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Property News 2008 (latest month at top, scroll down for earlier reports)

 

RBS may abandon insurance business sale

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) may call off the £7 billion sale of its insurance unit, which includes the Direct Line and Churchill brands. The Sunday Times reported yesterday that RBS, the UK's second largest banking group, has already rejected an offer for its insurance business from private equity group CVC Capital Partners. More Information here December 2008 Back to top

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The Office of Fair Trading is calling for input into a new market study on the home buying and selling process.

The study, which will start in the New Year, will analyse the role of estate agents, internet property retailers, auction houses and solicitors. It will also review the extent to which price competition has improved, and whether consumer interests are being protected by the existing regulatory framework. The OFT last conducted a market study in 2004.

John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, says: “We want to ensure that consumers are served well when buying or selling a home and are supported by an effective, competitive and innovative market. “Before embarking on such an important piece of work, we want to engage with the industry and consumer groups to get a clear idea of the most salient issues we should focus on.” The research may also focus on the relationships between estate agents and mortgage brokers, surveyors and solicitors. Peter Bolton King chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents,(NAEA) says: “If it’s looking at estate agency then great, that’s fantastic. Then perhaps it can put right the wrong conclusions it came to in 2004. December 2008 Back to top

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71% of landlords expecting increase in rental arrears - UK

The National Landlords Association (NLA) has published research showing that 71 per cent of landlords expect rent arrears to increase during 2009. Of those questioned, just 1% felt that rent arrears would decrease next year, with just over a quarter (28%) expecting no overall change. More Information here December 2008 Back to top

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Bank of England Reduces Bank Rate by 1.0 Percentage Points to 2.0% 4 December 2008 to a 57-year low

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted to reduce the official Bank Rate paid on commercial bank reserves by 1.0 percentage points to 2.0%. This cut that has followed the large cut in November, has been welcomed by many commentators who said the cut should help the slowing economy.The European Central Bank cut its key interest rate to 2.5% from 3.25%, the biggest reduction in its history (see next topic down) and Sweden's central bank cut interest rates from 3.75% to 2% and Denmark's central bank also lowered its main interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, to 4.25%. December 2008 Back to top

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European Central Bank - Monetary policy decisions -4 December 2008 -The European Central Bank cut its key interest rate to 2.5% from 3.25%, the biggest reduction in its history

At today’s meeting, which was held in Brussels, the Governing Council of the ECB took the following monetary policy decisions:

  1. The interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem will be decreased by 75 basis points to 2.50%, starting from the operation to be settled on 10 December 2008.
  2. The interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem will be decreased by 75 basis points to 2.50%, starting from the operation to be settled on 10 December 2008.
  3. The interest rate on the deposit facility will be decreased by 75 basis points to 2.00%, with effect from 10 December 2008.

The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 2.30 p.m. CET today - Source European Central Bank December 2008 Back to top

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UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has launched a support scheme for home owners in arrears with their mortgage

As part of this year's Queen's Speech, held on the 3rd December 08, the Prime Minister announced a new Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme to help home owners committed to repaying their mortgage avoid losing their home.The scheme is in addition to the Government's Mortgage Rescue Scheme launched in September and due for extension, as announced just over a week ago by Chancellor Alistair Darling in his Pre-Budget Report.

Home owners made redundant will be able to defer the interest payments on their mortgage for up to two years with a range of the UK's eight largest mortgage lenders, which cover 70% of the mortgage market. These include HBOS, Nationwide, Abbey, Lloyds TSB, Northern Rock, Barclays, RBS and HSBC. Borrowers' deferred payment will be rolled up and added to their primary loan and repaid when their financial circumstances improve. The Government will guarantee lenders against the loss of deferred interest payments. December 2008 Back to top

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NLA Conference - "No sense over-burdening good landlords with further regulation"

Speaking at the first NLA National Conference, held in Birmingham on Saturday 29 November, Iain Wright MP, minister with responsibility for the private-rented sector, said the Government was committed to not bringing forward knee-jerk legislation that would hamper the growth of the sector but, instead would target the rogue operators which give responsible landlords a bad name.

Dr Julie Rugg, co-author of the recently published independent review of the private-rented sector, spoke about the need for landlords to view what they do as a business and not purely as an investment vehicle. She reaffirmed how little evidence had been presented to support the view that retaliatory eviction was widespread and that ‘studentification' had become a major national problem. More Information here December 2008 Back to top

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A Step Too Far - Banning Bedsits - Ireland

A new bill currently going through the Irish Parliament (the Dail and Seanad) will spell the end for the conventional bedsit meaning residents from neighbouring bedsits will no longer be allowed to share a communal bathroom. The four-year run-in programme, to be introduced on February 1, 2009, will also require landlords to improve heat, lighting and fire safety.The Irish Property Owners' Association IPOA have made their feelings known in a press release. More Information here November 2008 Back to top

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Chancellor Alistair Darling has unveiled a £1.8bn package to help boost the UK's housing supply

As part of his Pre-Budget Report announcement on Monday 24th November Alistair Darling (Chancellor of the Exchequer - UK Finance Minister) pledged to invest £775m in 2008 and 2009 respectively, in new and modernised social homes, as well as regeneration projects. He announced an extension to the Government's Mortgage Rescue Scheme, which it launched in September to help vulnerable home owners stay in their homes. Help against repossession worth £200m is being offered under the scheme. The Chancellor also announced a new lending panel for borrowers and businesses in a bid to tackle rising repossessions. The panel will comprise Government, lenders and trade bodies, and monitor banks' lending levels and practices.November 2008 Back to top

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Council of Mortgage Lenders reveal Mortgage lending up 7% in the UK

Gross mortgage lending increased 7% to £18.7bn in October 08, the latest statistics from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reveal. Lending was up from £17.5bn in September, but down 44% on lending volumes in October 2007, which totalled £33.4bn.The CML expects gross advances to be close to £285bn this year, down from £363bn in 2007, with net lending to be close to £55bn, down by around half of last year's £108bn. November 2008 Back to top

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The annual Buy to Let Guide published, November 24, reaffirms the need for the private rental sector as a prime element of the housing market

It is in two formats and is expected to encourage further sensible investment in the rental sector. This reflects the view taken in the recent Rugg Report, which stresses the need to encourage small portfolio and individual private landlords.Available on newsstands with Your Mortgage magazine, the Guide is also published electronically and is available through ARLA letting agents, mortgage brokers and mortgage lenders. It is published under the auspices of the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). More Information here November 2008 Back to top

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Scottish government not delivering for landlords

NLA Scotland has accused the Scottish Government of failing landlords on the forthcoming introduction of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) legislation. With less than two months until the introduction of EPCs for Scottish rental properties, the Government is failing to meet its duty to ensure that all landlords are aware of the new regulations. More Information here November 2008 Back to top

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Building Energy Rating - Certificates in Ireland

From the 1st of January 2009 a BER certificate will be compulsory for all homes being sold or rented. The sellers or landlords must provide a BER to tenants on all new and existing domestic dwellings, regardless of age when being offered for sale or rented. This is similar to the EPC - Energy Performance Certificate in England, Wales and Scotland More Information here November 2008 Back to top

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Bulgaria's emerging property market tipped top investors' 2009 destination list

Bulgaria's emerging property market is tipped to top property investors' favourite destination in 2009 according to overseas property management firm Experience International. The firm attributes this to the winter sports resorts and affordability. Lee Bramzell of property index.com said " Bulgaria's status as an emerging market means not only that property is affordable, but there is also the the potential for good returns. November 2008 Back to top

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Is there a silent killer in your UK Rental property?

To mark Carbon Monoxide awareness week, the NLA (National Landlords Association) is reminding landlords about their responsibilities:

  • Ensure gas safety checks are carried out on each appliance and flue every 12 months.
  • Get a CORGI registered installer to fix any problems, or disconnect the appliance.
  • Give a copy of the safety check record to the tenant before they move in or to an existing tenant within 28 days.
  • Keep a record of the safety check made on each appliance for two years.
  • Ensure that gas appliances, fittings, and flues are maintained in a safe condition.
  • Make sure that tenants know where to find the emergency shut off valve for their accommodation.

Carbon Monoxide is often referred to as 'the silent killer' November 2008 Back to top

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LSL Property Services plc announce Interim Management Statement

LSL Property Services plc, one of the leading residential property services companies in the UK and provides a broad range of services to its clients who are principally mortgage lenders, as well as buyers and sellers of residential properties have announced their Interim Management Statement in respect of the period 1 July 2008 to 12 November 2008.

Since 1 July 2008, the Group has continued to perform in line with management's expectations against a continued backdrop of an extremely challenging housing market. Turnover for the ten months ended 31 October 2008 compared with the same period in 2007 was as follows:

  • Group turnover for the period was down by 22.4%
  • Surveying turnover was down by 6.4% - The surveying division has continued to grow its market share in the face of the contraction in the mortgage and remortgage markets. Overall, the division has performed slightly behind management's expectations despite the greater than anticipated contraction in market activity levels. The impact of the market contraction has been largely offset by increased market share during this period and the implementation of significant cost reduction measures. The division is therefore well placed for the current environment and well positioned to take advantage of a future upturn in mortgage lending activity
  • Estate Agency and Financial Services turnover was down by 33.3% - Transaction volumes in the estate agency division have stabilised in recent weeks and are slightly ahead of expectations. This, together with cost efficiencies commensurate with lower activity levels, gives us confidence that the division will perform slightly ahead of our expectations for 2008

Management focus in the estate agency businesses has been on maximising counter-cyclical and non-transactional income streams, such as lettings and the development of the Group's repossession asset management business. These income streams are making a significant contribution to the overall revenue of the division.November 2008 Back to top

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Bank of England Reduces Bank Rate by 1.5 Percentage Points to 3% - 6 November 2008 the lowest level since 1955

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted to reduce the official Bank Rate paid on commercial bank reserves by 1.5 percentage points to 3%. The past two months have seen a substantial downward shift in the prospects for inflation in the United Kingdom. There has been a very marked deterioration in the outlook for economic activity at home and abroad. Moreover, commodity prices have fallen sharply. The previous change in Bank Rate was a reduction of 0.5 percentage points to 4.5% on 8 October 2008.Lenders are coming under pressures to cut their mortgage rates following the large cut in interest rates.Chancellor Alistair Darling has called on banks to pass the rate cut onto their borrowers. He said "I think it's essential that the banks do pass on the benefit of lower interest rates to people and to businesses.Banks need to understand that they need to help their customers". November 2008 Back to top

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London prime property prices slump 3.9% while private rental supply increases

Prime residential property prices slumped 3.9% to £4.7m last month, according to new figures from Knight Frank. The upmarket agency’s Prime Central London Index for October, published last week, reveals that the average price of prime London property fell 13.4% from its peak in March and 12.4% over the six months to October. Liam Bailey head of residential research at Knight Frank, says: “We have become used to prices rising and falling at a glacial pace in the UK, generally prices move a maximum of 2% per month – which can still add to fairly punchy annual rates of change.

