feel, it has everything the modern tycoon needs, with four huge bedroom suites, a games room, cinema and built-in three-car garage. Homes in this private crescent benefit from high security, with houses hidden behind huge hedges and electronic gates. SOLD FOR £3,750,000 (Dec 07)

4. WOODCROFT, BARNTON AVENUE, EDINBURGH
There were people who said David Murray had paid over the odds for Woodcroft when he bought it at the end of 2006. But he proved them wrong by selling ten months later at a big profit. The official sale of Barnton Avenue came on the same day as The Scotsman concluded its series of Scotland's most expensive homes in 2006 – so it was too late to make our list. But at the time, it broke all records as Scotland's first £4 million home.The new buyer was rumoured to be an Edinburgh businessman.SOLD FOR £4,500,000 (Oct 06)

5. FORDELL CASTLE, NEAR DUNFERMLINE, FIFE
A Fife property record was set at the end of last year with the sale of 16th- century Fordell Castle, which has been renovated to become a luxurious family home –owning it also traditionally confers the title of Baron and Baroness of Fordell. Set in 210 acres of woodland and formal gardens, it has an imposing great hall and oak-panelled bedrooms. Set in the gardens is St Theriot's private chapel, an aviary and an icehouse. Although both the castle and the chapel are A listed the building has been remodelled and modernised. SOLD FOR £3,850,000 (Nov 07)

3. 1 EASTER BELMONT ROAD, EDINBURGH
Secluded, private and with views across to the Pentland Hills, Easter Belmont Road is one of Edinburgh's most sought after addresses. In the words of Simon Rettie, of Rettie and Co: "This is the most exclusive residential street in Edinburgh."This property, which came on to the market a few months ago, is a large arts and crafts period family home, set in extensive grounds. The property needed renovation but attracted so much interest from buyers that it was able to attract a record price.SOLD FOR £4,875,000 (Sept 07)

2. WOODCROFT, 39 BARNTON AVE, EDINBURGH
The arts and crafts mansion on Edinburgh's "Millionaire's Row" was the first property in Scotland to break the £4 million barrier, when it was bought by Rangers chairman Sir David Murray at the end of 2006. But he never lived in the six-bedroom house, and it was sold ten months later for a £450,000 profit. Barnton Avenue is a secluded, tree-lined street with views over the Royal Burgess golf course. Popular with bankers and industrialists because of its proximity to the airport, it includes many huge family homes.SOLD FOR £4,950,000 (Aug 07)

1. SETON CASTLE, LONGNIDDRY
Built by classical architect Robert Adam using the stones of the ruined Seton Palace, this grand Georgian, 14-bedroom house, formerly owned by the Wemyss family, was extensively refurbished by an Edinburgh entrepreneur, who put it on the market for £15 million, hoping to attract an overseas buyer. After two years, the price was reduced to £7 million and more recently to £5 million, when it was snapped up by Stephen Leach and Heather Luscombe, founders of internet marketing company Bigmouthmedia.The four-storey house has a gallery, library, billiards room, nursery and staff quarters, which include a laundry room and butler's pantry. It is set in 13 acres of wooded parkland, overlooking the Firth of Forth and includes stabling for six horses, a coachman's cottage and the ruins of a medieval mill.SOLD FOR £5,000,000 (February 2007)

The criteria for what constitutes prime property is gradually changing, from homes above £1 million to those costing more than £2 million.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The property ladder

Research by the Bank of Scotland, found that young people faced a financial struggle to own property, with the average price paid by first-time buyers soaring 113% from £57,929 in 2002 to £123,213 this year. With the threshold set at £125,000, many first-time buyers paying more than the average price of £123,213 will have to find an extra 1% of their property price on stamp duty.
The average property is now out of reach of first-time buyers in 95% of places, according to the fifth annual First Time Buyer Review. Edinburgh and Helensburgh are the least affordable places for first-time buyers and properties there are 8.2 and 7.5 times the average income of a first-time buyer household. The deposit required by first-time buyers has soared 238% since 2002 and the average amount put down for a first property in Scotland is £25,951 - 95% of an average full-time worker's salary. Five years ago it was only 35% of an average worker's full-time earnings.

"It is beyond the reach of people who are earning between £12,000 and £16,000 a year to save up for that kind of deposit. " Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance said. "People are putting themselves in more risky positions and it will be people who are on the low end of the income scale who will pay the price for that."

Housing charity Shelter Scotland said that an additional 30,000 affordable rented homes, not including general housebuilding, were needed by 2011. It said that more than 200,000 people were on waiting lists and 9000 households were in temporary accommodation in March this year.

For a socialist take on housing read Building Profits Versus Building Houses

And for a more recent article on the house property price bubble read here

Nor should we think of the lack of shelter as just a Scottish problem , of course .

A man, believed to be in his sixties, was found dead on a wooden pallet in the Place de la Concorde in the heart of Paris victims of homelessness and the cold . Another man, 62, was found dead in his car in Vanves, just west of the capital. The deaths have provoked new quarrels over the alleged failure of successive governments to provide lodgings for France's alleged 200,000 homeless people. One pressure group, Les Morts de la Rue (the dead on the street), claimed that at least 200 people, between 18 and 80, had died prematurely while sleeping rough in France in the past 12 months.

Jean-Paul Bolufer, the head of the private office of the Housing minister, Christine Boutin , said last month that it was "scandalous" that some relatively wealthy people lived in subsidised, publicly owned housing while others lived on the streets. a newspaper revealed that he was paying 1,200 Euros (£870) a month rent – a quarter of the market price – for a 190 square metre apartment in an upmarket area of the Left Bank. There were at "least 200,000" other well-off people living in subsidised flats in Paris, he said.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The usual Xmas story

A shortage of affordable housing has left 130,000 children homeless in England this Christmas – an increase of 128 per cent in the past decade, according to research by the shadow housing minister Grant Shapps.

