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Property prices stabilising not falling - RJA Properties: Lettings Agent Manchester
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20 May 2010

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Home information packs (Hips) will be consigned to history, the Government has announced.
17 Mar 2010

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Estate agents should be subject to the same levels of regulation as letting agents, it has been been stated.
22 Jan 2010

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Thousands of Britons with holiday and retirement homes in northern Cyprus face eviction after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision that a British couple must surrender disputed land.

Property prices stabilising not falling


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Optimism in the housing market is finally returning as estate agents raise their game

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This was not how it was supposed to be. The performance of the housing market in 2009 seemed destined to be so catastrophic that a few commentators, such as Halifax, shrank away from making forecasts for the extent of the fall. Their silence increased the trepidation felt by homeowners who, naturally, began to fear the worst, while would-be buyers began to daydream about bargain properties.

Events have not unfolded in the way predicted, however. Key indices show that the market is stabilising and Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide’s chief economist, has now raised the possibility that there may be only a small, single-digit average price decline this year. Gahbauer has factored into his calculations the impact of more unemployment and the higher cost of borrowing.

Stuart Law, of Assetz, the property investment business, even argues that prices could be on an upward trend, though he is a lone voice. Prophet of doom? It’s so 2008.

People who felt that they could wait a little longer to start househunting are disconcerted to discover prices moving out of their reach. There is as much surprise among owners who had believed that they would never sell their house this year but may have to revise that opinion.

A reader in West Norwood, one of South London’s scruffy, but rather charming neighbourhoods, recently put his house back on the market, after an unsuccessful attempt to sell late last year. He says: “Thanks to the agents’ incompetence, time-wasters filed through my property, interested only in knowing whether we were facing repossession and so willing to take a massive hit on the price. The agents are now better at marketing. They are bringing buyers who need to move and are aware that there is a shortage of family houses for sale and that they will have to pay close to the asking price.”

The more optimistic tone of the indices could encourage more owners to follow our reader’s example. The additional supply of homes on the market will test this change in mood, especially in the North where, as we report on page 15, the increase in the number of people keen to buy is almost equal to the rise in the number of homes for sale. In the South, for the moment, there is a large mismatch between eager purchasers and available properties.

This could be reversed, but not necessarily, for there is one forecast that is turning out to be accurate. It was predicted that households would prefer to stay put, postponing their ambitions to climb the housing ladder. This may be the start of a longer-term trend, where moving turns from a routine into an irregular activity. But this would represent such a change in habit for the British that no one is daring to forecast its ending.

Which house rules?

For some people, it is one of the burning questions of the day: Old Rectory or Old Manor House? In which would you most like to live?

The proponents of the Old Rectory (aka the Old Vicarage) point to its typical position in the most pleasant spot of a village. This address also suggests that, though you may have made it — Old Rectories not being cheap — you do not have delusions of grandeur. There will also be proof that the house was once home to a rector. This is more than can be said of some manor houses, which are merely rebranded former farmers’ dwellings, as we report on pages 8-9.

The manor house, however, suggests medieval features, allowing the opportunity for one-upmanship over a merely Georgian Old Rectory. If your ideal home is a loft apartment, you may have no opinion on this issue. But be prepared for firm views on either side of this debate.

Affordable housing Those who can but dream of loft living may have been made more optimistic by the Government’s announcement of more funds for housing association homes — available under shared-ownership arrangements. The extra cash should provide a few more such affordable properties, though not quite as many as the Prime Minister seemed to promise.

But, however many new homes materialise, this effort to help struggling first-time buyers will be less successful than it should be, unless the Government invests in better information on the schemes available and the eligibility critera. The range of acceptable applicants is wider than you might suppose. Currently the hunt for this data takes you on a trip through cyberspace that can end nowhere. All the facts should appear on a single website, with relevant links.

House of intrigue Featuring in this week’s Opening Bids is a house in Mayfair — 11 Chesterfield Hill (pictured), on sale through Chesterton Humberts for £14 million, since you asked. A lot of money, yes, but it buys associations of the typical Mayfair kind; grand but a bit louche at the same time.

In the 1950s the property was owned by Thomas Pitt Cholmondeley, the fourth Baron Delamere, one of the key figures in the Happy Valley scandal. This tale of sex, drugs and murder in Colonial Kenya was turned into the film White Mischief.

Times Online

 
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