"But a 4% fall in price in a month is suddenly very noticeable – equating to £160,000 on a £4,000,000 house, or more than £5,000 a day." He adds: “We ought not to be too surprised, at the height of the recent boom prices were rising by the same rate, so there is a symmetry of sorts to the current pattern of price movements.” Meanwhile, London lettings agents face a turbulent year ahead due to an increased supply of private rented accommodation, warns Judienne Wood, lettings director at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward. "We will continue to see a fall in tenants registering as most will not move unless they really need to," she says. "Our stock levels are likely to rise as more would-be sellers rent out their home and canny investors will buy investment properties cheaply to rent out. Thus, there will be a greater choice for tenants and the supply to demand ratio will increase." That said, Wood expects London to be less effected by the over-supply of rented property than the rest of the country, due to a large working population and a strong student base. Source: The Negotiator November 2008 Back to top

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Insurance is one essential you can’t afford to be without today campaign launched

jml-insurance.co.uk who introduce and market insurance products on their website have launched a web campaign to draw people's attention to making sure that they don't forget their insurance in this "credit crunch" era. Many people will quite happily cancel insurance whereas a priority is paying for their mobile phone and internet access.More information October 2008 Back to top

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Fire Safety affects everyone Why discriminate against Landlords? - UK

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA)has launched a fire safety campaign to persuade local councils and fire authorities to keep within the spirit of the recently announced LACORS guidelines. LACORS – the Local Authorities Coordinating Regulatory Service – published their report joint with the Chief Fire Officers’ Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health to suggest realistic requirements for residential fire safety in the private rented sector. And the Residential Landlords Association, which has long argued for a simplified new approach, commended the report - although the leading professional association for private rented sector landlords still has concerns.More information October 2008 Back to top

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Rugg Review marks major watershed in attitudes - UK Rentals

An independent review into the Private Rented Sector (PRS) was published today. The review was commissioned by the Government and is expected to influence future policy in the sector. The review recognises:

  • The positive role of the PRS
  • That tenancies fail for specific reasons, such as rent arrears, and rarely against the tenants wishes

Its recommendations include:

  • Focused policies to target rogue landlords
  • ‘Light-touch’ licensing for all landlords – something akin to the TV licence More information

See Also ARLA Welcomes Rugg Review on the Private Rented Sector - 24 October 2008 October 2008 Back to top

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Landlords and letting agents unite against ‘tenant-humiliation’ practices -UK

The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) which represent over 23,500 landlords and letting agent offices, have joined together to roundly condemn any practices which ridicule and humiliate tenants. More information October 2008 Back to top

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Irish Agents Sherry FitzGerald have cut jobs

Ireland's largest estate agency chain havecut 20 of it's 259 staff because of the downturn in the Irish Housing Market. Sherry FitzGerald was founded in 1982 and covers the majority of the country. in 2005 they acquirred Marsh and Parsons in London. Other Irish estate agents have been reducing staff costs, by salary cuts or loosing staff like Savills HOK who have reduced staffing levels by up to 60.October 2008 Back to top

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LestSense - New lettings risk company launched

Some of the biggest names in insurance have joined forces to launch a brand new company aimed at the lettings market.

Brian Turney, former Managing Director at lettings insurance firm Letsure and regarded by many as the face of the residential lettings insurance industry, has teamed up with insurance expert Peter Knowles and former senior colleagues Alan Holton and Rob Jones to set up residential lettings insurance and tenant referencing provider LetSense. More information October 2008 Back to top

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Landlord fined £5,500 after double carbon monoxide poisoning in Hackney, London

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning landlords to ensure gas appliances are safe for tenants after two people were poisoned by carbon monoxide (CO), from a boiler in their flat that had not been properly maintained.Mr Soley Fikret, landlord of a block of flats in Mare Street, Hackney, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs at the Old Bailey, after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 199 More information October 2008 Back to top

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Rental properties in high demand in the UK - October 2008

Comment on the state of the Property Rental Market - The demand for rental properties is still rising with buyers struggling to secure affordable mortgages and an increasing number of sellers deciding to let their properties for the rental income. In the second quarter of this year new instructions to let property increased at the fastest pace ever. it's one thing to decide to let your property rather than sell it, but negotiating the potential minefield of rent, contracts, insurance and references can be a bewildering task if you have little experience of renting property. More information October 2008 Back to top

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Irish Budget 2008

The Finance Minister Brian Lenihan presented his first budget on Tuesday 14th October 08. The following measures will affect property owners and the tourism business.

Property Owners of Second Homes including holiday Homes: Will have to pay €200 per year for each additional property they own. This could net up to €80 million.

Air Passengers Tax: From March 30th 2009 passengers flying from all the airports will pay €10 per passenger for travelling more than 300km and €2 for those taking shorter journeys. There are exceptions like from Dublin to the west coast of England and Wales, the Isle of Man and services from Cork to Newquay and Donegal to Glasgow. Passengers flying from the Belfast airports already pay £10 airport tax. This should raise €150 million per year.

VAT: The standard rate is being increased from 21 per cent to 21.5 per cent from the 1st December 2008

Duty on wine cigarettes and Petrol: These have all been increased. October 2008 Back to top

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The Private Residential Tenancies Board of Ireland (PRTB) has had to set aside 100 decisions over error in board - a worrying situation for Landlords in Ireland - October 2008

The Private Residential Tenancies Board of Ireland (PRTB), the state body that referees landlord - tenant disputes has been forced to set aside more than 100 decisions after it emerged that two county councillors on its board were illegally appointed.The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 under which the PRTB was established precludes members of local authorities and the Oireachtas (Government) as members.More information October 2008 Back to top

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The price of a typical house fell by 1.7% in September in the UK according to Nationwide Building Society survey

Market weakness not surprising given ongoing turmoil and many risks remain House prices will continue to fall in short term, but longer term prospects are more sound. "House prices fell by 1.7% in September. This brings the price of a typical house in the UK to £161,797, 12.4% less than at this time last year. House prices have now fallen for eleven consecutive months, but the monthly rate of fall has been almost unchanged in the last three months. The less volatile three-month-on-three month series has also barely changed for the last three months, after accelerating in the first half of the year. This may suggest the beginning of some stabilisation in the pace of house price falls" said Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist. October 2008 Back to top

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Sharpest ever annual drop in prices in USA

US real estate prices fell by the sharpest annual rate ever in July 2008. At the end of September the National Association of Realtors said that the median sales price of an existing home fell 9.5 per cent to $203,100 in September the largest annual price decline on records dating from 1999. October 2008 Back to top

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Good time to buy in France according to a report in The Irish Times

The Irish Times reported on the 25th September that it is now a "Good time to buy as French prices fall by up to 25 percent" They reported that a survey in the daily newspaper "Aujourd'hui En France" revealed that prices have already fallen in 2008 between five and twenty five per cent. Marseille that has a large stock of of new unsold property is amongst one of the worst affected areas. It is a different story in Paris where prices have climbed by 9.4 per cent.September 2008 Back to top

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jml villas.com introduce low cost advertising

As a result of the downturn in the housing and financial markets, jml villas.com has introduced low cost advertising to attract more people to advertise on their self catering holiday homes website They are now offering very low cost advertising of £11.75 including VAT for one property per year. More information September 2008 Back to top

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New Chief Executive for Barbon Insurance - UK

Barbon Insurance Group Ltd (Barbon) is delighted to announce that Martin Oliver, currently Managing Director of Kwik-Fit Financial Services, has agreed to become Chief Executive. Barbon Insurance owns HomeLet Landlord and Tenant Insurance. Leslie Goodman, who has been interim Executive Chairman of Barbon since November 2007, will relinguish that role. More information August 2008 Back to top

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Student accommodation costs an average of £75 a week - Halifax Reseach - Uk

New research for the Halifax Student Account shows that the average student now pays almost £75 a week for accommodation. The study also revealed that spending on food was almost £40. The Halifax research showed that the average weekly accommodation bill in the South West was in excess of £90, closely followed by the South east at almost £87 (see figure 2). By comparison, students in West Midlands paid a more affordable £53.40. More information August 2008 Back to top

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Don’t forget your student insurance – Parents must make sure they arrange cover

The A level results are now out and the annual University intake arrangements are under way. In the last few days two surveys have been published by NatWest and the Halifax showing living costs and according to the NatWest survey 42 per cent of the student population will be in part time employment when they start this academic year. With the start of the university year fast approaching, one item of expenditure usually forgotten is the insurance for the student. As students are usually on very tight budgets with many now holding part time jobs, it is essential that parents help arrange insurance cover More information August 2008 Back to top

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Nationwide Prepares Ground for Irish Operation

Nationwide Building Society has announced on the 18th August that it is putting plans in place to operate in the Irish Republic. Nationwide intends to set up an operation subject to approval from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA), which will initially offer savings products by post, phone and online. More information August 2008 Back to top

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New landlords advised to seek lettings protection in UK

Property owners who are turning to the rental market should make sure they are protected against potential hazards of letting properties, a lettings insurance provider has warned. The advice from HomeLet for landlords and tenants follows The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey of residential lettings published on the 19th August. (see below) .More information August 2008 Back to top

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Lettings market shines bright in housing gloom RICS residential lettings survey July 2008 - UK

The rental market boomed as housing sales in July diminished, says the RICS Lettings Survey published today (Tuesday 19 August 2008). New instructions (an indicator of supply) to let increased at the fastest pace in the survey's history as many would-be-sellers found that becoming a landlord is a better option than selling in the current climate. More information August 2008 Back to top

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ARLA’s Response to the Law Commission Report - August 2008 and The Law CommissionHousing: Encouraging Responsible Letting

The Law Commision have produced the report on the Private Rented Sector. Some of their recommendations reflect views expressed in the Carsberg Review and others areas ARLA have lobbied in the past.More information August 2008 Back to top

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NatWest Student Living Index 2008

NatWest unveils the fifth Student Living Index - an annual study examining student spending habits and how students offset these costs and unveiling a league table of Britain's major university towns The number of students juggling study and work hits record high as cost of living increase sets in. More information August 2008 Back to top

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Flash Floods Hit Ireland on Saturday 9th August 2008

The equivalent to a month's average rain fell in parts of Dublin. Met Éireann said that in the 24-hour period from midnight Friday until midnight Saturday 76.2mm of rain was recorded at Dublin Airport, a new record for August. The previous record was 73mm which was noted in 1986 associated with Hurricane Charlie. In the north of the capital Drumcondra and Swords and in the south of the city Firhouse and Knocklyon had severe flooding. More information August 2008 Back to top

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Villa Léopolda at Cap Ferrat in the Côte d'Azur in the south of France sells for €500m / £390m.

The villa built in the early 1900's has been sold to a Russian billionaire. It has now smashed the record for the most expensive house in the world. It is set in 20 acres of gardens overlooking Cap Ferrat near the picturesque fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The villa was originally built for King Leopold II of Belgium. Other owners have been the Angelli family, the founders of Fiat A report from Nice Matin has said that it has been sold by Lily Safra, Edmond Safra's widow. He was a Lebanese Jewish banking billionaire who was murdered in Monaco in 1999 by his male nurse. The new Russian owner wishes to remain anonymous. August 2008 Back to top

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Insurance in Northern Ireland – jml Insurance launch a specialist category

Northern Ireland has been a market that many insurance companies were not interested in but an insurance broker Kent can now arrange ex offenders insurance & household insurance & jml Insurance has set up a Northern Ireland classification on their website More information August 2008 Back to top

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Flood affected Property in the UK

The ABI and British Government have an agreement to ensure that flood insurance remains widely available. BIBA has welcomed this but believes that there are still properties that will be excluded from this agreement and will need specialist advice from an insurance broker. More information August 2008 Back to top

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EIS Completes Rebranding Exercise to Become Barbon Insurance Limited - UK

Erinaceous Insurance Services Limited (EIS) is delighted to announce the completion of its rebranding exercise and from today will operate as Barbon Insurance Group Limited. The name change and unveiling of the new corporate identity reinforces the company's position as one of the UK's leading independent property and commercial insurance brokers . Well known Landlord and Tenant insurance products like HomeLet and Letsure are now under the Barbon name.More information August 2008 Back to top

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AXA research reveals increasing numbers unable to afford their rent in the UK

As the housing market focuses on mortgage arrears and repossessions, AXA can reveal that the private rental market could also be heading for a bumpy ride. According to research from the insurer, the number of private renters slipping into arrears because they simply can't afford the rent is rising. In fact, 13% of renters have gone into arrears in the past 12 months, with over half of these (7%) doing so in the past three months alone. More information August 2008 Back to top

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NLA publishes draft code of practice for consultation - Sale and Rent Back in the UK

The National Landlords Association (NLA), the leading representative body for private-residential landlords, has asked interested parties to submit their views on their draft Code of Practice for landlords involved in the sale and rent back market.