The Tories claim the impact of homelessness on children goes beyond the misery of not having a permanent roof above their heads, making them far more likely to suffer from medical and social problems. The "social failure" of child homelessness is often followed by mental, physical and educational disadvantage. A homeless child is twice as likely to be admitted to an Accident & Emergency department, four times as likely to have respiratory infections and six times as likely to suffer speech impediments, as a child with a fixed address.

Director of the homeless charity the Simon Community, welcomed the report and its conclusions, saying: "What children need is a stable, healthy environment with people who love them, but also where they aren't constantly moving from one piece of low-quality housing to another, or have the threat of that hanging over them, because the housing stock in the UK is so desperately limited."

Mr Shapps said: "For 130,000 homeless children in England, this Christmas is unlikely to be much fun... "

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Houses for Some

Housing affordability has deteriorated to near record lows, with homes five times more expensive for first-time buyers than in 1996, new figures show.

Buyers in the southeast and southwest of England have to save over 100 percent of their annual earnings for a deposit to get a foothold on the property ladder, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) accessibility index. This compares with the low point of just 20 percent of annual earnings required in 1996 .

The cost of becoming a homeowner rose by 8.4 percent alone in the year to the second quarter of 2007.

Even if prospective first time buyers make it onto the market, they face mortgage payments which take up a higher percentage of their take-home pay than at any time since 1990.

No longer is the Thatcherite dream of a house-owning nation achievable . For many simply acquiring a roof over ones head is proving a nightmare .

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Keeping up with the Joneskys

A new conservatory ...some decking in the back garden ...perhaps an attic conversion to have an extra room for the kids ...well for some of us that will be a worth-while achievement , but for the capitalist class , its underground tennis courts and three story car parks .

The Times reports that with 15 bedrooms, vast entertaining suites and exquisite plasterwork, 15 Kensington Palace Gardens was one of the most expensive – and exclusive – houses ever to have changed hands in London when it was bought by Leonard Blavatnik, a Russian-born oil tycoon, for £41m in 2004. Yet all that opulence is clearly not enough for Blavatnik . According to plans submitted this summer to Kensington and Chelsea council, the tycoon, who has relocated to London, is seeking permission to excavate under the garden, to the front and rear of the sprawling pile, making space for a three-storey garage with car stacker, a swimming pool, a gym and a private home cinema.

Russian oligarchs, private-equity traders and hedge-fund managers are engaged in a multimillion-pound game of one-upmanship as they vie with each other to dig ever bigger, wider and deeper extensions. Behind the white stucco fronts and redbrick exteriors of Belgravia and Chelsea, London’s super-rich are digging down and building outwards and upwards .

The latest must-have feature is an adjustable-height swimming pool. At the flick of a button – because everything is remote-controlled – the bottom can be raised or lowered by a giant hydraulic jack, forming a deep swimming pool for the heavyweight millionaire or a toddler-friendly paddling pool for his offspring. Optional extras include a retractable glass roof or a discreet cover that will slide over the pool, creating a ballroom or banqueting hall. It doesn’t have to be modern or minimal – one house in Mayfair has a Roman-style pool, complete with columns.

“London is awash with money,” says Robin Ellis , known in the trade as “London’s poshest builder”, “Vast tracts of London are being dug up to create sub-basements,” he adds. “My clients are prepared to pay to create houses that push all the boundaries of luxury and technology. I’ve put in a swimming pool with a cover that rose, concertina-style, up and over the water to convert the space into a private concert hall, with seating for 100.”

It is all reminiscent of the mercantile extravagance of 15th-century Venice or the wild opulence of the reign of Louis XIV. London now has more billionaires then anywhere else in the world after New York and Moscow .

Few can compete with Chris Rokos, a secretive hedge-fund tycoon. The lavish plans for his eight-bedroom house in Notting Hill, submitted to the planners this month, include a gym, a home cinema, library, a third-floor open-air pool, an internal climbing wall, a subterranean garage with motorised lift for two cars and an 80ft-tall glass atrium. As if that’s not enough, Rokos, 36, plans to dig four storeys below ground to create a 16ft-deep swimming pool with high board.

“When they go round the houses of all of their mates who have done something, they want to do it better – money is no object,” says Jonathan Hewlett, head of London sales at Savills estate agency.

For example, Gibson Music, multi-audio specialists who have been hard-wiring homes for more than 20 years, have just put in £250,000 worth of technology by Creston, which specialises in top-of-the-range control systems. Other extravagant features recently demanded by clients include a vanity unit for 2,100 lipsticks; a glass-fronted, temperature-controlled wine cellar, complete with fibreoptic lighting and carved macassar ebony shelves, to hold 4,000 bottles; walk-in showers with waterproof television screens and glass walls that turn opaque with the press of a button, and cost £1,000 per square metre.

And there was some of us thinking we would be the bees knees with a 42-inch plasma screen tv , too

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

House Prices

Savills , the estate agent and consultancy group said demand for “super prime” houses continued to rise strongly, with interest coming from international as well as UK purchasers.

The super prime residential market – houses costing £5m or more in London and large country houses – was continuing to benefit from City bonuses but was also “heavily influenced” by international buyers who accounted for about half of purchases.

They are , of course , the people who are largely unaffected if the interest rate goes up . But for the rest of us mere mortals there has been a “a cooling of the UK mainstream” market and some oversupply of new homes, especially flats, in provincial cities .

For a fuller analyse of the property boom and the probability of the bubble bursting read here

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