Following wide-reaching consultation across the housing and mortgage sectors, the Code places the protection of vulnerable consumers at its heart. More and more people are now facing financial difficulty including so-called ‘payment shock’ and the inability to keep up with their mortgage payments. Ethical sale and rent back could be a way for some struggling homeowners to stay in their homes. More information August 2008 Back to top

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Connells - UK Estste Agency chain has closed its Loughborough branch, bringing its total number of closures to seven over the last eight months

A spokeswoman for Connells says: "The lease came up for review on the Loughborough branch, which gave us an opportunity to take stock and see if we could improve the service. The decision was made not to renew the lease on the Connells office but to merge it with the William H Brown one." She adds that three staff had been employed in the Loughborough office but declined to comment on whether the closure has resulted in any redundancies. "Wherever possible people have transferred to other branches within the group," she says. "Over the last year we have been trying to reduce staff through natural wastage."

The closures are in line with Connells' review of its cost base, as revealed in The Negotiator in May. At the time, Ken Waller, former chief executive of Connells Residential, said that the agency had started reviewing costs in May 2007 and revealed that six branches had been closed in the six months to May 2008. August 2008 Back to top

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Court of Appeal ruling on 'sole agency' estate agency contracts -UK

The OFT is drawing consumers' attention to a recent Court of Appeal ruling that affects 'sole agency' contracts with estate agents. The recent court case ruled that estate agents cannot claim their commission under a 'sole agency' agreement unless they can show that they have introduced the buyer to the purchase, and not just to the property. In the case of Foxtons v Bicknell in April this year, the Court of Appeal decided that Foxtons was not entitled to a £20,000 fee after a buyer it had originally introduced to a property but who decided not to purchase the property at the time, then went on to buy the property at a later date through another agent.

The court decided that 'introduced' meant introducing a buyer to the 'purchase' and not just to the 'property'. In this particular case, the buyer had made it clear to Foxtons that she was not interested at that time in buying the property and therefore Foxtons could not claim their fee. Mike Haley, OFT Head of Consumer Protection, said: 'It remains the case that sellers who sign a 'sole agency' agreement with an estate agent could be liable to pay the agent their fee even if another estate agent ends up selling the property. This Court of Appeal decision helps house sellers and estate agents understand more about the circumstances where this might or might not be the case.'

NOTES:

1) If an estate agent uses the term 'sole agency' in his agreement, then he must use the statutory explanation of 'sole agency' set out in the Schedule to the Estate Agents (Provision of Information) Regulations 1991. The only exception to this requirement would be if the use of the statutory explanation would be misleading because of other provisions of the agreement.

2) The statutory explanation of 'sole agency' does permit an estate agent to claim his fee if the property is sold by another estate agent but to a person 'introduced' by the first agent during his sole agency period. However, the Court of Appeal's ruling has now made it clear that 'introduced' means to the purchase and not just to the property. According to the Court of Appeal 'in order to be entitled to a commission under the Terms for having introduced a purchaser, Foxtons have to show that they introduced the person concerned as the (eventual) purchaser, or…that they introduced the purchaser to the purchase and not merely to the property.'

3) The OFT does not have any authority to intervene in individual disputes between agents and consumers, as action taken by the Office is taken in the public interest for consumers at large.

4) From 1 October 2008, all estate agents will be required to join an approved estate agents redress scheme under the Consumer Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 (CEARA). Buyers and sellers of residential property will be able to refer complaints concerning members of the scheme to an ombudsman to be determined. The ombudsman's decision is binding on the estate agent, although a complainant can choose to reject the decision and pursue their complaint through the courts. Source OFT Press Release © Crown Copyright 2008 - jml Property Services hold a Core Licence C02W00008738

Foxtons UK Estate Agents Court Case – Unfair Terms

The OFT took out an injunction against Foxtons to stop them using, what they felt, were unfair terms. Foxtons challenged this injunction and the court has agreed that the OFT took a far too wide an approach with their challenge and has removed the injunction. However this case was about the OFT’s approach and does not make any comment as to whether of not any terms were unfair. August 2008 Back to top

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Renters on the Rise and Americans Face Increasing Risk for Property Loss

As the number of Americans renting homes increases with the current housing foreclosure crisis, a new survey released today by Allstate finds most renters are inadequately prepared to protect their belongings. While homeowners coverage is required as a part of most mortgages, renters face no such insurance requirement. As a result, just 40 percent of survey respondents said they have renters insurance, meaning that over 50 million of the approximately 87 million Americans living in rental housing do not have insurance to cover their belongings in case of loss. More information July 2008 Back to top

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First-time buyers to avoid land costs under new Government proposals in the UK

Under the proposal, which was announced by Iain Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, on Monday, first-time buyers would pay for their home but not the land, which the Government hopes will help speed up their attempts to get on the housing ladder. Wright proposes that an amendment be made to the Housing and Regeneration Bill, to introduce the change via Community Land Trusts - independent trusts, which own or control land and facilities, but not the property, for the benefit of the community. He says: "We have to constantly look at new ways to meet the long-term demand for more homes. Community Land Trusts puts local communities at the centre stage of delivering the homes our first-time buyers and young families desperately need. "They provide an opportunity to give people the practical tools to solve the problem of affordable housing in a way that is right for the community." July 2008 Back to top

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Spain’s leading construction firm collapses

Spain’s property market crash has claimed its largest victim so far. One of the countries biggest developers, Martinsa Fadesa, has declared itself insolvent. The end of Martinsa Fadesa has been attributed to an oversupply of properties and rising borrowing costs. The group has been unable to refinance its debt and will now begin selling its assets to pay off creditors. Shares in the Spanish property sector dropped sharply in response to the news on fears that the country’s other developers are now at risk. According to APCE, the association of Spanish property developers, house prices have fallen by 15% since September of last year. In some regions over 50% of the new homes built in the past three years are unoccupied. July 2008 Back to top

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English Estate Agents are closing offices

As a result of the the downturn in the property market several estate agents are closing some of their branches. Webbers,has closed its Tiverton branch, which was opened only a year ago. Webbers, which was established in 1924, has 16 residential sales offices remaining throughout the South West. Henry Adams, which has a remaining network of 15 sales and lettings offices located across Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, shut its Midhurst and Rustington branches three weeks ago, on the same day. This followed the closure of branches in Pulborough and Angmering in February earlier this year.(4 branches so far this year). Meanwhile in the London area, Chesterton Global plans to cull around 10% of its 340 residential staff in offices throughout London, A sokesperson said no branch closures are planned. July 2008 Back to top

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Martin & Co announces three year deal with HomeLet - UK

The UK's number one letting agent Martin & Co has signed an exclusive three-year deal with HomeLet - the market-leading insurance provider for the lettings industry. The lettings franchise group is now HomeLet's largest client.On Monday 7th July HomeLet's parent company, EIS, announced that it will be changing its name to Barbon Insurance Group Limited in August as part of a rebranding exercise following a change of ownership. More information July 2008 Back to top

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Agreement on Flood Insurance is good news for customers - ABI - Government statement

The ABI (Association of British Insurers) and the Government have reached agreement that ensures flood insurance remains widely available now and in the long term. The Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) agree on the importance of managing the risk from flooding to people and property. As the floods of 2007 demonstrated, flooding can have devastating impacts: it can cause loss of life, displace thousands of people, and can cause major economic and social dislocation.More information July 2008 Back to top

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The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the National Federation of Residential Landlords (NFRL), who together represent nearly 20,000 landlords, have announced they are to merge creating the largest representative body for landlords in the United Kingdom

. --- Research among the membership of both organisations has indicated the need for a national unified voice for private-residential landlords. Following several months of negotiations between the governing bodies of the NFRL and NLA, this merger rightly reflects landlords' desires that their views are represented with one voice to policy-makers.

The larger NLA, combining the strengths of both organisations, will better represent the needs of all landlords at a time when the private-rented sector faces major challenges. The merger will mean a wider range of products and services being made available to members as well as a significant development of local landlord networks.More information July 2008 Back to top

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Former Hotel Le Provençal at Juan Les Pins, south of France is being converted into luxury apartments

Le Provençal that was once a famous hotel with spectacular views over Juan Les Pins and the Mediterranean is being revamped. Originally a 290 room hotel that closed over 40 years ago. It has now been sold to English property developer Cyril Dennis who has paid a reported £48 million. It will be converted into 56 luxury apartments with prices from €2.7 million and €37 million.More information July 2008 Back to top

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Spanish government aims to increase low season tourism

The Spanish Government aims to increase low season tourism by up to twelve per cent and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Commerce - Miguel Sebastián announced a project "Hibern Spain" which would offer package holidays to Spain during the low season from between three to six months. These would be aimed at retured European citizens. .More information July 2008 Back to top

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More support to deliver affordable housing announces Caroline Flint UK's Housing Minister

New immediate measures designed to respond to the impact of the credit crunch on the housing market and maintain the delivery of new affordable housing, were announced today by Housing Minister Caroline Flint. The measures are the first part of a wider package of action the Government will be announcing this month to increase confidence and help ensure stability and fairness in the housing market. Today's announcements include:

  • A further £270m is today being allocated through the Housing Corporation to deliver an additional 3,800 homes for social rent and 1,500 shared ownership homes over the next three years. This will help to stimulate wider market activity and brings the total now allocated over the next three years to £3.6bn out of the £8.4bn total budget. This will drive forward delivery of our overall target of 180,000 affordable homes over the period.
  • A new national clearing house is being set up where house builders can approach the Housing Corporation with robust proposals to sell their unsold stock for affordable housing. The Government has committed £200m so far for affordable housing providers to purchase unsold stock from house builders, which can then be used for social or affordable housing. The clearing house will enable this resource to be invested as quickly as soon as possible, by giving developers greater certainty and an early steer on their chances of success.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint said: "I am determined that we do everything possible to continue to promote stability and fairness in the housing market, and maintain our long term focus on increasing housing supply. "There is an overwhelming case for building more housing and we must remain as ambitious as possible. But we also have to be flexible and responsive enough to adapt to the current economic climate. We have to acknowledge not only the difficulties faced by individuals and families, but by house builders too. More information July 2008 Back to top

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Resolution Hardens Among Buy to Let Investors - The Prime Investors in Today's Property Market - ARLA (The Association of Residential Letting Agents ) Press Release

Buy to Let landlords are increasingly resolved to maintain their portfolios of residential investment property. This is despite the fall in house prices. Only a tiny minority, 1.3%, expects to sell because of current market conditions. 7.3% may alter their let portfolios, while four out of ten expect to increase them during the coming twelve months.More information July 2008 Back to top

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A possible recession around the corner in the UK – make sure rental properties are properly insured

Commentators are saying UK and Ireland could be heading for recession and consumers tightening their belts. One concern is they could be cutting back on essential services like insurance in rental properties. Economists are predicting that the UK and Ireland could be heading towards recession. Estate agents have reduced sales and have been laying off staff and in some cases as reported by a major Irish agent in the last ten days transferring staff to the buoyant lettings market. In the UK similar situations are occurring up and down the country and although properties are not selling as they have been, are still letting out well. More information July 2008 Back to top

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PACE OF HOUSE PRICE FALLS SLOWS IN JUNE - Nationwide Building Society UK

House prices fell by 0.9% in June, less than half the rate of the previous month Prices are 6.3% lower than this time last year, but remain 4% higher than 2 years ago House purchase transactions remain subdued across the UK Northern Irish and Scottish activity levels stand out at each extreme - Commenting on the figures Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: “The pace of house price falls slowed significantly in June. House prices fell by 0.9% during the month, less than half of the rate of the 2.5% fall recorded in May. Prices in June are now 6.3% lower than this time last year and have fallen 7.3% from their peak last October. The price of a typical house is now £172,415. This is over £13,500 less than it would have cost at the top of the market and over £11,500 less than this time last year. However, the strength of house price growth up until last year means that prices are still 4% higher than two years ago and 9% higher than three years ago." July 2008 Back to top

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Hibernian Insurance - Ireland announces reorganisation to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and support growth

Hibernian, part of Aviva, and Ireland's largest insurer, has announced today that it will reorganise its business to increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs and support its continued growth. Over the next three years, Hibernian will gradually move part of its service and support functions to Aviva's well-established global services centre in Bangalore, India.More information June 2008 Back to top

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Public demand more action to reduce flooding - UK opinion research published by the ABI- Association of British Insurers

One year on from 2007's devastating floods three-quarters of people think that not enough is being done to tackle flooding, according to opinion research published today by the ABI (Association of British Insurers). Improving drainage is seen as the number one priority. There is also widespread support for the Government's target of three million new homes by 2020 to be reduced if it would lead to more homes at risk of flooding. More information June 2008 Back to top

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Spain is eurozone bargain for motoring holidays in Europe — Post Office Report

Spain emerges as the best value destination for UK holidaymakers in Europe in a new report by Post Office Travel Services — despite the fact that pump prices in Switzerland have made it cheapest for unleaded petrol for the second year running. In its' Motoring on the Continent report, the Post Office® reveals that Switzerland is now the only major motoring holiday destination where unleaded fuel costs less than £1 per litre. More information June 2008 Back to top

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UK: Residential property owners need to be vigilant, with cannabis farming on the increase, warns Norwich Union

Residential landlords may not be covered if their property is damaged by tenants using it for cannabis production, warns Norwich Union. Mike Colmans, underwriting manager, property owners, Norwich Union, said: "As with most insurance policies, the duty of care element means a landlord must protect his investment and minimise his losses. This means it is important to be aware of the warning signs and make sure all ‘reasonable precautions' are taken." The increasing numbers of premises being used to produce cannabis have enabled some common trends to be identified. More information June 2008 Back to top

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Insurers widen access to home insurance in the North East England

The ABI has teamed up with insurer RSA and brokers Marsh to bring together housing providers from councils and housing associations at an event in the North East today, with the aim of widening access to home contents insurance. 'Insurance with Rent' is a scheme under which tenants can access affordable home insurance, paid for weekly, fortnightly or monthly alongside their rent. Local authorities and housing associations run the schemes and collect premiums at the same time as collecting rent. More information June 2008 Back to top

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No Soaring Rents as Supply and Demand Levels come into Balance, Quarterly ARLA Survey shows in the UK

Marginal falls in rental returns for houses and flats are reported in the latest quarterly survey of ARLA's member letting agents published today, June 9. This, ARLA believes, is due to the number of new developments coming on-stream. The Association also points out that this demolishes the myth that rent levels are soaring. More information June 2008 Back to top

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Norwich Union Insurance (Aviva) announces update on major operational transformation and Unite reaction to Aviva (Norwich Union) job loss announcement in the UK

Aviva, the owner of Norwich Union, will cut up to 1,800 jobs by 2010 as it restructures its insurance operations.The proposed sites to be closed are in: Dundee, Glasgow City Centre, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Cheadle, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton, Ipswich, Exeter, Worthing and Basildon. More information June 2008 Back to top

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US Equity house to take stake in Bradford and Bingley in the UK

One of the world's largest private equity houses, Texas Pacific Group, is to take a stake of about 20% in Bradford & Bingley, the former building society. About £150m of funds would be injected into Bradford & Bingley, with existing stakeholders asked to provide £250m of new capital into the UK's biggest buy-to-let lender, B&B has 20% of that market which has suffered following recent market falls.The firm has been hit hard by the credit crisis and is trying to raise £300m to boost its balance sheet. Breadford and Bingley were one of the financial institutions that went into the estate agency market and sold their chain of estate agents to Countrywide Plc. June 2008 Back to top

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Hamptons International Reveals on BBC: “Strong Lettings Market As Demand Continues To Increase in UK”

Hamptons International, one of the UK’s premier residential agents, provided expert insight into the lettings market for the BBC. The interview took place for the BBC’s prime news programme ‘News at Ten’, with the agent revealing rising demand for rental property – up 9% year on year. It also noted a different sort of tenant emerging in the current climate, as prospective buyers put their buying plans on hold while waiting to see what will happen to the sales market. May 2008 Back to top

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Flash floods hit west of England 29th May 2008 - The ABI have issued advice

Half of Somerset was hit by flooding on Thursday night after a bout of torrential storms. Fire crews tackling flood emergencies in Somerset said it was their "busiest night in living history.The ABI (Association of British Insurers) has issued advice to property owners who have suffered flood damage following flash floods in the West Country. More information May 2008 Back to top

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The Supply of Rented Housing - Select Committee Could Have Gone Further, says ARLA

Although welcoming the Select Committee report into the supply of rented housing, published today, ARLA, the Association of Residential Letting Agents, believes that it could have said more to help consolidate and build on the successes of the Private Rented Sector over the past decade. Commented Ian Potter, Head of Operations for ARLA, "Many of the recommendations to Government are aspects that ARLA has long proposed. The Association looks forward to contributing meaningful suggestions to Government, particularly in support of the Select Committee's suggestion that the Private Rented Sector requires financial incentives for private landlords." More information May 2008 Back to top

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More homeowners at risk than in 1992 recession - UK insurance company research

Nearly 16 years since the last major economic downturn in the UK, research published by AXA1 reveals that UK homeowners have failed to learn the lessons of 1992 - there are more people at risk of falling into mortgage arrears or having their home repossessed, and the vast majority of homeowners have no protection in place to guard against possible financial hardship. The company's research shows that nine out of 10 single earner families in the UK currently hold mortgages yet only 16% of these families insure their income to make sure they can meet mortgage repayments. More information May 2008 Back to top

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House price falls accelerate in May 2008 according to the Nationwide Building Society

House prices fell by 2.5% in May Prices are 4.4% lower than this time last year, but remain 5% higher than 2 years ago Falling house prices combined with higher inflation makes MPC decision more difficult still Borrowers are better placed to weather the storm than in the 1990s Tighter credit conditions should help the longer term sustainability of the market. Commenting on the figures Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: "The pace of house price falls accelerated in May as more weak economic news added to the gathering momentum of negative sentiment about the housing market. House prices fell by 2.5% during the month, the largest recorded monthly fall in the history of the Nationwide monthly index[1]. At seven months, this is also the longest consecutive period of monthly falls since 1992. Prices have fallen 4.4% since this time last year, the biggest annual fall in house prices since December 1992 when prices were falling at an annual rate of 6.3%. The price of a typical house is now £173,583, £8,000 less than this time last year. However, the strength of house price growth up until last year means that prices are still 5% higher than two years ago and 10% higher than three years ago." May 2008 Back to top

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Sales slump pushes property back into the lettings market RICS residential lettings survey Q1 2008 - UK

New instructions to let property increased significantly in Q1 2008. Owners experiencing difficulty selling their properties, have turned to the rental market to take advantage of rising yields, says RICS Lettings Survey published today (Thursday 22 May 2008).

The net balance of Chartered Surveyors reporting a rise in new landlord instructions (an indicator of supply) increased to 29 percent compared to -2 percent in the previous quarter. A significant drop in demand in the housing market has pushed sellers back into the rental market. Many are taking advantage of rising rental yields while they wait for the effect of the credit crunch to abate. Indeed, the net balance of surveyors reporting a rise in gross yields is at the highest level in the survey’s history. Landlords are reaping the benefits of a collapse in demand in the housing market. 23 percent more Chartered Surveyors reported a rise in Gross yields up from 5 percent

28 percent more Chartered Surveyors reported a rise than a fall in tenant lettings, up from 17 percent in the last quarter. Significantly, demand for both family homes and flats increased as many would-be buyers found themselves unable to step onto the property ladder. Rising yields may have stopped the recent retreat of landlords from the market. The percentage of landlords selling their properties when tenant leases expire fell from 4.6% to 4.2%.

Surveyors report that rents are still rising and rental expectations remain at more than double the survey’s long run average. Key areas enjoying rental growth are the South East and South West while London is the weakest area for rental growth.

RICS spokesperson James Scott-Lee commented: “The sales market’s loss is the lettings market’s gain. Some would-be sellers are retreating from selling and letting or re-letting their properties as they wait for mortgage lenders to offer buyers more favourable lending criteria. While transaction numbers in the sales market are weak, many are taking advantage of rising rents and yields in the private lettings sector. “With rental expectations high, landlords will continue to enjoy this increasingly lucrative market. Fears that a change in capital gains tax would bring a new wave of sellers have to date not been realised.” Source RICS May 2008 Back to top

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Mortgage and banking complaints increase by 300% in 2007 - Financial Ombusdman Service - UK

The Financial Ombudsman Service - the independent organisation that settles disputes between consumers and financial companies, has published its annual review for the 2007/08 More information May 2008 Back to top

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Dispelling the myth: renting is not second-best- NLA - UK

The National Landlords Association (NLA), the UK’s leading representative body for landlords, has urged the private-rented sector to work harder to dispel the myth of rented housing as second-best. Broadly welcoming a select committee report into the supply of rented housing, the NLA is pleased that the needs and aspirations of those who rent have now been acknowledged. For a very wide range of reasons, not every person wants to buy and live in their own home and renting a decent and affordable property is not the second-best option.

However, the NLA was concerned that the report failed to recognise the importance of local authorities to use their wide-ranging powers to tackle rogue landlords and sub-standard housing in the sector. Far from needing further regulation, professional landlords should be able to rely on their local councils to identify and clamp down on both bad landlords and tenants who give the whole sector a bad name.David Salusbury, Chairman, NLA, commenting on this report, said: "Rented housing should not be seen as second-best. According to Government figures, 81 per cent of tenants are on good terms with their landlords and it is good to see that the significant contribution landlords make to the housing mix has once more been acknowledged. "Where people are suffering at the hands of irresponsible rogue landlords in sub-standard rental accommodation, local authorities should be using the existing statutory powers they have in order to force the necessary improvements to be made." May 2008 Back to top

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Council of Mortgage Lenderspublishes April gross lending figure and 2008 forecast for UK

Gross mortgage lending reached an estimated £25.3 billion in April, a 5% increase from March and an 8% decline from April 2007, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. A fall is typically expected from March to April. However, the fact that Easter was in March is likely to have affected the monthly profile this year. For March and April combined, lending was down 16% from 2007 levels. The CML is today also publishing its updated housing market forecasts for the rest of 2008. House prices to be around 7% lower at the end of the year than at the end of 2007; Property transactions in England and Wales to be around 35% lower than last year at 770,000; Gross lending to be around 21% lower than last year at £285 billion; Net lending to be half last year’s level at £55 billion; and Bank base rate to end the year at 4.75%.

The CML’s detailed forecast, while clearly anticipating a sharp slowdown this year, does hold some crumbs of comfort. With many borrowers now experiencing lower rates, and with those coming off fixed rates on to higher rates so far appearing to manage the adjustment well, the CML’s outlook for mortgage arrears and repossessions remains unchanged.May 2008 Back to top

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Estate agent in Scotland banned

The OFT has made a prohibition order against an estate agent in Scotland banning him from estate agency work, having found that he was unfit to carry out estate agency work. Roderick Yule, an estate agent from Fife, has committed offences involving fraud or other dishonesty as referred to in section 3(1)(a)(i) of the Estate Agents Act 1979. Mike Haley, OFT Head of Consumer Protection, said: 'When choosing an agent, consumers need to know that they are honest and trustworthy and this case shows that the OFT will take action to prevent those that it considers unfit from continuing to work in the industry.' Mr Yule has until 19 May 2008 to appeal. May 2008 Back to top

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Property sales may fall by 40% this year in the UK because of the credit crunch, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has warned

In its updated forecast for the housing market in 2008, Rics also predicted that prices would fall by 5%. RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said "Money looks set to remain tight and many will continue to find that access to the market is restricted by cautious lenders, this could have important ramifications for the wider economy." The slump in the property market this year has been caused by a combination of reasons. One of the major factor has been a decade-long boom in prices which has made buying a home unaffordable for many new buyers. The head of the Building Societies Association recently warned that the property market might not recover for another two years, despite attempts by the Bank of England to free up inter-bank lending by injecting new funds into the banking system. Despite this, Rics says homeowners are under less threat of negative equity and repossession than was the case in the recession of the early 1990s. May 2008 Back to top

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Housing starts to show an unexpected rise in the USA

An uexpected rise in the number of new housebuilding projects in the USA in April has appeared. These "Housing starts" jumped 8.2 per cent and a rebound in the number of building permits granted. This suggests that contruction firms are more optimistic that they will be able to sell new homes in the future. However sceptics have said that the housing starts increase was all down to volatile apartment building projects and construction of new single family homes fell for the 12th month in a row to a 17 year low.May 2008 Back to top

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Investor housing at record new low in Australia

Interest rate hikes and the higher costs of living are weakening levels of borrowing, with investor housing growing by 9.5% in annual terms – the weakest growth rate since records have been maintained, more than 17 years ago. Personal credit also fell by 0.2% in March, while new home sales fell by 6% in March, reaching their lowest level in nine months.“Investors are staying away from the housing market in droves, and the latest figures on new home sales add to the negative sentiment in the sector. We are just not building enough houses and the strength in population growth is likely to see rents increase even further.” A spokesperson commented. May 2008 Back to top

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New house sales slump two months in a row in Australia

New home sales are on the decline nationwide, according to the latest report from the Housing Industry Association (HIA). March was the second consecutive month to see a drop in sales activity, according to HIA statistics, with total new home sales falling by 6% - reflecting a 6.3% drop in detached house sales and a 3.5% fall in unit sales. New house sale figures for the first quarter of this year showed an increase from the first quarter of 2007, but the HIA warns that recent trends tell a different story. New South Wales and Queensland saw the biggest declines in detached house sales for March, with Western Australia being the only mainland state to buck the trend and see an increase. Overall new home sales in Western Australia increased by 4% in March, but the HIA points out that this is a modest increase when compared to a drop of 33% the previous month. May 2008 Back to top

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HBOS sells 13 per cent stake in Rightmove

HBOS (Halifax Bank of Scotland) has sold it's remaining shares in Rightmove the UK's largest property website portal. They have sold 16.2 million shares. Originally when Rightmove was floated in 2006 they held a 20 per cent stake. A spokesperson for HBOS said that the timing of the sale did not relect the bank's view of the property market in the UK. May 2008 Back to top

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Million pound property sales in Great Britain rise by 36 percent in 2007 according to the Halifax

New research from Halifax Estate Agents reveals that million pound property sales in Great Britain rose by 36% in 2007, contrasting with the 9% fall in total property sales over the year. However, million pound properties still accounted for just 0.6% of all property sales in 2007. Last year, 8,257 million pound properties were sold across Great Britain, up from the 6,057 sales in 2006.

8,257 million pound properties were sold across Great Britain in 2007, a 36% increase on the number sold in 2006 (6,057) 7,914 million pound properties were sold in England and Wales in 20072, a thirteen fold increase on the number sold in 1997 (622) 78% of the million pound property sales in Britain in 2007 were in London and the South East. London's share of all million pound property sales in England and Wales has fallen over the past ten years from 77% in 1997 to 56% in 2007 Kensington & Chelsea recorded the largest number of million pound property sales (961) last year Two local authority areas - Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster – account for a fifth of the total number of million pound properties sold in 2007 Edinburghsaw the greatest number of million pound property sales (148) in the northern regions1 of Great Britain last year 68% of two million pound plus property sales in 2007 were in London May 2008 Back to top

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Residential property sales slump further in April in New Zealand

The residential real estate market suffered a further slump in sales in April 2008, although some districts median prices recovered, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand ( REINZ ).The national median price was down from $349,000 in March to $345,000 in April 2008, compared with the April 2007 median of $349,000. Sales collapsed to just 4,464 in April, down 45.5% on the sales figure a year ago of 8,194. REINZ National President Murray Cleland said, 'we thought that the March sales figure of 5,129 was low, due to a short month because of an early Easter, but April shows that the loss of confidence in the housing market is deeper than we had anticipated.' Further signs property values easing - National residential property values have grown 4.9% over the past year, down from the 6.5% growth reported in March, according to the latest Quotable Value statistics for April. May 2008 Back to top

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German Retail Investment Property Fund (GRIP) acquires first six property assets

Morley and SachsenFonds Asset Management GmbH are pleased to announce that their German Retail Investment Property Fund (GRIP) has successfully completed the acquisition of its first six property assets for a total investment of €53 million. The six retail properties are in Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Pfalz and Baden Wuerttemberg. In addition, the Fund is conducting due diligence on a further €83 million of acquisitions from a pipeline of properties developed by SachsenFonds. Morley is the UK-based asset management business of Aviva plc. Firms within the Morley group of companies manage £157bn (€198 bn) from offices around the world as at 31 March 2007.May 2008 Back to top

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Halifax House Price Index April 2008 - UK

House prices fell by 1.3% in April. Prices were 0.9% lower on an annual basis.- The decline in prices is driven by a squeeze on spending power and the rapid rise in house prices in the last few years. These factors have curbed housing demand. The rise in interest rates between August 2006 and July 2007 has increased average mortgage costs. A decline in 'real' earnings over the past year has also constrained housing demand. Martin Ellis, chief economist, said:"House prices fell by 1.3% in April. We expect a mid single digit percentage decline in UK house prices this year. There will be regional variations, however. Some areas of the country are likely to record modest price rises whilst other parts are expected to see falls above the national average. Price falls should be viewed in the context of the substantial price rises over recent years. UK prices nearly doubled 190% over the ten years to August 2007. A growing economy, high employment levels, low interest rates and a shortage of new homes underpin housing valuations." Full details

Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the residential sales arm of the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP), said: “Whilst the report shows a modest decline in prices, this is a small proportion of the substantial prices in recent years. And the picture is still regional with some areas holding up better than others. In fact, the report shows that Scotland is going to show a modest rise this year. This is in line with recent research that shows that the Scottish market could grow 1% in 2008. “There is no denying that the credit crunch has affected confidence in the market but it is still important to remember that the underlying factors that support the property market remain: low unemployment, historically low interest rates and a pent-up demand for houses. Therefore, rather than a dramatic fall that some doom and gloom merchants are predicting, it shows we are looking at a return to a more steady market rather than the fantastic price hikes we have seen in the previous 10 years.“ May 2008 Back to top

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New Presidents of ARLA and NAEA take office on the 9th May 2008

David McMaster who is chief Executive of Norfolk based lettings agents, Howards will become the new president of ARLA - The Association of Residential Letting Agents taking over from Robert Jordan and Chris Brown is to become the new NAEA - National Association of Estate Agents president taking over from Stewart Lilly. SEE ALSO May 2008 Back to top

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HomeLet and Letsure to build on successful start to 2008 in the UK

Following the news in April that it's parent company Erinaceous Group had gone into administration, HomeLet and Letsure, as part of the highly successful insurance division of the Group, have been sold to an investment company (Caley Limited) owned by three major banks - HBOS, HSBC, and Lloyds TSB. Managing Director of HomeLet John Boyle said " The uncertainty in the housing market has buoyed the lettings industry and created increased demand for HomeLet's tenant referencing, Rent Guarantee and insurance solutions. This is reflected in the figures for the first quarter, which are extremly encouraging for HomeLet and Letsure and we expect to see continued growth throughout 2008" More information May 2008 Back to top

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Housing market weakness stretches in April 2008 according to Nationwide Building Society

House prices fell for the sixth consecutive month in April - The price of a typical house is now 1% lower than this time last year -The Bank of England bond exchange scheme should help to improve financial market liquidity - More than 5 million borrowers have benefited from Bank of England rate cuts. Commenting on the figures Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said:“April was another difficult month for the housing market. Falling levels of market activity meant that prices fell by 1.1% during the month and ended up 1% lower than this time last year. April’s fall in prices continues the trend of the last six months and reflects the weakening sentiment in the market brought about by poor affordability and tighter financial market conditions. This is the first year-on-year fall in prices since March 1996 and brings the price of a typical house to £178,555, £1,759 lower than at this time last year." April 2008 Back to top

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Hamptons International Estate Agents open an office in Morocco

The Morocco office is located in Casablanca and will provide clients, investors and developers with a full range of sales (individual and bulk purchasing), lettings, development consultancy and mortgage services. The Morocco team will be led by Youssef Benamour, managing director – Hamptons International North Africa. Morocco is currently undergoing rapid economic growth — as part of Vision 2010 — the strategic development plan devised by King Mohammed VI. The plan was launched with the purpose of increasing the number of annual tourists to 10 million by the year 2010 and creating 600,000 new job opportunities. More information April 2008 Back to top

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Aviva drops Norwich Union brand

Aviva has announced the final phase of the company's move to a worldwide brand, Aviva, as part of its strategy to grow and transform the business to compete on a global scale.The company will complete the transition to a global brand over the next two years, with Norwich Union (UK), Commercial Union Poland and Hibernian (Ireland) becoming Aviva. More information April 2008 Back to top

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AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE NOW £184,798 according to UK Land Registry

Annual house price changes in England and Wales decreased from 5.3 per cent in February to 3.6 per cent in March, taking the average price to £184,798 according to the latest figures from Land Registry. This is the seventh consecutive decrease in the annual rate of growth. The monthly change for March, accounting for seasonal adjustments, is -0.4 per cent. The volume of transactions was also down 26 per cent from the same period last year, with an average of 81,926 per month between October 2007 to January 2008, compared with 109,969 per month from October 2006 to January 2007. For more information and to view the latest statistical release visit www.landregistry.gov.uk/houseprices/ April 2008 Back to top

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EIS sale completed - New and stable long term ownership for Rental insurance brands like HomeLet and Letsure in the UK

EIS is now securely established in the ownership of three of the UK's leading Banks and wholly separated from the Erinaceous Group.Caley Limited is a new investment company wholly owned by leading banks HBOS, HSBC, and Lloyds TSB. The transaction which was announced on 14 April was subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions all of which have been satisfied.EIS also offers a select range of niche general commercial insurance products for a wide range of customers. Leading EIS brands include HomeLet & Letsure, Keelan Westall, Cadogan Keelan Westall, Deacon, Cadogan Hanover Park, Truckinsure, CareAssured and Farr. More information April 2008 Back to top

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Tax rebate for investors in Spanish property

Investors who have made capital gains when selling Spanish properties could be in line for a 20% tax rebate. Spain changed its capital gains tax lergislation in 2007 prior to which foreigners who sold property in the country were charged 35% on any capital gain. Spanish nationals onlt paid 15%. According to a firm of Spanish lawyers the punitive rate for foreign investors was in contravention of the European Community Treaty. The currency specialist HiFX says that a conservative estimate regarding British investors who sold homes in Spain are each due £8,300 in overpaid capital gains tax. Spanish authorities will only be liable for claims that are made within four years of a sale.April 2008 Back to top - Own a holiday home in Spain? Want to let it? Find out more here

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Cashback available for landlords for buy-to-let mortgages

The National Landlords Association (NLA), the UK’s leading trade association for landlords, has launched a brand new service for all landlords, called NLA Mortgages. For the many landlords and property investors looking to expand their portfolios or remortgage their current properties, this free service enables landlords to source a highly competitive range of buy-to-let mortgage products from a panel of the most popular lenders. In addition, NLA Mortgages has access to products which may not be available in the general marketplace. More information April 2008 Back to top

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Nine women in new Spanish Government

Spain is leading as an European country that has a Government in which more women than men hold positions of power. The new Spanish cabinet sworn in by the Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has only eigh men. Carme Chacon aged 37 is the first female Defence Minister. Under the Franco era no woman could open a bank account, apply for a passport or sign a contract without their husband's permission. Women were only allowed to join the army 20 years ago and now make up a fifth of the Spanish armed forces. More information April 2008 Back to top

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Hamptons International opens office in Italy

Hamptons International, one of the UK’s premier international residential agencies and a subsidiary of Emaar Properties (DFM: EMAAR), has today announced the opening of its strategic European office in Rome, Italy. This launch underpins the company’s international expansion plan. The Rome office will collaborate closely with developers to offer development consultancy and sales and marketing experience. The Hamptons International Italian team will initially focus on local sales, before marketing to Hamptons’ extensive global client base. Hamptons International has identified Italy as an economy with a similar home ownership ratio to the UK, at around 70%, and where there is excellent growth potential. More information April 2008 Back to top

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RBS Considering selling insurance Division

Following RBS's announcement of asking it shareholders for up to £10 billion in rights isues late last week, it is expected that the insurance division might now have to be sold. The RBS Group (Royal Bank of Scotland) owns NatWest, Ulster bank (in Ireland) and Coutts (the Queen's bankers) and well known insurance brands - Direct Line and Churchill. Sir Fred Goodwin RBS's Chief Executive arranged the purchase of Churchill Insurance from Credit Suisse in 2003 for £1.1 billion. It has been reported that the insurance division could raise £4 to £5 billion. More information April 2008 Back to top

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Commercial Property downturn continues in UK

RICS COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SURVEY Q1 2008 reports that The balance of surveyors reporting demand for commercial property in Q1 has fallen at the fastest pace for over six years and rental confidence has fallen at the fastest pace for a decade, says RICS’ Commercial Property Survey published today (19 April 2008). 30 percent more Chartered Surveyors reported a fall than a rise in demand compared to 15 percent in Q4 2007. All sectors reported a fall for the second consecutive quarter with the retail sector showing the largest decline, dropping to the lowest balance in the survey’s history. 40 percent more Chartered Surveyors reported a fall than a rise in retail demand, compared to 27 percent. The continuing credit turmoil and a slowing housing market is clearly weighing upon both retailer and consumer confidence. New occupier enquiries also fell across all three sectors for the second consecutive month and at a faster pace. Financial turmoil has impacted upon decision making in the business community with many re-evaluating their demand for commercial property space. Unsurprisingly, the office sector has been the worst hit area. 35 percent more Chartered Surveyors reported a fall than a rise in new enquiries for offices compared to only 13 percent. Source RICS April 2008 Back to top

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Rentshield Direct Insurance now available via jml Insurance in the UK

The UK now has numerous rental properties and jml Insurance who act as introducer to a couple of major rental insurance providers have just been appointed an agent to sell Rentshield Direct rental insurance More information April 2008 Back to top

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EIS separates from Erinaceous Group - New and stable ownership

The three major UK banks to Erinaceous Group plc (ERG) have today agreed to acquire EIS through a corporate vehicle owned by them. This sale is subject to the consent of the FSA and an overseas regulator. Pending completion, which is expected in a few days, EIS is ring-fenced from the rest of ERG and continues to operate as normal outside of any insolvency process affecting the rest of ERG.....John Boyle Managing Director of HomeLet and Letsure that are owned by EIS said on the 15th April " I am pleased to attach an announcement which was released yesterday, which details a change in the ownership of EIS, which in turn owns HomeLet and Letsure More information April 2008 Back to top

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Insurers withdraw cover for Terminal 5 travellers at London Heathrow, England

Travellers passing through Heathrow’s Terminal 5 may experience difficulties purchasing insurance for flight delays and lost baggage. A number of companies are withdrawing cover for those using the £4.3 billion terminal, which has seen various states of chaos since it opened on 27th March.Problems with baggage handling have led to record baggage mounds plus flight delays and cancellations.More information April 2008 Back to top

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Housing boost for key workers and first time buyers

A major package of new measures to support key workers and other first time buyers into affordable homeownership, is being announced today by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Housing Minister Caroline Flint. New cash grants of £1,500 will be offered to buyers who take up a shared equity loan under the Government's Open Market Homebuy scheme (OMHB); whilst to help increase long term housing supply, the Government is confirming the locations of surplus public sector land sites that will provide 30,000 new homes, many of which will be affordable. Caroline Flint and Treasury Ministers will be convening a working group involving the Council of Mortgage Lenders, and industry representatives next week to continue discussions on what more the industry could and should be doing to support borrowers in difficulty in line with their obligations under FSA regulation to treat all customers fairly.

This will include discussions as to how the government working together with industry can address the concerns of homeowners in difficulty. The new grants will help key workers taking up OMHB with the costs associated with setting up a new home such as solicitor's charges, fees, and furniture. More than £3 million has initially been earmarked for the first wave of grants. Under OMHB, key workers can boost their purchasing power by up to 50 per cent following the launch of two new shared equity mortgage products announced in the budget. This means a household with an income of £32,000 could afford a house of £200,000, paying £760 each month - as opposed to £1,350 without the scheme.

The Government is today stepping up its drive to increase housing supply, by confirming the disused public sector sites that will provide 30,000 more homes across England. National Regeneration Agency, English Partnerships, will set out the brownfield sites from its programme, such as former coalfields and surplus local authority land, that will be used to deliver the homes. Developers bidding for the sites, which will go through the full planning process, will have to provide a high level of affordable housing, and build to high environmental standards under the Code for Sustainable Homes, with all homes being 25 per cent more energy efficient than those previously built. The Government is committed to delivering 200,000 homes on surplus public sector land by 2016, as part of its response in the Housing Green Paper to increasing supply following decades of not building enough homes to keep up with rising demand. Crown copyright jml Property Services hold a Core Licence C02W00008738 April 2008 Back to top

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ABI (Association of British Insurers): Flood resilience kitemark needed for new homes

ABI : Flood resilience kitemark needed for new homes Monday, 07 April 2008 A new flood resilience kitemark is needed for housing developments planned in the floodplain, the ABI (Association of British Insurers) said today. The voluntary kitemark would set minimum construction standards, such as the use of water-resistant building materials. Speaking today at the EXPO CO2 conference in Barcelona.More information April 2008 Back to top

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mydeposits.co.uk celebrates its first birthday

Tenancy deposit protection is now part and parcel of letting properties for the vast majority of landlords in England and Wales. According to Government figures, more than 2,500 deposits are being protected per day amounting to £885 million of tenants' cash being safeguarded over the last 12 months. The question is: with so few adjudicated disputes, was there a problem in the first place? The truth is, we'll never know. But at least nowadays everybody knows where they stand: tenants have an impartial third party to whom they can appeal if they're not happy and landlords are clear about their rights and responsibilities when conducting their lettings portfolio.From the 1st April 2008 Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (TDSL) will be trading as mydeposits. More information on mydeposits.co.uk April 2008 Back to top

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Monarch Airlines celebrates 40 years in business

The longest established airline brand Monarch that is still trading under the same name in the UK celebrated its 40th anniversary in April with a special flight from London Luton to Menorca. The celebratory flight was done in style with a touch of the 1960s- The cabin crew were dressed in replicas of the original yellow uniform and the passengers were given champagne and birthday cake on board. More information April 2008 Back to top

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No bounce in house prices at Easter 2008 according to Nationwide Building Society

“House prices fell for the fifth consecutive month in March. The price of a typical house fell by 0.6% during the month, bringing the annual rate of house price growth down to 1.1% - its lowest rate since March 1996. A clear change in sentiment since the late summer has led to the sharp slowing in house price growth, even in the less volatile 3-month on 3-month series. Prices on this measure are now 1.5% lower than three months ago. The price of a typical house in the UK is now £179,110, only £2,027 more than this time last year. However, prices are still 11% higher than two years ago and 47% higher than five years ago - the equivalent of a price rise of more than £30 per day for the last five years. " Statement from Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist - 28 Mar 2008 March 2008 Back to top

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Ikea to start accepting Euros at New Belfast, Ireland store

The Swedish furniture store IKEA that was opened in Belfast in December 2007 has announced that it will start accepting euros. Although prices will continue in sterling, IKEA hope to have the installation of new systems installed by the end of April. The main reason is the amount of visitors coming from the Republic. The assistant store manager at the Belfast store, Stephen Gibson said " on an average weekday 10 to 15 per cent of our customers come from the republic. Often at weekends and bank holidays we could be in the position where a third of our customers could be from the Republic. All you have to do is look at our car park to where people are travelling from to Ikea — there are a significant number of cars with Republic or Ireland registrations. They are from all over the Republic — not just areas which are close to border or Dublin". March 2008 Back to top

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Business insurance products from Endsleigh now available at jml Insurance and lower rates for Endsleigh Travel Insurance

Endsleigh Insurance offers a full range of commercial business insurance products that can now be found at jml insurance.com. Endsleigh have also cut their travel insurance rates by almost 20 per cent which is great news for anyone planning a holiday. More information March 2008 Back to top

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UK Budget 2008 - NAEA - National Association of Estate Agents Comment

Chancellor Fails to Tackle the Real Housing Issue Again:The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is angry that the Chancellor has once again side-stepped the real issue in the housing market. Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive, NAEA, said, “We have made repeated calls for a full revision of stamp duty. Recent reports show that the average stamp duty bill for first-time buyers has almost doubled over the last five years and total stamp duty revenue from residential property sales in the UK rose by 40% in 2006/07 to a record £6.4bn.* This is taxation gone mad! This government needs to realise that the housing market is slowing and the gravy train is over. This was an opportunity for the Chancellor to give the housing market the boost it really needs to keep the market moving but he has failed the British homeowner again.” March 2008 Back to top

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ABI - Association of British Insurers Budget response 2008: consumers need to protect themselves

Stephen Haddrill, the ABI's Director General, said: Protecting people in a tougher economic climate "From today consumers will be tightening their belts. Many people face higher taxes and tough news about the economy. Consumers need to protect themselves, especially those who hold part of the UK's £1.4 trillion of consumer debt. They should review their finances and consider whether to insure themselves against losing their job or becoming ill. More information March 2008 Back to top

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Mediterranean building ban

Environment ministers of 14 countries have agreed in principle to ban the construction of commercial and residential developments within 100 metres of the Mediterranean coastline. The new Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) was ratified in Almería by the ministers More information March 2008 Back to top

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Vladimir Putin buys a Château near Saint-Tropez

The Daily Telegraph revealed earlier this year that former Russian President Vladimir Putin had bought a Château near Saint-Tropez. According to their report, it is in the process of being renovated in time for the spring. The accommodation includes an inside and outside swimming pool and has 20 30 rooms. March 2008 Back to top

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European Housing Review 2008 05 March 2008 Michael Ball, UPE Consultancy

Michael Ball a Professor of Urban and Property Economics at the University of Reading has reported that the European house price boom ended in 2007. In his recent report he said that "2007 will probably go down in history as the year that the great European house price boom ended. The year started so strongly on a wave of optimism but ended bleakly for housing markets in virtually every country. Purchasers could no longer afford to buy at ever-rising interest rates. Housing markets either froze as a result or prices started to slide"' Ireland was the worst performing European country with house prices falling 7% in 2007.

The RICS European Housing Review 2008 looks at the performance of European housing markets in 2007, analysing trends across the continent in areas such as: inflation -building activity - mortgage markets -turnover.

  • House price growth has slowed substantially across Europe with falls during 2007 in some countries, such as Germany and Ireland
  • Rising interest rates rather than the post-autumn credit crunch were the prime causes of the slowdowns, as mortgage availability remained good. Housing market prospects in 2008 depend on what happens to interest rates.
  • The UK housing market looks much better placed than many others in Europe. Interest rate cuts are likely to stabilise prices in 2008

See Full European Housing Review 2008 Here March 2008 Back to top

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Lyon to move to Dubai! Not quite

A Dubai entrepreneur who has fallen in love with Lyon, plans to build a new version of the French city in Dubai. The new district will be called Lyon-Dubai-City and although this will not be a Disney style copy of the city it will be complete with cinemas, cafés and building built in Lyonasise style. It will be about the size of the latin quarter of Paris and the estimated costs are around  500 million. The city will be organised on European lines. In April 2007 it was announced that The Louvre Paris opens "another branch" with a Museum in Abu Dhabi. March 2008 Back to top

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Landlords are in it for the long-term

UK landlords are still committed to buy-to-let in the long-term despite recent market turbulence, according to independent research commissioned by The Money Centre. In a survey of almost 500 landlords, over half said they expect to stay involved in property letting for more than 10 years: More information February 2008 Back to top

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NLA claims a victory for landlords on unfair renewal fees by letting agents

The National Landlords Association (NLA), which represents almost 14,000 landlords, has welcomed the decision by the Office of Fair Trading to issue High Court proceedings against a major High Street letting agent. The NLA has received vast amounts of correspondence supporting its recent campaign against these extortionate renewal fees, including from landlords who are being sued by letting agents for refusing to pay-up. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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OFT seeks court order against letting agent Foxtons

The OFT has issued High Court proceedings against Foxtons Limited seeking a declaration on the application of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs) to certain terms in Foxtons' lettings agreements with landlords. The OFT is also seeking an injunction against Foxtons preventing it from using the terms.The action taken by the OFT is in response to consumer complaints. If successful in this case the OFT intends to enforce compliance with the law, as declared by the Court, throughout the letting industry wherever similar terms are being used. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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Nationwide Building Society comments on House price inflation falls to 2.7% In February 2008

House prices fell by 0.5% in February, the fourth consecutive monthly decline The annual rate of house price inflation fell from 4.2% to 2.7% UK recession “a remote risk for the UK economy”.

Commenting on the figures Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: “The price of a typical house fell by 0.5% during February, bringing the annual rate of house price growth down to 2.7%. This is the fourth consecutive monthly fall in house prices and brings the annual rate of house price inflation to its lowest since November 2005. The trend in prices is clearly weakening, but the size of the drop in the annual rate between January and February perhaps overstates the rate of cooling as it partly reflects the particularly strong increase in prices in February last year. The 3-month on 3-month rate of price growth rate fell to -1% in February, down from -0.4% the previous month. The average price of a typical property now stands at £179,358, an increase of £4,653, or £12.75 per day, over the last 12 months.“ Source Nationwide 29th February 2008 February 2008 Back to top

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jml villas.com are pleased to announce that it is even cheaper to advertise a holiday home rental property when paying by euro

When jml villas.com introduced their annual advertising price for a holiday rental ad in January 2005 of £11.75 including VAT for a year the cost for anyone paying in euros was €17.05. As the euro has been gaining strength against the £ sterling three years later in February this now works out as €15.57. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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Law Society fears for homeowners after rogue HIPs emerge (England & Wales)

The Law Society is warning home sellers and buyers to be vigilant with Home Information Packs (HIPs), after the government raised the alarm that some rogue HIP providers are putting the wrong documents in the packs. Communities and Local Government (CLG) have today expressed concern that some HIPs providers were using ‘Register Views’ – photocopies of Land Register records – as evidence of title. CLG point out the HIPs Regulations 2007 require the inclusion of an ‘official copy’ from the Land Registry of the individual register and title plan, and that Register Views were insufficient. Law Society vice-president, Paul Marsh, says: ‘This is further proof that some HIPs providers do not understand, or choose not to understand, the regulations. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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OFT bans Birmingham estate agent 20 February 2008

The OFT has made a prohibition order against a Birmingham estate agent banning him from estate agency work. Shazad Jahan, a partner of 'Saints Estates & Mortgages' in Kemp Road, Birmingham, has been convicted of offences involving fraud or other dishonesty as referred to in the Estate Agents Act, and therefore considered by the OFT to be unfit to carry out estate agency work. Mike Haley, OFT Director of Consumer Protection, said: 'This case demonstrates that the OFT will take the strongest possible action to protect consumers and will ban estate agents who are unfit to continue working in the industry.' Mr Jahan has until 22 February 2008 to appeal.

Notes:1. The OFT can take action with a view to banning from estate agency work a person (and for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979 this can also be a company or a partnership) who has been convicted of certain specified offences such as fraud, or other dishonesty or violence; or who has committed racial or sexual discrimination in the course of estate agency work; or who has failed to comply with the requirements placed on estate agents by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and its associated regulations, or who has engaged in specified undesirable practices, if an adjudicator finds that the person in question is unfit to act as an agent. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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Unsaleable, Uninsurable, Uninhabitable – Tougher Planning Controls Needed for New Homes says the ABI

Tougher planning controls are needed if flood insurance is to remain widely available for new homes the ABI (Association of British Insurers) said today (14 February). Of the three million new homes the Government plan to be built by 2010, a third will be on the floodplain. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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Tenants liable to pay tax for non-resident landlords in Ireland

Tenants of non-resident landlords are obliged to pay the landlords' tax liabilities of 20 per cent of rental income or face penalties and they could be completely unaware of the rule.More information February 2008 Back to top

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Bank of England Cuts interest rates on 7th February 2008

The Bank of England has cut interest rates by a quarter point to 5.25 per cent.Responding to today's decisionthe Council of Mortgage Lenders welcomes the reduction which will provide immediate relief for borrowers with mortgages tracking the base rate. Michael Coogan, CML director general, commented: “This is good news for the quarter of UK borrowers on tracker rates who will see an imminent reduction in rates. “However, borrowers should not expect that a base rate reduction will automatically result in a cut in standard variable rates or discounted rates across the market. “Lenders’ rate setting policies are more complex than simply the level of the bank base rate. They are determined by a range of factors including the cost of retail funding and the cost and availability of wholesale funding.”

The Halifax, Nationwide and RBS announced they would pass this decrease onto their mortgage customers. Buckinghamshire agent David Pering of The JNP Partnership commented " It's the best news. It will give people more confidence that the dip in the market has stopped. So long as vendors are sensible, properties are selling. The interest rate will get more buyers into the market but it will still be price sensitive." February 2008 Back to top

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Nationwide to decrease mortgagerates by 0.25%

Nationwide Building Society announced on the 7th February that it will decrease its Base Mortgage Rate (BMR) from 1 March 2008 following a decision by the MPC to cut the Base Rate. The BMR will be decreased by 0.25% from 6.99% to 6.74% leaving it around 0.50% lower than the standard variable rates (SVRs) of most other major high street lenders assuming that they also decrease their SVRs in line with the Base Rate. Savings rates are under review and any changes to these rates will be announced in due course. February 2008 Back to top

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Dublin, Ireland experiences the sharpest fall in property asking prices in the country in last quarter of 2007

The capital's total decrease for 2007 was 3.4 per cent according to a report from the property website myhome.ie and NCB Stockbrokers.There was a fall of 1.4 per cent in Dublin and nationally 0.2 per cent. The details come from data from the asking prices on the myhome.ie website. Outside Dublin the sharpest drop was in Roscommon that experienced a 7.7 per cent decrease. February 2008 Back to top

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Energy Performance Certificates in Let Property - 29 January 2008

Energy Performance Certificates in Let Property Many landlords and agents will be aware that property that is for sale in England & Wales requires an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to be supplied to the purchaser as part of the Home Information Pack (HIP). This requirement will be applied to let property during the course of 2008, both residential and commercial. More information here February 2008 Back to top

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House prices to remain stable in France in 2008

France's national association for estate agents FNAIM (Fédération Nationale de l'Immobilier) has said that after an increase of some 140 per cent over the last ten years, house prices in France will continue to rise in 2008, however this will be a slower rate than in previous years. Their annual report has revealed that in the last quarter of 2007 house prices rose 2.5 per cent. The President of FNAIM René Pallincourt stated that the stability of the market would persist throughout 2008 saying in Le Monde "It apears that any downturn can be dismissed, prices will stabilise within the 0.2 per cent growth range". According to one major French estate agent Orpi, 6.5 per cent of enquiries came from house hunters whereas only 2.5 per cent from vendors. February 2008 Back to top

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Nationwide Building Society reports a drop in house prices in the UK

The Nationwide Building Society has said that house prices fell 0.1 per cent during January 2008. This is the third month in a row that the property market has declined. They said it was now experiencing the longest period of decline since 2000. Meanwhile the Halifax Bank and the Department for Communities have recently published similar data. The FSA, Financial Services Authority ghas warned of i million mortghage holders are at a heightened risk of being unable to keep up with their repayments. London estate agents Allsop say that 40 per cent of all properties being offered in their mid February sale are repossessed properties. Allsop who are Europe's largest residential property auction house has 410 lots in it's catologue and a large proportion are repossessed properties from buy-to-let investors. February 2008 Back to top

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Co-founder of ARLA - Neville Lee OBE dies

Neville Lee who co founded ARLA - The Association of Residential Letting Agents died on on the 19th January aged 75 of pneumonia following several years suffering from Parkinson Disease. Philip Suter of jml Property Services first met him in 1985 and he told Philip that he and John Birch has been at a meeting of the National Association of Estate Agents and felt when they left that Residential lettings was not covered and they decided to form a regulatory body. He was a founder of Leaders letting agents in Brighton and his firm could not be a member of ARLA as it had to comply with ARLA rules he had helped to create that meant it had to be in business for two years. In 1996 he retired sold the 15 office company to his son in law Paul Weller and Alan Thurlow who had worked with Neville since 1985. He pionered the concept of "Buy to Let" In 1995 he received the OBE for services to the lettings industry. February 2008 Back to top

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Slowing Sales Market Could Mean An Increase In 'novice' Letting Agents, warns Leaders (letting agents in England) 20 February 2008

Recent research shows that almost 70% of sales agents who do not currently offer a lettings service would consider moving into this area to supplement their income if the residential market slows substantially. Many have already done so. However, as every professional letting agent knows, there is more to letting and managing residential property than meets the eye.

A good letting agent needs a thorough understanding of the complex legislation surrounding letting; an in-depth knowledge of the local letting market; a firm grip on what is happening in the property market generally; and the ability to look after the needs of a range of clients efficiently and professionally. ARLA-registered Leaders, one of the UK's largest independent letting specialists, is warning landlords to be wary of agents who have taken up lettings as a 'side-line' in tough times and who may not have the knowledge and expertise needed to provide a professional, reliable service. Says Leaders managing director, Paul Weller: "Letting is not something you can easily dip into and out of when it suits.

There is a lot at stake, not least the safety and wellbeing of tenants and the success or failure of a landlord's investment. "Getting it wrong can have dire consequences for landlords, including huge legal expenses, loss of rent, long void periods, loss of tenant's deposit and penalties for not complying with legislation. For tenants it can be a matter of life and death if legislation regarding the safety of the property and its contents is not complied with." More information February 2008 Back to top

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Santander Bank sells Madrid Headquarter to Propinvest for €1.9bn

Santander the Spanish bank has sold its headquarters 1.5m sq m complex in Boadilla del Monte near Madrid the British real estate investor Propinvest for €1.9bn ($2.8bn, £1.4bn). This is part of a wider sell off of its Spanish property portfolio. The bank has been selling off property to help it finance it's joint bid with RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) for ABN AMRO Propinvest is a property company run by Glenn Maud. January 2008 Back to top

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€60 million price tag for a house on the top end of the Irish Monopoly board

The French embassy in Dublin has decided to sell two of it's properties on the Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin. They have instricted sales agents Lisney to sell the 11 bedroom mansion that is presently used as the French ambassador's house.If the sale price is agreed it will become the most expensive home sold in Ireland. The house that was built in 1900 was purchased by the French Government in 1930 and is 11,000 sq ft in size. The French Government are also putting the French embassy Chancery opposite to the ambassador's residence on the marlet for €20 million. The French Government are selling properties as part of a worldwide policy to downsize and bring diplomatic properties up to date. Ailesbury Road is one the most expensive roads to land on if you playing "Monopoly".January 2008 Back to top

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Towergate Partnership announces the acquisition of Insurance 4 Car Hire Agents Ltd

Towergate Partnership announced the acquisition of Insurance 4 Car Hire Agents Ltd (I4CH), an internet based insurance agency providing specialist insurance products for the car rental market. I4CH will form part of Towergate's Retail Division headed by Amanda Blanc. More information here January 2008 Back to top

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FIRST TIME BUYERS HAVE CAUSE FOR NEW YEAR CHEER says the National Association of Estate Agents in the UK

Members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) reported that first time buyers once again improved their market share in December allowing further optimism to stoke this sector that is in need of a vital boost. Nevertheless, agents still reported a chilly December housing market with the number of buyers on books and sales agreed taking a tumble during the festive season. Yet, the number of houses available on the market remained fairly static. December is traditionally the slowest month of the year in estate agency and so the drops come as no surprise. However, consumers gave the market a particularly frosty reception this Christmas as apprehension over the effect of the ‘credit crunch’ and home information packs (HIPs) remained. First time buyers increase their market share.

First time buyers continued to increase their share of the market with a substantial hike from 10.1% in November to 13.0% in December. This is the highest figure recorded for first timers since November 2006 when a 13.4% share was reported by NAEA agents. The higher than average number of one and two bedroom properties coming onto the market to beat the 14th December HIPs roll out deadline certainly proved fruitful for first time buyers in the run up to Christmas. With interest rates having decreased in December and prices reported to be falling in some key areas, first timers are now in a prime position to take advantage. Source NAEA Press Release The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is the UK’s leading professional body for estate agency personnel, representing the interests of around 10,000 members who practice across all aspects of property services both in the UK and overseas. These include residential and commercial sales and lettings, property management, business transfer, auctioneering and land. January 2008 Back to top

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520 bed hotel planned in Irish "Googleland"

An empty apartment bloock that was converted from the former Victorian gasworks at Ringsend , docklands Dublin has not sold. An application is to be put before Dublin City councillors to convert it into a 520 bed hotel. The apartments in the Alliance building have been empty since 2006.Left: The Gasworks The area around the former gasometer had six hundred apartments in it, most of them are now occupied and there is an office complex there as well occupied by Google and the residents of the area originally described the area "like living in Googleland". The former gas holder had 210 apartments and now the Liam Carroll is applying for permission to to turn the block into a hotel

Left: Google's Eureopean Headquarters at Barrow Street, Dublin January 2008 Back to top

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Viva Estates, Costa del Sol, Spain closes all but one of its offices

One of the largest estate agents in the Costa del Sol has only one office in operation.This is as a result in Spain's downturn in the real estate sector. The agents have now closed 13 offices and is now operating soley from the Marbella one. A large proportion of it's business comes from British, German and Irish clients. The market has changed dramatically in Spain and at one time house prices rose 150 per cent in ten years. It is a different story now with construction stopped on many building sites. The property market has also caused many Spanish families to be in the negative equity situation. January 2008 Back to top

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Cyprus and Malta are now in € euro currency zone

Cyprus and Malta have become the latest E.U. members to join the Euro Zone. They joined on the 1st January 2008. The total number of countries now using the euro has increased to fifteen. In addition the euro is legal tender in Monaco, San Marino, Vatican city, Guadeloupe , French Guiana , Martinique, Réunion, Mayotte and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Madeira The Azores and the Canary Islands. The euro was introduced in 2002 and for many including international super models and film stars now insist in being paid in euros rather than the US dollar.January 2008 Back to top

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Major UK Estate Agent group cuts jobs and closes branches

LSL Property Services owners of Your Move and Reeds Rains has closed 12 branches and cut 315 jobs, Chief executive Simon Embley said that All people are worried about properety prices, but it is transactions that don't get picked up on. The UK overall has been hit quite hard with a forty per cent drop in transactions. LSL started closing under performing branches last September. LSL bought Your Move in 2004.January 2008 Back to top

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Second hand houses fall by nearly 7 per cent in the Republic orf Ireland in 2007

Ireland's largest Estate Agents Sherry Fitzgerald have said that second hand property prices fell by 6.8 per cent throughout the state and by 9.9 per cent in in Dublin. This now means the average cost of a second hand house in Dblin is costing €480,000. Marian Finnegan, Chief Economist of Sherry FitzGerald said that Dublin prices suffered the most because of uncertainty surrounding stamp duty. She went onto say that following a challenging 2007 for the property market, the outlook was positive. This is as a result of ending speculation in relation to stamp duty and greater certainty in terms of the interest rate environment. January 2008 Back to top

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New Gas checks on properties for sale in France

Since 1st November 2007 all properties offered for sale in France with natural - mains gas services installed more than 15 years ago must include a Diagnostic Gaz in the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (This is rather like the HIP - Home information pack in England and Wales). It costs around  100 -  150 for the test that includes supply pipes, boiler, water heater and radiators. The certificate will be valid for three years and the seller has to organise and pay for this before a compris de vente can be signed. More information here January 2008 Back to top

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Real house prices in Ireland will fall between 21 per cent between 2007 and 2009

House prices in Ireland peaked at an average of €311,000 in February 2007 according to the ESRI/Permanent TSB survey. In November 2007 they had declined by 5.9 per cent to €292,000. It has been forecasted that the rate of decline is accelerating and will probably reach 10-12 per cent by February 2008 which will give an average house price of €280,000. A conservative forecast of 6-8 per cent would bring down the average house price to €263,000 by February 2009. It has also been forecast that those individuals who have bought houses since 2006 with 100 per cent mortgages will have to hold tight for another five years to achieve any capital gain or keep away from negative equity. The rental market could be the solution for those deciding to hold fire on purchasing in 2008.January 2008 Back to top

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Plans for the Carlton Cinema site in O'connell Street, Dublin, Ireland likely to be lodged in February 2008

The derelict Carlton cinema site on Dublin's O'Connell Streey is ending as plans are likely to be lodged with Dublin City Council in early February. The site has been vacant since 1979 and the Carlton cinema closed in 1994. A €500 million development will include a new public squareto link Morre Street with Upper O'Connell Street and expected to include 6,503sq m of retail premises with restaurants and bars. A 150 bedroom hotel plus apartments will also be sort with the planning application. Chartered Land a company owned by Dundrum shopping centre developer Joe O'Reilly is co-ordinating the plans. January 2008 Back to top

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RTÉ Television programme highlights Ireland's top earners in 2007

RTÉ1 Television showed a programme hosted by Craig Doyle on Thursday 27th December with the top 50 men and women in the country who had made the greatest financial gains in the year. The majority of individuals were involved in the property business. Names like Sir Tony O'Reilly, Dr Michael Smurfit, Michael O'Leary and Denis O'Brien were amongst those who had increased their wealth. Seán Quinn came in at number one and his insurance company (Quinn Direct) had snapped up the health insurer BUPA Ireland. The transaction value was €150 million, however they secured a "cut" in the BUPA price after the Government closed a loophole that would have enabled Quinn Direct to avoid making risk equalisation payments to VHI (the original Irish health provider) for three years. January 2008 Back to top

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British and Irish citizens now own 3.81 million properties overseas.

The figure does not include timeshares. The research agency Datamonitor has found that 1.21 million properties are owned by permanent Irish or UK residents. There is £44 billion on the overseas property market in 2006 and the research says that growth will be over 13% between 2008 and 2012. The main countries people still choose are France, Spain and the USA.January 2008 Back to top

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Banco Halifax Hispania opens new branch in Ibiza

Banco Halifax Hispania has opened a new branch in San Antonio, one of Ibiza's most popular resorts for British tourists. The team of English and Spanish speaking colleagues based in San Antonio will provide British and Irish expatriates with help and guidance on all aspects of buying a second home in Spain. Banco Halifax Hispania offers competitive mortagages to customers, including Spanish nationals, as well as providing comprehensive personal banking services. Banco Halifax Hispania was established in 1993 and offers a full telephone banking service. It has branches in Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Sevilla, Marbella, Fuengirola, Benalmádena, Torrevieja, Denia, Torrox, Los Alcázares, Calpe, Playa Flamenca, Mallorca, Guardamar, Sotogrande, Guadalmina, Mazarrón, Puerto Pollenca, Calahonda, Menorca, Fuerteventura, Tenerife and Ibiza January 2008 Back to top

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2007 a very good year for Irish Tourism

7.8 million overseas visitors went to Ireland in 2007 which put €4 billion into the economy according to the Irish Tourist Confederation in their 2007 report. There were big rises from continental Europe with large rises in visitors from Spain (28 per cent increase) and Scandinavia (47 per cent increase). Part of this expansion had been via the growth of low costs flights. There were 3.8 million visitors from Britain, however there was no increase in figure from the 2006 level.More information here January 2008 Back to top

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2008 brings in new routes - bases for low cost airlines in France

Ryanair the Irish low cost airline is launching three new routes from Bristol airport to Bergerac in the Dordogne, Pau the gateway to the Pyrénées and Béziers in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. These routes will run three times a week from May 2008.

Meanwhile easyJet is opening two new bases. These will be at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon. The airline is planning to double its presence in France by 2011 and will base five additional aircraft in the two new bases. It is estimated that easyJet will carry some 8 million passengers through French airports in 2008. January 2008 Back to top

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Halifax survey Montrose shows Montrose in Scotland has recorded the highest house price growth of any town in the UK in 2007

Halifax Estate Agents annual survey found that Montrose in Angus recorded the biggest house price increase (39%) in 2007. The value of properties in the town rose by 39 per cent in 2007, with the average cost of buying a home there increasing from £123,494 in 2006 to £172,156 this year. 466 towns have been surveyed this year, including 32 London boroughs. The data is sourced from the Halifax House Price Index, the UK's longest running monthly house price series with data covering the whole country from January 1983 onwards. Thirteen of the top 20 towns with the biggest price rises are in Scotland and the South East of England. January 2008 Back to top

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Property News 2013

The information provided here on The Property News page is given in good faith and should not be relied on for accuracy


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